30 September 2012

Incivility Cuts Both Ways

Two recent posts on academic related Civil War blogs caused me to chuckle to myself. The posts were related to the growing lack of civility among "audience members" and readers of blogs and online articles. Before I proceed, let me first say that I actually agree with many of the points both Kevin Levin and Professor Brooks Simpson raise. Discourse has become rather "uncivil" and all of us in the blogosphere have, to one degree or another, been drawn in down to the back and forth nastiness. I've also been in Civil War seminars, both as a speaker and as an audience member, and witnessed first hand questions and comments thrown out in very uncivil tones.

Actually, this situation isn't unique to "scholars" or the discussion of the Civil War. This kind of thing now permeates our society and is, in my opinion, related to the overall moral decline of our society and culture - what I refer to as the Mayberry vs. South Park phenomenon. And there are political and ideological reasons for a lot of this; much of it related to academia - but that's for another time.

What I found funny about both Levin and Simpson's complaint is that they both act as if this lack of civil discourse is only directed toward their particular class - professional historians, academics, and those on their side of historical interpretation.

They seem to forget that those who disagree with current orthodoxy on subject matter related to the WBTS - whether that happens to be causation, black Confederates, heritage or whatever - are frequently the targets of uncivil remarks. Those who oppose their views are often dismissed as "neo-Confederates", racists, Nazis, Rednecks, etc. And those very remarks have been made on my blog, as well as other prominent CW blogs. How's that for civility?

So, while I agree with their overall observations, their complaining about the current state of affairs rings a bit hollow with me. Simpson has publicly called me a "fraud" and Levin has publicly called me a "fool". I also had a public school teacher who maintains a CW blog use a bathroom vulgarity in referring to me. How's that for civility? Are "scholars" and "professional" historians the only ones due respect and civility in these matters?

Moreover, I think some of the sensitivity to this more pervasive nastiness is due to the fact that, prior to the internet, being challenged (rightly or wrongly) was likely not something to which many of these folks were accustomed. Challenging someone who has the power to pass or fail you in their class could certainly dampen a public challenge. Yeah, I know, they'll protest loudly at such a charge. Save it - I have children who have been in college in recent years, so I know better.

My bottom line is that the incivility being discussed by Levin and Simpson cuts more than one way. We all have beams in our eyes. Apparently, that is causing a major blind spot with these gentlemen.

27 September 2012

109 Years Ago Today In Virginia

Troubling Deja Vu

"The eurozone crisis that has brought down governments across Europe’s periphery now threatens the survival of a nation-state. The north-south fractures inside the EU are starting to open up within member states. When the Soviet Union and some of its buffer states broke up at the end of the cold war, EU leaders on the whole regarded this exercise of the democratic right to self-determination as a good thing. But the idea that separatism could seep into the settled structures of western Europe is wholly alien to them, notwithstanding frequent inter-regional tensions."

Compliments of socialism and an over-promising government. Sound familiar? More here

26 September 2012

Metal Detecting Post #85 - Einstein Was Wrong

For Vets - It's No Contest

Any lefty CW bloggers want to weigh in as to why? After all, you ARE the experts, right? Of course, this is nothing new and we know the answer.

Veterans are strongly backing Mitt Romney, most critically in battleground states like Colorado, Florida, Ohio and Virginia. There are one million veterans in the states of North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, and 1.6 million in Florida. Maurice Tamman, a Reuters data news editor who has polled on veterans asserted, “It’s no contest.”

More here.

25 September 2012

Metal Detecting Post #84 - Saving History In South Carolina

SavingHistory.net is the website of Greg Toney (SCdigger). Mr. Toney teaches school in South Carolina and has produced some great relic recovery videos. Here's his latest:

22 September 2012

Academia: Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches Are Hate Food

I'm not kidding. The education establishment is using PB & J sandwiches as a vehicle to promote socialism and "social justice." In their spare time, they chase down neo-Confederates and David Barton.  These people are the most incompetent boobs in America.

