23 May 2016

Southern Heritage, Southern Family, Southern Tradition: Part 1

As we approach Memorial Day each year, a lot of fond memories always come to my mind of childhood summers growing up in the Shenandoah Valley. With that in mind, I'm going to post a series on "Southern Heritage, Southern Family, Southern Tradition." Part one is simply some a couple of audio/videos featuring a couple of songs from a recently released album by various country artists. It's a great way to introduce the series - for a whole host of reasons.

As a number of bloggers (who claim to be professional historians) take almost daily victory laps over the removal of Confederate icons from the South's landscape, many Southerners simply shake their heads and continue to live their lives, despite the cultural cleansing. The South is so much more than the four years that made up the War Between the States, though that is a very important part. (I'll address that some in Part 2.) But if you think that Confederate icons are the real issue, you're quite naive. But I digress. 

Part of the South's great heritage is its music. A recently released album both celebrates the South's music traditions, and our way of life as well. To those readers who grew up in the small town, rural South, these songs will resonate. To those who didn't, it's an opportunity to learn.
Perhaps it was defeat and dislocation that solidified the need for deep roots, for tangible heroes and subtle pleasures.  Time moved with the rhythm of nature, slow and plodding.  Southerners had time to think, reflect, and pray under the hot sun and long growing seasons.  They lived in the dirt.  They communed with the dead and wept for the living.  They were patient.  They had a reflective acceptance of the present, knowing that for many tradition served as a reminder of better times.  They knew that death was a journey with God. This pain made great music.  It still does. ~ Dr. Brion McLanahan
Here's a couple of my favorites from this new album, Southern Family:

19 May 2016

Yale: John Calhoun Stays - But What About Elihu Yale?

Despite decades of fervent student protests that reached a peak last fall, the president of Yale announced on Wednesday that the university would keep the name of a residential college honoring the 19th-century politician and white supremacist John C. Calhoun. . . . “Universities have to be the places where tough conversations happen,” he said. “I don’t think that is advanced by hiding our past.” (Unless, of course, we're talking about Confederate monuments, then we do have to hide the past or, at least, vandalize it.)
More here.

Oh my, the virtue-signaling, moral reformers in academia are in such a moral dilemma these days, aren't they? The facts and truth keep rearing their ugly heads to bite them in the butt. One ugly truth is their intellectual bankruptcy which has mated with their rank hypocrisy and produced one ugly little freak. This is what happens when you use history for a morality play. Tsk, tsk, tsk. (Shouldn't a number of Civil War bloggers take a hint? Yes, but they won't. They're too heavily invested in their preferred narrative. As Hillary Clinton would say, "I come too far.")

I mean, seriously, if there is going to be any honest discussion about Yale renaming a residential college named after John Calhoun, shouldn't there be a discussion to rename Yale itself? After all, Elihu Yale (whom the school was named after) was involved (at least indirectly) in the slave trade and there was even this portrait which, until very recently, hung in Woodbridge Hall on the campus of Yale. It depicts Yale (along with others) being served by a young black boy with a silver collar around his neck:

Though this painting was removed a couple of years ago, how it was interpreted by at least one student is telling:
. . . there’s no doubting the fact that he [Elihu Yale] participated in the slave trade, profiting from the sale of humans just as he profited from the sale of so many actual objects that were part of the East India trade empire. As such, Elihu Yale’s wealth was linked to a global economy that was deeply, practically inextricably, interwoven with the sale of human beings to other human beings. In fact, when we look at the paintings it is safe to assume that Elihu Yale was a willing participant in that economy. Since he could have selected anything to represent him in these paintings we can conclude that he chose to be depicted with enslaved people because he believed this narrative would best signify his wealth, power, and worldliness.[Source.]
So if we use the same logic used in regards to Confederate figures and icons in the South, Yale should change its name. Why don't we hear that demand from the "historians" in the blogosphere? That's simple. It does not serve the purpose of their agenda, at least not yet.

And maybe, in this instance, the administration at Yale realized that Calhoun was the low-hanging fruit and once he had been vanquished, the offended would aim higher - at Elihu Yale. And what might alumni benefactors have to say about that? All that there moral reformin' could get expensive. Virtue-signaling evidently has a budget limit.

