31 July 2012

Milton Friedman 100 Today

Friedman schools an elitist. Our President should take note.

Society's First Line Of Defense

"I think that a society's first line of defense is not the law but customs, traditions and moral values. These behavioral norms – transmitted by example, word of mouth, religious teachings, rules of etiquette and manners – represent a body of wisdom distilled over the ages through experience and trial and error. They include important legal thou-shalt-nots – such as shalt not murder, steal, lie or cheat – but they also include all those civilities one might call ladylike or gentlemanly behavior." ~ Dr. Walter Williams

A good lesson for moderns. But they will ignore it because of their narcissism.

28 July 2012

They Killed Those Stories

In a previous post this week, I mentioned that I was going to be posting some comments regarding the mindset of modern academics - as it pertains to their interpretation and views of history; specifically American history and, even more specifically, the history of the WBTS as it relates to various aspects of Southern culture. This is the first post. Some of the things that got me to thinking about this issue were several posts at Civil War Memory by Kevin Levin. The title of one of those posts was, You Are Not A Victim Of Sherman's March. Though I rarely agree with Kevin's perspectives, he does provoke me to think and to sharpen my own analysis. Kevin's post was prompted by something which occurred at a recent teaching seminar about the Civil War. He noted:

One participant asked what war crimes William Tecumseh Sherman could be brought up on for his actions in Georgia in 1864.  Well, I jumped all over that one.

Indeed. In the post, Kevin was dismissive of any suggestion that descendants of Confederate soldiers (or anyone who suffered loss due to Sherman's rampage through parts of the South) had any legitimate right to consider themselves "victims." While I don't believe "victim" is really the best word to describe this, I'll let that stand for simplicity's sake and my response. Kevin wrote:

It’s one thing to imagine those involved and perhaps the next generation maintaining a less than gracious attitude toward Sherman, but as far as I am concerned such a stance carries no weight today.   [On this point, see Thom Bassett's recent article in the Civil War Monitor on Sherman. He argues that Sherman's reputation remained fairly positive during the first few decades after the war.]
Regardless of where you live and how you happen to trace your family lineage, no one today is a victim of Sherman and his army.  We would do well to find demons that did something other than help to preserve this nation during war.
Since Kevin did not grow up in the South hearing of these stories, I find it quite astonishing that he can dismiss such notions so casually. It is however, as I mentioned earlier, the mindset of many professional historians and those in academia. (I once read one academic historian's comment that he "didn't care if yankee soldiers blew off Grandma's arm.") It is also, in my humble opinion, very narrow-minded. In response to Kevin's post, I received a private email from another Civil War blogger who wished to remain anonymous. If I were to mention this person's name, most readers here would know this person who, by the way, no one would accuse of being a "neo-Confederate" or having any particular ax to grind. Here's what this person said in his email:

. . . I couldn’t resist passing this along to you as one of the few people who calls Levin on his BS.  At the end of a recent post (http://cwmemory.com/2012/07/25/you-are-not-a-victim-of-shermans-march/), Levin made the following comment:

“Regardless of where you live and how you happen to trace your family lineage, no one today is a victim of Sherman and his army.”

This immediately made me ask the question, “This applies to slavery too, correct?”  He can’t have it both ways, but I’m sure if anyone calls him on this he will attempt the impossible.

Now, I don't believe that the destruction and mistreatment Southerners received at the hand of Sherman or other Federal soldiers compares to the horrors of slavery; nor do I believe the person sending me the email believes that either. But, to a matter of degree, it is a fair and relevant question. One could apply the same question regarding the Confederate Battle Flag, as well as other aspects of Southern history and heritage.

Then something else quite interesting - and related - happened. For the last week or so, I've been watching the Ken Burns series, The West, which is available streaming on NetFlix. Though not perfect, I think its an excellent documentary and I would highly recommend it. I think it's better than his series on the Civil War. While watching an episode the other night, I was intrigued by some comments made by an Indian by the name of Albert White Hat regarding his personal memory and experience surrounding his ancestor's mistreatment at the hands of the Federal government and officials' attempt to belittle and dismiss the lingering feelings of injustice and anger over that same mistreatment. In his words, they "killed those stories."

This is, to one degree or another, comparable to what has (and is) taken place regarding the memory of what many in the South view as injustices committed by the Federal government during and after the WBTS. There is an attempt to "kill those stories" or at least suggest they have no current relevance or legitimacy. Again, in a matter of degrees, there are striking similarities here.

My take away from this is that there are quite a few people in the United States who still remember these injustices. And, to a degree, they are all justified. For anyone to suggest that these should simply be dismissed and are irrelevant is very shallow thinking and reveals glaring inconsistencies in perspectives and historical analysis.

Please take the time to watch the short video clip below of Albert White Hat. It is quite moving. One of the aspects of this video that moved me was Mr. White Hat's decision on how to handle his bitterness and anger. My conclusion regarding these issues - regardless of the particulars - is that forgiving these types of things may be righteous but forgetting them is sin. "What has happened in the past will never leave us."

I can't help but wonder how different Kevin's response might have been had Albert White Hat posed a similar question about Sherman. Though the circumstances are certainly not the same (there have been articles and essays comparing the two), both do support the legitimacy of remembrance and acknowledgment from those who are descended from the original "victims."

Metal Detecting Post #81 - Preserving Iron Civil War Relics Using Electrolysis

A great instructional video by fellow metal detectorist and relic hunter, Beau Ouimette:

27 July 2012

The Purpose Of The Establishment Clause

It is extraordinarily difficult to believe that Madison could have understood the Establishment Clause as creating a wall of separation that would prohibit (or disfavor) the very political activity that had enabled him to win election, serve in the First Congress, and argue for adoption of the Establishment Clause; that is, Leland’s political activity in his role as a religious leader, political activity that had been crucial to giving Madison the opportunity to be in Congress and to propose the Bill of Rights. In fact, Leland remained a staunch Jeffersonian Republican (and, later, a Jacksonian Democrat) his entire life and continued to use his religious influence as a very popular Baptist preacher to advance that party’s cause—apparently without any objection from Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Jackson, or Van Buren—until his death in 1841. 

