29 April 2010

Supreme Court Sides With Veterans & Freedom

And against political correctness . . .

The court opined, in part: “the Constitution does not oblige government to avoid any public acknowledgment of religion’s role in society.”

This is a big, though narrow, win for freedom of religion in America.

28 April 2010

Marketplace Of Ideas?

Heterogeneity We Like

"Get this documentary. It’s extraordinary!" ~ Lou Dobbs, CNN

"I can’t recommend it highly enough. Riveting." ~ Peter Berkowitz, Wall Street Journal

"This film hits you in the gut. It’s a fun and powerful piece of work that deserves a wide audience." ~ Stanley Kurtz, National Review

27 April 2010

We Are Plagued By A Students

So says P.J. O'Rourke. Always funny, always irreverent, and much of the time right, my favorite ex-hippie takes it to *academia in his latest piece. Some choice excerpts:

"At the lectern is a twerp of a grad student—the prototypical A student—insecure, overbearing, full of himself and contempt for his students."

And . . .

"America has made the mistake of letting the A student run things. It was A students who briefly took over the business world during the period of derivatives, credit swaps, and collateralized debt obligations. We’re still reeling from the effects. This is why good businessmen have always adhered to the maxim: 'A students work for B students.' Or, as a businessman friend of mine put it, 'B students work for C students—A students teach.'"

And . . .

"Why are A students so hateful? I’m sure up at Harvard, over at the New York Times, and inside the White House they think we just envy their smarts. Maybe we are resentful clods gawking with bitter incomprehension at the intellectual magnificence of our betters. If so, why are our betters spending so much time nervously insisting that they’re smarter than Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement?"

And . . . 

"The smart set stayed in fashionable Europe, where everything was nice and neat and people were clever about looking after their own interests and didn’t need to come to America. The Mayflower was full of C students. Their idea was that, given freedom, responsibility, rule of law and some elbow room, the average, the middling, and the mediocre could create the richest, most powerful country ever."

You can read the rest of O'Rourke's commentary here.

*To my academic readers - don't take this personally (unless it applies), as I know there are exceptions to what's being said here. However, in general, I would have to agree.

We Apologize To All Drunken Sailors

From the Northern Wyoming Daily News 2 April 2010 under "Reader's Views":

To the Editor:

I object and take exception to everyone saying that Obama and Congress are spending money like a Drunken Sailor.

As a former Drunken Sailor, I quit spending when I ran out of money.

Lt Bruce L. Hargraves
USN Retired

26 April 2010

And They Think Creationists Are Weird

Don't talk to strangers aliens. So says Stephen Hawking.

Off Topic, But I Told You So

Back during the heated debate over the federal government's takeover of our healthcare system, I received a comment from a public school teacher in which that person used bathroom vulgarity to insult me simply because I refused to post his comment which included a link to a misleading CBO cost estimate. The "estimate" showed the legislation would "save money" - all based, of course, on the figures given them by Congress. The comment was a distraction and linked to an estimate without any credibility. I therefore rejected it. Now that the bill has passed and the dust has settled (somewhat) comes the news that I was right.

On Obamacare, the president and his appointees [as well as supporters in Congress] said repeatedly over the last year that it would reduce government health care spending. Yet now comes Kathleen Sebelius, Obama's Department of Health and Human Services secretary, confessing that "We don't know how much it's going to cost." Why is Sebelius only now saying this when her own department just made public a report obviously months in preparation that projected government health care costs overall will go up, not down? That same HHS report also said Obamacare's Medicare cuts could put 15 percent of all hospitals out of business, making treatment harder to get and more expensive, especially for seniors.

More here.

Furthermore, HHS knew all this a week before the crucial vote and sat on the information.

**Update - Oh how gullible and naive some are:

Virginia in the Civil War: A Sesquicentennial Remembrance

*Update: The link for the post to which I'm referring below is here.

A while back, another CW blogger posted some comments about a new Civil War Documentary which is a joint project between Virginia's Sesquicentennial Commission and Virginia Tech’s Center for Civil War Studies. Professor James I. Robertson, Jr. is the executive producer of the video series. (See preview below.) Those commenting on this video seem to be disappointed in the project although all that's been released is a 13 minute preview. The criticisms center around the predictable concern that the project does not address the primary interests of academics; as if their perspective, interests, and what they think should be addressed are all that matters--or are the most important.

Of course, the criticisms over this new video include the obligatory hand-wringing over the "Lost Cause" interpretation of the war, though I don't see how anyone watching this preview could possibly come away with that concern. The word paranoia comes to mind. Certainly one of the things that will irritate certain academics is the fact that Mort Kunstler's art will be featured in the documentary. Kunstler is a favorite target among many of these same academics and often on the receiving end of their juvenile jokes and comments. The use of Kunstler's work must really irritate these folks. I have a hunch that jealousy and envy plays a role in some of the criticism.

First of all, I find the criticisms over this video WAY too premature and totally off base. (This was a $300,000 plus project and there is much more to come--3 hours in total.) Secondly, it is obvious to me that the series will address slavery in a way that is balanced and objective. According to the Richmond Times, the series "examines the war from multiple perspectives, such as the role slavery played in dividing the nation."