. . . last year a teacher in the district presented a lesson that included a reference to peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Gutierrez says that by using sandwiches as an illustration, the teacher was engaged in a very subtle form of racism.

And . . . 

In addition to teaching that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are racist, PEG trains educators to view “rugged individualism,” “adherence to rigid time schedules,” and the belief that “hard work is the key to success” as traits of the dominant white culture. PEG teaches that minority cultures value “color group collectivism,” “interdependence,” group success, shared property, learning through social relationships, and making life choices based on “what will be best for the family or group.”

With these leftists, it's always about group identity and victimization, not at about the value of the individual and reaching one's maximum potential - which is why their programs are demonstrably collossal failures:

So how’s this new approach working for Gutierrez’s school? The Tribune reports that “Oregon’s Department of Education just last month identified Harvey Scott School (where Gutierrez is principal) as a ‘focus school,’ which means it’s among the state’s lowest performing 15 percent.”

The inmates are running the asylum folks. And don't forget, this is the same mindset which is prevalent in our colleges and universities. Looney tune time. And you're still not convinced these people are divorced from reality? Be sure and read their latest interpretation of the social issues surrounding the War Between the States - I'm sure it will be just as entertaining.

More here.

21 September 2012

My Review Of PBS's Death And The Civil War

Oakwood Cemetery ~ Circa 1865
I won't need several hundred words. As a matter of fact, if you just want the bottom line: you should watch it. But if you want my perspective, here ya go:

  1. Very much Union slanted - even my wife, who normally doesn't pay attention to such things, commented on the "pro-yankee" perspective.
  2. Maintains current WBTS PC orthodoxy.
  3. Nonetheless, it's a well-done and interesting film which will, for the most part, keep your attention.
  4. Death letters read in a compelling fashion with appropriate imagery adding a human face and great feeling of loss and sadness to what we often see celebrated - forgetting the carnage and pain associated with the tragedy that was the Civil War.
  5. A discussion of black Union soldiers and how they were mainly used for menial jobs, including the burying of putrefied corpses and often used as cannon fodder by the Federals. Not very complimentary of Union command in that respect, but this still does not negate point #1.
  6. Briefly discusses Oakwood Cemetery, but not in the detail it deserves. Oakwood is the largest combat casualty Confederate cemetery in the United States. It's treatment then and now would have made a great discussion.

So, there you have it. I would assign it a B-, were I grading it. Good, but it could have been better. Again, it's worth watching and I would recommend you do so if given the opportunity.

20 September 2012

What I'm Reading - September 2012

"A seasoned National Geographic journalist gives us an excellent history of a notable piece of deep-water archaeology and treasure salvage. The Republic went down in 1,700 feet of water off the Carolina coast in fall 1865, overwhelmed by a hurricane while carrying a treasure in gold and silver coins that was intended to revive commerce in New Orleans. Vesilind covers the history of the ship, which served under both flags during the Civil War, and its crew, as well as the painstaking and expensive search for it by partners Greg Stemin and John Morris. The pair had to make new charts of the Gulf Stream to locate the wreck, resolve the conflicts between the archaeological and treasure-hunting aspects of the expedition, and bring up a third of the treasure from a third of a mile down with a converted cable-repair drone. If not as thrilling as Gary Kinder's Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea (1998), Vesilind's book worthily chronicles a notable achievement by persistent explorers."
~ Amazon.com

"The facts speak for themselves. In 1857, the Central America, a sidewheel steamer ferrying passengers fresh from the gold rush of California to New York and laden with 21 tons of California gold, encountered a severe storm off the Carolina coast and sank, carrying more than 400 passengers and all her cargo down with her. She then sat for 132 years, 200 miles offshore and almost two miles below the ocean's surface--a depth at which she was assumed to be unrecoverable--until 1989, when a deep-water research vessel sailed into the harbor at Norfolk, Virginia, fat with salvaged gold coins and bullion estimated to be worth one billion dollars. Author Gary Kinder wisely lets the story of the Columbus-America Discovery Group, led by maverick scientist and entrepreneur Tommy Thompson, unfold without hyperbole." ~ Amazon.com

