31 December 2011

Professor David Blight Teaches Us Something

Is the WBTS still being fought?

Though I don't think its quite what he intended. I'll explain later on in this post. I've responded here before to Yale History Professor and Civil War scholar David Blight's essays. (See here.) Any objective reader will notice that Blight's tone and approach to Civil War history is becoming increasingly partisan and political. There's also an edgy, frustrated, and condescending element in some of his essays. I'll be the first to defend his right to take that approach, but let's not pretend he's playing the part of an "objective historian" simply analyzing history. And I'm not the only one to notice. Professor Blight surrendered any right to that claim with his very public 2008 endorsement of Barack Obama for President. This public political endorsement was signed by a number of well known academics "as historians." It is quite the juvenile read.

In one of his recent Sesquicentennial essays, Blight succumbs to his liberal political leanings and uses the WBTS to support his political views. In a Kansas City Star piece titled, The Civil War at 150: The Past in the Present? Blight makes the following "observation":
The conservative movement in America, or at least its most radical wing, seems determined to repeal much of the 20th century and even its constitutional and social roots from the transformative 1860s. The Civil War is not only not over, it can still be lost.

Read more here: http://civilwar150.kansascity.com/articles/civil-war-150-past-present/#storylink=cpy

The conservative movement in America, or at least its most radical wing, seems determined to repeal much of the 20th century and even its constitutional and social roots from the transformative 1860s. The Civil War is not only not over, it can still be lost.
That's right. Professor Blight believes that the Civil War is still being fought. It's not the first time he's stated that a separate nation still exists and is in a state of "war" with the rest of the nation. In a piece published in 2010 after Virginia's Confederate History month controversy, Blight asked, "Why doesn't the Confederacy just fade away?" Uh, I believe it did - that would have occurred in 1865 for you non-Civil War buffs. (As already noted, I responded to that piece here.)

(Before you read the rest of my post analyzing Blight's more recent Past in the Present article, I recommend you read that piece in it's entirety here.)

As in the 2010 piece, Blight expresses his dismay as to why so many people find the Confederacy interesting:

Why is the Confederacy, a mere four-year experiment in revolution to preserve a slaveholding society, still so interesting to so many people?
As you will see, Blight's incorrect and overly-simplistic summation about the reason for the "revolution" is actually refuted - by his own words. But he is right about Americans' fascination with the Confederacy. I've mentioned a number of anecdotal evidences of this in the past. In one of those posts, I made an observation about this fascination as it relates to most of the Civil War magazines. You can read that post - Are "Lost Causers" Funding America's Civil War? - here and a post related to the cultural aspect of this fascination here.

In both the 2010 piece, as well as the more recent one, Professor Blight seems rather frustrated with the preeminence of the study of, and fascination with, the Confederacy. I detect more than a hint of jealousy and resentment. Yes, even historians have their preferences and preferred perspectives. Both Robert Krick and James Roberston have made note of this reality. (Also see this post.) Professor Robertson once commented on this in an interview when asked about the competing perspectives between some Civil War scholars:

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

Noted Civil War historian Robert K. Krick has also made mention of the "overwhelming" bias of Civil War scholars. I heard him refer to "anti-Confederate" historians in more than one conference I attended where he was one of the speakers. So, there is this "friction" of perspectives when analyzing the War Between the States. I think what frustrates academics like Blight is that his perspective, for the most part, is falling on deaf ears among many, if not most, Americans. They're simply not getting "their" message out as much as they'd like, or as much as they think they should - this despite the fact that Blight's perspective (as pointed out by James Robertson and Robert Krick) dominates academia. That does have to be rather frustrating. Thus, the questions asked in an almost whining, pleading tone, "Why doesn't the Confederacy just fade away?" and "Why is the Confederacy . . . still so interesting to so many people?" (Other CW bloggers have noticed Blight's obsession in regards to America's fascination with the "Lost Cause" and Confederate history - see Dimitri Rotov's post here.) As I've already opined, I think Blight's piece is more politics than history. Blight weds his disdain for the Confederacy with his disdain for modern conservative politics. And, as I've already noted, I'm not the only one to come to that conclusion. The Star's ombudsman received more than one complaint about Blight's article. One reader commented:

He's letting his personal politics make him oblivious to an obvious fact, and I don't care if you want to dismiss that as a tea party thing or not. ... The political commentary was unneeded in an otherwise excellent package of information . . .
Another expressed this criticism:

Why did The Star feel that his view was so important that if be [sic] featured in the front section and not in the editorials where it belonged? I think in the interest of fairness, it was improperly placed. I also think that a conservative academic with an understanding of history different from that of Mr. Blight would not be placed in such prominence in the Star.