But one critic was particularly upset that Bud Robertson had pointed out that Lee chose to follow the Confederacy because his native Virginia did; even though that is precisely what happened. Of course, anyone who has studied the Lees of Virginia would know that following Virginia was always instinctive to the family. During a debate in 1798 with James Madison, Lee’s father had stated, “Virginia is my country; her will I obey, however lamentable the fate to which it may subject me.” Those who suggest Robert E. Lee was a "traitor" for remaining loyal to Virginia (over the Union), overlook the fact that Virginia had been a political entity for more than two hundred years, and that Lee’s roots in Virginia could be traced to the year 1640. The United States had only been a reality for about 80 years at the time Lee resigned from the United States Army. The preferred loyalty to a particular state, which was so prevalent during colonial times, was still very much a part of the American mindset in 1861. Those who would label Lee a traitor are transferring 21st century American notions and beliefs about nationhood and loyalty to 19th century Americans - presentism at it's worse. Lee chose home, family, and likely defeat over the cold, faceless concept of "Union" along with likely glory and promotion. Many still see that as honorable. I suppose certain corners of academia prefer Lee being characterized as a vile, slave-holding traitor who had only selfish motives in casting his lot with what he likely knew was a losing proposition from the very beginning. That perspective is so sophomoric, shallow, and false as to be embarrassing. But it does fit the template and agenda.

It is often difficult for those with no roots in Virgina to understand native Virginians' provincial ways--especially those of us who have lived here for generations. Outsiders often characterize such loyalties as "quaint" and "dated." Our very mobile society has, in many ways, lost what it means to possess a "sense of place." Fortunately, I am not among them. My own roots in Virginia go back to Jamestown and my wife, who is of Monacan Indian ancestry, has roots in Virginia that go back millennia. Suggesting that a 19th century American's choice of Virginia (state) over the Union was traitorous reveals an ignorance of history and lack of understanding at best, and a partisan, agenda-driven perspective at worst.

The criticisms I've read also decry the absence of discussion about Nat Turner and Reconstruction as if this 13 minute preview is all there is to the project! I'm confident that Professor Robertson, along with the other historians in the series, will present a balanced view of the WBTS in Virginia and discuss the conflict from all perspectives--as they should. Robertson is, perhaps, the most respected and experienced Civil War historian in the Nation. He has the benefit of not only serving on Virginia's Sesquicentennial Commission, along with his decades-long work as a history professor at Virginia Tech, but also the experience of serving as executive director of the U.S. Civil War Centennial Commission in the 1960's and was appointed to that position by President Kennedy. Suggesting that Professor Robertson would produce something less than objective is a little much for me. Certainly, no matter what is done, there will be things in the series for everyone to agree and disagree with.

A couple notes of interest regarding this preview: There is commentary from not only Professor Robertson, but also WBTS historian William Davis, Professor Ervin Jordan, Jr., VMI historian Colonel Keith Gibson, and fellow National Civil War Chaplains Museum board member (and newly elected House of Delegates member) Dr. T. Scott Garrett. Dr. Garrett serves on the board of the Historic Sandusky Foundation, along with a number of prominent historians. Other historians also appear in this preview.

Civil War preview from Carol Jennings on Vimeo.

A Civics Lesson For A Congressman

This young man (apparently a Tea Partier) gives his Congress-Critter a lesson in civics. Citizenship in action and a lesson for the political class. Gotta love it.

25 April 2010

Front Porch Pickin' #3 - A Tribute To The Lost Miners

Bringing you the best in Southern Appalachian Bluegrass, Folk, & Country Music . . . We're late posting this week's video and tune but thought this would be appropriate in light of the recent mine tragedy in West Virginia:

22 April 2010

No Bickering - Just Shad Planking & Dixie

A grand Virginia tradition . . . something very unique about an event where both George Allen and Terry McAuliffe are welcome and get along.

Malice Toward Some?

As I predicted, Governor McDonnell's apology for failing to mention slavery in his Confederate History Month proclamation (as well as the fact he re-issued the proclamation and included slavery), did nothing to dissuade his critics. Politicians, CW bloggers, and "journalists" have continued their assault on McDonnell while attacking those who simply wished to celebrate and honor their Confederate heritage and their ancestors' sacrifice; all this despite the Governor's mea culpa. Again, this was all predictable and simply proves my belief that much (though not all) of the criticism was simply political grandstanding to bash McDonnell because he's a conservative Republican - or to gain attention from a fawning press which is always more than happy to paint certain Southerners as ignorant, toothless hicks who hate everyone and everything except Hee-Haw and NASCAR. Others have made similar observations. Dan Gainor at Fox News is just one. Here's an excerpt from his recent commentary:

"For all the outrage – real and manufactured – over this minor incident, one need only look to the White House to gain guidance on how to treat the South both now and then. President Lincoln (a Republican, you’ll recall) wanted to heal his nation and honor the dead on both sides. His second inaugural address called for 'malice toward none, with charity for all.' Even President Obama has been far more charitable to Confederates than the media – going so far as to lay a wreath at a Confederate memorial."

You can read the rest of Ganior's comments here.

In the most recent issue of CWPT's Hallowed Ground (which I received yesterday), there was a short, but interesting, interview with historian Robert K. Krick. I've heard Krick speak several times and he always manages to say something quite profound--in my view anyway--and often with humor. Though the interview in HG has nothing directly to do with the current debate surrounding Confederate History Month, I thought a few of his words from that interview would be quite appropriate for this post and might shed some light on a debate that has generated little more than heat up to this point:

". . . the eternal great lesson of the war is the vast cost in blood and treasure of political fanaticism. Humans always have been certain of the virtue of their beliefs of all kinds, and far too many welcome the chance to bludgeon others into their version of the light. The Dark Ages resulted . . . and the Civil War . . . and unbelievable 20th-century horrors. And there remains ample self-righteous fanaticism afoot today."

