20 September 2017

Who's Teaching College Students This?

From the Washington Post:
Here’s the problem with suggesting that upsetting speech warrants “safe spaces,” or otherwise conflating mere words with physical assault: If speech is violence, then violence becomes a justifiable response to speech.

Just ask college students. A fifth of undergrads now say it’s acceptable to use physical force to silence a speaker who makes “offensive and hurtful statements.”
That’s one finding from a disturbing new survey of students conducted by John Villasenor, a Brookings Institution senior fellow and University of California at Los Angeles professor.

. . . when students were asked whether the First Amendment protects “hate speech,” 4 in 10 said no. This is, of course, incorrect. Speech promoting hatred — or at least, speech perceived as promoting hatred — may be abhorrent, but it is nonetheless constitutionally protected.
I wonder; does this situation fit into the anti-intellectualism narrative being directed toward those on the right? Certainly, promoting violence toward those with whom you disagree and being ignorant of the First Amendment would qualify as "anti-intellectual", wouldn't it?
More here.

16 September 2017

Relic Post #163 ~ Find Featured in American Digger + More!

Despite the trials and tribulations of life, I have had some great news lately. One of my recent relic recoveries is featured in the latest issue of American Digger Magazine. The coin described below was found on property (with permission, of course) that has direct ties to Thomas Jefferson. In fact, there is circumstantial evidence that Jefferson likely visited the location on several occasions. 

("Incrusted" should be "encrusted.")

Also, as mentioned in a previous post, I was recently invited to become a contributing editor to America's oldest metal detecting, treasure hunting and relic hunting publication: Western & Eastern Treasures Magazine. This is a professional milestone for me and I'm very proud to be associated with this publication. The magazine has been in continuous publication since 1966. W&E T made it official in their latest issue:
 Note: As I prepare to transition to the new blog/webiste, I will slowly be bringing back the previously archived posts I intend to keep. Baby steps, baby steps . . . 

15 September 2017

Relic Hunting Post #162 - Flood Salvage

I know I said my next post's topic would be Robert E. Lee. However, I wanted to pass this timely information along since I recently experienced a flooded basement that put my collection at risk (no serious damage for me), but also due to all the flood damage in the South. Thanks to the good folks at Relic Record for posting this helpful article:

Salvaging Collectibles After a Flood
When the flood waters subside, Houston and its surrounding areas will be required to put forth a mammoth effort in the cleanup, demolition, and reconstruction of homes, businesses, and infrastructure. For those fortunate enough to have survived the storm and return home, some of their possessions, including collectibles, may be salvageable.
Read the rest here

14 September 2017

I'm Back - Well, Sorta

Flooded Office 1

Flooded Office 2
After announcing a sabbatical and reflection on taking a new direction a few weeks ago, readers will notice I'm still posting, though not near as frequent as I previously was. My wife's health is still paramount and consuming some of my time and concentration, as well as other things going on personally.

I'm endeavoring to make my posts less frequent, but more "thoughtful." We'll see how that goes. I'm also still trying to find the time to finish one more project before launching the new blog and website and, at the same time, work on my next book and other writing projects. It's a difficult juggling task. 

I don't know if I mentioned this before, but my basement (where my office is located) flooded this past May and we've just now finished laying the new floor. (See progress above.) We had to tear out all the old carpet and replace it with porcelain tile. It was a labor intensive project, but well worth it.

The good thing about that event is that it forced me to clean out old paperwork, discard some unnecessary books and magazines and organize and de-clutter my office. This has also put most of my other projects on hold as the chaos and disruption consumed my time and hindered my writing efforts.

Anyway, stay tuned. My next post will be titled: "There's More to Robert E. Lee."