Ah yes, the general public is much more astute at sniffing out the leftist political leanings of many academic historians than most in the profession realize. Many academics truly believe that the majority of Americans buy their claim to objectivity and superiority. That arrogant, false self-confidence is part of the reason for their diminishing respect and, in my opinion, why they are having difficulty convincing the masses. But I digress. In the The Past in the Present piece, Blight expressed this opinion:

Indeed, yesterday’s secessionists and today’s nullifiers have much in common. Both are distinct minorities who have suddenly seized an inordinate degree of power. 
Blight is, of course, referring to conservative Republicans like Rick Perry and other state officials who are becoming increasingly unhappy and frustrated with the federal government's overreach. But Professor Blight appears to be ignorant for calls of secession from his end of the political spectrum.

He's letting his personal politics make him oblivious to an obvious fact, and I don't care if you want to dismiss that as a tea party thing or not. ... The political commentary was unneeded in an otherwise excellent package of information,

Read more here: http://adastrum.kansascity.com/?q=node/1261#storylink=cpyIn Blight's piece, he goes on to tie modern political arguments to the Civil War. If he consciously made an effort to appear objective, he failed. For example, Blight writes: Indeed, yesterday’s secessionists and today’s nullifiers have much in common. Both are distinct minorities who have suddenly seized an inordinate degree of power.Blight is, of course, referring to conservative Republicans like Rick Perry and other state officials who are becoming increasingly unhappy and frustrated with the federal government's overreach. But Professor Blight appears to be ignorant for calls of secession from his side of the political spectrum. 

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."

The above quote is from Salon Magazine, 16 November 2004. And there's more. 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.

The above quote is from the Washington Times, 9 November 2004. That's not all Professor Blight conveniently overlooked. 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.

And perhaps Professor Blight is unaware that he endorsed a secessionist for President in 2008. 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 2008 Democratic Party platform (which President Obama supported) 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."

Sounds like secession to me. I suppose, in Professor Blight's mind, its ok to call for secession if you're a leftist, but not ok if you're a conservative. Interesting logic.

And, of course, Blight finds it necessary to default to the lowest common denominator and suggest that anyone who disagrees with his leftist ideology is a racist. 

Both [modern conservatives and the Confederacy) claim their mantle of righteousness in the name of “liberty,” privatization and racial exclusion (one openly, the other using code that keeps it largely a white people’s party). Both vehemently claim the authority of the “Founders.”

Really? "Racial exclusion"? Hmmm . . . I suppose Alan West, Herman Cain, Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, and a whole host of others didn't get that memo. Blight should be ashamed. Blight then goes on to a laundry list of "accomplishments", ostensibly due to the Civil War and the subsequent increase in federal power. Some of the items are, indeed, accomplishments - others, not so much. Social Security is bankrupt - not exactly what actuaries would call a success. And Blight was careful in what he listed. He also left out bankrupt medicare, the nation's overall bankrupt status, our "wise" government banning light bulbs based on hocus-pocus, politically driven "science", disastrous wars abroad, the gross negligence and failure of our public school system, our Indian reservation debacle, etc, etc, etc. With few excpetions, its the states where the real success stories lie, not with the far off, out of touch bureacrats in Washington. Sorry Professor, but that is soooo 1930's. Just ask the old Soviet Union and modern Europe. Centralization just doesn't work out so well in the long run. It's smothering and restricts liberty. History proves it.

Blight's frustration with conservatives and their rejection of "big government" - as it relates to his perspective on the WBTS - must be all that more annoying for him in light of a recent Gallup poll which found that Americans' fear of big government near an all-time high. 

The 64% of Americans who say big government will be the biggest threat to the country is just one percentage point shy of the record high . . .

It would appear that most Americans aren't sold on all the benefits of a large federal government which Professor Blight seems to be so enamored with. Another message from academia that just ain't selling. These two things has to be driving academia crazy: fascination with the Confederacy and an overwhelming fear of big government.

Professor Blight concludes with this paragraph:

The Civil War is not only not over, it can still be lost. As the sesquicentennial ensues in publishing and conferences and on television and countless websites, one can hope that we will pursue matters of legacy and memory with one eye on the past and the other acutely on the present.

The title of this post is about what Professor Blight is teaching us. I think you can come to your own conclusion based on my comments above, but there's also the obvious conclusion that can be drawn from Blight's last paragraph, as well as his other comments (and even Beckel's): And that is these folks really do know deep down that the American Civil War was over much more than just slavery. They've admitted it - whether they intended to or not. After all, slavery in America was abolished almost 150 years ago but, according to Professor Blight and others, we're still fighting the war over the same political issues. Thus, the American Civil War was over much more than just slavery. What other conclusion could one possibly draw?

Indeed, yesterday’s secessionists and today’s nullifiers have much in common. Both are distinct minorities who have suddenly seized an inordinate degree of power.

Read more here: http://civilwar150.kansascity.com/articles/civil-war-150-past-present/#storylink=cpy
Why is the Confederacy, a mere four-year experiment in revolution to preserve a slaveholding society, still so interesting to so many people?

