31 May 2009

Celebrating Manly Heroes

I've commented before on celebratory history and how elites in academia like to focus on the "sins of the fathers" in their perspective. This approach, contrary to their claims, is agenda driven and is part of the broader culture war against American exceptionalism and the re-writing of American history.

I recently came across an anecdotal comment that, in a small but profound way, points this out. One of my favorite sites is The Art of Manliness. The advice and commentary offered there is always fresh and always inspirational; though it hearkens back to a time when men were a lot more like John Wayne and a lot less like Matt Lauer - your father's and grandfather's day. It's a popular site, even in this very "unmanly age" in which we find ourselves living.

The host of this site is Brett McKay, a recent law school graduate and brilliant marketing guru. In one of his recent posts, Brett commented:

"I got to experience Dr. Fears in the flesh as a student at the University of Oklahoma; his classes always filled within minutes and students would sit on the floor and in the aisles hoping to get into his class. Listening to Dr. Fears on CD isn’t quite the same as the live-action version; part of the experience is seeing this bald little fat man pretend to decapitate and stab students. But if you want to be inspired by the heroes of the ancient world, his lectures will give you a nice kick in the pants. While many history professors these days concentrate only on the “sins” of our past, Dr. Fears is an old school guy who skillfully examines the lives of history’s great men, distilling out their lessons in how to live a more moral and ethical life."

Those of you who teach, observe and learn.

30 May 2009

Criminalizing Thought, Speech, & Opinion

I promised in an earlier post to respond to some comments made by a historian on another Civil War blog. The comments that are the subject of this post were related to the never-ending debate regarding both free blacks and slaves that served in the Confederate Army and how, if at all, those individuals should be recognized, honored, and remembered. I'm not going to get into that debate again. I've written about it here and other places. I've also addressed the issue, to some extent, in my book about Stonewall Jackson and his black Sunday school class. I spent countless hours researching that book and touched on, at least in a narrow sense, that controversial subject. Suffice it to say that I believe some have inflated the numbers of blacks who did serve and have not done the research required to substantiate their claims. Others seem to want to ignore their service altogether; whether that service was as a cook, teamster, laborer, or in some circumstances, a soldier. My own position is simple. Since these men were in the army, they deserve to be recognized and honored in an appropriate manner that brings dignity to their memory.

But my comments here are specifically in response to this particular historian's suggestion that those who interpret this aspect of history differently than he does should be charged criminally. My comments are only in response to that suggestion, and not to this individual personally.

Regarding the original post, the relevant comments made by this historian are:

"I’m not advocating jail time—at least not for most cases. It depends on the present-day goal for which one is abusing an essential historical truth."

And . . .

"If that means issuing citations (outlawing can mean misdemeanors), then so be it."

And . . .

"Perhaps the fear of violating this mild law would free up historians. . ." (Emphasis mine).

Yes, perhaps fear would "free up" some historians - it would also "shut up" others. Is that the real purpose?

When I first read these comments and the comments that followed, I had to do a double-take. The rather late and tepid response of the blog host also surprised me. The lack of chastisement (with a few exceptions) from the many academics that read this particular blog was also a big surprise and, in my opinion, a damning indictment.

Before I get into my comments, a little about my background may help some of you understand my passion in responding to the suggestion that government agents should police "essential historical truth", thought, academic freedom, speech, opinion, historical interpretation, and free expression. Though I'm not an attorney and certainly no legal scholar, I do have extensive technical training in the area of criminal law. I'm a trained paralegal, worked as a magistrate for the Commonwealth of Virginia for 12 years, and served on Virginia's Criminal Justice Services Board for 4 years. During that time, I interacted with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and officers, judges, bail bondsman, and attorneys on a daily basis. I still have some contact with many of these professionals and remain friends with many of them as well. During this time I witnessed, up close, the daily sausage mill that is our criminal justice system. Sometimes, it works well and as it was intended. At other times, it does not work at all and grinds out great injustices. Please keep that in mind.

In addition to my initial training, magistrates are required to fulfill annual continuing education requirements which were often taught by judges, constitutional attorneys, law-enforcement professionals, and law professors. These CE classes were also approved for attorney's fulfillment of their CE requirements. The position also required magistrates to keep up with the annual legislative changes, attorney general opinions, and court rulings that impacted laws and procedure and the rights of citizens.

During this time, (but not connected to my state positions) I also co-produced a video series with a constitutional attorney and legal scholar which won a national award from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge. This project involved research at the National Archives and, along with my technical training, gave me an even broader understanding of the underlying principles upon which our law is based. Also adding to my knowledge on this topic was my work with a well-known, national, non-profit legal organization which specializes in defending churches and Christians on first amendment issues.