Well said Mr. Krick, well said. Too bad there are those who would prefer to score political points and agenda items rather than follow the example of these two old veterans, as well as heed the wisdom of Krick's words.

21 April 2010

Spring Comes To The Shenandoah

The red buds are in bloom . . . 

The pastures are green . . .

The streams are full . . .

And I know of no other place I'd rather be. I'm reminded of John Paul Strain's depiction of Jackson crossing a swollen creek near Buffalo Gap, about 20 miles west of my home. The print is titled "Spring Campaign"~

Here's the text that describes the scene:

Buffalo Gap, Virginia, 1862
The dogwoods were beginning to blossom on the lower levels of the Shenandoah Valley when Stonewall Jackson struck. "Old Jack," as his troops called him, had been issued formidable orders: block any Federal advance into the Valley and stop the Yankees from shifting reinforcements eastward against Richmond. With steel-like determination, Jackson unleashed a spring campaign that was unlike any other. He struck first at Kernstown, was turned back, then reappeared at McDowell and overwhelmed the enemy there. With Federal forces stung and puzzled, Jackson led his fast-marching "foot cavalry" through Virginia's Buffalo Gap, then turned northward to make a surprise strike. Moving with startling speed, he defeated the Federal Garrison at Front Royal, repulsed the principal Northern army at Winchester, fell back before a much larger enemy army, then turned and whipped the Federals again at Cross Keys and Fort Republic. Observed a captured Northern soldier as Jackson passed: "Boys, he's not much for looks, but if we'd had him we wouldn't be caught in this trap." Federal forces were stunned, mystified and distracted. With 17,000 troops, General Jackson had baffled and defeated enemy forces totaling more than 64,000. Northern plans were thwarted, the life of the Confederacy was extended, and the great "Stonewall" was celebrated as a military genius. For Southerners, Jackson's spectacular campaign produced a springtime of hope. 

20 April 2010

Author Interview - Rusty Williams (No Relation)

I recently received an email from author Rusty Williams informing me of his new blog which promotes his latest book, My Old Confederate Home - A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans - (University Press of Kentucky, May 21, 2010). In my research for my own book, I came across some information surrounding the Lee Camp Home in Richmond where Jackson's horse, Little Sorrel, spent his final days. The subject matter fascinated me then, as it does now. I asked Rusty if he'd agree to a brief interview about his book. He graciously agreed.

OVB: Tell us a little about your background – where you’re from, your family, your education.

RW: I grew up in Dallas, Texas, but my family originally came from Virginia. They were the tobacco Blairs and Williams from down in Pittsylvania County, and they came to North Texas as part of the Great Southern Migration in the years just before the Civil War.
I grew up hearing those old family stories, and I think that led to my desire to write stories for newspapers. I studied journalism and wrote for a number of newspapers before moving into management. Those family stories led me to research and write my first book, Scatterlings: Blair Williams and Turner to Texas, 1858 to 1873 (Aventine Press, 2003).  Most of the family tales I heard as a kid seemed a little too pat, and I really wanted to understand why a half million Virginians and Georgians and Kentuckians and Tennesseans would relocate to a little strip of Texas south of the Red River in a period of less than a decade. Several years of research and writing led to Scatterlings.

OVB: What inspired or first gave you the idea for My Old Kentucky Home: A Respectable Place for Civil War Veterans?

RW: I came across a historical marker for the Kentucky Confederate Home. There was nothing left of the building itself, but I was fascinated that, well into the twentieth century, these old veterans of a war that had ended sixty years before still lived together, still saluted the old flags, still wore the old uniforms. After a digging around in some newspaper archives I became intrigued by the contrast of these old Rebels living in an age of radio and passenger airplanes, and I was struck by the poignancy of men in their seventies and eighties returning to a quasi-military lifestyle in the Home.
Most of all, though, I was surprised that this final chapter of Civil War history had never been told at length, and I determined to tell it.

OVB: How long did it take you to write the book?

RW: I actually wrote the book proposal first and shopped it around to several publishers. Once University Press of Kentucky expressed an interest, I completed the manuscript in about nine months.

OVB: As an author myself, I’m always interested in this question: Did you get any rejections and, if so, how many?

RW: Two publishers turned it down and two publishers offered contracts. The editor at University Press of Kentucky, though, really understood that this was going to be a book for general readers, not just academics. We both wanted a well-researched and documented book that was lively and entertaining for armchair historians and buffs, not just academics.

OVB:Tell us, briefly, about the content of the book.

RW: This is the institutional history of the Kentucky Confederate Home, one of fifteen lasting Confederate soldiers’ homes financed and built by Confederate veterans in the Southern and Border states between 1887 and 1929. In many ways the Kentucky home was typical of the others, and I discuss the homes in other states throughout the book. My Old Confederate Home tells this history through stories of the individuals who built the institution, supported it, operated it, lived in it and tried to close it. It includes the stories of a cavalryman-turned-bank-robber-turned-attorney, a senile ship captain, a prosperous former madam, and a small-town clergyman whose concern for the veterans cost him his pastorate. Most of all, though, the story of the Home is the story of the hundreds of men who lived out their final days there. The stories of an old man who loses his burial fund when the banks fail, a prisoner who trades one institution for another, and a black Confederate, among others, illustrate the unique lives and special needs of the veterans sheltered in the Home.