Read more here: http://civilwar150.kansascity.com/articles/civil-war-150-past-present/#storylink=cpy

he conservative movement in America, or at least its most radical wing, seems determined to repeal much of the 20th century and even its constitutional and social roots from the transformative 1860s. The Civil War is not only not over, it can still be lost.

Read more here: http://civilwar150.kansascity.com/articles/civil-war-150-past-present/#storylink=cpy
The Civil War at 150: The past in the present?

Read more here: http://civilwar150.kansascity.com/articles/civil-war-150-past-present/#storylink=cpy
The Civil War at 150: The past in the present?

Read more here: http://civilwar150.kansascity.com/articles/civil-war-150-past-present/#storylink=cpy
The Civil War at 150: The past in the present?

Read more here: http://civilwar150.kansascity.com/articles/civil-war-150-past-present/#storylink=cpy
The Civil War at 150: The past in the present?

Read more here: http://civilwar150.kansascity.com/articles/civil-war-150-past-present/#storylink=cpy

28 December 2011

War Horses - Flecked With Blood Drops

Steven Spielberg's latest film, War Horse, is getting lots of rave reviews. From the trailer and the reviews, it does look to be the kind of film that I'd enjoy. I'll watch it when it comes out on DVD. But I was reminded of a documentary Ron Maxwell did about the horses of Gettysburg a while back. Here's a clip:

"There hangs a sabre, and there a rein,
With a rusty buckle and green curb chain;
A pair of spurs on the old gray wall,
And a moldy saddle—well, that is all.

"Come out to the stable—it is not far;
The moss-grown door is hanging ajar.
Look within! There's an empty stall,
Where once stood a charger, and that is all.

"The good black horse came riderless home,
Flecked with blood drops as well as foam;
See yonder hillock where dead leaves fall;
The good black horse dropped dead—that is all.

"All? O, God! it is all I can speak.
Question me not, I am old and weak;
His sabre and his saddle hang on the wall,
And his horse is dead—I have told you all."

~ Francis Alexander Durivage

26 December 2011

Upcoming Posts

  • What Professor David Blight Is Teaching Us
  • Understanding Liberal Historians (Original Sin Explains A Lot)

Stay Tuned

24 December 2011

Merry Christmas From The Shenandoah Valley

Thanks to all who visited and commented this past year. Wishing you and yours a blessed and Christ-centered Christmas holiday and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

22 December 2011

Political Correctness Costs Taxpayers

There was quite a bit of high-fiving and cheering when the Texas DMV rejected the Sons of Confederate Veterans' request for a specialty license plate last month. But I've not seen much mentioned about the fact the Texas Division of the SCV has since filed suit in Federal court (how ironic) against the state of Texas. Once again cowardly, Orwellian PC nonsense acted out by politicians and bureacrats will end up costing the taxpayers money in order for Texas to defend its silly decision to deny the SCV their 1st amendment rights. As the LA Times reported:

Nine other states have approved Sons of Confederate Veterans' specialty plates, but Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina only did so after the group sued. A similar suit is pending in Florida.
As in previous cases, I predict Texas will lose this case as well. There's very strong precedent favoring the SCV. Way to go Texas. You're known for being "big" - in this case, big fools.

Read more here in the LA Times piece

21 December 2011

Extremists Defacing History

There have been several incidents of vandalism of Confederate monuments here in Virginia in recent months. Predictably, some of the comments on various WBTS blogs have applauded these cowardly, criminal acts. Those defacing public monuments are, in my opinion, intolerant extremists. I can't help but be reminded of what the Taliban did to the ancient Buddhist sculptures in Afghanistan. To be consistent, those who favor this kind of base, uncivilized conduct would have no problem with others doing the same thing to a statue of Lincoln or FDR, or placing their own "interpretative plaques" in order to make a political statement. If the monuments of Lee and other Confederate heroes should be "moved to a museum" (how utterly stupid), then the exact same argument could be made for ALL monuments to ALL our Founding Fathers. Hmmm . . . now just where are we going to put the Washington monument? What about any future monuments to President Obama? Will it be acceptable for his political opponents to paint "Marxist" on some future monument?

This whole debate reveals an attitude most commonly found in juvenile delinquents. Vandalism is a tool of cowards and poorly trained children. Grow up.

Merry Christmas From Virginia

19 December 2011

Look Out - I Turn 54 In January

"American psychologists at the University of Oregon have just revealed that between the ages of 45 and 54 men are at their most competitive . . . It all makes a horrible kind of sense. The older, balder, fatter, stupider and more irrelevant we become, the more we feel we have to prove ourselves."

Antiquated and all fired up.