Of course, in more reasonable times, important historical figures in our nation's history were not judged by the presentism-obsessed, virtue signaling, moral reformers in academia as they are today. Rather, they were judged by the contributions they made with an understanding that they were simply products of the times in which they lived. That's how adults think. Take, for example, John Kennedy's understanding of this reality:

For 8 years in the U.S. Senate I have occupied a seat which was once held in the Senate, from Massachusetts, by a distinguished Senator, Senator Daniel Webster. He served in the time before 1850, when the Senate was at its height, and included within its ranks Lewis Cass, Clay, Douglas, Benton, and all the rest. But none of these were considered by Daniel Webster to match the talents and the character of the Senator from South Carolina, John C. Calhoun. They were both born in the same year; Calhoun was a native of Abingdon, S.C. They both went to college in New England, one to Yale and the other to Dartmouth. They had both entered Congress as young men, and they stayed in Congress for 40 years, until they died in 1850, John Calhoun, and in 1852 Senator Daniel Webster. They worked together on foreign relations, the development of the United States, fiscal improvements. Each served in the House as well as in the Senate. Each was Secretary of State. And yet through most of their lives, they also differed on great questions. But to his dying day, Senator Daniel Webster said of John C. Calhoun, "He was much the ablest man I ever knew. He could have demolished Newton, Calvin, or Locke as a logician." He admired above all his powerful mind and his courage.
Sitting as I do in the U.S. Senate, succeeding Senator Webster in succession, I have also admired John C. Calhoun. When I was selected as chairman of a committee to pick five outstanding Senators in the history of this country, John C. Calhoun's name led all the rest, and his painting is now in the Senate reception room. And when I wrote a book about courageous Senators, I mentioned John C. Calhoun. I am not here in South Carolina to make glittering promises or glowing predictions, but to express the hope that in 1960, South Carolina and the Nation will be guided by the spirit of Calhoun and his courage. "I never know what South Carolina thinks of a measure," he once said. "I act to the best of my judgment and according to my conscience. If she approves, well and good. If she does not, and wishes anyone to take my place, I am ready to vacate. We are even."~ Senator John F. Kennedy, Columbia, South Carolina, 10 October 1960
(Uh-oh - are there any buildings named after Kennedy at Yale?)

This whole issue at Yale reveals a number of things about the juvenility of many modern historians and academics:
  1.  They're rank hypocrites and phonies.
  2.  They have an agenda and one that's easily recognized by a growing number of Americans and even professional historians within academia, such as Professor Gordon S. Wood.
  3. They're doing a great disservice to students and Americans in general by their own, self-serving, self-centered moral posturing. (Which is why Americans go elsewhere to learn about American history.)
I would suggest readers do what more and more Americans are doing when you read and hear about such nonsense. Roll your eyes and laugh at them.

17 May 2016

Academia is Actually Turning Things Around . . .

How encouraging:
As an institution of higher learning, we recognize that it’s inevitable that certain contentious topics will come up from time to time, and when they do, we want to create an atmosphere where both students and faculty feel comfortable voicing . . .
More here.

You know what's really cool about this? History bloggers have provided an example to follow. Kudos. 

15 May 2016

Justice Clarence Thomas on Academia and Political Correctness

From his commencement address at Hillsdale College:
Thomas lamented various aspects of contemporary society, especially with regard to colleges and universities. He diagnosed what he regards as a contemporary tendency to take pride in having "grievances rather than personal conduct" and to focus on individual rights as citizens, rather than responsibilities. "Hallmarks of my youth such as patriotism and religion seem more like outliers, if not afterthoughts," Thomas said.
Said in other words, progressives in academia have turned values and common sense on their heads. And they revel in it, parading their pseudo-intellectualism as enlightenment. They've become caricatures. History will judge them accordingly. 

And I so love this quote:
Thomas said he learned this from his grandfather, who taught him to revere "duty, honor [and] country" even though he was raised in a racially-segregated society. "He knew that though not nearly perfect, our constitutional ideals were perfectible if we worked to protect them rather than to undermine them," the justice said. "Don't discard that which is precious along with that which is tainted."
So simple, yet so timely and profound. 

More here.

14 May 2016

Perception vs. Reality: American Exceptionalism

I just read an interview conducted by the Library of America with Professor Gordon Wood. It's worth reading. This question/response jumped out at me:
LOA: It has become a commonplace in American politics today to call the United States an exceptional nation. Would Adams have agreed?
Wood: Jefferson believed that the United States was a chosen nation with a special responsibility to spread democracy around the world. More than any other figure in our history Jefferson is responsible for the idea of American exceptionalism. Adams could not have disagreed more. Deeply versed in history, he said over and over that America had no special providence, no special role in history, that Americans were no different from other peoples, that the United States was just as susceptible to viciousness and corruption as any other nation. In this regard, at least, Jefferson’s vision has clearly won the day.
While I agree with the good professor that, in regards to American Exceptionalism, "Jefferson's vision has clearly won the day", I would also note that it's quite obvious that Adams was certainly correct in pointing out that, in Wood's words, "the United States was just as susceptible to viciousness and corruption as any other nation." Read the news lately?