At the very least, Leland’s role in furthering the proposal of the Bill of Rights casts doubt on any approach to the Establishment Clause that would limit or discourage participation by religious leaders and religious communities in the political arena.

From John Leland and James Madison: Religious Influence on the Ratification of the Constitution and on the Proposal of the Bill of Rights by Mark S. Scarberry, Professor of Law, Pepperdine University School of Law.

You can read the complete essay here.

Birds Of A Feather - Enemies Of American Exceptionalism

Why academia loves Barack Obama - the most inept President in modern history:

It's why Mr. Obama's "out of context" complaints aren't getting traction. The Republican National Committee's response to that gripe was to run an ad that shows a full minute of Mr. Obama's rant at the Roanoke, Va., campaign event on July 13. In addition to "you didn't build that," the president also put down those who think they are "smarter" or "work harder" than others. Witness the first president to demean the bedrock American beliefs in industriousness and exceptionalism. The "context" only makes it worse.

He shares their worldview and belief system. More here.

26 July 2012

Business & American Exceptionalism

Academic elites like Obama don't get it.

Upcoming Post

Getting Inside the Mind of Academic Elites & Other Leftists

So many academics & intellectuals are, in their imagined legendary minds, "born and educated to lead the rest of us." 

Now that's funny.

Stay tuned. Posting Saturday.

(This will be combined with "NASCAR is Evil.")

23 July 2012

21 July 2012

Confederate Veterans & Their Descendants - Defenders And Builders Of These United States

The results have been many and far reaching, but none more striking than the growing conviction among thoughtful minds of the world, those of the North included, that the people of the South, however unwise or inexpedient may have been their act of secession, were, under the circumstances that surrounded them, justified in resorting to arms to maintain the right of their States to withdraw from the Union, if they saw fit, as they did to exercise this right.  But it is proper to add here that the same omnipotent power, in His infinite wisdom has allowed future events so to shape themselves that all now regard the question of secession as finally settled against the right as claimed by the seceding states and no people of our re-united country are more loyal to it or would go further to defend it than the people of the South and especially the Confederate veterans.
Kevin, along with some of his readers, seem to have the misconception that this attitude among Confederate Veterans, as well as their descendants, is "overlooked." In Kevin's circle of associates, I would tend to agree that this sentiment and tradition is "overlooked." That's not necessarily a criticism - just an observation. But among those of us who are actually descended from Confederate Veterans, and who have grown up in the South and been immersed in her culture, this is hardly anything new or unknown. I've written about it before. Others have as well. In Long Gray Lines: The Southern Military School Tradition, 1839-1915 author Roy Andrew, Jr. writes of the Southern military ethos and notes that . . . 

". . . the military tradition in the South is not dead. The Citadel, VMI, and other military colleges and preparatory schools continue to flourish. The corps of cadets continue as distinctive and colorful aspects of several southern land-grant colleges. Southerners have not abandoned the idea that military service instills in youth the values necessary for the moral health and vigor of a democracy. These features of the modern South should serve as a reminder that the exaltation of military virtues is not confined to Prussian autocracy or European fascism. Militarism has shaped the American national experience. It may have helped lead the way into wars and imperialism, but it has also informed republican notions of citizenship, patriotism, and moral virtue. In turn it has adjusted and evolved in American history to accommodate the demands of liberty and equality. (Source here.)

Scots-Irish Migration Across the South

Another important element of this ethos is the influence of the Scots-Irish in the South. This cannot be overstated. No one better understands this than Virginia Senator James Webb. Though the influence of the Scots-Irish is not confined to the states which comprise the old Confederacy, it is here where it has always been most prevalent:

Their unique soldierly traditions formed the backbone of the coun­try's military, particularly in the Army and Marine Corps. In the Civil War, they formed the bulk of the Confederate Army and a good part of the Union Army as well, and in later wars they provided many of our greatest generals and soldiers. Stonewall Jackson comes to mind, as do Grant, George S. Patton, and a slew of Army chiefs of staff and Marine Corps commandants. Not to mention Sgt. Alvin York, the hero of World War I; Audie Murphy, the most decorated soldier of World War II; and David Hackworth, one of America's most decorated veterans of Korea and Vietnam. The intense competitiveness that makes them good soldiers also has produced a legion of memorable athletes, business leaders and even such completely American pastimes as NASCAR racing, which evolved. from the exploits of the daring moonshine runners of the Appalachian Mountains during Prohibition.
Webb also understands the contrasts and contradictions which seem to perplex Kevin and others who share his perspective:

The traditional Scots-Irish culture, like America itself, is a study in wild contrasts. These are an intensely religious people - indeed, they comprise the very heart of the Christian evangelical movement - and yet they are also unapologetically and even devilishly hedonistic.

They are probably the most anti-authoritarian culture in Amer­ica, conditioned from birth to resist. (It is interesting that Rosa Parks, whose refusal to move to the back of the bus sparked the modern Civil Rights movement, speaks of her Scots-Irish great-grandfather.) And yet they are known as the most intensely patriotic segment of the country as well.

They are naturally rebellious, often impossible to control, and yet their strong military tradition produces genera­tion after generation of perhaps the finest soldiers the world has ever seen.

They are filled with wanderlust, but no matter how far they roam, their passion for family travels with them. Underlying these seeming contradictions is a strong unwritten code of personal honor and individual accountability. (Source here.)

These contradictions explain, in part, what at first glance appears to be irreconcilable ideals: the South's fierce opposition to Federal dominance and over-reaching authority, as well as it's undying patriotism - both of which continue to this day. Part of this is evidenced in the chart below:

"New recruits are also disproportionately likely to come from the South, which is in line with the history of Southern military tradition . . . The South accounts for more than 40 percent of new enlistees—a proportional overrepresentationhere.

