29 July 2010

Man Caves

Here's a really cool post about the offices and "man caves" of some famous writers and others. Go to the link and view the office/studies of Hemingway, Frederick Douglass, Mark Twain, and other men of renown. Since I was a boy, the retreats, studies, and offices of men have always fascinated me for some reason. Perhaps it was because I grew up watching my grandfather working at his desk (which I still own and use) - tinkering with old watches, rolling a cigarette with glueless OCB papers, smoking a pipe, listening to the radio, reading, working leather or making a belt buckle. A lot can be revealed about a man by what is in his office - photos, mementos, books, etc.

As Marshall Fishwick wrote in his wonderful mini-biography of General Lee, titled Lee After the War:

“Offices are silent biographies of those who spend much of their lives in them.” 

I've been wanting to post a video tour of my office for some time, but just can't seem to get around to it. Soon hopefully. Here's a site where you can take a virtual tour of Robert E. Lee's office. So, with all this in mind, I'd like to invite all my readers to submit photos of your "man cave", office, or study along with a paragraph or so describing your "retreat." Please take the time, this could be fun. I'll pick a few (maybe all), and post the photos here, along with your text. We'll then have a poll on the favorite and the winning submission will get an autorgaphed copy of my book about Jackson's Sunday school class. 

28 July 2010

Objectivity or "Sides?"

I'm often admonished by academic historians that, for the most part, most academic historians are totally objective and apolitical in their historical analysis and I should not suggest their politics influence their "scholarship." If we are to accept that as true, then what did the author of *this article at History News Network mean when he asked if well-respected historians Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese had "switched sides?"

Sides of what?

*The article originally appeared in The New Republic.

27 July 2010

Getting The Cart Before The Horse

Kevin Levin has, once again, offered up negative criticism of 
something which he's not read nor seen. In a recent post, Kevin criticizes the book, Entangled in Freedom: A Civil War Novel, by novelist Kevin Weeks and website author, Ann DeWitt. Kevin's negative comments are quite amazing when one considers he's not read the book. (The book won't even be available until January 2011.):

"In the end, it is simply a reflection of their gullibility, lack of basic historical knowledge relating to the Civil War and an inability to properly interpret primary sources.  On the other hand and as a teacher, I am disgusted when children are brought into the picture.  They become the victims of the stupidity of others."

Now, could someone please explain to me how one makes such broad, negative comments about a book that he hasn't even read? Certainly, one could not draw any conclusions from the very brief description of the book:

"Entangled in Freedom, the first novel in this young adult fiction book series, takes a closer look at the life experiences of African-Americans in the Deep South during the War Between the States. Young adult readers follow main character Isaac Green through the dirt roads of Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia to Cumberland Gap where Isaac serves with the 42nd Regiment Georgia Volunteers C.S.A. Historical accounts are derived from 19th century official government records as well as real life family narratives of co-author, Ann DeWitt."

Kevin has made assumptions (nothing new), about something he hasn't read or seen, based on his own prejudices and perspectives regarding historical interpretation. He also makes assumptions, which he can't possibly know, about Ms. DeWitt's own family narratives:

"It’s unfortunate that Ms. DeWitt did not take proper care of her family’s narrative.  Sometimes simply repeating family stories does not honor the memory of one’s ancestors, especially if those stories are inaccurate."

Who is Kevin to judge whether or not Ms. DeWitt has taken  "proper care of her family’s narrative?" And how does he know whether or not "those stories are inaccurate?" And then there's this:

"On the other hand and as a teacher, I am disgusted when children are brought into the picture." 

Let's assume, for the sake of illustration, that Kevin's concerns and criticisms are true. Does anyone think the book will be widely circulated in schools? I'm a little perplexed why Kevin seems so indignant about a book which has not yet even been published, and which is unlikely to be widely read in an educational setting, when he expressed so little concern over the radical leftist "social justice" movement which IS being taught in schools and which is endorsed by the Nation's two largest teacher's unions.

How about a little balance and perspective here?

24 July 2010

Academics Are Better Than The Rest Of Us

More elitism from academia and the ruling class:

"The institute has also been very good to Berwick personally. He received $2.3 million in compensation in 2008 (a figure that included retirement funds), and was paid $637,006 in 2007 and $585,008 in 2006. On top of that, investigators discovered a little-noticed paragraph in an audit report revealing that in 2003 the institute's board of directors gave Berwick and his wife health coverage 'from retirement until death.' Millions of Americans worry about securing coverage and paying for it. Berwick, who advocates rationing for the masses, will never be one of them."

Spread the wealth around (except theirs, of course.) Ration healthcare (except theirs, of course.) They are so morally and intellectually superior to the rest of us. Don't challenge the ruling class. Amazing to observe. Read more here.

A related post coming . . .