OVB: Tell us a little about the day to day routine in the Confederate Home, i.e., activities, meals, medical care, etc.

RW: For most of the men in the Confederate soldiers’ homes, their military service was forty years behind them. But when they entered the home they voluntarily returned to a quasi-military way of life. At the Kentucky Confederate Home the day started at 6 a.m. with a cannon shot from a field artillery piece on the front lawn, and a color guard would raise the U. S. and Confederate flags over the building. The men would fall in for roll call and uniform inspection, then march off to breakfast. (Breakfast might include sliced ham, gravy, fried potatoes, biscuits, fruit preserves and coffee.) If the weather was good, they might stroll the grounds after breakfast or find a chair on one of the galleries, but the rules prohibited them from leaving the Home’s grounds without the commandant’s permission and a written furlough slip. (Some of the homes required men to perform several hours of “productive work” every day—farming, building repair, painting—unless they were on sick call.) Dinner, served at midday, was the heaviest meal of the day, more suited to a farmer than a sedentary seventy-year-old. Afterwards, they might nap or pursue a hobby (like whittling, gardening or photography).

There were always games of checkers going on.
The special days, though, were when they had some kind of entertainment. Ladies from the United Daughters of the Confederacy would often organize parties or recitals for the old vets. Religious services were held on Sundays and Wednesday night, usually conducted by a local preacher or traveling evangelist. The real treat was when touring vaudeville groups would stop in at the homes to perform for the old men. By the 1920s, most homes had movie projectors, and local theaters would loan out prints of popular movies.

Misbehavior wasn’t tolerated, and most homes had a procedure much like a courts-martial that could lead to confinement or discharge from the home. The Confederate soldiers’ homes were respectable places, providing shelter, clothing, food, and care, but they required that men live up to standards never required of them in civilian life. Some thrived in the environment, others resisted to the point of expulsion.

OVB:During your research, did anything surprise you? If so, what?

RW: The biggest chill-down-the-back-of-the-neck moment came well into my research, when I was plowing through speeches given by officials at the dedication of the Kentucky Confederate Home in 1902.  One of the orators paused, looked down at his audience, and said: “It is not mere sentiment to predict that when another century has ebbed and flowed, some enterprising journalist or student of history searching amongst quaint and curious volumes of forgotten lore will resurrect the very act which authorizes the purchase and maintenance of the home we are today dedicating.” The hair on my arms stood up! The story of the Confederate soldiers’ homes, he continued, “will go to the credit of ex-Confederate soldiers and furnish material for an additional appendix to their faultless record.” I hope My Old Confederate Home goes to the credit of men who took care of their invalid and needful comrades.

OVB: What do you hope the book will accomplish?

RW: I think the lesson of the Confederate soldiers’ homes is that all of us owe a debt to the men and women who take up arms on our nation’s behalf. We may hate the war, but we can care for and respect the warriors. Americans did that a century ago; we can do the same today.

OVB: Any other books in the works?

RW: There are always more stories to tell. I just hope they’re as interesting and compelling as the stories of the ex-Confederates who organized, built and lived in the Confederate soldiers’ homes.

OVB: Thanks Rusty. This is a fascinating subject to me. As I mentioned earlier, I've always been much more interested in some of the nuances and "byway" stories involving the war - the personal stories, the oddities, the forgotten. That interest is part of what led me to write the story of Stonewall Jackson's black Sunday school class. Thanks for writing this book about a forgotten and overlooked aspect of the WBTS. I can't wait to get a copy and review it here.

You can visit Rusty's blog here and read more about his book. 

Resurrecting Alien & Sedition Laws?

You gotta be kidding me. Actually, no. The left continues its assault on free speech:

"I did a little bit of research just before this show - it's on this little napkin here. I looked up the definition of sedition which is conduct or language inciting rebellion against the authority of the state. And a lot of these statements, especially the ones coming from people like Glenn Beck and to a certain extent Sarah Palin, rub right up close to being seditious." ~ Time Columnist Joe Klein

19 April 2010

Decide [Think] For Yourself

What's Driving The Tea Party Movement?

"America's Great Compromiser' Henry Clay called government 'the great trust,' but most Americans [80%] today have little faith in Washington's ability to deal with the nation's problems."

[Gee, I wonder why? ]

"This anti-government feeling has driven the tea party movement, . . ." 

17 April 2010

Front Porch Pickin' #2

For your Saturday evening enjoyment . . . our 2nd Front Porch Pickin' music post featuring the best in Southern Appalachian bluegrass, folk, & country tunes. Another great song with another great message by Kentucky's living Bluegrass legend, Ricky Skaggs.

Ron Maxwell Opposes Gettysburg Casino

 "Ronald Maxwell, who directed the 1993 film 'Gettysburg,' was at the Gettysburg fire hall Thursday night to rally a casino opposition group to protect the historic community."

16 April 2010

15 April 2010

14 April 2010

It's The Left That's Violent & Extremists

"The story of a Republican and her boyfriend being viciously attacked for wearing Palin buttons has yet to make national headlines, unlike say, unfounded rumors of nasty words being said by Tea Party protesters . . . The were very nasty, signs were vulgar using the “F” word. As I left the restaurant I was yelled at – there was a family visiting the restaurant with a baby stroller – they had nothing to do with the fundraiser and they were being heckled using the “F” and “MF” words."