The disproportionate number of commissioned officers hailing from the South would lead one to reasonably conclude that the leadership of the U.S. military will be, for the foreseeable future, from Southern states. And, as I've mentioned before, the South, though fiercely patriotic and supportive of the United States military, continues to manifest it's "anti-authoritarian culture." This trait is a particular annoyance to a number of academic historians:

". . . the Confederacy is to this day the greatest conservative resistance to federal authority in American history . . ." ~ David Blight

They simply do not get it. I'm of the persuasion that many can't get it. I've seen this seeming contradiction in my own family. My two grandfathers were only two generations removed from their own Confederate ancestors, yet both served proudly in the United States military - one in WWI and the other in WWII. Both saw combat, the former receiving a personal letter of commendation from President Woodrow Wilson. The one who served in WWII proudly displayed a Confederate battle flag in his home until the day he died. My father in law had a similar experience - the grandson of a Confederate soldier, he lied about his age when he was sixteen so he could join the army to fight in WWII. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge where he was wounded and received a Purple Heart.

Many Confederate Veterans (as well as their descendants) did indeed become loyal to the United States after Appomattox and served the country with distinction. Consider the following:

  • Four former Confederate generals served as generals in the U.S. Army during the Spanish-American War: General Fitzhugh Lee, General Joseph Wheeler, General Thomas Rosser, and General Matthew C. Butler.
  • After Appomattox, 15 former Confederate officers served as U.S. ambassadors or ministers to foreign countries.
  • After Appomattox, seven former Confederate officers served as the adjutant general of their states.
  • Former Confederate General E. Porter Alexander was appointed by President Grover Cleveland to arbitrate and supervise the surveying of the boundary of the Panama Canal.
  • Three former Confederate officers: Colonel Lucius Q. C. Lamar, Sergeant Major Horace H. Lurton, and Lieutenant Edward D. White, were all appointed justices of the United States Supreme Court.
  • Three former Confederate generals served as U.S. Commissioners of Railroads, one of the most important posts in the United States government in the post-war period: General Joseph Johnston, General James Longstreet, and General Wade Hampton.
  • Stonewall Jackson's doctor, Hunter Holmes McGuire, returned to Richmond where he became chair of surgery at the Medical College of Virginia. He served as president of the American Medical Association and numerous other organizations. He also founded St. Luke’s Hospital and Training School for Nurses, helped found the Medical Society of Virginia, and started the College of Physicians and Surgeons, later University College of Medicine.
  • One of Nathan Bedford Forrest's great-grandsons, Nathan Bedford Forrest III (April 7, 1905 – June 13, 1943) was a Brigadier General of the United States Army Air Forces.
  • One of the most colorful (and successful) WWII Generals, George S. Patton, was the grandson of Confederate Colonel George Smith Patton, who died in the Battle of Opequon in 1864. 
  • There are eight major United States military posts named for Confederate officers, including one for General Robert E. Lee. 
  • Descendants of Confederate Veterans (specifically, the SCV) donated what would become the Manassas National Battlefield Park to the National Park Service.
 And that is just a tiny sampling.

Allow me to share a story told to me by my friend and fellow SCV member, Gary Casteel which not only illustrates much of my point, but also illustrates some of the frustrations and justified anger that many of us who embrace our Confederate heritage have experienced. The quotes aren't exact but, I believe, reflect the overall accuracy of the incident.

As many readers here may already know, Gary is a world-renowned artist and sculptor whose work graces many of our nation's most historic parks and grounds - including Gettysburg. A few years ago, he caught quite a bit of flack and criticism for sculpting a *statue of Jefferson Davis and a slave boy by the name of Jim Limber whom the Confederate President had taken into his home. As John Coski explains:

The Davises clearly assumed responsibility for him and there was obviously affection between him and his sponsors. It is less likely that he was “adopted” in any meaningful sense. The evidence suggests that he was a member of the Davis family in the same way that slaves, servants, and other dependents were members of white families—with real mutual responsibility and affection.  
Gary was commissioned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans to sculpt a statue depicting Davis, young Jim Limber, and Davis's son, Joseph. The statue brought the usual carping from the usual sources. Gary's own character and credibility was unfairly impugned. At the time this work was being completed, Gary lived in Lexington, Virginia. He related to me how that one day he received a phone call from one of the city "leaders" (name not important) criticizing him for the Davis statue - even subtly insinuating the controversy tarnished Gary's "patriotism." Gary responded by reminding his accuser with words akin to the following:

While you were sitting on your ass in a college classroom thanks to a student deferment, I was having mine shot at in Vietnam - don't lecture me about patriotism.

If I recall correctly, those words ended the conversation. 

Those of us who hail from the South and who are descended from Confederate soldiers have no reason to hang our heads or explain anything. Quite the contrary. Our ancestors, and many of the sons and grandsons who followed in their footsteps, have built and defended this great nation for generations and we will continue to do so. 

* Gary also recently sculpted another statue. See details here.

Slavery 2.0?

Leaders In Spreading The Wealth

Not a real impressive track record, huh?

20 July 2012

Metal Detecting Post #80 - More River Finds

Below are some recent Civil War recoveries while metal detecting in a river in the Southeastern United States - a couple of 58 caliber Confederate Gardner's, a 44 caliber pistol bullet, and a couple of musketballs, along with a lead "net sinker", used to keep fishing nets on the bottom of a river. The water keeps them from oxidizing and turning white like the ones that you typically see on display or for sell. I'll have a new video to post at some time in the future.

An Academic Speaks The Painful Truth

Unlike Barack Obama, I don't feel indebted to the Ivy League after the fact.  In truth, I would have been better off attending a community college for two years, learning a trade, and transferring for a Bachelor's to Buffalo State College like all the other black and Latino people I knew when I was in high school.  In terms of simple scholastic achievement, I learned more about world history, foreign languages, writing, and math in four years at a public high school than I would learn at an Ivy League campus, where everyone would prove too busy getting into secret societies, a cappella choruses, college dramas, and liberal activist groups to do much study of great books. ~ Robert Oscar Lopez

More here at the American Thinker.