23 July 2010

The Ruling Class

Doesn't like to be challenged . . . whether they be in media, academia, or government:

Young Russert is showing some of the ole' spark his Daddy had. Impressive. The good ole' boys probably pinned his ears back once he got back to the office. "Uh . . . we don't go after our own like that Luke." Rangel is an elitist crook of epic proportions.

Herman Cain Believes In American Exceptionalism

And he's considering a run for the Presidency.

Believing In Angels

For those of you in the Fredericksburg area, I suggest you take the time to go and see "The Angel of Marye's Heights." Fellow blogger Michaeal Aubrecht has co-produced this film and based on information Michael has shared with me about the film, I'm fairly confident that Michael's efforts have produced a project worthy of your time. The film will be premiered for the public this Saturday, July 24, 2010. 6-9 PM at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, 1201 Caroline Street, Fredericksburg, Virginia. I've also arranged a screening at Liberty University for this September which will benefit the National Civil War Chaplains Museum.

Despite what appears to me to be a manufactured controversey about the story and film, there's no reason to suggest or believe the event which this film explores didn't happen or, that it has been grossly exagerrated or influenced so some could "choose to remember our Civil War" a certain- assumedly inaccurate - "way". Frankly, that sounds more like psychotherapy than historical analysis to a simple buff like me. Like most stories that are handed down through first hand oral accounts, there are things we don't know and, like much of our history, it is left up to historians and researchers to do their best, using the information available, to "fill in the blanks." As NPS historian, Mac Wyckoff pointed out:

"It is significant that not a single member of the 2nd South Carolina challenged the veracity of the story which became quiet well known in South Carolina by 1900. Kershaw was a prominent figure in South Carolina politcs after the war so had naturally developed some political opponents. Not one of them challenged Kerhaw’s statement about the Kirkland incident."

It would appear to me the criticism over how the story is presented by Aubrecht's production is a bit premature, since those criticizing it haven't even seen it.

22 July 2010

Highland Historical Society

After speaking at the Stonewall Jackson Ruritan Club in McDowell last month, I was approached by one of the Board of Directors from the Highland County Historical Society. They were interested in the possibility of carrying both my book about Jackson's Sunday school class, as well as the DVD documentary, which is based on the book. I received a very nice email from the society earlier this week informing me that they would in fact be offering both items in their museum gift shop. Obviously, I'm very pleased. Be sure and visit the HHS's website and their museum if you're ever in the area.

21 July 2010

A Different Perspective

A recent post by Kevin Levin at Civil War Memory piqued my interest. Kevin had the privilege of hearing renowned WBTS historian, James I. Robertson, Jr. speak at a recent conference. For those who have ever heard Bud speak, you know he never fires a dud. His commentary is always full of great insight and he has a polished delivery. His grasp of the issues, battles, and personalities that make the study of the Civil War so fascinating is as deep as it is broad. He is, without a doubt, my favorite living historian. He possesses the rare talent of being both an excellent historian and an excellent writer. There were a couple of comments made by Kevin which offer an excellent opportunity to clarify some issues and offer a different perspective. First:

"Robertson quoted Lincoln and rammed home his belief that the Civil War was nothing less than a test of whether the work of the Founding Fathers could be preserved.  There is nothing surprising about such a view, but I bet some people are taken back [sic] by the fact that it is Robertson’s view.  After all, Robertson is best known for biographies of Confederate leaders and he is to a certain extent the academic darling of organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans."

What I am taken aback by is that Kevin would think others would be "taken aback" that this is Professor Robertson's view. I've had the privilege of working with Professor Robertson on a couple of projects (he wrote the foreword to my book about Stonewall Jackson's black Sunday school class and was one of the historians featured in the Jackson documentary I co-produced), and I've heard him speak at least a half-dozen times. I once heard him remark that Virginia's decision to secede was "a foolish decision ." Didn't Lee feel the same way, at least initially? And his admiration for Lincoln is also no secret for those who have read his books and are familiar with his work and historical perspective and interpretation regarding the WBTS.

Yet Robertson is also well known for his admiration of Stonewall Jackson, as well as Robert E. Lee. Robertson also had an ancestor who served in the Confederate Army. He's also well known for serving as the chief historical consultant for Gods & Generals and for his opinion (often ridiculed by certain academics), that G&G was "The best Civil War movie I have ever seen and I've seen them all."

I believe Kevin's comments illustrate, at least in part, how many of those who are from outside the South, and/or are without familial Southern roots, so often misunderstand those Southerners who can revere Confederate leaders, their patriotism, and their loyalty to what the Confederates believed were constitutional principles regarding the legality of secession; while, at the same time, not necessarily agree with the wisdom or prudence of secession - and even admire Lincoln. These are major distinctions that are, apparently, difficult for some to grasp. 

I believe Professor Robertson grasps them quite well and understands that there are different perspectives and differences in how various individuals approach the study of the WBTS. For example, I read this in an older post at CWM, regarding Professor Robertson's perspective and how he responded to a question from an interviewer about Gods & Generals:

Q: Are there a lot of scholars that are very Pro-Union or Pro-Confederate?

