21 January 2012

They Ain't-a Fergettin!

New Logo For Academic Historians
The politicization of the Civil War by academic historians politically left of center seems to be growing in popularity these days. My recent post about one of David Blight's essays was just one example. But he's by no means alone. I had read an article back in the summer written by another academic who's apparently feeling a bit embarrassed at having supported Barack Obama for President. I can certainly understand that. So he, like Blight, descends to bottom feeding, lashing out and insinuating that those who are flying Confederate flags and who are politically conservative are racists, violent, blah, blah, blah - the typical refrain from  the left when they have have nothing of substance to say - which is most of the time.

The latest article to which I'm referring was written by Professor Glenn W. LaFantasie who teaches Civil War History at Western Kentucky State (Heads up to parents considering colleges for their kids). You can read Professor LaFantasie's piece here at Salon - the perfect forum for nonsense. By the way, when I was growing up, a "salon" was where women went to get their whatever done. Has that changed? Maybe you go to Salon magazine to get done? Wikipedia notes this about "Salons":

Salons, commonly associated with French literary and philosophical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries . . . The historiography of the salons is far from straightforward. The salons have been studied in depth by a mixture of feminist, Marxist, cultural, social and intellectual historians.

Aahhh, now it all makes perfect sense. But I digress.

LaFantasie has his shorts all in a knot over Kentucky's SCV license plate efforts and prattles on about how Kentuckians who simply wish to honor their Confederate ancestors are in love with slavery, are cannibals, kitten-killers, puppy-eaters, and haters of all things pure and virtuous, etc, etc. Once again, blah, blah, blah. He opens this literary masterpiece with the exact same "observation" as our friend David Blight made and writes:

"The Civil War has not ended." 

These fellas just can' t let go and move on, can they? That's right - them thar fellas just ain't-a-fergettin! The memo and talking point has evidently now been faxed, texted (Is that a word?), and emailed to all the establishment, pro-Obama academic historians - the War Between the States is still being fought! Yessirree Bob - now there's a winning campaign strategy! So, all you neo-Confederate boogie-men, gird yer loins, dust off Great-Grandpa's old musket, pull the moth-eaten butternut and gray out of the closet, fire up Dixie as yer iPhone ringtone, practice yer Rebel Yell, shoe ole Lucy, grow an ugly beard, plant some magnolias, stock up on chewin' tobaccy, fill up the jug with sweet tea (or corn liquor), pack some fatback and hardtack, practice yer "what fer's" and yer "y'all's" and yer "over yonders" and yer "git dem damn yankees" and yer "Hell no we ain't-a fergettin's", saddle up and ride to the sound of the guns - Yee-hah!!!

After you read through  LaFantasie's cliched rant - thinly veiled as historical commentary -you get to the real crux of what seems to be motivating him:

Even so, the battle flag will not go away, no matter how divisive it continues to be. All I have to do here in the land of thoroughbreds and fried chicken is check my rearview mirror on the interstate. Inevitably what I see is an 18-wheeler bearing down on me with a Confederate battle flag stretched across its radiator. In a split second, every frame of Stephen Spielberg’s first movie, “The Duel,” flashes through my brain. Maybe it’s time for me to remove the “Obama ’08″ bumper sticker from the back hatch of my Jeep.
So, Professor LaFantasie "fears" those who display Confederate battle flags because he displays an Obama '08 bumper sticker? Really? LaFantasie, like so many other academic historians, presents us once again with a textbook example demonstrating how out of touch they are with most Americans. (See here and here.) You see, it isn't those who display the Confederate battle flag whom most Americans fear. Oh no, no, no, no, no. Actually, it's the reelection of Barack Obama (who so many academic historians like LaFantasie supported in 2008) that most Americans fear.

As a matter of fact, a recent poll reveals that this fear is quite strong and represents a very healthy majority. You see, some fears are actually rooted in reality rather than emotion. The poll details, which appeared under the headline Americans, 2-1, Fear Obama's Reelection, can be read here.

This is what is really eating at historians like David Blight and LaFantasie. It really is driving academia crazy that a majority of Americans aren't surrendering their minds to the "superior" intellect and wisdom of academia and swallowing their propaganda when it comes to historical perspective and political pontifications - which are increasingly one in the same. LaFantasie reveals his frustration with us commoners when he notes:

Either way, in my opinion, the Confederate battle flag remains an icon of hate, not heritage. It belongs in museums, where it should freely be displayed. If it is placed on a license plate, it deserves to be splattered with mud. Saying that, however, will not endear me to my Kentucky neighbors or my students, most of whom — despite my efforts to convince them otherwise . . .
And . . .

. . . still erroneously believe, no matter what historians say, that the Cause stood for states’ rights . . . 

Many Americans, particularly many Southerners, observe academia's agenda-motivated analysis and respond with a collective yawn. This infuriates and frustrates the "professionals." Academic historians then fume, pout, and spout forth even more of what caused the yawn to begin with. While not providing much real value, the whole spectacle does, nonetheless, make for some great entertainment.

But I can't let that first excerpt of LaFantasi's go without further comment. Note this rather curious statement about the Confederate battle flag:

It belongs in museums, where it should freely be displayed.

How much more Orwellian doublespeak language could one use? "Freely" displayed - but only in museums? Right Professor. And I'm sure your idea of a proper display would include "interpretative" text making sure it's remembered as an "icon of hate."


As Professor David Blight's frustrating lament Why Doesn't the Confederacy Just Fade Away demonstrates, academic historians are simply having trouble dealing with the reality that the average American won't open wide and swallow their proclamations like good little subjects should. We won't bow down and marvel at their brilliance and superiority. We can, and do, read for ourselves, think for ourselves, analyze for ourselves and come to our own conclusions. History is a serious subject and should be approached seriously, but it's not rocket science.

Academic historians should just let it go. The WBTS is over. Slavery in the U.S. ended 150 years ago. The U.S. has made dramatic progress in race relations and opportunity for all. The overwhelming majority of Southerners who wish to celebrate their Confederate heritage and honor their ancestors have no hatred in their hearts for anyone. And, politically speaking, the violence and lawlessness you all seem to be so concerned over emanates from your end of the political spectrum. Analyze that.

I do agree with Professor  LaFantasie about one thing though. He should definitely remove that Obama bumper sticker - not out of fear that some trucker with a Confederate flag will run him down, but out of fear of embarrassment.


AMW said...

Excellent post, and my compliments for the rest of your blog as well. I hope you consider following my like-minded blog, too. Keep up the good work. Deo Vindice.

13thBama said...

A better question is...

"Why won't socialism just fade away?"

and don't try to respond "because it is a better form of government" because you won't be able to say it with a straight face or without your nose growing.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

AMW - Thank you.

13B - Excellent question.

Peter MacHare said...

Richard, I couldn't agree more with your statement that "The overwhelming majority of Southerners who wish to celebrate their Confederate heritage and honor their ancestors have no hatred in their hearts for anyone."

Every Southerner I know thinks the Confederacy got slavery wrong but everything else right. And it's the "everything else right" that we admire. Many also believe that an independent Confederacy would have eventually abolished slavery.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...


I agree. I've read numerous Gumby-like arguments that slavery could/would have continued well into the 20th century. I find that absolutely ludicrous. Industrialization was already quickly changing everything and making slavery, in addition to morally repugnant, economically infeasible.

Brandon said...

The guy'slast name says it all...
LaFantasy. It's what his beliefs are.

Richard G. Williams, Jr. said...

Yeah, the same thing occurred to me. Poor fella can't help his name, but he could brush up a bit on his history.