One of a magistrate's most frequent duties is conducting probable cause hearings for arrest warrants - both for law enforcement officers as well as citizens' complaints. We also conducted probable cause hearings for search warrants and were well-versed in 4th amendment search and seizure issues. Issuing a search warrant incorrectly or without probable cause could, and did, result in cases being tossed out of court. I took my duties seriously. Of course, issuing the search warrant gave government agents the authority to legally intrude upon a citizen's privacy and always made me a little squeamish if there was ANY hint of uncertainty. While I would consider myself "pro law-enforcement", I was not at all shy about denying warrants to police if probable cause was weak or absent. My refusal to become a rubber-stamp for law enforcement gained me respect, as well as a few enemies. It also allowed me to sleep well at night.

While most law-enforcement officers are honorable, duty-conscious, and are committed to doing the very best job possible, there were always those who were over-zealous cowboys out to make an impression, who took criminal offenses personally, or who were just plain sloppy in their work. Fortunately, they were in the minority.

But I've seen what the abuse of our legal system can do to someone. I've seen it close up. Even the innocent get their name splashed all over their local newspaper, are often forced to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to defend themselves and then, when the state fails to prove their guilt, have no way to recoup their money or the terrible drain on their emotions and time, not to say what it does to their families and reputations. Yes, fear is a powerful motivator, no doubt.

I've seen this abuse committed by law-enforcement, by over-jealous prosecutors, other magistrates, and judges. It is one of the reasons I've become somewhat of a cynic when it comes to our legal system specifically, and our political system in general. Everyone who works within the system knows it's broken, but very few are willing to admit it, for obvious reasons. The ever-increasing power of the state should be of great concern; regardless of your political affiliation. If you're ever so unfortunate to fall victim to abuse within our legal system, you're in for a very rude awakening.

With this knowledge as a background, I hope readers can appreciate why I was appalled by the suggestion that we hand the power of policing thought, speech, academic expression, and historical interpretation over to government agents. It is absolutely unconscionable.

Let that notion sink in for a moment. It has been put on the table for consideration. Think about it and all the ramifications. There are many.

First of all, who will define, enforce, and police "essential historical truth"? It would have to be a federal statute, certainly we would want "consensus" since that's ostensibly the problem - disagreement over history. Would this responsibility be given to the FBI? Or would we have to create a new agency? What would we call this new law? The Anti-State Academic Non-Intellectual Noncompliance Enforcement act (A.S.A.N.I.N.E)? Who would set the guidelines for what is and what is not acceptable historical interpretation? Legal scholars? Academics? Which ones - those from Harvard and Yale or those from Liberty University and Regent University? Perhaps we would have a "Truth Czar." Who would you recommend, Nancy Pelosi or Dick Cheney?

What would be the punishment? Fines? Jail? Both? Would offenders be required to attend "re-education camps" where they would be given the opportunity to "get their mind right?" What about repeat offenders? Enhanced penalties for the non-compliant? What about forfeiture of assets associated with the "crime?" How would a complaint be investigated? Would the FBI interrogate your local librarian about what books you've checked out recently? Would they interview the clerk at your local bookstore and look at the tapes from the security cameras to see what you've been reading in order to support their case? Or would all libraries and bookstores be purged of any history related material that's not "approved" by the government? What would happen to that material and those books? Would they be burned? Or perhaps put in a state-approved museum with an interpretive plaque with state-approved text? Would RFID chips be planted in certain books so the reader could be tracked to any meeting he might attend and to see who he shared the book with?

Would classrooms be monitored to make sure teachers and professors don't stray from the party line? Would students who ask "dangerous" questions be interrogated as to what their intent was in posing the question?

Would your computer files be searched, your internet browsing tracked? Would discussion boards be monitored by government agents watching for comments which challenge state-approved thought and "truth?" If you were "non-cooperative" would a SWAT team be sent to your home with automatic weapons to break down your door, confiscate your library, and search your home for "contraband" literature?

And what about all the current literature already in print that challenges whatever the current orthodoxy happens to be? Would it have to be rounded up and disposed of? Or would it be "grandfathered" with the new law only applying to new works published? Would there be enhanced punishment for "dealers" (Publishers and bookstores) and lesser penalties for simple "possession?"

And if this were to become law, shouldn't it be expanded to other academic disciplines as well? After all, in the 1960's it was just against the law to throw paper out on the highway, now we have all kinds of environmental laws in place that can land you in jail for a very long time. The natural inclination for laws and statutes are to expand their scope and reach. Every year in Virginia alone we see between 2000 and 4000 new bills (laws) introduced into the legislature. Being a "crime-fighter" gets you lots of votes from the paranoid masses.

Why not apply this concept to environmental studies and science? If a scientist or climatologist suggests that global-warming is either non-existent or a natural occurrence, shouldn't that be made a criminal offense, as some have already suggested?

And what about those who deny evolution and Darwinism? Isn't that dangerous? Should they be allowed to teach such non state-approved beliefs, especially to children? After all, most academics embrace Darwinism so isn't that enough to prove it as "accepted fact" and wouldn't it be in the best interest of the state to outlaw the teaching of Creationism by anyone?

Suppose the "extreme right-wing" gets control of government again? Would they turn the tables and make it a crime to . . .

  • Deny Creation?
  • Deny the evils of Communism? It's a proven historical fact, is it not, that millions have died under the brutality of Communism? Yet we have many in academia who sing the praises of Mao and Marx.
  • Deny the benefits of a free market? (Again, rather easy to prove this "essential truth.")