Robertson: The majority are Pro-Union.  The overwhelming majority [of scholars] are Pro-Union, yes.  We southerners are in the minority.

KL: "Very strange response indeed." 

Really? How so? Professor Robertson simply acknowledges that these different perspectives, as nuanced as they often are, are often sectional. What is strange in my view is that this is news or "strange" to anyone.

Secondly, in the more recent post, Kevin also laments that he did not have time to,

". . . ask him [Robertson] how he views the uptick in rhetoric of secession that is coming from both the grass roots level as well as our elected leaders.  To what extent should we view this as a legacy of the Civil War?  I wanted to know, given his comments about the value of Union, whether we should encourage this rhetoric and whether he believes it ought to be viewed as patriotic."

But the current "uptick in rhetoric secession" is not all that recent. We heard the same rhetoric from the left in 2000 (ten years ago) and 2004 (six years ago). For example:

“These sentiments were so pronounced that they migrated into the mainstream. Speaking on ‘The McLaughlin Group’ the weekend after George W. Bush’s victory, panelist Lawrence O’Donnell, a former Democratic Senate staffer, noted that blue states subsidize the red ones with their tax dollars, and said, ‘The big problem the country now has, which is going to produce a serious discussion of secession over the next 20 years, is that the segment of the country that pays for the federal government is now being governed by the people who don’t pay for the federal government.’ A shocked Tony Blankley asked him, ‘Are you calling for civil war?’ To which O’Donnell replied, ‘You can secede without firing a shot.’” (This quote is from Salon Magazine, 16 November 2004.)

Also, Bob Beckel, who was at the time, a Senior political analyst for Fox News and who has also worked as a Democratic Party strategist and consultant, made the following comments after the 2004 election:

“‘I think now that slavery is taken care of, I’m for letting the South form its own nation. Really, I think they ought to have their own confederacy,’ Mr. Beckel said on the ‘Fox and Friends” program.’” (This quote is from the Washington Times, 9 November 2004)

And then there was the "Let's Ditch Dixie" piece that appeared in Slate Magazine after the 2000 election. That piece included these comments:

"The United States doesn't have to refight the Civil War to set matters right. Rather, North and South should simply follow the example of the Czech Republic and Slovakia: Shake hands, says it's been real, and go their separate ways. And if the South isn't inclined to leave anytime soon, then we should show them the door by seceding unilaterally."

And . . .

"Economically and socially, secession will be painless for the North. The South is a gangrenous limb that should have been lopped off decades ago." (How nice. Shows what many elites really think about Southerners, doesn't it?)

The author of the Slate piece was Mark Strauss, not someone who could be easily dismissed as some left-wing, hack-blogger. (Left-wing, yes. Hack, no.) He's a journalist and senior editor at Smithsonian Magazine and has written for a number of other left-leaning publications including The Washington Post and The New Republic.

So, again, we see that the "recent" uptick in secession rhetoric really isn't all that recent - it's just coming from the other end of the political spectrum than what it did in 2000 and 2004.

And regarding whether or not secessionist rhetoric is patriotic or not, perhaps one should ask the White House:

Freehawaii.org notes that, "In 1993 the 103rd Congress unanimously signed into Public Law the Apology Bill. America publicly admitted to illegally overthrowing its ally and trading partner the Sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii and falsely imprisoning the beloved Queen Liliuokalani. Since then, America, has done everything it can to avoid the consequences of this Bill. The inevitable result will be the restoration of a sovereign Hawaii."

The official Democratic platform (which President Obama supports) reads:

"We support the efforts for self-determination and sovereignty of native Hawaiians, consistent with principles enumerated in the Apology Resolution and the Native Hawaiian Government Reorganization Act."

So we see that different perspectives are important to consider and that how we approach and think about the study of history influences us all to one extent or another. Different perspectives are often healthy as they, if nothing else, help us to reexamine and correct or confirm our own views. As General Patton once quipped, "If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn't thinking."

20 July 2010

Civil War POW's

I had two great-great grandfathers who were POW's in yankee prisons. John Meredith Crutchfield, who served time in Camp Morton in Indiana, and Morris Coffey who served time at Point Lookout in Maryland. Below is a recent video about WBTS prison camps produced by the Museum of the Confederacy.

Follow Up To Yesterday's Post

A perfect dovetail to yesterday's post:

"In their opinions on policy and politicians ranging from President Barack Obama to Sarah Palin, elites in Washington have a strikingly divergent outlook from the rest of the nation, according to a new POLITICO poll released Monday. Obama is far more popular while Palin, the former Alaska governor, is considerably less so. To the vast majority of D.C. elites, the tea party movement is a fad."

More here.

And . . . 