09 September 2017

Majority of Americans Oppose Removing Confederate Monuments

If you read many of the sophmoric advocacy posts on some Civil War related blogs and websites, you'll get the distinct impression that most Americans are completely on board with the anti-Confederate monument feeding frenzy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Consider the results noted in a recent Reuters/IPSOS poll:
"A majority of Americans think Confederate monuments should be preserved in public spaces, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll, a view that is at odds with efforts in many cities to remove them."
It is also a view "that is at odds" with many academic historians and politicians. Of course, that's nothing new.
"The Aug. 18-21 poll found that 54 percent of adults said Confederate monuments “should remain in all public spaces” while 27 percent said they 'should be removed from all public spaces.' Another 19 percent said they 'don’t know.'"
And there was another poll which came up with even more favorable results for Confederate monuments. A NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll that . . .
"asked voters if Confederate statues should remain or be removed. Sixty-two percent of the poll’s participants said that the statues should remain. Only 27 percent of the participants believe the statues should be removed."
"Only 27 percent . . . believe the statues should be removed." Not even 1/3 of those polled.

And that same poll revealed:
"Forty-four percent of African Americans believe the Confederate statues should stay in place, while 11 percent said they’re unsure. The remaining 40 percent of African Americans polled said the statues should be removed."
Now, imagine what these numbers would be were it not for the incessant anti-Confederate narrative now dominating the national conversation. Yet, despite the daily anti-Confederate monument drama we're hearing and seeing from most media outlets and from many "objective" historians, the truth is that this is not the view of the majority of Americans. In fact, it's not even close.

04 September 2017

Dr. Jeb Stuart V on Confederate Monuments: Honest Discussion

My great-great grandfather and many others who fought for the Confederacy never wrote about fighting to preserve the enslavement of other human beings. In fact, many found the institution of slavery abhorrent. These soldiers chose to defend their home states, which included slavery. Today, that moral choice stands as the largest stain on our Southern ancestors, regardless of their struggles of conscience or the standards of the day. . . .

We as a community bear the collective responsibility to come to peace with past injustices and do better in the future. The sacrifices of all our ancestors should never be marginalized. The piecemeal revision of our shared history takes away the shining light that defines us as a nation. To borrow the tagline from the Washington Post: Democracy dies in darkness. ~ Dr. Jeb Stuart V
You can read more of Dr. Stuart's thoughts on this topic here.

02 September 2017

Add, Don't Subtract

He deserves his own monument. Add, don't subtract.

01 September 2017

News Lost in the Anti-Monument Frenzy

In North Carolina, there have been more Civil War monuments erected in the last 17 years, than there were in the 50 years from 1940 to 1990. I found that fact stunning. And, of the 36 erected, the majority were Confederate monuments.
“There has been a Civil War memorial boom going on over the last 20 years,” said W. Fitzhugh Brundage, the chairman of the history department at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At least 36 have gone up in North Carolina alone since 2000, he said, as many as were put up between 1940 and 1990. Of those, 20 are to Confederates and four are to Union forces. The rest memorialize the war in general, including one dedicated in 2012 to Civil War horses. [Emphasis mine.] Source: New York Times
Though the NYT piece has a number of factual errors in it, it's still an interesting read. I suspect this trend of adding more monuments on private property will grow. And there are some good arguments being made for "privatizing" monuments and memorials, though that too is problematic; especially since the tradition of a nation honoring its military leaders is deeply entrenched and far older than the United States. Also, despite all the noise and hype over Confederate monuments, a Reuters poll reveals the majority of Americans oppose removing them.

Personally, I prefer adding new monuments, not removing old ones. 

(Also, you will notice that the historians who are most in favor of removing these monuments have,  for the most part, remained silent about the slippery slope that has led to serious efforts to remove monuments honoring everyone from Bill Clinton, to FDR to former New York Mayor Frank Rizzo. I predicted this would happen a long time ago. Where does one draw the line? I think that "drawing of the line" is now impossible and we will ultimately lose a great many works of art, as well as prominently displayed historic artifacts. They will, at best, be tucked away in a museum where few Americans will venture to view them or learn about them.)