If these questions make you uncomfortable or angry, good. That is the intent.

I hope I've demonstrated that suggesting that academic interpretations should be policed by government agents is an outrageous idea and is antithetical to the uniquely American ideal of a free people with the freedom to express ideas and views - even if they are wrong.

Unfortunately, we are seeing an alarming acceleration in government efforts to limit freedom and liberty in this country, including speech and thought. This is the natural outgrowth of political correctness. This statist philosophy does not trust citizens. It treats us all like children; unable to make the right decision, unable to discern truth, unable to take care of ourselves, unable to choose the right car, the right food, the right education, the right books, the right light bulbs and always in need of "guidance" and "policing" by those who are (ostensibly) smarter than the rest of us; for our own good of course.

Sorry, this is one American who sees through the statist's real goal - power and control.

"We trust Americans to recognize propaganda and misinformation, and to make their own decisions about what they read and believe." ~ The American Library Association

“I would prefer some obnoxious speech [rather] than teaching students that they must please government officials if they want special benefits or opportunities.” ~ Jonathan Turley, professor of law, George Washington University

“I also believe that academic freedom should protect the right of a professor or student to advocate Marxism, socialism, communism, or any other minority viewpoint-no matter how distasteful to the majority . . .” ~ Richard Nixon

“I do this real moron thing, it's called thinking, and I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions.” ~ George Carlin

"He that would make his own liberty secure, must guard even his enemy from opposition; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach himself." ~ Thomas Paine
"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." ~ Thomas Paine

"Errors of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it." ~ Thomas Jefferson

"All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent." ~ Thomas Jefferson
"I am mortified to be told that, in the United States of America, the sale of a book can become a subject of inquiry, and of criminal inquiry too." ~ Thomas Jefferson
"Without Freedom of Thought there can be no such thing as wisdom; and no such thing as public liberty, without freedom of speech." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Wouldn't you agree?

(Image is Norman Rockwell's Freedom of Speech)

29 May 2009

Equally Responsible

"A century and a half after the end of the Civil War, most Americans still think of slavery as a purely Southern institution. The enduring image of American bondage is that of lines of black men and women picking cotton on a plantation in a Southern state. In fact, the North was equally responsible for American slavery, as shown by the authors of Complicity. Before the Civil War, Northern industries such as textiles and shipbuilding flourished as a result of the free labor of millions of black people. The only difference was that Northerners could profit from slavery at a distance – and were in a better position to deny their complicity." ~ Boston Public Library

A Chat With Dale Gallon About His New Print

This Gallon print graces the spot above my fireplace mantle.

28 May 2009

More On Bearing Our Shared Cross

". . . we already know the story of the South. The South's story is set on a plantation in Mississippi or Louisiana or any other Southern state where overseers brandished whips over slaves picking cotton. In contrast, the North's story is thought to be heroic, filled with ardent abolitionists running that train to freedom, the Underground Railroad. The few slaves who may have lived in the North, it has been believed, were treated like members of the family. And, of course, Northerners were the good guys in the Civil War. They freed the slaves. Not all of the above is exactly mythology, but it is a convenient and whitewashed shorthand."

And . . .

"The truth is that slavery was a national phenomenon. The North shared in the wealth it created, and in the oppression it required . . . By and large, the region's [North] relationship with slavery, though extraordinarily profitable, was a distant one. That distance allowed the North to minimize and even deny its link with the institution that fueled its prosperity." (Emphasis mine) ~ Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited from Slavery, pages xxv-xxvi

Bearing A Shared Cross

"In effect, northern gradual-abolition laws have gotten the North off the hook, persuading historians who were educated and who taught in the North for more than a century that slavery was a southern problem rather than a national problem. The regional animosity associated with the Civil War also suffused the consciousness of northern historians, heightening their tendency to ignore the fact that slavery was not simply a southern problem in the post-[Revolutionary]-war era." ~ Gary B. Nash, “Race and Revolution,” Cambridge University Press, 1990, p.30. (Emphasis mine).

And that same attitude and perspective continues, in large measure, to this very day. Thus the negative emphasis on the South on many academic blogs. It is the alter-ego of the Lost Cause mentality in the South.

27 May 2009

First, It Was The Confederate Flag . . .

Debbie McLucas is one of four hospital supervisors at Kindred Hospital in Mansfield. Last week, she hung a three-by-five foot American flag in the office she shares with the other supervisors.
When McLucas came to work Friday, her boss told her another supervisor had found her flag offensive. "I was just totally speechless. I was like, 'You're kidding me,'" McLucas said.

Complete story here.

I would fire the complaining supervisor for being an un-American, whining, cry baby and escort that person to the door and then I would plaster the walls with American flags.

More On Northern Secessionists

New York:

"There were 337 weekly newspapers in New York, according to the 1860 United States Census. Of these, it was possible to locate and determine the positions of secession taken by 98 dailies or weeklies and three monthlies."