"Groundbreaking. This research brilliantly unmasks the subtle social, philosophical, and ideological forces behind the exclusion of conservatives and their viewpoints from the academic enterprise." -- Louis Bolce, Associate Professor of Political Science at Baruch College, City University of New York ~ Amazon.com

18 September 2012

Spielberg's Lincoln & Academia's Call To Worship

Y'all recall how professional historians constantly poke fun at the heritage folks for having an emotional - almost childlike - connection to history; particularly when it comes to Confederate heroes? How the heritage folks foolishly make saints out of Lee and the boys? Recall how much academic historians and the history "pros" in the blogosphere condemn "celebratory history?" Remember how they constantly remind the rest of us how objective and purely cerebral they are when it comes to American history? Remember how they scoff at the notion of a "pro-Union" vs. "pro-Confederate" perspective when it comes to objective analysis?

Well, well, well, how things have changed - or have they? Maybe the criticisms were all phony to begin with. Or maybe they've had a "rebirth" since news of Spielberg's new Lincoln film came out. I discussed this some in a previous post here.

Once more, some academic historians and professional history bloggers provide us with a teachable moment. Two recent posts from Kevin Levin's Civil War Memory focused on Spielberg's upcoming movie about Abraham Lincoln. (See here and here.) The childlike giddiness is palpable - pretty much identical to what we saw from many who were anticipating (and saw) Gods & Generals. With my opening paragraph in mind, consider some of the commentary and responses in these posts:

My only concern is that it may turn into hagiography, though no one might deserve it more than Lincoln.

I’ve been saying for a month that this is going to be the Passion of the Christ for historians. Blocks of seats bought by academics and us browbeating our non-historian friends into seeing it again with us.

When I first read the hagiography comment, followed by comparing Lincoln (at least indirectly), to Christ I thought - "this has got to be a ruse, these folks are intentionally jerking someone's chain to get a reaction." But, no, they're quite serious. This is amazing. I had to pick my chin up off the floor.

Of course, Levin had to take the opportunity to slam Ron Maxwell and Gods and Generals as "juvenile."

This movie has the potential to supplant Ron Maxwell’s melodramatic and juvenile movies, which are commonly tossed about as the best in Civil War era movies.

Yes, Maxwell's movie, (which one of America's greatest Civil War historians, James Robertson said was "the best he'd ever seen") is "melodramatic" but bestowing sainthood on Abraham Lincoln and comparing him to Jesus Christ is, well, purely academic.


And we also gotta couple of . . .

I'm stoked.
Non-emotional, of course.

And Lincoln scholar Brooks Simpson chimes in with this preemptive strike:

I expect the loudest protests to come from people who will readily damn a movie they will never actually see.

That could be, but I wonder why Professor Simpson doesn't seem to have a problem with other folks who will readily praise a movie before they actually see it? So, it's ok to praise it before you see it, but not ok to damn it before you see it? Interesting. Again, double standards.

And on Brooks Simpson's post on the same topic, one commenter wrote:

Well, I guess I’m a sap, but I got the lump in my throat AND tears in my eyes on this one!
Now, let's be honest - what do you think the responses would have been on these same "objective" blogs if similar comments would have been made about Gods & Generals and Lee and Jackson? Again, these are the same folks that constantly impugn and besmirch the Confederate heritage crowd for similar statements in regards to Confederate heroes.  Yes, I can see them now - eyes rolling and an avalanche of "moonlight and magnolias" jokes.

What's really odd is that some poor unsuspecting fella wandered into one of Kevin's posts and offered a not-so-often discussed aspect of Lincoln's faux Sainthood - his flaws. This actually added another dimension to the discussion. Tsk, tsk, tsk - don't bring reality and complication to Father Abraham. Kevin responded with:

Thanks for the oversimplified sketch of Lincoln.