More here

Actually, I honestly feel as good physically as I ever have - except for my knees. (Too much basketball and running from law enforcement in my teen years) I've noticed extreme pain in my knees as my relic hunting activities have picked up. But, I'm working on that with weight loss and some muscle strengthening exercises. I think I've still got a few good years left. ;o)

16 December 2011

Thomas Jefferson vs. The Elites

"Bureaucrats hate the quintessential American culture of family farms.  The independence-centered, 'pull yourself up by your boot straps' emphasis on responsibility goes against everything they believe in.  Simply put, people who think for themselves and work hard don't live off the government . . . Farming is part of our identity.  It is our way of life, our heritage, our patriotism, and the foundation of our generational values.  Farming is the essence of our loyalty to our families and our God -- and there is nothing more sacred than that. That's why unelected liberal elites don't want farm kids working on farms." ~ Josiah Cantrall 

More here at the American Thinker.

"Cultivators of the earth are the most valuable citizens. They are the most vigorous, the most independent, the most virtuous and they are tied to their country and wedded to its liberty and interests by the most lasting bands." ~ Thomas Jefferson to John Jay 23 August 1785

In God We Trust But No Merry Christmas

There have been ostensibly educated history bloggers who claim they didn't know what political correctness was. I'm serious. So, for those of you in the history blogosphere who fall into that category, here's a real world example:

So it's true, the elected representatives of the nation that puts "In God We Trust" on its currency are not permitted to use the greeting that has likely been uttered by every living adult American at least once in their lifetimes. Just another demonstration that political correctness and freedom of speech, faith and thought are utterly incompatible.

Hope that helps. Story here.

A Moving Account Of Pearl Harbor

15 December 2011

Metal Detecting Post #58 - Confederate Button

I dug this yesterday, here on a farm in the Shenandoah Valley - a somewhat rare Confederate Block A Artillery Coat Button.

14 December 2011

Does Arrogancy Qualify One For Academia?

At least one Democrat member of Congress appears to think so:

After observing President Obama for the last three years, it has become obvious to me that the president might prefer to be a university professor rather than do the job he holds today. While he might not realize that he feels this way, the evidence is very clear to those who work with or watch him closely. 

And . . .
President Obama projected an arrogant “I’m right, you’re wrong” demeanor . . . 

And . . . 

One former administration official told me directly that the people in the White House “NEVER TALK TO REAL PEOPLE.” Another former Obama staffer confided to me that it was clear to him that the president didn’t mind giving speeches (lectures), but really avoided personal contact with members of Congress and folks outside the Beltway. [Sound familiar? Not only outside the Beltway, but outside academia - not much difference of course - both appear to be detached from the real world.]

More here.

Why I Hang Up On The New York Times

From time to time, I'll get a call from someone representing the New York Times newspaper soliciting me to subscribe. My reaction is always the same. I hang up on them. Though the following email is a bit dated, it helps explain why I hang up on them and why I don't subscribe to any newspapers - even my local one.

Dear Messrs. Keller, Lichtblau & Risen:

Congratulations on disclosing our government’s highly classified anti-terrorist-financing program (June 23). I apologize for not writing sooner. But I am a lieutenant in the United States Army and I spent the last four days patrolling one of the more dangerous areas in Iraq. (Alas, operational security and common sense prevent me from even revealing this unclassified location in a private medium like email.) Unfortunately, as I supervised my soldiers late one night, I heard a booming explosion several miles away. I learned a few hours later that a powerful roadside bomb killed one soldier and severely injured another from my 130-man company. I deeply hope that we can find and kill or capture the terrorists responsible for that bomb. But, of course, these terrorists do not spring from the soil like Plato’s guardians. No, they require financing to obtain mortars and artillery shells, priming explosives, wiring and circuitry, not to mention for training and payments to locals willing to emplace bombs in exchange for a few months’ salary. As your story states, the program was legal, briefed to Congress, supported in the government and financial industry, and very successful.

Not anymore. You may think you have done a public service, but you have gravely endangered the lives of my soldiers and all other soldiers and innocent Iraqis here. Next time I hear that familiar explosion — or next time I feel it — I will wonder whether we could have stopped that bomb had you not instructed terrorists how to evade our financial surveillance.

And, by the way, having graduated from Harvard Law and practiced with a federal appellate judge and two Washington law firms before becoming an infantry officer, I am well-versed in the espionage laws relevant to this story and others — laws you have plainly violated. I hope that my colleagues at the Department of Justice match the courage of my soldiers here and prosecute you and your newspaper to the fullest extent of the law. By the time we return home, maybe you will be in your rightful place: not at the Pulitzer announcements, but behind bars.

Very truly yours,

Tom Cotton
Baghdad, Iraq

You can read more about Tom Cotton here. He's from rural Arkansas. He definitely has the heart of a warrior. I believe you will be hearing more from him in the future.