"America is struggling with a sputtering economy and high unemployment — but times are booming for Washington’s governing class. The massive expansion of government under President Barack Obama has basically guaranteed a robust job market for policy professionals, regulators and contractors for years to come."

All created w/ funny money putting the rest of us and our grandchildren in debt for generations to come. It is criminal. More here.

19 July 2010

The Ruling Class - Elites, Academics & Bureaucrats

vs. The Country Class . . . 

"The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century's Northerners and Southerners -- nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, 'prayed to the same God.' By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God 'who created and doth sustain us,' our ruling class prays to itself as 'saviors of the planet' and improvers of humanity. Our classes' clash is over 'whose country' America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what."

And . . . 

"Americans' conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so."

And . . . 

". . . much of America's educated class had already absorbed the "scientific" notion (which Darwin only popularized) that man is the product of chance mutation and natural selection of the fittest. Accordingly, by nature, superior men subdue inferior ones as they subdue lower beings or try to improve them as they please . . . As the 19th century ended, the educated class's religious fervor turned to social reform: they were sure that because man is a mere part of evolutionary nature, man could be improved, and that they, the most highly evolved of all, were the improvers."

The above are excerpts from an absolutely brilliant and must-read piece in the American Spectator written, ironically, by an academic. There is a nugget in every paragraph. Read the piece. It is a very long piece, but it is well worth your time.

And, in a related piece of news . . . 

"Almost half of adult Washington area residents have college diplomas, and better than one-fifth have graduate or professional degrees. By either measure, the region has the most educated population of any large metropolitan center." (Based on 2008 Census data for the 100 largest metropolitan areas.)

The AS piece, along with this nugget about the DC area being the "most educated" bolsters my frequent argument that education, and even intelligence, does not necessarily produce wisdom nor competence. And this is true in every aspect of life, including historiography. 

More to come on this topic soon.

The Laws of Nature

If there is anything that history should teach us, it is that market forces, like the force of gravity and other forces of nature, can only be resisted so long. The laws of nature enforce themselves. Included in the "laws of nature" are market forces which are manifested and influenced by human nature and millions of inviduals making choices. We will soon see that in mass as Obamanomics continues to reap its harvest in America:

"Since April 1, the date many insurance contracts are renewed for small businesses, the owners of about 90 small companies terminated their insurance plans with Braintree-based broker Jeff Rich and indicated in a follow-up survey that they were relying on publicly-funded insurance for their employees."

If Obamacare stands, this will be the trend on a national scale. As our founding fathers so well understood, the laws of nature enforce themselves.

More here.

14 July 2010

Civil War Relic Hunting

About 3 years ago, I purchased a used "legendary" Fisher 1266x metal detector from a friend of mine who is a retired police officer. I brought it home, took it out in the back yard and, within 5 minutes, found a silver earring that one of my daughters had lost over 10 years ago. I came back inside, put the detector in the corner and hadn't touched it since - until recently. I've picked up a renewed interest in the hobby and hope to spend quite a bit of time relic and coin hunting in the weeks and months to come. I'll be posting on my adventures when something interesting happens. It's a perfect hobby for me since it involves history and my fascination with mystery and treasure hunting. It's also perfect for me because I live in one of the most historic areas of not only the United States, but of Virginia - the Shenandoah Valley. And I know the Valley, its people, its back roads, historic sites, and surrounding counties very well since I've lived here for all of my 52 years. Below is an interesting video on the subject of metal detecting. Be sure and watch part 2 and some of the other related videos.

FDR Saved Capitalism In 7 or 8 Days

It took Obama 60. "America is an empire", "an aggressor." "Obnoxious war on terror." We will "get out of Afghanistan sooner instead of later." (Really?) Obama's "symbolic gestures" (as opposed to substantive?) "Impressed with his [Obama's] intellect." And, of course, "it's Bush's fault." Saving grace was the last historian to comment - "I'm going to withhold judgment." That was a smart move.

Academic historians sound off:

More to come on this topic very soon.

12 July 2010

Malice Toward Some? - Part 2

(This is a follow up to a previous post.)

"With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds." ~ Abraham Lincoln 

After reading the Civil War Times' August 2010 issue, which includes some op-eds that were in response to Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell's Confederate History Month proclamation, I thought I'd add a couple of additional thoughts for consideration. Some have called Virgina Governor McDonnell's original proclamation the "propagation of bad history" for his originally leaving out any reference to slavery. It's an understandable criticism, though not one I agree with, given the context of the proclamation as well as McDonnell's Black History Month proclamation. But is leaving out certain facts exclusive to proclamations and memorials related to the Confederacy and her heroes?