So I do not believe that Jefferson's and Adams's positions are mutually exclusive. I'd also be quick to point out that it's not quite as "commonplace", even in politics (particularly among leftists)
"to call the United States an exceptional nation", unless, of course, one believes the U.S. is "exceptional" because of its (ostensibly) "history of oppression." That perspective also serves a particular agenda and many in academia provide the faux intellectual cover for that agenda.

You can read the interview here.

13 May 2016

Time For Another Edition of Academia Gone Wild

Skinny Confederate soldiers caused Americans to hate fat people
Regarding a recent presentation at the University of Minnesota:
Tovar’s talk, entitled “Dispelling Myths: Fat, Fatphobia, and Challenging Social Stereotypes,” was designed to help students understand that “fat phobia” is rampant in a “white, heteronormative society” that is looking to actively oppress people with larger body types. Society’s bias against fat people is, apparently, a form of bigotry and discrimination, evident in everything from sexual preferences to the size of seats on public transportation. She even, reportedly, compared society’s anti-fat culture to so-called “rape culture,” and chastised society for its obsession with what she termed “thin privilege.”
Since one of the popular Civil War blogs has featured comments on "rape culture" and the hip "privilege" thing, I fully expect that blog to somehow jam this into Civil War "perspective" (remember, it ain't about history). Let's see, maybe this will work:
Since most Confederate soldiers were thin, they were an intricate part of pushing America's bigoted "anti-fat culture" which oppresses and enslaves millions of obese Americans. This oppression is made even worse since much of Southern cuisine is so much more delicious than its Yankee competition and is often fried with lots of butter. We should therefore remove any and all monuments of skinny Confederate soldiers and replace them with one depicting someone more robust, like this:
We should also ban all fried foods as a symbol of oppression and hatred. That is all.

11 May 2016

Historian Paul Johnson on Political Correctness

PC has an enormous appeal to the semieducated, one reason that it’s struck roots among overseas students at minor colleges. But it also appeals to pseudo-intellectuals everywhere, since it evokes the strong streak of cowardice notable among those wielding academic authority nowadays. Any empty-headed student with a powerful voice can claim someone (never specified) will be “hurt” by a hitherto harmless term, object or activity and be reasonably assured that the dons and professors in charge will show a white feather and do as the student demands. Thus, there isn’t a university campus on either side of the Atlantic that’s not in danger of censorship. The brutal young don’t even need to impose it themselves; their trembling elders will do it for them. ~ Paul Johnson

06 May 2016

Defining the "Good Southerner"

The “Good Southerner” has much in common with his cousin the “Good Indian.” The “Good Indian” was that Native American who agreed to settle his wandering ways and adopt the ways of the European. During the wars on the Plains, the “Good Indian” stayed on the reservation, learned to farm, occasionally scouted for the U. S. Calvary, and for his efforts received spoiled rations, whiskey, and a Henry rifle. His less “good” countrymen held him in suspicion and contempt for abandoning the paths of his fathers. The trap the “Good Indian” found himself in was truly pathetic. No matter how high he rose on the ladder of “civilization,” no matter how obsequious he was to his white masters, he remained an Indian. Phil Sheridan, the maker of war upon women and children in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley captured the predicament quite well, “The only good Indians I ever saw were dead.” The “Good Southerner” is a more sinister and less sympathetic type. He adopts the simplistic, Manichean, moral vision of his cultural imperator and condemns any and all things that his betters condemn. If the Northern Myth of the War must replace the Southern Myth of the War then so be it, and the truth be damned. If the monuments are to come down, the flags forever furled, and the songs effaced, then to it man! Our ancestors were villains and the moral imperators must be appeased! But of course they shall never be appeased; the elect are always in need of the damned in order to be affirmed.
The “Good Southerner’s” duplicity lay in his unfaithfulness. He cares not a whit about the half-truths and detractions hurled at his ancestors, or for the distortion of history. There is money to be made, foreign industry to attract, basketball tournaments to host, bowl games to sponsor. His ancestors who are deserving of pietas for their virtues and achievements and understanding and forgiveness for their sins and defects (for who among us is without sin?) instead have been dishonored. The South was once, together with Ireland, the last non-material civilization in the West; now it has certain sons and daughters more than willing to put the patrimony up for sale, for it is always about money and power with the secular puritan and the “Good Southerner” on the make. The “Good Southerner” is the ultimate secessionist, for he has undertaken a secession of the heart. He is less pathetic and more sinister because he not only allows his enemy to define him; he welcomes this alienation as a sign of redemption and acceptance. He no longer remembers who he is, and is happy for his ignorance of and alienation from his history and his culture.  ~ Dr. John Devanny
More here.