19 July 2012

History Lesson: Our Fathers & Grandfathers Were Better Than Us

What Many Americans Need
"If my father could get out of a landing craft in the English Channel, I can go without my Social Security checks so that my granddaughter can have a life."
~ Guy Green

Read more here of Infantilizing Leftist Morality here at the American Thinker.

This reminded me, again, of Richard Weaver's description of many moderns:

Their institutional world is a product of toil and discipline; of this they are no longer aware. Like the children of rich parents, they have been pampered by the labor and self-discipline of those who went before; they begin to think that luxuries, though unearned, are rightfully theirs. They fret when their wishes are not gratified; they turn to cursing and abusing; they look for scapegoats.

 And this . . .

This shallow, simpleton attitude is consistent among leftists and moderns who, while decrying the "cult of the Founding Fathers" are, themselves, entrapped in the "cult of self". They believe they are superior to any generation to come before them, i.e. "we are the ones we've been waiting for." (How's that for being detached from reality?) It is this narcissistic, self-aggrandizing attitude which is the bane of modern American culture. We see it everywhere: the typical modern - self-absorbed, self-congratulating, conceited; yet unappreciative of the sacrifices, sweat equity, and accomplishments of those who've gone before them - unless it serves their own selfish purposes. This attitude is why these folks roll their eyes and sneer at "heritage history" - they think its demeaning (they're insecure). These mosquito-like critics come off as petulant, spoiled, ungrateful, bratty little children who need their butts spanked. Most of those who criticize the Founders (and those who draw inspiration from them) in this vein, could not hold a candle to their accomplishments. 

These small men sit in ergonomic chairs at their cushioned keyboards in air-conditioned offices with every modern convenience at their beck and call and critique a generation of men who were truly well-educated and well-read; self-made giants who were, in every sense of the concept, renaissance men. Men who could farm, write brilliant treatises on government, history, and philosophy, lead men into battle, track a deer for miles, kill it with a black powder rifle, field dress it, and carry it home for their evening meal. Men who carved a nation out of a raw wilderness and founded the greatest republic in the history of the world. Men who risked their personal fortunes, liberty, and lives so that they could pass on a great republic to future generations. In comparison, most of their soft, flabby, lazy, critics would starve to death if Wal-Mart closed for a week. They can't think, write or speak without a computer or a teleprompter. They can't build an argument, much less a nation. Their writing often consists of cutting and pasting words from the templates of their ruling class masters; hoping someone will notice and invite them to some stuffy academic AE bash-fest seminar where the greatest challenge of the day will be to stay awake.

Can Historians Simply Follow The Evidence?

But you can. Watch the 2 video clips below - with an open mind - and simply follow the evidence or, refute it - if you can. The author being interviewed is Paul Kengor, Ph.D. and is a professor of political science at Grove City College.

18 July 2012

Distinguished Academic

" . . . a backpack over his shoulder—not some streamlined, chic job, but a funky backpack-of-the-people, complete with a photo button of abolitionist John Brown pinned to one strap." 

At least he's not an "unpatriotic neo-Confederate."

The source article on this is over 10 years old, but still quite interesting - and revealing.

William Ayers is Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago (retired).

A Car For Green Confederates

17 July 2012

North South Trader's Civil War - Latest Issue

NSTCW Vol. 36 No. 4, July-August 2012:


"Capt. James R. Barnett, 35th New York,” photograph by Stephen W. Sylvia, artifacts courtesy the Lukas McKenzie Collection.

What's Inside:

Remember Us: A Wish Fulfilled

by John J. Barone

One ID disc, two lives.

Berdan Contract Sharps Rifles

by Gerald L. Earley

Handpicked men and handpicked weapons.

DIV XX & XXI: From Expectation to Elation

by Stephen W. Sylvia

History surfaces from 6th Corps battlefield, campsite,and bivouac.

The Envelope, Please: The Winner of our Youth Contest

Congratulations to first-grader Allyson Gilmore.

Berdan Sharshooter Images Surface

by Doug York

A timely arrival serves as an excellent companion piece to Gerald Earley's article.

COVER STORY: The Sword of Capt. James R. Barnett, 35th New York

by Lukas McKenzie

Premonitions and promises.

NA 111A / NA224A1: A Naval Anomaly

by Daniel J. Binder

Facts and speculation about a rare piece.

The Vicksburg Wallpaper Edition

by Nancy Dearing Rossbacher with Malcolm Allred

Discerning the genuine from the imitation.

The Lost Battle of the Loxahatchee

by Jeff Wittmann

Dedication and digging pinpoint where the action really took place.

I particularly enjoyed, as usual, publisher Stephen Sylvia's op-ed piece on history and honor. Here's an excerpt:

For many of us, pursuit of a code of honor became a personal benchmark early in our lives. Enchanted by those whose deeds and character provided inspiration as role models, we attempted to follow their example. I have seen this manifested many times in our field. In an age where many hide behind the anonymity of the Internet or the sanctuary of an attorney’s office, the man of honor adheres to the ancient code. (Read the rest here.)

As always, a great magazine with fascinating articles and beautiful photography. Even the ads are great! Published and printed in Old Virginia. You can subscribe here.

How Long Can This Be Sustained?

All brought to us by the smartest people in the room. They can spin history, social trends, science, and other issues, but numbers don't lie. The laws of the universe tend to enforce themselves. Another example of utopia colliding with reality.

16 July 2012

Countering The Counter-Factual

A recent posting and discussion over at Civil War Memory centered around "counter-factual" history - or "what may have been" if the Confederacy had won. The comments also delve into secessionist thinking and its "unpatriotic" foundations. Most of the posting and the comments are themselves quite "counter-factual" - suggesting that most of those who entertain such notions are "neo-Confederate extremists."

Nothing could be further from the truth. A good argument can be made that most modern secessionists in the United States are anything but "right-wing, extremist, neo-Confederates." 

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 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.