Governors and legislative bodies in the United States routinely issue proclamations and resolutions commemorating historical figures and events. It is certainly nothing new or out of the ordinary. Do these proclamations and resolutions go into great detail about the complete (and often complex) history and background of each figure or event? No, of course not. First of all, that is not the purpose of these proclamations and resolutions. More often than not, they are simply to note a historical event and/or to satisfy the desire of particular constituencies. Such was the case with the Confederate History Proclamation. It was intended to honor those men who fought defending their homes--which was the reason, despite what some say--many of these men fought. I personally believe that McDonnell could have addressed the slavery issue in the original proclamation without impugning the honor and memory of Confederate soldiers. But the fact he did not should not have given rise to the over the top criticism he and the Sons of Confederate Veterans received.

Isn't it true that most Americans are aware of the Confederacy's (as well as the whole Nation's) association with slavery? Of course. As Professor Brooks Simpson recently remarked:

"I don’t happen to think that every mention of the Confederacy has to be accompanied by a denunciation of slavery. That gets tiresome to hear." Precisely. (Do read all of Simpson's remarks to get the full context of those remarks.)

Yet Professor Simpson, as well as many other critics, felt it was necessary to mention "a denunciation of slavery" in Governor McDonnell's proclamation. Failing to do so was, in their words, propagating "bad history" and an attempt "to whitewash slavery from the story of the Confederacy." Ok, fair enough - that is fair enough if they truly believe that (and I actually believe some of them do) and if they truly believe that failing to mention something of which most folks are already quite aware was a disservice.

As I've pointed out here before, and as others have written about extensively in recent years, slavery's history is not just part of the "story of the Confederacy." It is part of the story of America.

Yet the critics seem so much more anxious to jump on "bad history" as it relates to the Confederacy, but much more "forgiving" when it comes to Lincoln's record on race and the North's connection to slavery. Why? I find it rather telling that we heard nothing about "bad history" when the U.S. Senate issued a proclamation "Commemorating the life and legacy of President Abraham Lincoln on the bicentennial of his birth." In that proclamation, there was no mention of Lincoln's racist views, no mention of his desire for the deportation of blacks, and no mention that Lincoln supported a constitutional amendment which would have prohibited the U. S. Government from ever abolishing or interfering with slavery in any state (the Corwin amendment). Where was the outcry and outrage of "bad history" over that proclamation? There was none. Why not? If it was necessary for Governor McDonnell to not "whitewash" the Confederacy's connection to slavery, why does the U.S. Senate get a pass in not mentioning Lincoln's ambiguous, if not complicit, attitude toward slavery? Should there not have been at least some mention of Lincoln's views; especially in light of the fact that far fewer Americans are aware of Lincoln's ambiguity regarding slavery than they are the Confederacy's connection to the institution? (Other states issued similar Lincoln proclamations, like this one from North Dakota. Again, no criticism for ignoring Lincoln's conflicting statements and actions regarding slavery.)

Of course, my question is rhetorical. I don't think that mentioning Lincoln's views on slavery were necessary in a commemorative proclamation - any more than I think it was necessary in McDonnell's proclamation. But if it is required of one, then it should be required of the other; if one is to be consistent in their desires for telling the whole story.

Most of the op-eds in the recent Civil War Times issue contained the prerequisite hand-wringing over "Lost Cause" adherence - the great boogie man of academic Civil War historians. Nothing of note or any original thought contained in those pieces. The best opinion came from someone who I've disagreed with on several occasions and someone who does not consider himself a historian, though I think he is well on the way of establishing himself as such with his rather prolific blog. Harry Smeltzer, host of the Civil War blog, Bull Runnings, gave the most accurate synopsis of McDonnell's proclamation:

I think the Governor’s proclamation was nothing more than a dusting off of previously issued proclamations, made at least in part in fulfillment of promises given prior to his election.  I believe not much thought at all went into it, and that the apology issued was genuine.
I find most of the reactions to the proclamation and the apology repugnant, outside of the obvious disappointment of those who objected to either and, in curious cases, both.  Pendulums are funny things, and after watching them for a while you get the impression they spend most of their time at either end, and not much in the middle.  At the extremes, we see reactions ranging from claims that Confederates were nothing more than terrorists, that slavery had little or nothing to do with the Confederate cause, that the Tea Party movement is primarily a gathering of neo-Confederate racists, and that the same movement reflects frustrations similar to those felt by the slaveholding south.  All are gross distortions of the truth, and politically motivated.  Unfortunately little attention has been given to valid historical issues raised by the issuance of the proclamation, notably that of the diversity of the people of the State of Virginia before and during the Civil War.  I’m left with the feeling we let an opportunity slip through our fingers in favor of forwarding political agendas.
Well said.

A couple of more points. Civil War Times wrote that they had invited several members of the SCV to comment, but never received a response. I find that difficult to believe, but will take CWT at their word. Actually, they did receive a response from at least one SCV member - Waite Rawls, III of the Museum of the Confederacy. Waite's response was, not suprisingly, calculated and measured. Of course, Waite was speaking on behalf of the MOC, not the SCV. 

