Rex Miller has owned the Crossroads Country Store in Harrisonburg, Virginia for 20 years. Their slogan? "All Confederate, all the time—no apologies." In the wake of the Charleston shooting that resulted in the killing of six black women and three black men, he's afraid that the history of the Confederate flag is being lost.
"History is not dead to the man who would learn how the present came to be what it is, and that has been what has motivated me to run this store all these years," Miller said. "I’m afraid our country has not learned from history, inasmuch our education doesn’t teach real history."
Miller spoke with Fusion on Tuesday about the philosophy of his Confederate store, as well as the Charleston shooting. The following interview has been edited and condensed.
What doesn't a contemporary American education teach?
Facts. Well, one fact is that [the United States] was founded as a Christian nation. Another fact is that in 1865, the Constitutional Republic was assassinated, and a different time of framework was put in its place. Another fact would be prior to 1860, we had statesmen serving in public office often at their own—they served at their own cost. And after 1865, we no longer saw statesmen, we saw politicians. And politicians have developed into demagogues who will lie cheat and steal for their own purpose, and sell their loyalty to the highest bidder.
To tell the true history—that’s what motivates me to keep going.
What virtues does the Confederate flag denote?
The values are virtue, loyalty, kindness, love, family, local administration of government. That’s a sufficient list for now.
Why do you think the flag is now associated with slavery and white supremacy?
Well, people perceive the flag the way the media portrays it, and the media has an agenda, and the agenda is the destruction of western Christian civilization. Now, with regards to slavery, slavery was introduced early on in the colonies, and it was the Northern colonies that practiced the trade. There was never a Southern flag flown over a slave ship. If the abolitionists were so intent on stopping slavery, why didn’t they shut down the slave ship operations? Why didn’t they stop the trading of rum or sugar cane in New England? Why didn’t they stop the root of the cause of slavery, which was greed, simple greed?
We must recognize slaves were sold by black chieftains to white slave captains. These chieftains and Yankee captains bear the brunt of the responsibility. Now, we’re not taught about the literally hundreds of thousands of white slaves from Ireland and Scotland that were sent to Barbados—that’s a moot subject, you won’t hear about it. And at the same time, the term slave came from the Muslims who around the Mediterranean were going North, and capturing Slavic people. That's why they're called slaves.
But there were slaves in the South.
With regard to the Negro slavery, a very small percent—three to five percent—ended in the Southern colonies. The bulk went to the Caribbean and South America. When someone says that slavery was the cause of the war, I understand their maleducation—mal meaning defective and evil.
How does Christianity factor into this?
The issue is a heart issue. It’s not a flag issue, it’s not a gun issue, it’s a heart issue. When people have their hearts right and they are virtuous, they wouldn’t condone all these terrible acts. But because God has been kicked out of the marketplace and kicked out of the public square and out of the schools, we’ve got several generations of folk who were raised defectively, and when I say that, what I mean is, the human being is a triune being—a body, mind, and spirit.
And so you don't believe the Confederate flag to be a symbol of white supremacy?
Not at all. Jefferson Davis, who was president of the Confederacy, came into a very large estate in Louisiana, and he and his brother had one too, and together, they set up a judicial system and education system for their charges, their slaves. Because in the old South, most slaveowners operated under the burden that they were responsible for the benefit and livelihood of their charges. He set up a judicial system, school system, and set up a number of systems to cause these recent savages from the part of Africa who were half-naked pagans, caused them to become what we would call civilized. Learning to control their base appetites, learning to control themselves and find themselves in a familial environment.
And so if you look at the Negroes in the South prior to the war, the vast majority of black families had a mother and a father, and all the children lived with the mother and father, and contrary to what the novel Roots would cause people to think, they were far better off in the South than they were in their homeland inasmuch as they were either war captives, who if they weren’t sold they would’ve been slaughtered. And many of them praised their good fortune—but that’s a moot point, because nobody wants to hear that kind of talk. Everybody saw the movie Roots, and everybody wants to say that everyone in the South hates blacks.
So what role do you play?
We’re trying to reach people with real history. And as a journalist, you can appreciate this: how many times have you heard the term stars and bars.
You see, the flag that that references is not the flag that’s used in South Carolina. There’s this failure to get even the rudimentary bits of history right in the story that makes the whole story ridiculous. I just want to dismiss it.
When you refer to "the story," do you mean the Charleston shooting?
When they begin with a shooting and the first thing on the radar is the Confederate flag, then my first instinct is to become suspicious. I can’t put any credence in that. That particular flag is called the Naval Jack, and it was also the flag of the army of Tennessee. Those two monikers meant that those flags were for the soldiers and the sailors. It wasn’t a national or government flag.
Do you think there's an issue of racism in this country?
You know, I really don’t. Not in the circles that I move in. But I think there is an element of racism on the other side, and I’m talking about guys like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson and all the race baiters. They’re in the business to stir the pot and keep that community on edge and disaffected. My goodness, we’ve had 50 or 60 years of federal largesse towards these poor communities, and how have they advanced? Have they advanced? I would suggest that they have not only not advanced, they’ve gone in the other direction? How many moms and dads are in the households of those communities? How many of those children have virtue?
But you don't see marginalized communities as at an inherent disadvantage in this country.
I think that definitely they’re at a disadvantage, and it’s caused by the heavy hand of the federal government. The best way to get people out of poverty is to make them work. Instinctively, as thinking individuals, we know that’s the case. Give a man a fish. It’s the same principle—we’re not stupid! Can’t we teach people to fish? Teach them to self-sustaining? Why do we have to train people to be so dependent?
How have sales been affected?
They haven't, really. We’ve developed a following of customers who like our stuff.
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.