**Update #2 - Back on Civil War Memory, Kevin & Vince offer some revealing confessions, to wit:
It’s a fun exercise trying to take nebulous “rants” with modern political overtones about historical topics and then tease out specific historical questions…sort of a scientific approach to social phenomena with Civil War studies as a fascinating sandbox for testing that approach. Plus, as far as internet personalities go, Richard seems like a pretty decent guy, and at a different stage in my life I held political views very similar to his. (Emphasis mine)
- Ah, so Vince's response to my political rant was politically motivated. Fair enough.
And Kevin responds:
Actually, what's funny is watching these two dodge and ignore legitimate criticisms and, once again, resort to distracting, ad hominem responses. You'll also notice they seem to have no problems with "modern political overtones" as long as they originate from the left.
. . . I just thought it was funny to watch him try to deal with some very good questions. It’s like watching chicken little whenever he goes off on this topic.
**Update - Kevin Levin, the self-described "activist historian" continues to shadow my blog. I'm flattered. I suppose it really is a slow day for him.
Levin accuses me of posting a "nonsensical and meaningless complaint" regarding academics and "liberal academic intellectuals" who "deride the notion" of American Exceptionalism. I suppose that is to be expected from someone who has declared himself an "enemy of American Exceptionalism." I must have struck a nerve. Actually, I was just adding some additional comments to something that posted on the same subject at George Mason University's History News Network website - something he conveniently ignores. I suppose the same information becomes legitimate on the HNN site. Interesting reasoning.
He then goes on to suggest that I failed to satisfactorily address reasonable questions posed by Vince and that the comments were "truly entertaining." (His entertainment threshold is rather low.) Of course, that's a subjective opinion and, considering the source, not surprising. I chose to respond directly to most of Vince's relevant points and to ignore those which I deemed distractions. Kevin often does the same thing, as do most bloggers. That's a red herring and without substance. You can read the exchange and decide for yourself. As I've noted on numerous occasions. I simply do not have the time nor the interest in debating the obvious. There is a right/left divide on the subject of AE and anyone who denies it is either ignorant or in denial. The article to which I linked sums up the subject nicely. There are scores of other articles on the topic for anyone willing to look. But you do have to be willing to look and be open-minded. It is Vince and Levin who actually fail to address the legitimate criticisms directed at academia, instead becoming defensive. And, of course, the tone of Levin's post, as well as the comments that follow, turn personal and to the lowest common denominator of name-calling. Time to circle the wagons and fire the ad-hominem attacks. Yeah, that's convincing and will win you tons of converts. Please, do keep it up.
Perhaps Kevin could explain what an "enemy of American Exceptionalism" is. We're all dying to hear that one.
I do, however, agree with Peter's comments regarding Progressives. The same would apply to many modern neo-cons (Bush 43 for example). But the Progressives and neo-cons twist the fundamental positive concepts and principles of AE into something they can use for their own gains and goals of centralizing power, the antithesis of the fundamentals of AE to which I'm referring. Again, I assume those reading this blog have a certain level of knowledge of the topics discussed. That would include the points regarding Progressives and neo-conservatives.
Acclaimed author Joyce Carol Oates, who teaches at Princeton University, has derided the notion that there is a distinctly American idea, one that is distinguishable from the core concepts that have animated Europeans, Scandinavians, and other cultures.
Opposing view from a non-American historian:
Andrew Roberts, a British historian and author of the best-selling Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945, has endorsed American exceptionalism in his own writings. Asked about Oates's comments, Roberts told Fox News it was evidence of a "psychiatric disorder" among liberal American intellectuals.
Liberal American intellectuals (Sorry for the redundancy) and academics dominate history focused blogs and academia. Roberts' analysis, at least, offers some evidence that a growing number of people recognize their agenda and bias.
Roberts continues . . .
For postmodernists, whereby everything has to be related to something else and nothing is truly exceptional, it's a disgusting concept that America could stand above and away from the normal ruck of history," Roberts said. "And of course, it also feeds in very much to Auropean anti-Americanism, especially at this time of the war against terror.
And one of the left's favorite historians, Eric Foner, reveals the agenda:
Eric Foner of Columbia University, a leading historian of the colonial and Civil War periods -- his The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery, due out in October, will be his twenty-second book -- told Fox News he finds some strains of American exceptionalism "parochial" and "chauvinistic" . . . "So it leads to this kind of imperial frame of mind that we know best for everybody, we know that our system is better . . . "To think about oursleves [sic] as exceptional really is a very narrow vision. . ."
Classic. Oates' & Foner's comments are excellent representations of the self-loathing so prevalent among American academic elites. Denying or opposing the legitimate and real concept of American Exceptionalism is a dangerous misuse of history and one that is, unfortunately, on the rise.
Hat tip to History News Network.