And one final observation. I've pointed out before that those persons and "market demographics" who are so often on the receiving end of jabs, insults, and mocking - the "Lost Causers", the "Confederate Heritage" crowd, etc, etc, apparently still make up a rather large segment of the readership of the various Civil War magazines. In the Civil War Times issue which included these op-eds, there were, not counting the covers, nine full page color ads. These are very pricey - and, I assume, profitable - ads for magazines such as CWT. Of these nine ads, four of them were related specifically and soley to the WBTS. Of those four, three of them catered to those who many would consider "Confederate Heritage" types: an ad for a tray table set featuring Confederate art by John Paul Strain (a frequent target of barbs by certain academics), an ad for Confederate toy soldiers, and an ad for a scale replica train set featuring, again, the Confederate art images of John Paul Strain. The fourth ad was for a set of Confederate Military History books.

Isn't it interesting that an issue of CWT which contained mostly criticisms regarding McDonnell's proclamation and "Lost Cause mythology" was funded with hefty ad revenues by companies selling "Lost Cause mythology?" I suppose the critics should be grateful that their platform was funded, at least in part, by the targets of their criticism.

11 July 2010

The Dominance of Southern Culture

"The south has produced the world's best literature. It dominates world culture. Southern culture is the most powerful and expressive in the world." ~ Timothy Tyson


"The American South is a geographical entity, a historical fact, a place in the imagination, and the homeland of an array of Americans who consider themselves southerners. The region is often shrouded in romance and myth, but its realities are as intriguing, as intricate, as its legends." ~ The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture

"The South is cultivated in collards and covered in kudzu . . . Many of us are descended from Scottish settlers and African slaves--and we usually find that we have more in common with each other than with Northern urbanites." ~ Clint Johnson

"The Southern Mind loathes abstractions . . . particularly harmful abstractions which go against the family, the organic community, ancestral customs, and religious faith." ~ Alphonse Vinh

There will no doubt be howls of disagreement from those who are obsessed with mocking and impugning Southerners--holding in special derision those Southerners who hold to a more traditional view of culture and history or who are involved in WBTS "heritage history" or "celebratory history."

Others will likely agree, but fear saying so publicly as they are apparently dealing with some burden of guilt and having to constantly explain and excuse being Southern. Reading their blog posts, essays, editorials, discussion board comments, and other commentary often remind me of what a Priest might hear in a confessional or what a psychiatrist might hear from someone on the couch. These folks seem to be conflicted: in one breath proudly proclaiming and reminding readers of their "Southernness" - ("Me too! Me too!" - and then apologizing for it with the very next breath. Some writers offer their remorse over past celebrations of Confederate history and appear to be involved in some type of self-flogging to atone for their formerly held sinful views regarding the WBTS and the South. They are a rather curious bunch in my view. I can only conclude that these individuals are overly concerned what others might think of them. Frankly, I could not care less what others think. I tend to resist the pull and tug of popular culture and trendy, faddish notions of history - both instinctively and consciously.

I often hear the question asked why so many in the South focus on the WBTS heritage aspect of Southern culture and history? After all, it was only four years. (I have to wonder why so many Northerners do the same.) Well, why not? Why do others focus on mocking every WBTS heritage event they can, making fun of the art, the reenactors, and those who attend such events?

At the same time, the mockers and the guilt-ridden proclaim to the world that there are "other" aspects of Southern heritage, acting as if they've stumbled onto some new, formerly unknown nugget of truth and revelation that will shock the world. Please, give it a rest. The sun did not rise in your eyes. Others have long seen, and are more than aware, what you assume that you're the only one seeing.

Of course, this sophomoric level of condescension toward the South is not confined to the blogosphere and internet discussion boards. It's standard fair in The New York Times, The Washington Post, PBS, the networks, and all the other usual, predictable statist media outlets. It's a fact Southerners have endured for generations - to one degree or another. Then there are those individuals among us who have fled the rotting, insane, high-tax, high-crime areas of the Northeast, seeking refuge in the South. But as soon as they arrive, they begin their incessant whining and complaining against the culture and the way of life here calling on "the government" to enact laws and policies that will result in the same kind of insanity from which they just fled. I've heard some of these folks complain about the "lack of services" in rural areas of the South, or about the "smell of farms." So if things were so great where you were, why did you leave? Are these folks not cognizant of the fact that there are trade-offs?

Yet, Southern Culture dominates the American landscape. There is ample evidence of this fact. Google presents us with some of that evidence. I recently did some "comparative" searches. Here are the hit results:

Southern Culture: 441,000

Northern culture: 25,900

Southern Cooking: 352,000

Northern Cooking: 18,100

Southern Hospitality: 867,000

Northern Hospitality: 25,000

Southern Style: 1,600,000

Northern Style: 93,100

Southern Accent: 437,000

Northern Accent: 42,000

Southern United States: 1,250,000

Northern United States: 431,000

Robert E. Lee: 1,660,000

Ulysses S. Grant: 794,000

Obviously, this is not scientific and these search results contain sites outside of the topic, and the links are no doubt both positive and negative but, nonetheless, it is undeniably indicative of my overall point . . . the dominance of Southern culture. Consider also:

There is a Y'all Magazine, there is no You Gi-eeez Magazine.