Moreover, if you're concerned about modern secessionist thinking, you might want to cast your eyes in the direction of academia, not your local SCV meeting. As Dr. Ed Kaitz has pointed out:

College campuses across America are breeding grounds for secessionists. In all my years in academia I've rarely seen Old Glory displayed proudly in an office or a hallway, but I've seen plenty of images of Che Guevara and Karl Marx. I even had to endure a life size portrait of Mao Tse Tung in a colleague's office for some years during graduate school. It comes as no surprise then that secessionists like Noam Chomsky are the favored speakers at our universities, not patriots like David Horowitz. (See source here.)

And regarding whether or not secessionist rhetoric or contemplation is patriotic, 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 - who is in turn supported by a number of "neo-Confederate" critics) 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.

Any suggestion that secessionist thinking resides primarily with "extremists" and "neo-Confederates" on the right is simply counter-factual.

Tonight On Relic Roundup

Tonight's show should be great! Antique Roadshow's WBTS expert (and an avid metal detectorist himself), will be the guest on the Relic Roundup show tonight. 

From Mr. Eledge's website:

Rafael Eledge is one of the country's most active and knowledgeable experts of Civil War and 19th-century militaria. Mr. Eledge's career began at the ripe age of 11, when he received his first metal detector and began searching around his home state of Tennessee for Civil War artifacts. He continued to gain knowledge and expertise as he attended trade shows, buying and selling pieces to support himself through college.

Listen in at 9 PM tonight here. If you enjoy history and learning, I guarantee you'll learn something of great interest.

Anti-College, Pro-Education?

I could have written this, but I didn't:

It’s odd how many people take my skepticism about college and try to twist it into an opposition to learning. But like the quote often attributed to Mark Twain, “I never let schooling interfere with my education.”

Here’s a radical idea worth contemplating: that school is not the best way to learn . . . And out of this factory comes a lobotomized economic and financial ruling class.  Theanthropoi, godmen, who walk the earth having been apotheosized in the best schools, with power over trillions of dollars and hundreds of millions of people,  but who don’t have a clue about matters slightly outside their area of specialization.
And . . . 

Traditional school is obsolete. It is a dead man walking. The knowledge which is available for free, or nearly free on the web is so large and abundant that for all practical purposes it might as well be infinite. For thousands of years knowledge was scarce, expensive and hoarded in a few geographically specified locations.  In our lifetime, knowledge has gone from overly scarce to overly abundant. It has gone from expensive to nearly free. My friend Rich Karlgaard‘s cheap revolution is about to destroy the reigning higher education model. The new skill set is finding needles in haystacks using Boolean algebra; the old skill set was eating haystacks. The old emotional state was compliant credulity with students in the role of baby birds gulping predigested chunks of knowledge. The new emotional state must be critical thinking, filtering, and discernment. No longer “What do I have to learn to get a diploma?”, but now “How do I know what you are saying is true?” And “Can I get this same thing someplace else for free?”

More here at Forbes.com.

And from one of the links in the excerpt above:

*Self-learning rules. We are at the beginning of the Death of Credentialism. The ROI for a majority of college educations will be negative. 

You're not likely to hear much about this from "Big Academia" or professional educators who are wedded to the old "hoarding" model - they've got skin in the game.

Agree? Disagree?

*The technical name for a "Self-learner" or a "self-taught" person is an "autodidact", which is what I've called myself for a number of years. It is, I believe, the wave of the future - you see that wave manifesting itself in the homeschooling movement, distance learning via the internet, and the overall explosion of information available via the internet.


13 July 2012

Latest Essay - The Stonewall Brigade

I recently had a second essay posted at Virginia Tech's Essential Civil War Curriculum website. The piece is titled: And Men Will Tell Their Children: The Stonewall Brigade. Here's a tease:

. . . little did the Virginia men assembling at Harper’s Ferry in April of 1861 know that their service under the command of then Major T.J. Jackson was to become legendary in the annals of military history. Those present at that first assembly hardly looked to have the makings of a legend. Though not much more than a rag-tag bunch of undisciplined plow boys, common laborers, students, merchants, and tradesman, Jackson would soon whip the naïve volunteers into the most feared and respected fighting machine in the Confederacy.
Sixteen year old Confederate soldier J. Triplett at Winchester VA. He served in the Stonewall Brigade and his family was from the Mt. Jackson area of the Shenandoah Valley. "His uniform was made for him by his mother."
Virginia Military Institute Archives

You can read the complete essay here

12 July 2012

Upcoming Posts

The essay I recently completed, and which will be featured on a prominent Sesquicentennial site, will soon be available. I'll post an excerpt here, along with a link. Also, I'm working on a post based on a truly fascinating piece I just read. The post will be titled, History & Manliness. Stay tuned.

10 July 2012

Why History Still Matters In The Shenandoah

Alfred Waud's depiction of Custer's burning of a
Valley farm 7 October 1864.

Such was the account given by Sheridan of his operations in Augusta and the Valley. A correspondent, who was with the army, thus describes the scenes of their march:

“The atmosphere, from horizon to horizon has been black with the smoke of a hundred conflagrations, and at night a gleam, brighter and more lurid than sunset, has shot from every verge. The orders have been to destroy all forage in stacks and barns, and to drive the stock before them (the Federal army) for the subsistence of the army.  Indiscriminating (for with such swift work discrimination is impracticable), relentless, merciless, the torch has done its terrible business in the Valley. Few barns and stables have escaped. The gardens and corn-fields have been desolated. The cattle, hogs, sheep, cows, oxen, nearly five thousand in all, have been driven from every farm. The wailing of the women and children, mingling with the crackling of flames, has sounded from scores of dwellings. I have seen mothers, weeping over the loss of that which was necessary to their children’s lives—setting aside their own—their last cow, their last bit of flour pilfered by stragglers, the last morsel they had in the world to eat or drink. Young girls, with flushed cheeks, and pale, with tearful, or tearless eyes, have pleaded with and cursed the men whom the necessities of war have forced to burn the dwellings reared by their fathers, and turn them into paupers in a day. The completeness of the desolation is awful. Hundreds of nearly starving people are going North. Our trains are crowded with them. They line the wayside. Hundreds more are coming. Absolute want is in mansions used in other days to extravagant luxury.”