"Of these 101, 46 newspapers endorsed some form of secession. None of them favored New York's joining the South. However, the Albany Atlas and Argus wanted New York to join a central confederacy. Twenty-four opposed the use of coercion and argued that the South be permitted to leave the Union. An additional seven opposed coercion of the South but did not advocate that the South be permitted to go in peace, even though the end result would be the same. Three New York newspapers recommended that New York City secede, they were the New York Morning Express, Day Book, and Daily News." ~ The Secession Movement in the Mid-Atlantic States by William C. Wright (Associated University Presses, Inc., 1973), page 198. (Emphasis mine).

It should be obvious to even the casual student of the WBTS that secession was certainly not out of the mainstream of political thought in 1861. There was a fair amount of secessionist sentiment in Northern states, even among some politicians. Secession was not a new or radical concept and it was actually first used as a wedge by Northern states years before the crisis of 1861. Some historians and CW bloggers have become rather loose with labeling as a "neo-Confederate" anyone who suggests that Southerners legitimately believed they had a right to leave the Union in 1861 and that secession was, in their view, constitutional. Furthermore, those who suggest that Southerners were traitors for favoring secession are participating in a morality play and attempting to forward an agenda. They really have no understanding of 19th century political thought and theory. Such accusations really have no place for those interested in serious discussion of the political forces that were in play in 1861.

25 May 2009

Remember Whence Came Our Freedom

And let us not forget that freedom is special and rare . . .

Profound & Prophetic

22 May 2009

Northern Secessionists

Fellow WBTS blogger Robert Moore has spent quite a bit of time researching and writing about "Southern Unionists." Other Civil War bloggers often offer the criticism that some see the Confederacy as "monolithic" in their political views during the years of the war. These same critics further suggest those who in any way defend any aspect of Southern Heritage are claiming to speak for everyone in the South (though I've asked for examples, I've never been given any).

Obviously, the South was not totally unified in political thought and purpose - any nation that goes to war rarely is. Southerners fought for different reasons: defense of home, slavery, protection of family, states rights, etc, etc. And there were pockets of pro-Union sentiment in the South as well, as Robert has pointed out.

And while there are others who like to remind every one that the South was not monolithic in their views on the struggle that embroiled our nation between 1861 and 1865, these same individuals are quick to do a 180 and say the South was monolithic in "fighting for slavery". Can they have it both ways? No, but they try.

With all this in mind, I'd like to remind readers that there was also quite a bit of pro-South sentiment in the North. I'll mention one example in this post and some more later. . .

New Jersey:

Over the years, the people within New Jersey had developed many family ties with the South, and several leading Confederates were born in New Jersey. Among them were Henry Ellet, who was offered but declined the position of Postmaster General for the Confederacy; Samuel Cooper, Adjutant and Inspector General of the Confederate Army . . .

The census statistics of 1860 indicate that 6,068 Southern-born New Jersey inhabitants had moved to New Jersey. This was about one percent of the State's total population. Even more significant was the movement of Jerseymen to the South. Of the 16 Southern states, New Jersey supplied more inhabitants in seven than any of the three major midwestern states (Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio). . . There was, indeed, a definite north-south movement between New Jersey and the South.

These economic and social ties clearly mark New Jersey as a border state. Its attitude towards slavery and its political position during the secession crisis confirm this status. . .

Two [New Jersey] newspapers advocated that New Jersey unite with the South. There were the Newark Journal and the New Brunswick Times.

Three newspapers wanted New Jersey to secede from the Union and join the other border states to form a central confederacy. . . On December 27, 1860, the Monmouth Democrat printed an editorial in which it favored the central confederacy as it was "better than to risk the results in a civil war." This same editorial was printed in the Hunterdon Democrat of January 2, 1861. As an introduction, Hunterdon's editor wrote:

"Peaceful Secession - We agree with the following views taken from the Monomouth Democrat, in regard to Peaceful Secession."

This editorial stated:

"We are in favor of peaceful dissolution, and opposed to all measures of coercion. If the Union cannot be preserved without shedding the blood of our brethren, it cannot be preserved at all."

The above excerpt is from: The Secession Movement in the Mid-Atlantic States by William C. Wright (Associated University Presses, Inc., 1973), pages 98-99 & 113.

There were diverse opinions in the South, of course. But the same is true of the North. To suggest that the North's sentiment was uniformly "pro-Union" is as inaccurate as suggesting that the South was uniformly "pro-Secession."

21 May 2009

28th Virginia Infantry Flag

Someone dropped in on me this week to show me this flag. The owner claims it is an original reunion flag of the 28th Virginia Infantry. I'm no expert, but it looked period to my untrained eye.

The current owner is asking $2400 for the flag.

What do you think?

Take The Civics Quiz

Hat tip to fellow history blogger and publisher Ted Savas for suggesting this Civics Quiz. I missed 2, #'s 27 & 33. I could still make my argument for my answers, though. ;o)

My score was 93.94% - not too shabby though Ted only missed one. I'll take a B on a test I didn't study for and rushed through!

