Iconic Southern Rock Band To Headline Heritage Not Hate Music Festival
Lynyrd Skynyrd is as iconic to Southern Rock as Hank Williams is to Country Music or Chuck Berry is to Rock and Roll. In the 1970’s Skynyrd lived the role of the hard driving hard partying redneck rock band. And they were damn good musicians and song writers too, inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2006. In October 1977 the bands incredible legacy ended too soon in the swamps of Mississippi after their chartered plane ran out of fuel and crashed.
Since then Skynyrd has been a tribute band. The only founding member remaining is Gary Rossington, the 63 year old guitarist. According to a story on The National Report last week, Lynyrd Skynyrd is going to headline the inaugural Heritage Not Hate music festival in Lynchburg, Virginia this fall. How right wing country music fans and rednecks everywhere can be okay with tar and feathering The Dixie Chicks, while embracing the flag of a group of people who raised arms and armies against the United States Government is beyond me.
The flag is not about States’ Rights or “heritage” unless its defenders are willing to admit the heritage is slavery and the “rights” in question is the South’s insistence that one race of people were superior too and therefore entitled, in fact, ordained by God to own other human beings as property. Most if not all of the Confederate States secession documents are clear in their reason for secession, the end of slavery would end their way of life. They would no longer have servants; no longer take advantage of women and girls as play things. No longer would they be able to put the lash to the back of another human being with impunity.
The problem with has been entertainers like Lynyrd Skynyrd continuing to use the Stars and Bars is it lends validity to a story that should have been put to rest 150 years ago. The South did not lose their battle in defense of a noble cause. The only freedom the Confederate Army defended was the freedom to own another person as property, to do with as you wish. Slaves could be sold or shot, just like a dog that wouldn’t hunt or a mule that wouldn’t plow.
Rather than endorsing the continued symbolism of the Confederate Battle Flag, Southerners like The Lynyrd Skynyrd Band should lead the way in moving us out of the dark days of sectionalism into a new day of honest dialog about race in this nation. I would like to believe that Ronnie Van Zant, founding member, front man, and heart and soul of Lynyrd Skynyrd would give as much thought to the Confederate Rag issue as he did to gun control. In Skynyrd’s Saturday Night Special, Van Zant sang the call for a total ban on handguns.
Hand guns are made for killin’
Ain’t no good for nothin’ else
And if you like your whiskey
You might even shoot yourself
So why don’t we dump ’em people
To the bottom of the sea
Before some fool come around here
Wanna shoot either you or me
So Mr. Rossington, as one native Southerner to another, tear down that rag. Live up to the idealism of your youth. Stop using the flag as a symbol of Southern Pride unless you are really proud of the hate that is its heritage. If Ronnie Van Zant could be that progressive on gun control I am sure his views on the American Swastika would have been equally progressive. In the words of singer songwriter Corey Smith, ” Goodbye Dixie, got enough trouble here, don’t need you haunting me.”
Click here to see Corey Smith perform Goodbye Dixie live.
Click here to see Skynyrd perform Saturday Night Special
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Ronald L DeGrove writes about politics and religion, the taboo subjects not to be discussed in polite company.