What!? Over-simplification was already taking place: Lincoln deserving Sainthood and a Christ-figure. Talk about being upside down and 180 degrees out of sync! Good Lord. Yet these same people demand that one always bring up slavery and oppression when discussing the character traits of Lee and Jackson, but don't you dare do that with Lincoln. That's blasphemy. No, it's rank hypocrisy and political correctness on steroids.

Actually, the truth is, academia and the educational establishment believe they are allowed to have their heroes - whether it's expressed by teacher's unions celebrating with an image of Che Guevera emblazoned on a t-shirt while marching in protest with communists, or whether it's expressed with giddiness over a Hollywood Lincoln movie that's not even been released yet, that kind of "celebratory" history is just fine and dandy. Am I the only one who sees the double-standards? Perhaps these folks view themselves as so intellectually and morally superior to the rest of us that they view their "celebratory" history on a whole different level and, therefore, acceptable. Elitism on parade.

But Southerners who have ancestors who fought for the Confederacy? No, no, no - those folks are emotional and immature in their admiration for the heroic qualities and bravery exhibited by everyone from the dirt-farmer private (my 3 great-great grandfathers) in the CSA, to men like Robert E. Lee & Stonewall Jackson. Yes, these "neo-Confederates" are to be made fun of and looked down upon by the purely detached, objective, cerebral "professional" historians - all the while their favorite popular Civil War magazines rake in money from advertisers selling Mort Kunstler (who they also routinely poke fun at) paintings of Lee and Jackson and Confederate Santa Clauses by the Bradford Exchange to that same "neo-Confederate" demographic.

Sweet, huh?

Now, in regards to Spielberg's film, I'm sure the acting and cinematography will be excellent. Spielberg is, without a doubt, a creative genius. His most recent film, War Horse, was one of the most entertaining films I've seen in a very long time. I loved it. But ignoring what will intentionally be left out of the Lincoln film (Lincoln's own racism and such), I'm sure it will, nonetheless, be praised and slobbered over by the Lincoln cult. I'm also sure scores of college professors will make it part of their classroom instruction - probably mandatory viewing.

Even so, I honestly don't have a problem with historians who participate in celebratory history and, to use their own words, "hero worship" - even though I may, at times, disagree with their perspective. I can at least understand the admiration for Lincoln. I was a great admirer myself at one time, until I began to read more about him and got beyond the "oversimplified sketch of Lincoln." But my problem isn't with the admiration, but with the rank hypocrisy and double-standards of his admirers.

16 September 2012

John Jasper Presentation By Benjamin Ross

I would encourage readers to take the time to view the presentation in the video below. The speaker is Mr. Benjamin Ross. Benjamin and I collaborated on the historical marker which marks John Jasper's birthplace in Fluvanna County, Virginia. He is also the church historian for the church founded by Jasper, Sixth Mount Zion Baptist in Richmond, and maintains the small museum at the church which houses many artifacts dating to Jasper's time as pastor. I had the honor of "bringing greetings" at Sixth Mount Zion several years ago on the church's annual "John Jasper" day. Afterwards, my daughter and I, along with some friends, enjoyed a traditional "dinner on the grounds" at the church. It is one of my fondest and most privileged memories.

Jasper marker dedication ~ 4 July 2001
Benjamin was also kind enough to loan me Jasper's original communion set for a presentation I gave at Liberty University's Civil War seminar several years ago. I have somewhat of a familial "connection" to John Jasper. In March 1865, one of my Confederate ancestors, John Meredith Crutchfield, was a patient at Chimborazo Hospital. He died there. It was during that same time frame that Jasper - though still a slave - had gone to local officials and requested permission to minister to the wounded Confederates at Chimborazo. Whether or not Jasper ever spoke with my ancestor, I can't say for sure, but both were at Chimborazo during that time.