Anyway, I did beat the national average which is 74.8% - and I never finished college. I only bring that up due to the lack of knowledge about civics and history I find among college graduates. The summary and findings are quite interesting and point this fact out. Is it safe to say that academia and our nation's educational system are failing itheir "customers?" I think so.

Ok class, close your books, put your notes away and take the quiz. Please report back with your scores. This is on the honor system, no looking at your classmate's paper.

20 May 2009

Yankee Secessionists?

When Texas Governor Rick Perry recently hinted at Texas' alleged right to secede, the Civil War blogosphere went ballistic with the obligatory, knee-jerk, shrill accusations of "neo-Confederate." Ah yes, the emotional ones are a delight to watch.

"Quick - hide under the bed, the boogie-man is coming!"

Well, there's another boogie-man lurking out there folks, but this one's in Long Island:

"Secession is certainly in the water," said Lanza (R-Staten Island), who plans to introduce his secession legislation in the Senate before the Albany session concludes at the end of June. "People are waking up and seeing the bill that they have to pay. More and more, they are seeing through the nonsense, that something's not right."

Seems only fitting since Northerners were the first to suggest the way of secession the last time. ;o)

Story here.

19 May 2009

Welcom To The Socialist's Automobile

Where the state tells you what to drive. Nannyism at it's finest. So you like endangering your family by putting them in sardine cans to ride around in? Oh, and you get to pay more too! How's that hope and change working for you now?

This Should Be Interesting

"The American Flag: Two Centuries of Concord & Conflict" is a one-hour television documentary on PBS featuring untold stories of the history of the American flag.

With rare archival footage, beautiful images of the historic flags, and stirring music composed for the film, this extraordinary program combines all these elements with reenactments, and interviews with eminent historians and flag experts about the history of the American experience and the flag.

This special program is the definitive television documentary about the untold history of the American flag.

More here.

Check your local PBS station for airing dates. I'll be watching tonight.

Jefferson Shields

"He became a favorite of Confederate veterans’ groups, attending many reunions and special events after the war. While in attendance at a reunion of the survivors of the Stonewall Brigade in Staunton, "Uncle" Jeff was voted in as a member of the brigade and authorized to wear one of the brigade’s badges. According to Boley, Shields was proud to attend these meetings and display the badges and ribbons the old Confederates gave him; "Uncle Jeff attended all Confederate reunions in many parts of the South, where he was always the recipient of much attention, about which he talked freely. . . . After each reunion he had a fresh supply of medals and when he would proudly open his coat to display them he looked like the Kaiser on parade.”

"It would be easy to speculate that the veterans exploited Shields’s desire for fame [and no doubt many did], but one could also conclude that it was Shields who actually gained the upper hand from this relationship, because his fame “assured him a comfortable income to the end of his earthly pilgrimage.” So comfortable, in fact, that he purchased a lot on what is now Davidson Street in Lexington and built a handsome brick home that still stands. Shields lived there with his wife, the former Mary McNutt, until his death in 1918 at the age of eighty-nine. Today, he and his wife rest in Evergreen Cemetery in Lexington."

From Stonewall Jackson ~ The Black Man's Friend, pages 121-122

I did quite a bit of research (despite the claims of the ill-informed) on both Jefferson Shields and Stonewall Jackson's body servant, Jim Lewis, while writing my book about Jackson and his black Sunday school class. Several scholars have made the mistake of repeating the error that Shields was a "cook for Stonewall Jackson." He was not, though he did cook for members of the Stonewall Brigade and evidently embellished his service somewhat. He did serve in Company H , Rockbridge Rifles, 27th Virginia Infantry Stonewall Brigade, as a personal body servant (slave) of Colonel James Kerr Edmonson of Lexington, Virginia. Edmonson was Commander of the 27th Virginia.

There's much more about both Shields and Lewis in my book - for those who care to actually read it. Suggestion: It's always a good idea to know your facts before you shoot your mouth off. Such conduct only reveals one's *agenda.

*One of the gross errors I see in observing this ongoing debate is the knee-jerk false assumptions many are making regarding the motives of those who may disagree with these same individuals to any extent on the subject of Black Confederates. Rather than debating the facts, they make personal attacks with comments like "shoddy research", etc. They then erect an army of straw men and so muddy the waters it is impossible to engage them in any serious manner. They take any disagreement personally and become rather emotional, illogical, and unprofessional in their comments. These individuals are blinded by their assumptions and their agenda, all the while accusing others of what they themselves are guilty of; it's quite a spectacle to witness.

My own view is that there were nuances and complications regarding the service of these African-Americans. Regardless of one's opinion regarding how these men should be remembered, the biggest mistake anyone could make is painting these men with a broad brush and failing to acknowledge that they were individuals and each one has a unique story.

(Photo compliments of Washington & Lee's Leyburn Library collection.)

15 May 2009


Advance Notice:

I intend to post some lengthy commentary here in response to Tim Lacy's comments on a recent blog post of Kevin Levin's. Specifically, I'll be commenting on Mr. Lacy's suggestion that those who interpret (or deny) certain historical facts in ways in which he would disagree should be prosecuted criminally. And he's quite serious.