Story here.

13 April 2010

History Through The Eyes Of Faith - A Valid Perspective

In writing the foreword to my book about Stonewall Jackson and his black Sunday school class, Professor James I. Robertson, Jr. included the following remark:

"Williams's analyses reveal clearly that nineteenth-century religiosity, which some writers and reviewers conclude was nonsense, was in fact very much alive."

I would add that 21st century religiosity is also "very much alive" and that it is a valid perspective when approaching the study of history, despite what some (not all) bloggers, academics, and historians say. Recently, I quoted Professor Steven E. Woodworth on the same subject:

"Our worldview makes a world of difference to the way we approach history. The world is a much different place if 'all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights' than it is if all that exists is the result of chance plus time."

The notion that a Christian should leave his faith out of his interpretation is quite ridiculous and, even more troubling, are those Christians who think doing so makes their ultimate interpretation "more valid." An orthodox Christian, by definition, believes in his or her heart of hearts that Christianity embodies truth and that Christ is the very personification of truth. How does one who holds to such beliefs leave them out of something as serious as the study of history? The notion defies logic. 

The secular academic or non-believer assumes that a historian who is a Christian will automatically twist or omit facts to make history comport to his particular belief system. In other words, he approaches history as a believer in Christ and will thus reject anything that appears to be in conflict with his beliefs. Interestingly enough, the opposite happened with me. Though I am not a professional historian, I've been fascinated by history since I was a child - in this order: Virginia history, WBTS history, Colonial period history, Church history, and the history of Western civilization. In my own experience, it was through reading and studying history that I began to question my belief system which, at the time, was Darwinist. It was partly through reading history that I became a Christian. And, I believe, it is what enables me to so easily see through those who approach history through a Darwinist, humanistic lense and apply their belief system to their interpretation, all the while claiming complete objectivity.

Of course, I'm not the only one who has had this kind of experience. One of the most fascinating experiences, and somewhat similar to mine, was the conversion to *Catholicism by the well-respected historian, Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (1941-2007). Her background and story are a perfect fit for what is often discussed here on this blog. Fox-Genovese was, until later in life, an admitted Marxist and, by her own testimony, a strident feminist. She was a person of the left and made no attempt to hide or disguise her views. She was, in many ways, the epitome of the modern American academic. She was widely published and has written extensively on the antebellum South and slavery. Though she claims to have grown up a "nominal" Christian, it was not until late in life that she actually embraced Christianity as absolute truth and, in her words, took "Jesus Christ as . . . personal savior and, no less important, as Lord."

Her experience inside academia is instructive as to how academia, as an institution and environment, approaches history and how it looks at those who reject relativism, Darwinism, and humanism as a belief system, along with the political philophies that accompany those belief systems. (Yes, we all have a belief system to one degree or another, whether you believe it or not. Sorry, but neutrality is not an option.) While critics of those who - like myself - approach history from a Christian worldview suggest our views are invalid because we view history through the lense of faith; they, at the same time, would have us believe they don't bring a belief system to the study of history. Fox-Genovese's experience is just one illustration that proves otherwise.

In 2000, Fox-Genovese discussed this journey in a published piece titled A Conversion Story. It is a must read for anyone interested in this subject matter, regardless of which side of the debate you're on. Here are a few choice quotes (All emphasis is mine.):

". . . they [other religions] do not carry Christianity’s taint of having long figured as the religion of a male European elite that allegedly used its faith to cow others into submission."

For what group do so many academics seem to have the most animosity? You've already answered the question in your own mind. 

"For secular academics, the language and practice of faith belong to an alien world. Not understanding faith, they are ill prepared to understand conversion to it. Having long participated in the reigning discourse of secular intellectuals, I understand all too well where they are coming from . . . more important, however, my long apprenticeship in their world allows me to reflect upon their unreflective assumptions, for those assumptions cut a broad swath through our culture as a whole, challenging faith at every turn. So firm is their hold upon our culture that they are imperceptibly permeating the fabric of faith itself, constantly challenging the faithful to justify and rejustify our beliefs." 

Unreflective. Conformists who are locked in to their belief system and not as open-minded in "embracing diversity" as they claim.

"The story of modernity has arguably been one of the marginalization and discrediting of belief, or, perhaps more accurately, its relegation to the realm of radical subjectivity. Modernity, in other words, has systematically divorced faith from moral and intellectual authority."

Marginalizing believers and claiming they are "anti-intellectual" is a favorite tactic of moderns in academia. In doing so, you don't have to give any serious weight or consideration to their arguments.
"In the postmodernist universe, all claims of universal certainty must be exposed as delusions, leaving the individual as authoritative arbiter of the meaning that pertains to his or her situation. Thus, what originated as a struggle to discredit pretensions to intellectual authority has ended, at least in the American academy, in a validation of personal prejudice and desire."

You can read the whole piece by Fox-Genovese here. Her experience, along with her stature as an academic, presents a strong argument that worldviews have great influence on our approach to history and that much of academia is as committed to their worldview as many Christians are committed to theirs.

*As a Baptist, I have fundamental doctrinal disagreements with Catholicism, but Fox-Genovese's experience is nonetheless instructive and illustrative for the purposes of this blog. Her honesty and openness is quite refreshing.

Wild-Eyed Radicals?