There is a Southern Living Magazine. There is no Northern Living Magazine.

We have Southern Gospel music. We do not have Northern Gospel music.

There is Southern Appalachia, but nothing known as Northern Appalachia.

We have Southern Fried chicken, no Northern Fried chicken.

There are Southern manners, no Northern manners.

We have the Center for the Study of Southern Culture (Ole Miss), but no corresponding Center for Northern Culture.

We have the Encyclopedia of Southern Culture (UNC Press), but no Encyclopedia of Northern Culture.

We have the Southern Cultural Heritage Foundation, but no Northern Cultural Heritage Foundation.

We have a large university Documenting the American South, but none that I know of which documents the American North.

We have Southern belles, but no Northern belles. (And who wouldn't rather listen to a woman from Alabama with a soft Southern drawl talk to you over the phone vs. the nasal twang of a young lady from New Joisey?)

Membership in the Sons of Confederate Veterans numbers around 33,000. If all past living members were included, it would be over 100,000.

Membership in the Sons of Union Veterans is around 3500, 1/10 of the SCV, despite the fact that approximately 2.1 million men served in the Union Army while only about 800,000 Confederates served. Why such a vast disparity in SCV and SUV membership numbers? Especially when the SCV is constantly bashed by many academic historians? (This is a question that really has me puzzled. I'm sure someone must have studied this and written about it before?)

The same type of disparity exists with the women's WBTS heritage groups. Why? Also, as I've pointed out before, pay attention to the full page/color ads in most Civil War related magazines. The vast majority of them cater to purchasers of Confederate Heritage art and history - ostensibly, "Lost Cause" sympathizers.

Does this reflect favoring the underdog? Is it a fascination with the bad boy of American culture, the Rebel? Or is it that Southern culture - all of it - is simply richer than any other region in the United States? To wit:

The South has given us Jazz, Rock n Roll, The Blues, R & B, Country Music, Gospel Music, Bluegrass Music, Nascar, Cajun Food, Chitlins, Hushpuppies, Fried Catfish, Barbecue, Sweet Tea, Grits, Texas Pete, Soul Food, Smithfield Hams, Moon Pies, Corn-dogs, Coca-Cola, Dr. Pepper, Pepsi-Cola, RC Cola, Mountain Dew, Mayberry, Dixie, the Nation's Capital (God forgive us), and literally hundreds of other prominent cultural contributions that are almost innumerable.

The South dominates much of American history and culture. Why? How did this happen? And is this cultural dominance by the South (that many elites and academics look upon with such disdain) the very reason it is so often mocked and impugned? 

Your thoughts?

10 July 2010

Front Porck Pickin' #9

Get your culture here. River baptisms were once common in Southern Appalachia - and still are in many areas. After my own - along with my wife's - conversion in 1979, we were both baptized in a creek near Crozet, Virginia. It was in early April and I recall the water was still very cold. Christians Creek, here in my home county of Augusta, was so named because of the many baptisms that occurred there in the county's early history. As in many of the scenes in the images below, many friends and family members gathered along the creek bank that day to celebrate with us, along with the others being baptized. It is one of my most cherished memories.

Fox Does Nullification

An interesting discussion.

Thomas Woods holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and his master’s, M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Columbia University.

Recommended Project

I've stated before that I receive almost daily requests to review books, websites, blogs and promote various projects and efforts related to history, particularly the WBTS. I certainly don't mind being contacted, though I simply don't have the time to comply with most requests. However, I recently received an email from The Civil War Augmented Reality Project requesting I spread the word about their efforts. The video they produced serves as a good introduction to their project, so please take the time to view it. It really does look like a worthy effort using state of the art technology to promote the study of the Civil War and increase attendance and revenue at historic sites.

09 July 2010

Social Justice In Our Schools - Hurray For Karl Marx!

Hey there space cadets, just wanted to pass on this heartwarming information about more anecdotal evidence regarding radical leftist ideology which is not being promoted in our Nation's schools. Here's a great little resource for teachers who want to indoctrinate children using your tax dollars. And, as they attack capitalism all through their literature, they also practice quite a bit of it by selling bumper stickers and t-shirts here at Cafepress. (I guess they learned something useful from communist China, i.e. Communism and Socialism really don't work in the real world, so, if you can't beat 
'em . . . ) 

Some of their offerings are quite interesting, but not surprising: "Karl Marx - The Working Class Hero" and "John Brown the Martyr." Of course, our Socialist-in-Chief, featured on a t-shirt, is also available. Personally, I would have put Marx's image on the backside of the boxers since more and more Nations (the USA excepted) are "dumping" Marxist economic models.