For example:

"I’m not advocating jail time—at least not for most cases. It depends on the present-day goal for which one is abusing an essential historical truth." (Emphasis mine.)

And . . .

"If that means issuing citations (outlawing can mean misdemeanors), then so be it." (By the way, in Virginia a Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a Class 2, 6 months.)

And this comment from Kevin about Tim's suggestion for criminalizing thought and opinion about history:

"I am not so concerned about his view on this."

Stay tuned. I probably won't post until sometime Saturday, but you won't want to miss it.

**Update: someone on another blog (I won't dignify it by linking to it) has described my response to Lacy's suggestion of criminalizing thought as "knee-jerk libertarianism." Actually, defending freedom of speech and academic freedom would be better described as classical liberalism. I suggest this person take political science 101.

And Mr. Lacy responds to my defense of free speech and academic freedom on this other blog by saying: "Welcome to the hyper-active, pseudo-intellectual world of the 'Lost Cause" and 'Moonlight and Magnolias.'"

Welcome to the world of elitists who can't defend their positions.

I really did my best to keep my criticisms on point, non-personal, no name-calling and about the idea proposed. But, alas, it did no good. The last refuge of those who know their arguments are without merit are ad hominem attacks. And Mr. Lacy suggests it is I who "flamed" him?! I'm sorry, but if one is so bold as to suggest the outrageous notion that certain ideas, thoughts, and historical interpretation should be policed by government agents and that those persons found "guilty" of unapproved thoughts and ideas should be fined and put in jail (!) then he should expect a strong opposing argument. I vigorously disagreed with Mr. Lacy's idea, but in no way attacked or "flamed" him personally. That's a straw man. But I did attack his suggestion of making criminals out of those who may have thoughts and ideas regarding historical interpretation that differ from his - or anyone else's for that matter.

Here we have a textbook example of what's rampant in much of modern academia. Take note of how *few of Kevin's academic readers came to the defense of free speech and freedom of thought and expression. How very disappointing.

*Thanks to Ken Noe, Greg Rowe, and Robert Moore for standing against Mr. Lacy's suggestion. Mr. Noe and Robert are both academics and Greg teaches history in a public school setting.

**Update #2: Fellow CW blogger and school teacher Greg Rowe weighs in here. I was unable to complete my detailed post on this subject, but it's coming soon. Hopefully by tomorrow. Stay tuned . . .

New Documentary Coming From Franklin Films

“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in.”~ George Washington Carver

I see that Franklin Springs Family Media, the company that produced Still Standing - The Stonewall Jackson Story, has started working on a new documentary about the life of George Washington Carver.

"Carver's dedication to God and his people led him to patent only three of his 500 agricultural inventions because he wanted his products to benefit all. He left his life savings to Tuskegee Institute." ~ Black History Review

I suppose Chris Matthews would have a blast making fun of Carver's rejection of evolution as a basis for scientific study. I further suppose that since either Darwinists or Creationists are "lying" they should be, according to some, jailed and/or fined. Perhaps we should set up a "Truth Czar" or a "Ministry of Truth" that would rule on these issues and then "THE FEAR" of persecution/prosecution from government agents would make one less likely to express their opinions and beliefs. Do so and you may end up in Room 101.

14 May 2009

New Historical Marker At Lee Chapel

I paid a visit to Lee Chapel today to sign some copies of my book for the gift shop. While there, I noticed a new historical marker had been installed next to Traveller's grave, right outside the shop entrance. The marker is brand new and placed there through the donations and efforts of the Military Order of the Stars and Bars. Thank you gentlemen. By the way, for those of you who don't know, the original Lee Chapel would not still be standing were it not for the good ladies of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. Thank you ladies. (Click on images to enlarge and read the text.)

Disagree? You're A Criminal

We now have people seriously arguing (on another Civil War blog) in favor of criminal prosecution for those who happen to disagree with their interpretation of history. There were no objections, no rebukes, no "What, you can't be serious???!!!" moments, no disagreements, no requests for clarification. *None. I can only interpret that non-reaction as complicity.

I, for one, am in favor of vigorous debate over historical interpretation. It helps me; even when I disagree. I'm constantly learning by reading the opinions of those with whom I disagree. It causes me to re-examine my positions and views. That's a good thing. That's healthy. Sometimes, if the facts warrant it, I change my position. Other times, my views are strengthened by the weak and obvious agenda-driven arguments of others. Often, I'm spurred to further study and exploration of the facts. Other times I gain insight into how someone with whom I disagree came to their position, though I still may not agree with them. Still, at other times, while my opinion is not completely altered, it's moved in one direction or another. This is how academic freedom and freedom of speech benefits us all. Is it sometimes painful? Yes. Is it sometimes ugly? Yes. Is it sometimes stupid? Yes. Is it sometimes embarrassing? Yes. But that is the price a society pays for the benefits derived from academic and intellectual freedom, freedom of speech, and the right to make choices. We have the right to disagree.