The desolation of the Shenandoah Valley was thus sketched at the time:
We have conversed with an intelligent friend, who formerly resided at Edinburg, in Shenandoah county, and who has been compelled to bring his family into a more favored locality, to keep them from starving, and he gives a deplorable picture of the sufferings and privations of these unfortunate people. But a small amount of grain is in possession of the inhabitants, and what little they have it is hardly possible to get ground for want of mills, all having been burned except five or six, in the extent of the country of which we speak. In many instances corn has been pounded, baked, and consumed in a rough state, and our informant states that he is familiar with instances where the people have mixed middlings with bran and baked it into bread, in order to stretch the food. Cattle, hogs and sheep have been swept away, and but few horses remain with which to cultivate the ground and raise a crop the present season. It is hard to realize and believe that such a state of things exist, but it is nevertheless fearfully true.
Another says: With the exception of small enclosures of one or two acres, here and there, there is scarcely a fence worthy of the name from the Rapidan to Bull Run; and the fields, once the pride of the farmers’ hearts, and shut in by ten rails and a rider, are now broad commons, with old landmarks obliterated, ditches filled up, quarters, corn-houses and barns in ruins, while the lone and blackened chimneys of the once happy homestead stand like some grim old sentries on guard until the last. The once majestic forests of oak, hickory, chesnut and pine along the line of the Orange & Alexandria Railroad have disappeared, and given place to the rude huts and cabins improvised by the armies of Lee and Meade; and instead of whortleberries, chinquepins and chestnuts, one kicks upon canteens, worn-out knapsacks, old shoes, bread-boxes, suggestive of the inevitable hard-tack, bayonet-scabbards, with here and there a stand of grape, a ten-pounder Parrott shell, and everywhere almost the hollow-base little Minnies, whose whistling tones are so familiar to us all. The village of Raccoonford is a village no longer; Stevensburg is Stevensburg only on the military map; and all along the route, crossing and recrossing the railroad, one sees nothing where man’s agency is concerned but utter desolation. The people are returning to their once happy homes, after such hardships as only refugees can know, and are patching up any out-buildings at hand for a temporary residence until the great house can be rebuilt and former comforts collected around them. The negroes in Orange county can be hired for their food and quarters; but this does not pertain in Culpepper and Fauquier, where labor is scarce and in demand, as nearly every negro,—man, woman and child, left home early in the war with the hope of an improved condition in the crowded streets of Alexandria and Washington. The supply, however, will be equal, and perhaps more than equal, to the demand, when the farmers are once more prepared to cultivate their lands; but just now there is a feeling of oppressive uncertainty hanging over every man’s head, and until courts are established, magistrates, sheriffs, surveyors, commissioners, etc., are appointed, this feeling will prevail, and then materially to retard the development of the agricultural resources of the country and of that desire to do their duty as good and loyal citizens, which is the sincere and hearty wish of nine-tenths of the people {typo corrected} of Virginia, now that the terrible struggle is over, and which has been decided finally against them. The farmers need nearly every article necessary to a successful cultivation of their lands, and with but very limited means for purchasing them, no credit, and an entirely new system of labor to contend with, the problem of success seems to be one of difficult solution; but with industry, skill and integrity, the prolific soil will soon supply their wants, and in a few years one will scarcely be able to recognize this as the classic battle-ground of the two celebrated armies of the Potomac and Northern Virginia.”

I've walked and explored these same woods and fields for close to 50 years. I've walked over the very ground, perhaps the very spot, where my great-great grandfathers shed blood to protect their families, homes, and to defend their state. And I've pulled bullets, buttons, shell fragments, and other relics from that same ground which have not been touched by a human hand since before the smoke cleared on the day of battle. Despite what others may believe, there is a connection to this history which is unique to those who have such experiences and heritage. I consider myself blessed to be among that group.

09 July 2012

History Business

For those in the relic hunting hobby - or for those just curious - please take the time to visit my fellow SCV member and relic hunter, Josh Silva's new website and business:

Ironclad Detectors

Josh has extensive expertise with metal detecting, relic hunting, and the history that brings it all together:

He holds a Bachelors degree in History and Pre-Law/Political Science from Old Dominion University, and is working towards a graduate degree.

His family has fought in every American war since our nation's beginning.  His ancestor was a Private in the Revolutionary War and his Gx3 Grandfather, was a Confederate Cavalry Officer in the Army of Northern Virginia.  He's been a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans since he was 15.   In addition, Josh has appeared  in several historical documentaries on the Civil War including:  “The Civil War in Hampton Roads” on PBS,  “April 1865″ on the History Channel, “Gods and Generals” (as an extra) as well as a play put on locally in Hampton Roads about the beginnings of the Civil War here in Virginia called “The Contraband Slave Camps:  A Narrative.”  He's also written articles for metal detecting/treasure hunting magazines such as American Digger Magazine.

While studying for bachelors degree, he studied archaeology and had the privilege of excavating with the Archaeological Dept. of William and Mary University at the Jamestown settlement.  

Josh knows Virginia history, relic hunting, and the type of equipment you'll need to bring it all together!

Who's Reaching The Masses?

From the Drudge Report - 7/9/12


Just about everything academia and modern elites hate, more Americans seem to love. Success is the sweetest revenge. Gotta love it.

And here's even more evidence that the self-appointed "experts" who want to tell the rest of us how to think, what to think, and how to interpret events that happened 150 years ago (when they can't even interpret what happened yesterday), don't even have a clue about what they're doing in their own back yard:

Public-school employees have doubled in 40 years while student enrollment has increased by only 8.5%—and academic results have stagnated.

Quite damning, isn't it? Any they have absolutely NO excuses. They've brought it on themselves. Which is why they should, as a general rule, be ignored. Astonishing. More here.

And, finally, reality . . .

Two-thirds of likely voters say President Obama has kept his 2008 campaign promise to change America — but it’s changed for the worse, according to a sizable majority. 
Meets utopia . . .