Are the tea partiers unreasonable? Some have opined that they're "on the fringe" and "radical." Bill Whittle asks some of the most reasonable people of all time – our Founders for their opinion. Seems like it’s tyranny, not patriotism, that Americans have always decried as unreasonable. History should guide our political philosophy and principles, not the other way around. Wouldn't you agree? Watch the latest Afterburner with Bill Whittle here.

12 April 2010

I Agree With Dr. Woodworth - George Mason Agrees With Me

"Our worldview makes a world of difference to the way we approach history. The world is a much different place if 'all men are created equal and are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights' than it is if all that exists is the result of chance plus time." ~ Professor Steven E. Woodworth

"As nations cannot be rewarded or punished in the next world, they must be in this. By an inevitable chain of causes & effects, Providence punishes national sins by national calamities." ~ George Mason

As I noted in comments on this post in response to a critic:

"I believe the Almighty established certain laws of cause and effect (or "sowing and reaping") that govern the universe and there are consequences for actions - both positive and negative . . . Reaping and sowing. Cause and effect. Immutable laws set in motion by the Almighty."

NPR Poll Results

On Governor McDonnell's Confederate History Proclamation:

What's your opinion of the amended Confederate History Month proclamation? (Closed)
Total: 1629
Yes, unscientific, but still interesting coming from NPR.

So Much Misinformation, So Little Time


: After posting this response, I went back again and read the string of comments which caused this "controversy." It immediately became clear to me that, though my comment followed Simons' remark, my "Yeah, me too" was actually in response to the comment prior to Mr. Simons which was:

"I just wish that some of those who hold themselves up as the defenders of the Union cause could show the same amount of respect as Gen. Chamberlin [sic] did toward Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy 145 years ago today."

My response was, as noted, "Yeah, me too." In other words, I, too, wished "that some who hold themselves up . . . could show, etc. " -  Responding to "It is a sad day indeed for all of us who love the South" with, "Yeah, me too" does not make grammatical sense. Responding to the previous comment with those same words does make sense. This just further illustrates the point of this post regarding misinformation and comments being taken out of context. It can easily happen and the order in which my response appeared contributed to the confusion, though I still believe the criticism was over the top. That being said, I believe I understand where Mr. Simons was coming from and attempt to explain that further below.

I promised myself that I would no longer get into these back and forth debates in the blogosphere but, alas, I'm finding that unavoidable. Kevin Levin has, once again, posted erroneous information about my comments on this blog. See here. (Warning, Levin displays some of his finer vocabulary skills at the end of his post.) First of all, Levin finds it strange that some folks would connect sadness with Appomattox and attempts to link those who do so to those who believe  slavery was "benign?" What!? I've said repeatedly that I believe that God allowed the Civil War to occur due to the SIN OF SLAVERY and punished both sections of the Nation for their involvement in that evil. Levin's suggestion is almost as slanderous as it is ridiculous, in my humble opinion.

So, here we go again. I had 3 great-great grandfathers that fought for the Confederacy during the WBTS. All poor dirt farmers. None of them owned slaves. One of them was wounded twice. Two of them served time in yankee prisons. One of them died in Chimborazo hospital as a result of his wounds and ill treatment while in prison. He lies in a common grave with 2 other soldiers in Oakwood cemetery in Richmond, which, until recently, the City of Richmond would not even allow me to mark. Would you consider that sad? I would. His widow died not ever knowing what had become of him. Would you consider that sad? I would. The rest of the family never even knew what happened to him until a few years ago - thanks to a piece I wrote for the Washington Times' Civil War column and the diligent work of SCV researchers working on cataloguing the names of those buried at Oakwood. Another ancestor lies in a grave marked only by a simple field stone. I'm trying to get permission from the landowner to install a proper marker. One of the two ancestors who survived the war continued to suffer from the wounds he received. The other ancestor died penniless, due in large measure to the devastation and loss brought on by the war. Would you consider that sad? I would. That sadness is connected with the surrender at Appomattox, despite what others may think.

Perhaps Levin believes sadness and pride over my ancestor's sacrifice and courage is "Nostalgic B.S.", but I, and many others, see it quite differently.

So, yes, sadness in connection with Appomattox and my ancestors' bravery, courage, and suffering after the war is, in my opinion, appropriate. Rejoicing is also appropriate.  Rejoicing that the bloodshed was over. That sons, brothers, and fathers could finally return to their homes - or what was left of them - and to loved ones. And, of course, that slavery would be ending; albeit at the cost of over 600,000 lives and followed by decades of continued bitterness and division. Could the issues that led to Appomattox have been resolved some other way? Without war? Without the death of over 600,000 Americans - South and North? Without the bitterness that followed? Certainly, sadness over "what if" is appropriate in connection with Appomattox, in my view. How sad to think that the loss of 600,000 lives might have been avoided had cooler heads on both sides prevailed. Sadness and joy are not necessarily mutually exclusive over a war as complicated as was our Civil War. I'm sure even many of those Southern soldiers present at Appomattox were simultaneously sad and joyful over the end of the war. Sad they had given so much and lost. Joyful that they would be returning home. Human emotions at such times are often complicated and difficult to sort through. That Levin would attempt to use such simplistic, "Gotcha history" tactics as a morality play, twist it out of context, and then attempt to get so much mileage out of a simple comment is quite strange, as well as quite instructive, in my opinion.