Jasper is one of my heroes and his life story is one of the most amazing you'll ever hear. Jasper shares a distinction with two other Virginians from his time period - Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson: all three men were buried twice.

 Benjamin is an extremely nice gentleman and the most knowledgeable man alive when it comes to Jasper. I would also encourage you visit Sixth Mount Zion if ever in Richmond.

15 September 2012

Front Porch Pickin' #27 - Just My Father's Son

For those who don't understand. Just clingin' to our guns and religion. A hauntingly truthful song. Get your culture here.

Veterans Administration Reinterpretation Disses Civil War Veterans

“A man who would not defend his father's
grave is worse than a wild animal.”
~ Chief Joseph

Many of you are aware of the ongoing struggle that the SCV has had attempting to get appropriate headstones installed at Oakwood Cemetery in Richmond, Virginia. First there was a battle with the City of Richmond, then the Commonwealth of Virginia, and now the Veterans Administration. The Virginia Division of the SCV has since enlisted the assistance of Virginia Senator James Webb; though I'd have to assume with Webb not seeking re-election, the V.A. will simply stall a little longer and run out the clock. Brag Bowling has an excellent article in the most recent issue of the Confederate Veteran which explains the history of Oakwood, as well as the ongoing attempts to restore the final resting place of over 17,000 men who died fighting for the Confederacy. I have an ancestor buried there whose grave is marked only by a number. It is a national disgrace. But, since these men are Confederate soldiers, they have few supporters.

John Meredith Crutchfield ~ #91
Oakwood Cemetery, Richmond, VA
But this attitude by the Veterans Administration is not necessarily confined to Confederate soldiers. An article in the most recent issue of Civil War News explains that the current V.A. has "reinterpreted existing law." This flies in the face of a policy which has been in place since 1906 and which allowed--even encouraged--the placing of appropriate headstones, without preference, for both Union and Confederate Veterans.

As the Civil War News piece points out, the V.A.'s new policy:

". . . will make it next to impossible to get headstones for many soldiers, especially ones who fought in wars in the 19th century,” said historian Todd Berkoff, who has discovered the graves of two Union officers in Massachusetts.

My question: Is this "new interpretation" simply due to budget constraints or an attitude of disrespect for America's soldiers?

You can read the complete Civil War News piece here.

14 September 2012

Che Guevara Is A Good Role Model For Teachers

But the educational establishment is too busy chasing neo-Confederates & David Barton to be concerned with the radicalism within their own ranks. I suppose Barton, et al serve as a convenient distraction away from the rotting corpse they're trying to hide. Open socialists and revolutionaries teaching America's children. Amazing.

Even the hard left Slate Magazine has recognized Che for what he was - a murdering, communist thug:

The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. Many of the early leaders of the Cuban Revolution favored a democratic or democratic-socialist direction for the new Cuba. But Che was a mainstay of the hardline pro-Soviet faction, and his faction won. Che presided over the Cuban Revolution's first firing squads. He founded Cuba's "labor camp" system—the system that was eventually employed to incarcerate gays, dissidents, and AIDS victims. 

That's the real history of Che - but that matters little to the increasingly radicalized elements in academia and the broader American educational establishment. I'm mighty glad my grandchildren are being homeschooled.

12 September 2012

Black Confederates Agree With Me - Roles Reversed?

Jefferson Shields

Kevin Levin recently posted some interesting comments at Civil War Memory. A passage from The Slaves' War: The Civil War in the Words of Former Slaves prompted Kevin's comments:

After the war, a slave named Luke would ask for a parole when his master, a Confederate colonel, surrendered to a Yankee officer in Columbia, Mississippi.  “Luke, you don’t need one,” said his master.  “You never been a soldier.”  “Yes, I has been a soldier–for four years,” Luke replied.  “Now you and that man don’t want to do me that way.”  The Yankee officer declared that Luke “made more sense” than the colonel did, and gave him his parole.