But, increasingly, this is not the state of affairs in certain academic circles. They apparently prefer to shut down debate, burn books (figuratively), and criminally prosecute those who happen to disagree with them. Call it the Saul Alinsky approach. Criminalize any opinion outside so-called "academic orthodoxy". The High Priests of academia are the only ones who can interpret history. Challenge them and suffer ridicule, ostracization, and now, if some have their way, fines and jail time.

I would describe this position as intellectual fascism, Stalinist, anti-intellectual (in the truest form), anti-liberty, anti-freedom, and

It is absolutely jaw-dropping amazing and dangerous.

*At the time this was originally posted.

11 May 2009

Thank You - I'm Truly Humbled

Thanks to all of my readers who recently voted my blog their "Favorite Civil War Blog." It wasn't even close. OVB won an astounding 75% of the votes. The runner up, "All of the Above", received a paltry 25%.

Again, thank you so much for the honor.

Elites Are Out Of Touch

From history and heritage to just about everything else, elites are out of touch . . .

For liberal elites, belief in gun control and global warming has taken on the character of religious faith. We have sinned (by hoarding guns or driving SUVs); we must atone (by turning in our guns or recycling); we must repent (by supporting gun control or cap and trade schemes). You may notice that the "we" in question is usually the great mass of ordinary American citizens.

The liberal elite is less interested in giving up its luxuries (Al Gore purchases carbon offsets to compensate for his huge mansion and private jet travel) than in changing the lifestyle of the masses, who selfishly insist on living in suburbs and keeping guns for recreation or protection. Ordinary Americans are seen not as responsible fellow citizens building stable communities but as greedy masses, who must be disciplined to live according to the elite's religious dogmas.

Mocking condescension toward anyone who disagrees with their lock-step proclamations is their most common means of "engaging" others. Fortunately, most of us continue to ignore their self-absorbed idiocy.
More evidence here

09 May 2009

Saturday Night At The Grand Ole' Monitor

Gather 'round the ole' monitor y'all and enjoy this evenin's musical interlude.

Ideology Rules Us

"Life is not politics. Life is faith. Life is family. Life is love. Life is a leisurely but serious stroll toward truth. Life is the delightful enjoyment of our differences and disagreements. Life is a vocation which is not drenched in partisanship. Politics, justice, and formal education should [be] transitory, limited, and simple processes which do not interfere with the much more important business of life. But what should be is not: the left, the Inquisition of our lifetime, demands we all be orthodox and that heresy be crushed. There are no barriers of gentle mediation. There are no guardians of good gamesmanship. There are only agents of the Inquisition -- and the rest of us."

More here.

06 May 2009

Taxpayer Funded Education

"For seven years, the Los Angeles Unified School District has paid Matthew Kim a teaching salary of up to $68,000 per year, plus benefits. His job is to do nothing."

We're doomed. Story here.

05 May 2009

More Hypocrisy From The Left

"Letterman used to do a 'Bushism of the Week.' " Why hasn't he started one with Obama?" Mr. Jena said. "There's plenty of those moments, the 'Ohs, and 'Umms' or 'I don't speak Austrian.' "

"Late Show" host David Letterman was scathing in his mockery of President George W. Bush. But on his show recently, he scolded those who would mock the new president's reliance on the teleprompter for "political nitpicking," saying Mr. Obama is "at least out there trying" to cope with "impossible" political challenges.

There's just no end to it. And no beginning to their credibility.

02 May 2009

Harvard Flunks

This is an interesting story about what is going on financially at colleges and universities across the Nation. It would seem the "wizards of smart" should have repeated Economics 101.

Alas, numbers and reality are stubborn things. Perhaps our nannies in Washington should go after "big education" and the greed, indulgent perks, wasteful spending, high salaries, and mismanagement the same way they went after banks, Wall Street, and the automakers. That won't happen. They're soul mates.

Our New Theme Song

Saturday Night Bluegrass For Your Listening Enjoyment - Gather 'round the ole' monitor, y'all.

01 May 2009

Is America A Christian Nation?

State Constitution preambles . . .

Alabama 1901, Preamble

We the people of the State of Alabama, invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish the following Constitution..