However, a president can alter the mood of the nation, making changes possible that once seemed improbable.
The former is based on facts, the latter on what historian Paul Johnson refers to as "leagues of intellectuals" verdicts:

"Beware committees, conferences and leagues of intellectuals. Distrust public statements from their serried ranks. Discount their verdicts on political leaders and important events." ~ Historian Paul Johnson (Intellectuals ~ page 342)

Again, best to ignore, or at the very best distrust, these people. They're no wiser than the rest of us. As a matter of fact, many of them appear to be quite stupid.

05 July 2012

The Enemies Of American Exceptionalism Collude

Are you getting as sick of this as I am? So many of the CW and history related blogs seem to be on a mission to bash the Founders and portray America as an evil nation which needs to be "fundamentally transformed" into some socialist utopia. We are treated to this daily fare by academics, pseudo-historians in the blogosphere, Hollywood, and the media. I pointed one example out yesterday. Now, MSNBC joins the orgy:

In what is sure to rankle the feathers of many conservatives, MSNBC weekend host Melissa Harris-Perry took to her show Sunday to ponder the meaning of Independence Day, highlighting mostly the stains on American history. “It’s ours, all of it,” she said. “The imperialism, the genocide, the slavery . . . 

Ah yes, we must never forget to flog ourselves in some guilt-obsessed effort at redeeming our wicked past - even as we celebrate our nation's birth. National Review's Andrew McCarty nailed this rather childish perspective:

What most frustrates Americans is that we are a happy, optimistic, can-do people ceaselessly harangued by media solons, delusional academics, post-sovereign Eurocrats, and the Democrats who love them. While we free and feed the world, they can’t tell us enough that we’re racist, imperialist, torturing louts. We know it’s a libel, an endless stream of slander. But we also know it’s an absurd libel. We’re tired of hearing it, but taking it too seriously would give it power it doesn’t deserve. - Andrew McCarty, National Review online

But, spouting this garbage does get you invited to the right seminars and conferences where you can sip wine, eat cheese, and rub elbows with the smartest among us.

No thanks, I prefer reality along with fried bologna and mustard.

04 July 2012

How The Left Celebrates Independence Day

Wow, this sounds much like what you'd read on a number of CW and history related academic blogs. Of course, they do share the same worldview - and maturity level.

Shameful: Aaron Sorkin, Left celebrate Independence Day by slamming America; Update: Chris Rock joins in: ‘Happy white peoples independence day’; Don Cheadle laughs along; Zach Braff piles on

Doesn't the theme sound eerily familiar? Are we really naive enough to believe the pattern and shared hatred of our history is mere coincidence? Read more love here.

Happy 200th Brother Jasper

I've posted this piece I wrote some years ago before but, given the significance of this day, I thought it appropriate to run it again:

From the Washington Times, 7 May 2005

Chimborazo Hospital in Richmond was a most depressing place to be in March 1865.

The doctors and staff were in dire straits, as were the wounded and dying Confederate soldiers who languished there. Medical supplies were in short supply, especially morphine. The gloom of death permeated the halls and stalked the wounded. Pain was the soldiers' constant companion, and routine sicknesses and infections were often fatal.

Unsanitary conditions made the situation even worse. One of every 10 Confederates brought to Chimborazo with diarrhea or dysentery died. The overall mortality rate was 20 percent -- actually good by 19th-century standards. Mixed with the stench of gangrene was the scent of the day's "medicines" -- turpentine, camphor, castor oil and whiskey.

My great-great grandfather, James Meredith Crutchfield, was one of the Confederate soldiers at Chimborazo in the closing days of the War Between the States. Taken prisoner after being wounded at the Battle of Piedmont the year before, he was taken to Camp Morton, the infamous Federal prison in Indiana. There he suffered along with the rest of the Southern prisoners.

One prisoner at Camp Morton described how he witnessed a Yankee guard take a prisoner outside when the temperature was below zero and give him a bath with a broom. "The fiendish deed was repeated a second time." That prisoner subsequently died.

My grandfather was transferred to Chimborazo on March 10, 1865, and died there March 28, succumbing to his wounds and the ill treatment he had received at Camp Morton. His widow died not knowing what had become of him. **The family still does not know where he was buried or if he was buried.

Yet even in the cruel despair of war and death, a kind Providence often sends hope. In the final days of the war, hope came to Chimborazo in the form of a preacher. This preacher had to get special permission from the Confederate authorities to minister to the wounded at Chimborazo.

Permission was granted, and the preacher roamed the 150 wards of the hospital -- praying with and for the wounded and dying. It was the perfect opportunity for a minister of the Gospel -- the chance to share eternal salvation with those facing eternity. There was something most unusual about this preacher, however. He was black and a slave.

Early bitterness

John Jasper was born the 24th child of slaves Philip and Tina Jasper on Independence Day in 1812. John's mother was a devout Christian and prayed that God would call her son to become a preacher. However, as a young man, Jasper became bitter after his master cruelly separated him from his first wife.

Jasper's bitterness caused him to sink deeper and deeper into a lascivious lifestyle. He eventually was purchased by a kindhearted Richmond businessman by the name of Samuel Hardgrove. Hardgrove was known for his personal piety, and his concern for Jasper's spiritual welfare was obvious.

He was a deacon and devout member of the First Baptist Church of Richmond; his obituary in 1862 called him "a great citizen, businessman and Christian."

Hardgrove prayed earnestly for Jasper's conversion, and it was largely because of his kindness that Jasper acquired and retained a love for the white race — even though it was the white race that denied him his freedom.

Jasper would later speak of Hardgrove's piety and kindness toward him and the influence Hardgrove had had on his life. When Jasper was converted in Hardgrove's tobacco warehouse in 1839, Hardgrove immediately sent for him. After hearing John tell the story of his redemption, the two men wept openly together. According to the original biography of Jasper by W.E. Hatcher titled "John Jasper: The Unmatched Negro Philosopher and Preacher," Jasper relates what happened next:

"Den Marse Sam did a thing dat nearly made me drop ter de flo'. He git out uv his chair an' walk over ter me an' give me his han', an' he say: 'John, I wish you mighty well. Your Saviour is mine, and we are brothers in the Lord.' Wen he say dat I turn 'roun' an put my arm agin de wall, an' put my fist in my mouf ter keep from shoutin'."