Here's what I find rather ironic about the passage above, as well as Kevin's comments. Kevin, and others like him, today often find themselves in the position of the Confederate soldier ("that man" in the words of the black soldier) cited in this passage - denying soldier status to blacks who served (not necessarily fought) in the Confederate Army. (I've blogged about this whole silly argument before.) And in another role-reversal, descendants of Confederate soldiers are taking the position of the Union soldier cited in the passage - recognizing the service of these men with ceremonies, headstones, etc. One way to look at this debate is that the various heritage organizations are attempting to right a wrong, while those opposing these efforts apparently want to keep these men from the recognition they deserve because they question the motives of those same heritage organizations. How can they legitimately do that? Are they clairvoyant?

Clearly, as Kevin points out, the black Confederate wanted to be recognized as a "soldier" and I have little doubt the reasons are as Kevin pointed out:

It’s not simply the status he is interested in, but the respect and acknowledgment that he had suffered and exercised the same virtues as any other man in the army. 
There are other reasons blacks who served in the Confederate Army wanted recognition - financial. I wrote about one such case in my book about Stonewall Jackson's black Sunday school class- Jefferson Shields:

Numerous articles and books have reported that Shields served as General Jackson’s “body servant” or cook during the war. Shields’s claims were accepted at face value by many Lexingtonians and veterans. But there are no Civil War–era records or accounts of Jackson, nor any of his staff, mentioning Jefferson Shields. That does not necessarily prove that Shields never cooked a meal for Jackson’s staff or for some members of Jackson’s army, but it casts doubt on the *veracity of Shields’s assertions that he served Jackson regularly. Shields also professed to have cooked for the Stonewall Brigade and Jeb Stuart. Likewise, while there is nothing to dispute this, there are no dependable historical records to prove it either.
It would be easy to speculate that the veterans exploited Shields’s desire for fame, but one could also conclude that it was Shields who actually gained the upper hand from this relationship, because his fame “assured him a comfortable income to the end of his earthly pilgrimage.” So comfortable, in fact, that he purchased a lot on what is now Davidson Street in Lexington and built a handsome brick home that still stands.

I agree with Kevin about the "status, respect, and acknowledgement" desired by some black Confederates and have made that same observation myself. But it begs the question - why do so many in the Civil War community wish to continue denying these men "the same virtues as any other man in the [Confederate] army"?

I think Luke and I make much more sense.

*Shields actually served in 27th Va Infantry, Stonewall Brigade, and was a body servant [slave] of Colonel Edmonson's.

Enforced Groupthink From The Education Establishment

"Imposition of the left's education philosophy has a long history in the U.S., in Chicago and elsewhere.  It involves the application of many of the principles of behavior modification which Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov pioneered to the classroom, which in turn has evolved during the past century into a place where changing behaviors and attitudes of students have replaced learning, and where trying to ensure equal "outcomes" for all students has replaced encouraging students to achieve at as high a level as possible.  The classroom has become the bastion of groupthink and the enemy of intellectual freedom.  We have the left, and its champions of intellectual tyranny, to thank for that."

That excerpt from a piece today at the American Thinker dovetails nicely with an upcoming post about a book I'm reading:  Compromising Scholarship - Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education. The book, by University of North Texas Professor George Yancey, is a devastating critique and indictment of academia. The book should (but it won't) forever shut the mouths of the various academics and lefty history bloggers who have come here, and elsewhere, and denied the impact of bias and agenda-driven teaching in college classrooms. 

Stay tuned.

08 September 2012

Tolerance & Choice - Well, Kinda

I think they should have padded the walls and locked the doors once they had them all inside.

07 September 2012

Gettysburg College, Bias In Academia & Scholarship

Gettysburg college recently announced it has 
purchased what many consider to be a Confederate-bashing  blog - Civil War Memory - with one of the goals being to "provide access to resources that support students and faculty in creating original scholarship."