The Majesty Of The King James Bible

Featured in the latest issue of National Geographic:

First printed 400 years ago, it molded the English language, buttressed the “powers that be”—one of its famous phrases—and yet enshrined a gospel of individual freedom. No other book has given more to the English-speaking world.
Here is the miracle of the King James Bible in action. Words from a doubly alien culture, not an original text but a translation of ancient Greek and Hebrew manuscripts, made centuries ago and thousands of miles away, arrive in a dusty corner of the New World and sound as they were meant to—majestic but intimate, the voice of the universe somehow heard in the innermost part of the ear.

You don't have to be a Christian to hear the power of those words—simple in vocabulary, cosmic in scale, stately in their rhythms, deeply emotional in their impact. Most of us might think we have forgotten its words, but the King James Bible has sewn itself into the fabric of the language. If a child is ever the apple of her parents' eye or an idea seems as old as the hills, if we are at death's door or at our wits' end, if we have gone through a baptism of fire or are about to bite the dust, if it seems at times that the blind are leading the blind or we are casting pearls before swine, if you are either buttering someone up or casting the first stone, the King James Bible, whether we know it or not, is speaking through us. The haves and have-nots, heads on plates, thieves in the night, scum of the earth, best until last, sackcloth and ashes, streets paved in gold, and the skin of one's teeth: All of them have been transmitted to us by the translators who did their magnificent work 400 years ago.

It was also the most influential book of America's Founding era. Read the rest of the article here. Quite fascinating. The King James is the Bible I have used since my conversion in 1979. Old school.

13 December 2011

Most Americans Have Antiquated Views . . .

About government:

"An overwhelming 64 percent of people surveyed said big government was the biggest threat to the country, compared to just 26 percent who said big business is their gravest concern and 8 percent who picked big labor." ~ Gallup

I am not a friend to a very energetic government.  It is always oppressive. ~ Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 20 December 1787 

Again, Thomas Jefferson was right, the Tea Party is right, Washington is out of step, David Blight is frustrated, and Occupy Wall Street needs to camp out in DC, not Wall Street. Facts are stubborn things.

12 December 2011

Historical Perspectives - Old School vs. New School

My perspective regarding life and history has recently been called "antiquated." I actually delight in that. I consider it a badge of honor, much preferable to the ever-changing, sand foundations of fads, trends, and plastic philosophy. I recently came across several quotes which dovetail nicely into this debate:

It wonderfully suits the Zeitgeist by appealing to the sempiternal yearning to smash idols, which inevitably afflicts a noisy segment of the race.  The itch to fling dead cats into sanctuaries usually does more good than harm.  In this instance, it also affords a limitless appeal in a smug way to the political-correctness wowsers. ~ Civil War historian Robert K. Krick
And . . .

Academia is the foster parent of the entire Woodstock generation, culturally orphaned from their WW II fighting parents whose shoes they never could fill. - John Kelly

And . . .

Truly it has been said that there is nothing new under the sun, for knowledge is revealed and is submerged again, even as a nation rises and falls. Here is a system, tested throughout the ages, but lost again and again by ignorance or prejudice, in the same way that great nations have risen and fallen and been lost to history beneath the desert sands and in the ocean depths. ~ Paracelsus

 And . . .

In essence, the conservative person is simply one who finds the permanent things more pleasing than Chaos and Old Night. (Yet conservatives know, with Burke, that healthy 'change is the means of our preservation.')" -Russell Kirk

 And . . .
Nobody can make a tradition, it takes a century to make it.” ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne [Which is why moderns disdain tradition. They're impatient by nature and need constant change to satisfy their ever-searching, yet never-finding souls . . ."ever-learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth." ~ Apostle Paul]

 And . . .

. . . ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. ~ The Prophet Jeremiah

 And . . .

We are like dwarfs sitting on the shoulders of giants. We see more, and things that are more distant, than they did, not because our sight is superior or because we are taller than they, but because they raise us up, and by their great stature add to ours.~ 12th century theologian and author John of Salisbury

Speaking of Robert Krick, I recently came across this post at Civil War Memory which I'd recommend - even though I disagree with much of what Kevin writes in the post:

Peter Carmichael on Robert E. Lee or Why Robert K. Krick and Michael Fellman Will Never Agree

For the same reason Kevin Levin and I will never agree - Old School vs. New School, to boil things down to a very simplified statement. These two schools are represented, respectively, by Krick and Fellman. (I trust there's no doubt which school I'm from.) I do, however, agree with some words contained in Professor Peter Carmichael's essay title: "Truth is Mighty & Will Eventually Prevail", quoted in Kevin's post. Carmichael at least sees the divide and has made commendable attempts at reconciling that divide. He's reached out here, as well as at Civil War Memory. Though his efforts are commendable, I see little hope for success at bridging the differences. Both sides are suspicious of the other's motives. I'm more than suspicious, I'm convinced - at least in most cases.