Now, as to my allegedly rejecting a comment by Mark Snell. That is utterly false. I received no follow up comment from Professor Snell. I don't doubt he attempted to post another comment, but I did not receive it. I sent a private email to address that issue with him. He's responded and I've responded back. Our conversation will remain private, but our exchange was quite civil and I appreciate the fact he took the time to respond. I've invited him to comment in the future. But it really is no business of Levin's whose comments I choose to post and whose I choose to reject (though I never rejected the one in question). Levin comes off as a busybody attempting to police other blogs. Lord knows he has earned quite a reputation of banning people, rejecting comments, and deleting them. He's deleted several of mine before, which is one of the reasons I no longer bother to comment there. I'd say he has a credibility issue with any criticism over rejecting comments. But that's just my opinion.

Regarding Professor Snell's comment that Lee "had no choice", I would disagree. I believe Lee did have other choices - specifically guerrilla warfare, which he rejected. He could have fought on to the death, as some of his men urged him to do, but which he also rejected. And, as I noted in another follow up comment, Grant obviously could afford more casualties than Lee. Regarding the comment about Grant, I suppose Levin rejects the notion that Grant waged a war of attrition against Lee. That's fine, but I interpret the facts differently, as do many others.

Now, as to the criticism that I culled Grant's quote for my own purposes, that's a legitimate criticism and I agree the words chosen don't reflect Grant's complete thought. I had several sources for that quote. I pulled one that did not include the complete remark. That was admittedly sloppy on my part. Here's the complete sentence:

“I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and so valiantly and had suffered so much for a cause though that was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”

Nonetheless, including the whole quote would not have taken away from my point - Grant expressed sadness - perhaps better expressed as "empathy" as one comment noted - over his foe's surrender; this despite the fact Grant thought their cause "one of the worst for which a people ever fought." I think bringing up the omitted part of Grant's comment served as more of a distraction than anything else, since it does not change the crux of Grant's expressed sentiments regarding Lee's surrender. Thus, the point I was making stands.

And, another quote from Grant in which he acknowledges the sadness of Lee's foes at Appomattox:

"When they passed out of the works they had so long and so gallantly defended, between the lines of their late antagonists, not a cheer went up, not a remark was made that would give pain. I believe there was a feeling of sadness among the Union soldiers at seeing the dejection of their late antagonists." Ulysses S. Grant, Surrender of Vicksburg, Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant (New York, 1885)

I'll conclude here with a passage from the last chapter of Bruce Catton's A Stillness At Appomattox:

"One of [Union General] Ord's soldiers wrote that the army should have gone wild with joy, then and there; and yet, he said, somehow they did not. Later there would be frenzied cheering and crying and rejoicing, but now . . . now, for some reason, the men sat on the ground and looked across at the Confederate army and found themselves feeling as they never dreamed that the moment of victory would make them feel.
    ". . . I remember how we sat there and pitied and sympathized with these courageous Southern men who had fought for four long and dreary years all so stubbornly, so bravely and so well, and now, whippen, beaten, completely used up, were fully at our mercy - it was pitiful, sad, hard, and seemed to us altogether too bad."

11 April 2010

Tea Party More Popular Than The President

"In official Washington [and on some blogs], some consider the Tea Party movement a fringe element in society, but voters across the nation feel closer to the Tea Party movement than they do to Congress. . . . By a 62% to 12% margin, Mainstream Americans say the Tea Party is closer to their views. By a 90% to one percent (1%) margin, the Political Class [which includes much of academia] feels closer to Congress."

And . . .
"On major issues, 48% of voters say that the average Tea Party member is closer to their views than President Barack Obama. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 44% hold the opposite view and believe the president’s views are closer to their own."

Certainly more than "a very small percentage." Read the rest of these enlightening polls here and here.

10 April 2010

Front Porch Pickin' #1

Tonight, I start a new series of posts that will be uploaded every Saturday evening. I have been wanting to do this for some time and actually did something similar last year. The new series, Front Porch Pickin', will feature selected video/audio files that highlight Southern/Appalachian bluegrass, folk, and country music. We will also feature an occasional interview on the same subject - the culture of the South and how it involves this genre of music. Feel free to send your own suggestions for future "shows." Tonight features one of my favorite female vocalists and artists - Alison Krauss, performing with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and singing a classic Southern tune: Catfish John. The song was first recorded by Missippian Johnny Russell. Great tune with a great message. I hope you enjoy it.

Confederate/Yankee/Indian Turtle Hunter . . .

Demonstrates his version of the Rebel Indian Yell and turtle hunting. Only in the South:


Food For Thought

Eat hardy boys:

Consider Jefferson's "draft legislation" in light of:

http://firearmsfreedomact.com/ and the fact there are some 18 states now suing the Federal government over the healthcare takeover. Interesting times. I wonder what my fellow Virginian would think today.

Don't Hit Girls

My Daddy always taught me to never hit girls. It just wasn't nice. It was "ungentlemanly." Besides, it made you look like a weak bully. President Obama recently demonstrated another reason why men shouldn't pick on women or use their positions (in his case the bully pulpit of the Presidency) to patronize and mock the opinion of women. Sometimes they hit back. Former Alaskan Governor and VP Candidate, Sarah Palin, was recently mocked by the President for her lack of expertise on "nuclear issues." Mrs. Palin didn't waste too much time in reminding everyone that the President didn't really have much experience either. My wife loved it.

Sister Sarah does a verbal smack down:


09 April 2010

Pat Buchanan Doesn't Like Sherman

"The great terrorist in that war was William Tecumseh Sherman, who violated all the known rules of war by looting, burning and pillaging on his infamous March to the Sea from Atlanta to Savannah. Sherman would later be given command of the war against the Plains Indians and advocate extermination of the Sioux. 