Certainly Gettysburg College can do what it wants and CWM does provide a certain perspective, but by making this move, GC presents yet further evidence of what many already suspect recognize - bias about the Civil War in academia. Sure, some reading this will howl and roll their eyes at this post (with a bit of a barely discernible nervous tick), but even Peter Carmichael (who is the director of the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College), once acknowledged on this blog that he agreed with at least some of my criticisms regarding this bias and Confederate bashing. In the post that prompted that acknowledgement, I stated at the beginning of the post:

Many modern Civil War historians and academics suffer from this same type of disconnect and are, as this writer points out, inculcated with "a false sense of self-worth."

Many of these same individuals make fun of reenactors, SCV members, amateur and local historians, those proud of their Southern heritage, and anyone else who has anything other than a purely academic interest in the Civil War--or who--God forbid--happens to disagree with their interpretation of events. They impugn and insult them at every opportunity. They stereotype, condescend, assume motives, misquote, misunderstand, misinterpret, they contradict their own statements and, yes, they lie. They demonize the South in one sentence and deny they're doing it in the next, while all the time claiming "scholarly objectivity." They write of the South's burden regarding the slavery issue while ignoring the North's and then become defensive if anyone calls them on it, claiming it's irrelevant. And they write (poorly) boring books and commentary that not even Mensa members could make sense of, thinking that using 20 words, when 10 would suffice, makes them sound smarter.

Professor Carmichael then made this comment:

"I agree with some of your initial comments (Richard) about academia and professional history in general." 

Professor Carmichael did not elaborate what "some" may have included, but you can draw your own conclusions. GC is also including a blog titled Cosmic America, with which I'm not as familiar but, at first glance, does not appear to provide any different perspective than CWM. 

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I'm a frequent critic of academia's left-leaning bias and rather one-sided perspective regarding the WBTS. Regardless of what deniers argue, I think any seriously objective person would acknowledge that this bias does impact teaching and the classroom. And there's a growing body of evidence coming from within academia to support this (as if we needed it). See here and here for just a couple of examples. Another interesting study is contained in a book I recently purchased: Compromising Scholarship: Religious and Political Bias in American Higher Education. I've only perused the book, so I'm not going to offer any kind of review now, but there's a good review here if anyone's interested. I bring the book up in relation to this post just to throw it in the mix and because I caught this snippet in the review:

The fourth chapter engages in “qualitative research” by analyzing 42 blogs of those who hold a PhD in sociology or are presently (in 2008) doctoral students in sociology. I found this chapter less interesting than others. It was no surprise that these bloggers were motivated by “culture war” dynamics that tended to conflate religious and political conservatives in responding to adversaries. Yancey’s most potent observation is that people who have been trained in detecting social deception were fooled dauntingly often by rumor that met with their political approval. Scholars who were trained in critical thinking and stereotype biases are quite vulnerable when they have some “skin in the game.” 
Does anyone really believe it's a stretch to suggest observe that academic history bloggers are also "motivated by 'culture war' dynamics that tended to conflate religious and political conservatives in responding to adversaries?"

I'm just curious if GC's plans include providing other perspectives on War Between the States Memory or will students only be presented with the types of views represented by blogs like Civil War Memory? In fairness, perhaps I'm rushing to judgement. Perhaps I'm too cynical. Perhaps there are plans to fairly offer other perspectives already in the works. That would be refreshing and doing so would truly be original scholarship.