26 August 2017

Relic Hunting Post #159: How Relic Hunters Save & Preserve History & Educate the Public

Relic hunters sometimes get a bad rap. Unfairly so for the most part. Of course, you have your bad apples just like any vocation or avocation, but the vast majority of us relic hunt and collect because of our passionate interest in history. Steve Kaighen is one such man. His extensive knowledge of the United States Dragoons (1833-1861) has been acquired through relic recovery and self-education. His knowledge of the subject is quite impressive. And he does it all because of his passion and interest - not because he gets paid to do it. I recommend you view the video below in which Steve shares some of his collection and knowledge with the Nebraska Artifact Show.

24 August 2017

H.L. Hunley Mystery Solved?

Researchers from Duke University have come up with a fascinating theory on the death of the Hunley Crew:
  • The HL Hunley submarine fought for the confederacy and was sunk in 1864
  • It was raised from the bottom of the ocean in 2000 with its eight members of crew still aboard
  • Experts studying the submarine believe a condition called 'blast lung' was responsible for their deaths
  • The force of the torpedo's explosion would have travelled through soft tissue in their bodies
  • They calculate the chance of fatal lung trauma to be at least 85 per cent
More here.

In 2004, there was a memorial service for the Hunley's Virginia crew member, Frank Collins, at the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond. Three of my daughters had the privilege of singing at the service. And just in case you've never seen it, I'd highly recommend this:

16 August 2017

A New Direction & Some Personal Notes

This has been a long time coming. Some personal updates that relate to this blog and my writing career . . .

This past year has been full of challenges for my family and me. These challenges, along with a number of other things, have led me to the conclusion that I need to refocus in regards to my writing and research.

3 years ago, my wife was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis. This is a life threatening, debilitating disease that, in most cases, is terminal. Even so, she has managed very well and even continued to work until this past February. However, her health has deteriorated and I've debated for some time about the energy and time it takes to post and maintain a blog like this one. Other things need to take priority in my life with just one of them being the health and care of my wife. Yesterday, she began taking a very strong  medication which may or may not stop the progression of the disease. A lung transplant is a real possibility if the disease continues to worsen. In addition, I have 2 daughters with some serious health concerns. Again, I need to refocus. Spending the last week away on vacation with my wife and some of my children and grandchildren, along with the evil and tragedy that occurred in Charlottesville, has prompted me to reflect and take inventory. I found myself wanting in some areas and I intend to correct that.

In addition to this situation this blog, rather than complimenting my primary writing efforts, has actually become a distraction and a hindrance. I've attempted to refocus on other occasions, but have failed. So, going forward, I'm going to step back for a while and put more effort into writing for other publications and websites and try to make some headway on my next book. This blog will go to the back burner for at least the near future.

I've archived all previous posts and will slowly work my way through the ones I want to bring back and move over to a new website and blog. This will take some time. I will post a notice here once that new website is up and running.

The rancor and contention that has taken over much of historical discussion and debate has become very taxing. It sucks the creative energy from me as a writer and I'm as much to blame as anyone for allowing that to happen to me, so I'll throw no stones.

The new site and blog will have a totally different feel and look and a different focus, with a primary focus on Virginia  history as well as relic hunting and historical preservation. 

Stay tuned.

01 May 2017

Relic Hunting Post #151 - Liberty in the Shenandoah Valley

I've recently received permission to explore and metal detect several very historic homesites here in the Shenandoah Valley. On one recent quick survey excursion to one of these sites, I was able to make several interesting discoveries. Below is one of them. It's an 1820 Coronet Head Liberty Large Cent. These American copper coins were minted from 1816 to 1839. When I first recovered it, detail was rather sparse and I could not make out a date through the incrustation that had accumulated through the years it had been in the ground. So I boiled it in some hydrogen peroxide and gently worked it with a soft toothbrush. I then applied some coconut oil and Renaissance wax. She finally came to life and revealed her secrets. The site actually predates the mint of the coin. I hope to do a lot of exploration of this site and write a detailed history of the home and its inhabitants at some point in the future.