Alaska 1956, Preamble
We, the people of Alaska, grateful to God and to those who founded our nation and pioneered this great land.
Arizona 1911, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Arizona, grateful to Almighty God for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution...
Arkansas 1874, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Arkansas, grateful to Almighty God for the privilege of choosing our own form of government...
California 1879, Preamble
We, the People of the State of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom....
Colorado 1876, Preamble
We, the people of Colorado, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of Universe...
Connecticut 1818, Preamble.
The People of Connecticut, acknowledging with gratitude the good Providence of God in permitting them to enjoy.
Delaware 1897, Preamble
Through Divine Goodness all men have, by nature, the rights of worshipping and serving their Creator according to the dictates of their consciences.
Florida 1885, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Florida, grateful to Almighty God for our constitutional liberty, establish this Constitution....
Georgia 1777, Preamble
We, the people of Georgia, relying upon protection and guidance of Almighty God, do ordain and establish this Constitution....
Hawaii 1959, Preamble
We , the people of Hawaii, Grateful for Divine Guidance .... Establish this Constitution.
Idaho 1889, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Idaho, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings.
Illinois 1870, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Illinois, grateful to Almighty God for the civil , political and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.
Indiana 1851, Preamble
We, the People of the State of Indiana, grateful to Almighty God for the free exercise of the right to choose our form of government.
Iowa 1857, Preamble
We, the People of the St ate of Iowa, grateful to the Supreme Being for the blessings hitherto enjoyed, and feeling our dependence on Him for a continuation of these blessings, establish this Constitution.
Kansas 1859, Preamble
We, the people of Kansas, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious privileges establish this Constitution.
Kentucky 1891, Preamble...
We, the people of the Commonwealth are grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties..
Louisiana 1921, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Louisiana, grateful to Almighty God for the civil, political and religious liberties we enjoy.
Maine 1820, Preamble
We the People of Maine acknowledging with grateful hearts the goodness of the Sovereign Ruler of the Universe in affording us an opportunity .. And imploring His aid and direction.
Maryland 1776, Preamble
We, the people of the state of Maryland, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberty...
Massachusetts 1780, Preamble
We....the people of Massachusetts, acknowledging with grateful hearts, the goodness of the Great Legislator of the Universe In the course of His Providence, an opportunity and devoutly imploring His direction
Michigan 1908, Preamble
. We, the people of the State of Michigan, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of freedom, establish this Constitution.
Minnesota, 1857, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Minnesota, grateful to God for our civil and religious liberty, and desiring to perpetuate its blessings:
Mississippi 1890, Preamble
We, the people of Mississippi in convention assembled, grateful to Almighty God, and invoking His blessing on our work.
Missouri 1845, Preamble
We, the people of Missouri, with profound reverence for the Supreme Ruler of the Universe, and grateful for His goodness . Establish this Constitution...
Montana 1889, Preamble.
We, the people of Montana, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty establish this Constitution ..
Nebraska 1875, Preamble
We, the people, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom . Establish this Constitution.
Nevada 1864, Preamble
We the people of the State of Nevada, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, establish this Constitution...
New Hampshire 1792, Part I. Art. I. Sec. V
Every individual has a natural and unalienable right to worship God according to the dictates of his own conscience.
New Jersey 1844, Preamble
We, the people of the State of New Jersey, grateful to Almighty God for civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing on our endeavors.
New Mexico 1911, Preamble
We, the People of New Mexico, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of liberty..
New York 1846, Preamble
We, the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings.
North Carolina 1868, Preamble We the people of the State of North Carolina, grateful to Almighty God, the Sovereign Ruler of Nations, for our civil, political, and religious liberties, and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for the continuance of those...
North Dakota 1889, Preamble
We , the people of North Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, do ordain...
Ohio 1852, Preamble
We the people of the state of Ohio, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, to secure its blessings and to promote our common.
Oklahoma 1907, Preamble
Invoking the guidance of Almighty God, in order to secure and perpetuate the blessings of liberty, establish this
Oregon 1857, Bill of Rights, Article I Section 2.
All men shall be secure in the Natural right, to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences
Pennsylvania 1776, Preamble
We, the people of Pennsylvania, grateful to Almighty God for the blessings of civil and religious liberty, and humbly invoking His guidance....
Rhode Island 1842, Preamble.
We the People of the State of Rhode Island grateful to Almighty God for the civil and religious liberty which He hath so long permitted us to enjoy, and looking to Him for a blessing...
South Carolina, 1778, Preamble
We, the people of he State of South Carolina grateful to God for our liberties, do ordain and establish this Constitution.
South Dakota 1889, Preamble
We, the people of South Dakota, grateful to Almighty God for our civil and religious liberties .
Tennessee 1796, Art. XI..III.
That all men have a natural and indefeasible right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of their conscience...
Texas 1845, Preamble
We the People of the Republic of Texas, acknowledging, with gratitude, the grace and beneficence of God.
Utah 1896, Preamble
Grateful to Almighty God for life and liberty, we establish this Constitution.
Vermont 1777, Preamble
Whereas all government ought to enable the individuals who compose it to enjoy their natural rights, and other blessings which the Author of Existence has bestowed on man .
Virginia 1776, Bill of Rights, XVI
Religion, or the Duty which we owe our Creator can be directed only by Reason and that it is the mutual duty of all to practice Christian Forbearance, Love and Charity towards each other
Washington 1889, Preamble
We the People of the State of Washington, grateful to the Supreme Ruler of the Universe for our liberties, do ordain this Constitution
West Virginia 1872, Preamble
Since through Divine Providence we enjoy the blessings of civil, political and religious liberty, we, the people of West Virginia reaffirm our faith in and constant reliance upon God ...
Wisconsin 1848, Preamble
We, the people of Wisconsin, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, domestic tranquility....
Wyoming 1890, Preamble
We, the people of the State of Wyoming, grateful to God for our civil, political, and religious liberties, establish this Constitution...