Other posts readers might want to consider in this debate:

Just some food for thought.

10 December 2011

Lee, Reunion, & History Twisting

*Update: Here's one of the other quotes I was thinking about when I originally posted this. The point is, Lee's reputation and respect was not something "manufactured" after the war to facilitate reconciliation. It was quite authentic and already well-established. To suggest otherwise is simply bad history:

He was one who, though famous, was not honeycombed with ambition or tainted with cunning or cant, and though a soldier and wearing soldier’s laurels, yet never craved or sought honors except as they bloomed on deeds done for the glory of his lawfully constituted authority; in short a soldier to whom the sense of duty was a gospel and a man of the world whose only rule in life was that life should be upright and stainless. I cannot but think Providence meant, through him, to prolong the ideal of the gentleman in the world . . . It is easy to see why Lee has become the embodiment of one of the world’s ideals, that of the soldier, the Christian, and the gentleman. And from the bottom of my heart I thank Heaven . . . for the comfort of having a character like Lee’s to look at. ~ Union General Morris Schaff referring to Lee’s surrender at which he was present. 

Once again, an academic historian of Northern loyalties mixes some truth with some err and misleads:

Lee became a popular figure of national reunion throughout the country. As an introduction to this subject I suggest you read David Blight’s book, Race and Reunion. ~ *Kevin Levin

On it's face, the comment about Lee is true. However, this (as well as the running record of posts at CWM) would lead some to believe Lee's "becoming" was less than authentic or deserving. Nothing could be further from the truth. While Lee never "repented" of having led the South against the Yankee invaders, he was quite well-disciplined about voicing that sentiment publicly. He felt that it was best to build upon what was left and look to the future. The war was over, the South had lost, it was best to move on and rebuild the South as best as possible. This was quite evident in how Lee conducted himself as he led Washington College after the war. Moreover, Lee's "mythical" stature and national respect were already well-established before "reunion." I've noted that a number of times here. The almost universal respect Lee held in the eyes of others was perhaps best expressed by Union General Joshua Chamberlain at Appomattox:

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.

That's just one example. While I don't have the other quotes at my fingertips at the moment, others who favored the Union made similar comments about Lee soon after the surrender. Lee did serve as a vehicle for reconciliation, but that position was authentic and well-deserved. It was not "astro-turfed" after the war.

And, as far as recommending a book by David Blight, I'm working on a post about some of Professor Blight's recent essays now. But I just couldn't let this subtle, but growing misconception about Lee go without some kind of response.

"When a man's ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." ~ King Solomon

*I do agree with Kevin, however, that the South "spent quite a bit of time reviewing history texts used in schools to ensure that they included their preferred version [perspective] of the war."

Real Men Have Heroes

"We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst. We castrate and bid the geldings be fruitful.” ~ C.S. Lewis (The Abolition of Man)

Honoring heroes, affirming American Exceptionalism, and celebrating our history is a constant theme here at OVB. Some time ago, someone commented here that "heroes are for children." How utterly self-absorbed. That comment actually reveals a very insecure and immature attitude. The video below shows some commentary by a 91 year old Pearl Harbor veteran who mentions who his heroes are. He cut off one of his fingers so he could join the Navy. He lived through Pearl Harbor and WWII. He fought to defend our liberties, yet at 91, he still has heroes. A good lesson for the petulant, self-absorbed modern to learn.

09 December 2011

American Exceptionalism Or European Socialism - Choose Wisely

I'm not that huge a fan of Newt Gingrich, but this video capsulates, quite nicely, the concept of American Exceptionalism.

08 December 2011

KA-BAR Knives - Get Yourself A Piece Of History

I was going to ask for one for Christmas, but I couldn't wait - so I just bought one. The USMC version - circa 1942. American Exceptionalism - Made in America. Some won't understand. Their knives are probably made in France. 

Our name dates back to the early 1900's from a fur trapper testimonial. He wrote that while trapping, his gun jammed leaving him with only his knife to kill a wounded bear that was attacking him. He thanked us for making the quality knife that helped him to kill a bear, but all that was legible was "K a bar". Honored by the testimonial, the company adopted the phrase KA-BAR as their trademark.

On December 9, 1942, after the start of World War II, KA-BAR submitted a knife to the United States Marine Corps in hopes that it would become general issue to that branch of the military. Working with the Marine Quartermaster Department the original design was revised and production began of an improved fighting and utility knife for the Marines. As the War escalated, the USMC KA-BAR knives became so well recognized for their quality and so abundant in number that "Kabar" became the name by which many referred to this knife pattern, regardless of whether the knife was manufactured at the actual KA-BAR facility.

The USMC KA-BAR was adopted by not only the Marines, but also the Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Underwater Demolition Teams. Years after World War II, many KA-BAR knives were unofficially reactivated in the Korean, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Iraqi Freedom conflicts.