"'The only good Indian is a dead Indian' is attributed both to Sherman and Gen. Phil Sheridan, who burned the Shenandoah and carried out Sherman's ruthless policy against the Indians. Both have statues and circles named for them in Washington, D.C."

But he does support Confederate History Month. You can read the rest of his commentary here.

145 Years Ago Today

“I turned about, and there behind me, riding between my two lines, appeared a commanding form, superbly mounted, richly accoutered, of imposing bearing, noble countenance, with expression of deep sadness overmastered by deeper strength. It is none other than Robert E. Lee! … I sat immovable, with a certain awe and admiration.” ~ Union General Joshua Chamberlain at Appomattox.

08 April 2010

A Southern Institution

"Larger towns have schools, and almost every town has a water tower. Wherever Main Street is, the courthouse sits at the end of it. There's the cemetery, and there are the churches. Then, if the town is big enough, there's the Dairy Queen." 

We have one in our small town. An interesting read here.

06 April 2010

Another Proclamation

**Update #2: Though I am trying to not get into back and forth debates with other CW blogs, it is sometimes necessary to respond and point out inconsistencies and misinformation; which seems to happen with frustrating frequency these days. Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory provides us with the latest example. Levin recently took me to task for ostensibly ignoring Robert Moore's post on the Governor's proclamation, though I linked to CWM's post, as well as Professor Simpson's at Civil Warriors (see below). You will notice, however, that Mr. Levin leveled no such criticism at my fellow Virginian, Robert, for ignoring my post, though he also linked to Mr. Levin's and Professor Simpson's post. Why didn't I link to Robert's post? Because he was not a target of my criticism. Nothing sinister Mr. Levin, as you insinuate. I've linked to Robert's site a number of times in the past and will likely do so in the future. Though Robert and I often disagree on issues, I didn't find his post lacking credibility as I did the ones to which I did link. Levin opines that my "failure to provide a link speaks volumes." Perhaps, but not in the way he thinks.

**Update: You can follow this debate on 2 other blogs here and here, if you're interested. Nothing really new, but instructive to read their rather convoluted objections to the Governor's proclamation. It is interesting to watch the authors of the posts apparently try to back pedal and defend their original posts simultaneously. Fancy footwork indeed. At least one other official associated with the Commonwealth's work on the Sesquicentennial seems to see the proclamation in the same light as I do:

As current chairman of Loudoun County’s CW Sesquicentennial Committee, I see nothing in Governor McDonnell’s proclamation that should be objectionable to anyone or that implies a lack of inclusiveness. It may be a tad boilerplate but aren’t all such proclamations?
If you want the sesquicentennial commemoration to be inclusive, then it seems to me it should include Confederate History Month. ~ *Jim Morgan

True, Mr. Chairman, but when you're on a mission, all that matters little.

*Mr. Morgan is past president of the Loudoun County Civil War Roundtable and a member of the Loudoun County Civil War Sesquicentennial Committee. He is a volunteer battlefield guide at Ball’s Bluff and recently has joined the advisory board of the Mosby Heritage Area Association.

Many of the PC crowd are taking Governor McDonnell to task for ostensibly "excluding" other Virginians in his proclaiming April Confederate History Month. This showcases their intellectual dishonesty and the fact that they are driven by their agenda to marginalize anyone who wishes to honor their Confederate ancestors and heritage. In February, Governor McDonnell properly issued another proclamation in honor of Black History Month. Here are a few excerpts:

"WHEREAS,  Virginians of all backgrounds and experiences contribute to our Commonwealth’s rich cultural diversity, storied history and promising future, and it is important for Virginians to recognize the positive contributions to our society made by people of all heritages and races; and . . . 

"WHEREAS,  many other African Americans have made important contributions to our society, such as Martin Luther King, Jr., our nation’s greatest civil rights activist who, along with his wife Coretta Scott King, became a trailblazer in the struggle for equality and justice for all our citizens . . .

". . . Booker T. Washington, who would go on to attend Hampton University,  founded in 1868 and today one of the nation’s leading historically black universities, on that campus visitors can still see the ‘Emancipation Oak’ under which the first Southern reading of the Emancipation Proclamation took place in 1863 . . ."

(You can read this proclamation here.)

To suggest that Governor McDonnell, in issuing the Confederate History proclamation, is ignoring other parts of our history - or is ignorant of it - simply proves these academics are themselves actually ignorant of his other proclamations or, more likely, simply used the occasion of the Confederate proclamation to push their perspective and agenda.

As I noted in a previous comment, I have 3 great-great Grandfathers who fought for the Confederacy. 2 of them spent time in yankee prisons. At least 2 of them were wounded. 2 of them fought over land that I would one day come to own. I was born and grew up on that battlefield. None of my Confederate ancestors owned slaves. They fought because they believed their homes were being invaded. They were defending hearth and home and served the Commonwealth of Virgina honorably. For that they deserve honor and remembrance. That's all the Confederate history proclamation is about.
In falsely accusing Governor McDonnell of excluding other Virginians (and ignoring his history of issuing past proclamations), these PC academics reveal to the world that it is is actually they who wish to exclude a certain segment of Virginians from historical remembrance. It is they who are, in fact, guilty of the very thing which they are charging Governor McDonnell.