The process can be painfully slow, but institutions and traditions do change, even deeply conservative ones like playing dress-up in college. The cancellation of the Kappa Alpha “Old South” parade at the University of Alabama shows that progress really does happen, albeit slowly.
Kappa Alpha’s president says the fraternity has canceled its annual Old South parade a year after the event was charged as racially insensitive following an incident involving a historically black sorority.
What is an “Old South” parade? Good question.
An Old South parade is when college women dress up in Gone with the Wind style outfits (I'm doubtful Southern women circa 1865 actually wore anything remotely resembling those skirts) and college men dress up like the losers in a war that ended 145 years ago. Then both sexes get together and ride around campus in the back of pickup-trucks — unwashed pickup trucks if that photo is any indication — with Confederate flags. And they sometimes stop for a long time in front of historically black sorority houses. Lot's of fun, I'm sure, especially getting in and out of a pickup bed wearing 20 yards of fabric.
But this really fun tradition is thankfully over, at least at Alabama, and the wearing of Confederate uniforms on campus is over everywhere, by order of the fraternity itself:
In the memo to chapters, Kappa Alpha's national executive director, Larry Wiese, said such displays had to end.”In today's climate, the Order can ill afford to offend our host institutions and fend off significant negative national press and remain effective at our core mission, which is to aid young men in becoming better community leaders and citizens,” Wiese wrote.
The KAs are kind of like the Republican party: almost exclusively Southern and in danger of complete irrelevance. Their leaders have recognized that strutting around campus dressed up like Confederate soldiers looks downright silly to everybody else, offends many and detracts from whatever positive message the organization would like to convey.
Thomas Williams, president of the UA chapter of Kappa Alpha, said in a statement Thursday that the members chose to cancel the Old South parade after deciding that it was not “in congruence with our values as an organization.”
“We support an inclusive campus environment, and as an organization we chose not to participate in an activity that we knew other members of the community found offensive,” he said.
Unfortunately, not all KA's are similarly enlightened — read the comments to the Crimson White article and notice how many of these fine fellows believe they're being discriminated against — it's even worse at hate websites like Stormwatch.
The Old South has perfected the art of victimhood and put it on a pedestal right up there beside the hoop-skirted women of the silver screen, to be celebrated it at every opportunity. This is a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's time to leave the dead past in the past, guys, and move forward to at least the 20th century even if you can't yet bear to join the rest of us in the 21st. I feel sure Robert E. Lee, whom you claim to revere so much, would offer the same advice.