Waynesboro Heritage Museum - News Release

Waynesboro Heritage Museum
The director of the Waynesboro Heritage Museum, Ms. Shirley Bridgeforth, sent me this news release yesterday. I've been privileged to work with the WHF in several ways over the last few years. Waynesboro is my hometown and I currently serve on the planning committee which organizes the commemoration for the Battle of Waynesboro. I also have an item on loan with them. The news in this release is quite exciting:

Waynesboro Heritage Museum Selected for Circuit Riders Project

Waynesboro, Virginia – The Waynesboro Heritage Museum has been selected to participate in a statewide project designed to help improve care of collections for museums, libraries and archives.  The Waynesboro Heritage Museum is one of 10 institutions in Virginia selected to participate in the project, sponsored by the Virginia Association of Museums, the Library of Virginia, and the Department of Historic Resources, and free to participating institutions.

The program is funded by a “Connecting to Collections” statewide implementation grant awarded to the Virginia Association of Museums by the Institute of Museum and Library Services.  Designed to help small museums and libraries across Virginia improve collections care, the project involves an on-site visit to the Waynesboro Heritage Museum by a needs assessment team of museum and library professionals, who will spend a half-day touring the institution and collections.  Following the visit, they will send a report recommending steps the institution can take to help improve collections care over the next two years, with suggested resources to help accomplish them.  The needs assessments will be conducted at institutions around the state from November, 2011 - April, 2012.

Confederate General Jubal A. Early’s pistol is on display . O. Winston Link’s first night photograph of the large Norfolk & Western steam-powered train No. 2 arriving at the Waynesboro Station can be viewed.  One of the oldest industries like the Rife Ram & Pump Works and the Loth Stove Company are also on exhibit.

Come visit the Waynesboro Heritage Museum, located at 420 W. Main Street to view the collections and learn how the Circuit Riders project will impact our institution.  The institution is open to the public 9 – 5 Tuesday through Saturday.  For information call 540 943-3943, or see www.waynesboroheritagefoundation.com

07 December 2011

Metal Detecting Post #57 - The Civil War Uncovered

Here are three great Civil War relic hunting videos produced by the Minelab company. Minelab makes some fine detectors and these videos are more or less infomercials but still quite interesting. The videos include some interesting discussion about some of the relics discovered as well as CW campsites. The detectors featured in these videos are using pulse induction technology which is quite different from the VLF (very low frequency) technology most detectors run on. The PI machines are also quite a bit more expensive but generally operate better in highly mineralized soils and can "see" deeper targets.

06 December 2011

What Works Is Right, What's Left Is Funny

This is no surprise, is it?

Republicans vs. Democrats TV survey results: Lefties want comedy, right wingers like work:

In the findings, “sarcastic” media-savvy comedies and morally murky antiheroes tend to draw Dems. While serious work-centered shows (both reality shows and stylized scripted procedurals), along with reality competitions, tend to draw conservatives.
Now, isn't that interesting? And doesn't much of the same thing follow in other areas of life? Many leftists also seem to be drawn to "morally murky antiheroes" in real life as well. You know, folks like Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Mao - good ole boys like that. I think this is also one of the reasons they despise "celebratory" history and either disdain many traditional American heroes or, do their best to tear them down. Another way to think about that: "Lefties like funny history, right wingers like that which works."

More here.

05 December 2011

What's Exceptional About America?

*Update: Perhaps I should have been more direct. This post was, at least in part, a response to a post by blogger Michael Aubrecht in which he suggested that a belief in American Exceptionalism was "sin" and "blasphemy." Michael seems to now be classifying certain types of political thought as "sin" - something which he has often accused others of. Anyway, I could have made it clearer that I was responding to Micheal's post, but I really didn't think it was necessary. I could also have pointed out that Michael's post was constructed primarily of straw men and red herrings, but I think most informed readers would already have taken notice of that. The main comment which prompted my original post, struck me as false and totally misleading, and left me shaking my head in amazement was this one:

“Not a single time have we gotten a right from Congress or from the President. We get them from God.” (Glenn Beck) This is the exact kind of pseudo-religious-political conjecture that is dangerous as it gives a false sense of exclusive-endorsement from above.

No, that's not "pseudo-religious-political conjecture." It's precisely what the Founders believed. Yet Michael takes Glenn Beck's paraphrasing of "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" and attempts to turn it into something "dangerous." Michael's apparent memory lapse (or ignorance) of the phrase and its meaning exposes a serious lack of understanding of America's founding, as I've already noted. His follow up post is more or less a wordy distraction from this criticism. As far as any further response to some of Michael's comments about AE, I would encourage readers to simply peruse previous posts filed here under the label "American Exceptionalism" for my position and evidence of its legitimacy. I may, at some future point, post something more extensive on the concept of unalienable rights. Though it is indispensable in understanding American history, I assume most of my readers are already well-versed with the term's meaning and importance, as well as its relevance to American Exceptionalism. As I pointed out in the original comments - get that wrong, and you're pretty much guaranteed to be wrong on everything that follows in analyzing American history and developing a coherent perspective. That, at least, is quite clear.