03 May 2016

The Wisdom of a Yankee

Like much of early Americana, agronomy changed and began its decline during the Civil War period. Young men returned from an unnecessary war too disillusioned to go back to where they had left off: they had seen big cities and quick money. Daddy was no longer the “lord of the earth’; he was regarded as an archaic stay-at-home comic character called Rube, with shoddy clothes, rubber boots and chewing on a blade of grass. The farmstead was no longer an estate built up and left to generation after generation; from then on, children would inherit money instead, and capitalism would become as much a personal philosophy as a national economy. ~ Eric Sloane
As I've noted many times before, Eric Sloane is one of the unknown jewels of American writers and has been a favorite of mine for many years. His simple wisdom is absolutely profound and priceless. He can say more in a paragraph than most modern writers can say in a whole book.

27 April 2016

The Work of Education Experts (sic)

Despite record amounts of spending and "advanced" methods of teaching, America's education establishment continues it's course of epic failure.
It’s not a promising picture for the nation’s high school seniors — they are slipping in math, not making strides in reading and only about one-third are prepared for the academic challenges of entry-level college courses.
These are the same people who are suggesting that parents aren't qualified to teach their own children. Uh-huh. More here.

23 April 2016

The Faith of Modern Atheists . . .

is in the state.

Stefan Molyneux is a Canadian blogger and author, as well as a libertarian atheist. A friend recently recommended this video in which Molyneux voices his growing "problems" with his fellow atheists. I found his commentary quite insightful.

Though I don't agree with everything Molyneux says here, I believe his perspective is very (and spot on in many remarks) interesting and well worth contemplating. (And I say that as a former Darwinist/agnostic.) It's also rather humorous at times. His comments regarding reason and evidence are refreshing and those views are, at least in part, what led me to become a believer and follower of Jesus Christ.

And though he and I would have a number of serious disagreements on several important issues (based on the views he presents here), I'd be honored to have him as a neighbor and friend. 

Are you open-minded enough to watch and consider? Peace.

20 April 2016

More Discrimination & Mind Control in Academia

Image source.
This is just the latest . . . 
The student–Sarah–is seeking entry into a “teacher-credential program,” and although her academic abilities are “not strong,” the professor recognizes her as “a class leader” with “great energy.” But the professor does not want to write a recommendation because of Sarah’s desire for a concealed carry permit and also because of comments Sarah made about shooting a rifle at a gun range.
More here and here

Remember, it's not about "education", it's about politics, indoctrination and mind control, which is why only one perspective on American history is allowed.

Fundamentals for the Virginia Yeoman

As I prepare to launch the new website and blog, The Virginia Yeoman, I felt a need to brush up on some of my philosophical underpinnings. So, with that in mind, this will occupy a prominent place on my nightstand for at least the next few months.

Though I read Owsley's work many years ago, I did so hurriedly. My experiences since then, along with other reading and research, have shaped my worldview to the point I need to revisit this fascinating book. Of course, Owsley addresses a number of issues in this history of Southern culture that will be germane to the new website.

Wiki has this to say about Plain Folk of the Old South:
In rejecting the Lost Cause of the Confederacy and the New South's romantic legends, Owsley sought to uncover a "real" South, what he called the plain folk. He characterized the postwar South as made up of a broad class of yeoman farmers, between poor blacks, many of whom were sharecroppers in a kind of debt bondage, and poor whites at one end, and large plantation owners at the opposite end of the economic spectrum. Owsley asserted that the real South was liberal, American, and Jeffersonian, not radical or reactionary.
Critics suggested Owsley was a reactionary defender of the Confederacy. They said he was attempting to rewrite the past to preserve white Southern culture. They said he overemphasized the size of the Southern landholding middle class, while excluding the large class of poor white southerners who owned neither land nor slaves. Further, they suggested Owsley's theory assumed too much commonality in shared economic interests united Southern farmers. Critics believed that he did not fully assess the vast difference between the planters' commercial agriculture and the yeoman's subsistence farming.
Though neither of these descriptions are totally accurate, I believe the first one comes the closest to "getting it."

19 April 2016

Somethin' I Saw Today - Spring in the Shenandoah 2016

Took this photo yesterday a few miles from my home, looking North, near Indian Ridge Road in Augusta County, Virginia.

And, providentially, this from the WAPO:

“Something about contact with nature is soothing and restorative and thereby good for mental health.”

They're just figuring that out?

Put another way: God's Creation is superior to man's creation.

Today's College Students

University students are increasingly unable to read a whole book as they simply don’t have the concentration spans required, nor are they able to understand complex, nuanced arguments, academics have said. Lecturers at leading British universities are having to actively encourage students to read beyond the set texts, and have noticed that students are increasingly unwilling to read whole texts. They say they believe internet culture is to blame . . .
More here.