By now Hardgrove was overcome with emotion and according to Jasper: "Marse Sam's face wuz rainin' tears, an' he say: 'John, you needn't work any more today. I'm giving you a holiday ... go tell your mother, go round to your neighbors and tell them; go anywhere you want to and tell them the good news. It'll do you good and do them good.' Af'er awhile Marse Sam lif' up dem kin' black eyes uv his an' say: 'Keep telling it, John ... wherever you go, tell it!' "

Fall of Richmond

Though illiterate at the time of his conversion, according to Richard Day's book, "Rhapsody in Black: The Story of John Jasper," Jasper was taught by another slave shortly after his conversion and was a much-sought-after preacher — especially for slave funerals. He became a leader among his people, and when Richmond fell and descended into chaos in April 1865, Jasper stood in the streets and (eschewing his black dialect as he was wont to do at times) pleaded with looters: "Richmond has fallen! We are free! But in the name of God let us act like men!"

There, on the streets of the war-ravaged, fallen capital of the Confederacy, at age 53, free for the first time in his life, with only 73 cents to his name, John Jasper gazed at the destruction and despair and wondered how he would support his wife and nine children.

But Jasper was no quitter. From that April through July, he worked for the city of Richmond, cleaning bricks at 50 cents a thousand so the city could begin the long process of rebuilding.

His friends would sometimes encounter him on the streets covered from head to toe with lime dust, and he would laugh, "I'm jes' like Paul: de preachin' business got so bad he had to go back to tent-makin'!"

A new church

Jasper's own enterprising spirit, hard work and sheer determination in the face of what for most men would be insurmountable odds was inspiring to his people. In the winter of 1867, he became the first black minister to organize a church in postwar Richmond.

In another providential irony, Jasper's first church building was an abandoned Confederate horse stable on Brown's Island in the James River.

His first service was organized with nine members, and his salary was $9 per week. After the war, many Richmond blacks sought refuge in the deserted shacks and shanties along the shore of the mighty James. Though emancipated, most of the former slaves were not only unemployed, but unskilled and unemployable.

Jasper's message and example were overpowering and attracted the despondent former slaves to his church. The congregation grew quickly, and after a few short years and several moves, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church occupied a beautiful brick edifice located in what was known at that time as "Little Africa."

The structure contained close to 1,000 seats on the main floor and had modern gaslights. There were 16 windows that extended from the floor to the ceiling. Under the spacious pulpit platform, there was a baptistery, and a large bell in the tower would call all within hearing distance to worship.

For more than 30 years, Jasper preached and ministered to black and white alike from the pulpit of Sixth Mount Zion. The church is still located at the same spot and remains a vibrant ministry to this day. A room at the church is set aside and dedicated to Jasper's memory. It contains many artifacts from his years there as pastor.

Rise to prominence

Jasper's influence on the life of old Richmond is impressive. To this day, the mayor of Richmond opens City Council meetings with a gavel fashioned from wood taken from Jasper's home after it was torn down.

It was Jasper's preaching style and passionate love for his God that served as the principal attraction through his years as pastor of Sixth Mount Zion. John Jasper set an example of perseverance, faith and humility and was a shining example of the power of Christ's forgiveness and love.

Though Jasper was often treated unjustly, he never harbored bitterness toward anyone. He rose to prominence and preached to legislators, governors and other men of renown.

He once preached before members of the Virginia Legislature and stated, "I've read in the Bible that Pharaoh was an awful liar, just like they tell me most politicians are!"

Jasper's wonderful sense of humor often brought smiles to visitors' faces. When asked why Sixth Mount Zion Baptist Church was named "Sixth" — were there five other Mount Zion Baptist Churches in Richmond? — Jasper answered, "No suh, we jes' liked de name."

On many occasions, white pastors in Richmond could find their missing members at Jasper's church, their faces streaked with tears as Jasper preached a red-hot Gospel message filled with love and compassion.

Jasper struck an imposing, dignified figure. He stood 6 feet tall and weighed 175 pounds. He was bald most of his life and wore a beard that was white in his later years. Neatly dressed in black coat, white shirt and white tie, with silver spectacles tied on top of his head with white string, he had an air about him that, while demanding respect, revealed a humbleness of spirit.

Final sermon

On Sunday, March 28, 1901, at age 88, the tired old man mounted his pulpit for the last time. His congregation sensed something was amiss, and many wept openly at the sight of their beloved pastor, who would soon pass from the scene.

Jasper himself sensed the end was near. But this battle-hardened Gospel warrior who had overcome slavery, lack of education and prejudice and had accomplished more in 30 years than most men accomplish in a lifetime, did not shrink from the final enemy.

"My chillun, my work on earth is done! I'se no mo' skeered uv death dan uv a hossfly." He preached his final sermon, walked slowly back to his home and went to his room to rest. Late in the afternoon, the ebony soldier of the cross stirred and whispered his last words: "I have finished my work. I am waiting at the River, looking across for further orders."

Exactly 36 years to the day earlier, my own great-great grandfather had crossed that same river from Chimborazo Hospital. Perhaps John Jasper was there with him when he crossed. I am confident that the black slave preacher and white Confederate soldier were reunited on the far bank.

** As a result of this piece being published in the Washington Times, an SCV member who was involved in researching and documenting buried Confederates at Chimborazo contacted me to let me know my ancestor was buried there. Later this evening, I'll post an image of my ancestor's headstone and grave, which he shares with 2 other soldiers. 
**John Meredith Crutchfield, Company F, 60th Virginia Infantry. Wounded at the Battle of Piedmont, taken prisoner to Camp Morton Indiana, transferred to Chimborazo Hospital in a prisoner exchange in early 1865. Buried at Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond. This is his gravemarker. He is #91.