Quite a lot, actually. But allow me to mention one specific thing. Princeton Professor Robert George gives us a brief overview in the short video clip below. One item which often gets overlooked in what makes America exceptional is how the Founders viewed rights, something George points out: specifically, that our rights come from God - not Kings nor governments nor Congress nor the President - none of which have the moral authority to grant rights; they can only acknowledge them. This is what the Declaration of Independence is referring to with these words:

that they [all men] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights

The term "unalienable" was a deliberate choice. It means that those rights are incapable of being surrendered or taken away - basic rights which the Founders believed [and correctly so] preexisted any government. Anyone who does not understand that most basic of our founding principles lacks a fundamental understanding of our Republic and American history. Lacking that most basic understanding will cause one to stumble at almost every step afterward in analyzing American history. This explains much of what you read and hear on leftist oriented blogs and in other media and books. They missed first base. Any government which grants rights, can also take them away. It is also important to remember, principles are eternal. And the same principles that worked at our founding will work now. Ignore the Progressive (and ignorant) garbage you're hearing and reading elsewhere.

02 December 2011

I'm Against Private Property - Unless It's My Own

Oh, this is just getting too easy. Even The Daily Show couldn't resist.

But, hey, at least they're not the "extremist, right-wing" Tea Party History Twisters, right? Check out what academic historians are saying about the OWS folks here. Observe and learn. Tsk, tsk, tsk . . . where are those objective critics? And let's not forget, many other "historians" who took the Tea Party to task claim they did so because of their "twisting of historical facts." That's a lie. That narrative is nothing more than a rather lame attempt to disguise their real issue with the Tea Party - hatred for old-fashioned conservatism. I know this because none of these same objective critics have expressed the same vehement disgust for the left's astroturf version of the TP - the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. Originally, one of these critics said that this was because the OWS crowd wasn't using history in their political agenda. Another lie. These critics also made unfounded claims of violence, extremism, and racism within the ranks of the TP movement. Yet another lie. As I've already pointed out, that very accurately describes the OWS movement, not the Tea Party. But no admission from the political hacks posing as historians. They've got skin in the game. Gotta stay the course and try to save face. Save face? Their faces have egg all over it.

The bottom line is this: these pseudo-historians have decided to hitch their wagon to a movement with documented elements of antisemitism, support of the Nazi Party, the Communist Party, USA, Hugo Chavez, and other thuggish regime leaders; a movement that has a running rap sheet which includes multiple rapes, sexual assaults, public nudity, public sex, vandalism, taunting school children, defecating on police cars and in churches, drug dealing, and the list goes on and on and on. Yet, these "historians" and ruling class know-nothings are still claiming it's the Tea Party which is extreme and that the OWS is "mainstream." Wow.

The title of this post, and the line uttered by the fellow in the video with the iPad, illustrates very clearly one of the main problems with OWS and their hacks in academia - inconsistency, hypocrisy, and a fundamental lack of understanding of American history. So, you go ahead and continue to live in your alternate universe, attack American Exceptionalism and join the love-in with the OWS folks. Yes indeed, go right ahead. And while you do so, the rest of us will sit back and laugh at your idiocy.

Now, I'm done suffering fools for a while. Tomorrow, I'm going to get a fresh-cut Christmas tree with one of my daughters and granddaughters from a local farmer and then I'm going relic huntin'.

01 December 2011

Are Certain Academic Historians Lying Or Stupid?

I've pointed out numerous times that the current administration embraces and promotes, when it can, Marxist ideology. Of course, the smartest folks in the room - certain academic historians - have a hissy-fit and roll their eyes. I wonder, are they that stupid or are they just lying?

Anyway, here's more evidence of Marxist/Communist influence within the current administration. One of the White House's most frequent visitors, Andy Stern, openly suggests (in the WSJ no less) that Communist China's system is superior to ours:

The conservative-preferred, free-market fundamentalist, shareholder-only model-so successful in the 20th century-is being thrown onto the trash heap of history in the 21st century...

American liberals Marxists are quite confident citing Communism as their end game. Also, note some of the buzz words Stern strategically chose for his piece: "fundamentalist." Of course, Stern is wrong about history, as are many of the smartest in the room types - historians who should know better. Numbers and the evidence tell the story. Liars are what end up being thrown onto the trash heap of history. More here at the American Spectator.

Subverting American Exceptionalism

I've noted here before that the enemies of American Exceptionalism (and other useful idiots) are using their positions in America's classrooms to indoctrinate students. Some do it openly, others use more subtle messages and selected interpretations of American history to do so.

More here.