But I've got to wonder, since they claim to believe in wealth redistribution and are opposed to capitalism, why don't they just give their products away?

(And don't forget to check out their really cool Che Guevara posters - get one for your kid's room today!) 

**Update: Social Justice in the Classroom, Social Justice in publc policy. Yes, Space Cadets, there is a correlation:
"Please don’t put your faith in market forces. It’s a popular idea that Adam Smith’s invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can." ~ Donald Berwick, President Obama's appointee to oversee government healthcare.

Karl Marx would certainly agree with that sentiment, now wouldn't he? And yo, Mr. Berwick, yes Adam Smith's ideas were popular - with the Founders. And, yes, many Americans still have more faith in those ideas and principles than we do "Dear Leader(s)." Good Lord, the arrogance and elitism just drips from this man. All the while these Marxists espouse a command and control economy, there are real world examples all over the globe that they don't work. But please, don't confuse them with the facts. Most of these academics have little or no real world experience. Their philosophies are the product of classrooms, cubicles, and test tubes. "If just the right people were in control, then they'd work." They refuse to learn from history which, by the way, is the subject of an upcoming post.


Resurrecting Nullification?

The political concept of "nullification" is making a comeback. Fellow Virginian Thomas Jefferson's idea seems to becoming more and more popular as Washington is on a relentless march to control the lives of American citizens. Whether it's California's marijuana laws or **Arizona's illegal immigration law, states seem to be much more willing to take on the Feds. Though the various incidences occurring in the states have not been framed specifically as nullification, they certainly fit the mold.

Now comes a new book by historian Thomas Woods which discusses the history of nullification and affirms it's role in modern America. More here.

And, in related news . . . according to Democrat pollster and gadfly, James Carville, 55% of likely voters now view President Obama as a socialist. I wonder what planet the other 45% are from? Very strange times.

**Arizona's law is kind of a reverse application of nullification. Rather than rejecting a federal law, Arizona has actually mirrored federal law and taken the responsibility for what should be federal jurisdiction. How ironic.

08 July 2010

Honest Abe

Or, as a friend of mine responded when his wife asked: "Does my butt look big because of the way this dress fits?" He opined: "No, your butt looks big because it is big."

What the heck, the couch isn't all THAT uncomfortable.

07 July 2010

A Touching Act Of Patriotism

New Online University Specializing In History

This should drive the academic elites crazy.

Announcing Glenn Beck University which will feature, as one of their Professors, David Barton and which will be teaching classes in “religion, American history and economics.”

Hear all about it here.

Why America Is Exceptional

06 July 2010

3 Cheers For Promoting American Exceptionalism

"Far-left ideologues and self-styled intellectual illuminati have, for years, labored overtime to highjack the notion of American Exceptionalism by equating it with their own notion of American arrogance.  Let us put an end to this calumny. Let us recall and, indeed, praise the American Exceptionalism at which Alexis de Tocqueville marveled when, during his travels through the young country in 1831, he coined the term in his treatise, Democracy in America . . ."

More here.

05 July 2010

Fox News Does Gettysburg

And my friend Alan Farley has his say . . .

04 July 2010

Celebrating American Exceptionalism

Happy Independence Day.

"On the Fourth of July, we don’t only celebrate the birth of our nation. We celebrate American exceptionalism—everything that makes the United States the greatest nation on earth."

More here.

01 July 2010

Kagan Doesn't Have A View On "Natural Rights?"

Thomas Jefferson is spinning in his grave. Kagan's no more qualified to sit on the Supreme Court than Harriet Myers. She is simply another Harvard academic elite who believes she is morally and intellectually superior to not only most American citizens, but also to the principles contained in our founding documents, for which my ancestors shed blood. I also think she's lying and dodging.

Veterans vs. Academics

As a blogger who often posts commentary relating to our military and military history, I receive frequent emails requesting links, endorsements, commentary etc. I simply can't respond and accommodate all of them, but I do read and consider their requests. I recently received one which dovetails into my frequent criticism of certain types of academics. So, with that in mind . . . 

"I have serious concerns about Elena Kagan’s actions toward the military, and her willingness to myopically focus on preventing the military from having institutional and equal access to top-notch recruits at a time of war. I find her actions toward military recruiters at Harvard unbecoming a civic leader, and unbefitting a nominee to the United States Supreme Court.

"Ms. Kagan is clearly a very *capable academic, and the President has the right to nominate whomever he pleases. But in replacing the only remaining veteran on the Supreme Court, how did we reach a point in this country where we are nominating someone who—unapologetically—obstructed the military at a time of war? Ms. Kagan chose to use her position of authority to impede, rather than empower, the warriors who fight, and have fallen, for our freedoms." ~ Pete Hegseth, Executive Director of Vets for Freedom

*The question is, capable of what? More here.