Most Memorable Line About The Democrat Convention

"As for Joe Biden, I love him and will hear nothing against him. He's like Democrats the way they used to be, and by that I do not mean idiotic, I mean normal—manipulative only to a normal degree, roughly aware of the facts of normal life, alert to and even respecting of such normal things as religious faith. I wish he did not insist on referring to his wife as 'Dr. Jill Biden.' I'm sure she has many doctorates, but so do half the unemployed in Manhattan."
~ Peggy Noonan

I'm Planning A Historical Weekend

1. Do some work on my 1966 Ford F100 Pickup Truck.

    2. Attend a Confederate Cross of Honor dedication for one of my wife's ancestors - I'll share some more on that later.

    3. Read the latest issue of my favorite magazine
    Aaaahhhh . . . pour me a glass of sweet tea. 

    06 September 2012

    Somethin' I Saw Today - Post #7

    I haven't done one of these lately - somethin' I saw today - a view of the Shenandoah Valley and western slope of the Blue Ridge in the waning days of summer. Not a bad day at the office. Just gazing upon the view brought peace to my soul. Looking at this land, it should be easy to understand why so many Southern boys died defending it.

    You Belong To The Government

    This gives me the creeps.

    Ownership conveys ultimate power.

    04 September 2012

    Mayberry vs. South Park


    Dems reinstate language recognizing Jerusalem and 'God' in platform...


    Delegates at convention BOO...

    Booing God - that should secure the Pagan vote. This is amazing to watch. 

    Exclusive: Democrats Drop "God" From Party Platform

    Pro-Israel Language Removed From Democratic Party Platform

    Democratic Platform Endorses Taxpayer-Funded Abortions

    Dean of Democratic delegation makes Hitler reference when speaking about Republicans' agenda (Must have taken a cue from the CW blogosphere.)  

    DNC Video: 'The Government Is The Only Thing We All Belong To'... 

    And the "smartest ones in the room" say it's the Tea Party folks who are the extremists. You just can't make this stuff up. I think the Democrat convention is shaping up to be a rewind of the bar scene in Star Wars - weird and far out.

    A lot of the enlightened ones in the media referred to the Republican convention as "Mayberry." So be it. Mayberry vs. South Park - works for me.

    Read more here: http://www.kansas.com/2012/09/04/2474417/kansas-delegates-head-to-nc-for.html#storylink=cpy

    Old Book Gleanings - Buried Treasure At Natural Bridge, Virginia

    I'm going to start a new series of posts that will feature an excerpt from an "old book." Generally, these will be from books published in the 19th and first half of the 20th century. They will all focus on Virginia history. All will be from my personal library.

    I scanned the page images below from one such book in my library, The Natural Bridge and Its Historical Surroundings, by E.P. Tompkins, M.D. and J. Lee Davis and published by Natural Bridge of Va., Inc. in 1939. In all my reading on Virginia history and Natural Bridge, this is the only reference to this story that I've ever come across. Myth or reality?

    03 September 2012

    David Barton, Howard Zinn, Creation, Bill Nye, & PBS

    As many readers may already know, David Barton has come under increasing criticism for his most recent book, The Jefferson Lies. I've not read the book, but it would appear much of the criticism is warranted. I've never believed that Jefferson was, at any time in his life, an orthodox Christian. That being said, I've been somewhat of a fan of Barton for a number of years. Despite what his critics may say, some of his work has been worthwhile and he has renewed a national awareness of America's Christian foundations. I've also had strong disagreements with him, particularly how he views the WBTS and Lincoln. Several years ago, I had several lively email exchanges with members of his staff over those disagreements.

    I've also defended Barton on this blog several times (not related to the Jefferson book). My defenses were more about the hypocrites attacking him for his work as a historian (and the agenda) when they themselves are every bit as guilty of similar things - the pot calling the kettle black as it were. We're seeing more of that now, though Barton's are more obvious and he's a much bigger target with much more influence than some Podunk blogger (including yours truly).

    As I've already noted, I've not read Barton's latest book. I do know this - if Barton's book is an attempt to make Jefferson into an orthodox, Bible-believing Christian, he will lose some credibility with me. As already stated, while I believe many of the Founders were orthodox Christians, I've never believed Jefferson to be among that number. Others, most definitely including: George Washington, Patrick Henry, John Jay, and many others as well.

    Relative to all this, I recently read Kevin Levin's post on this topic and agree with some of what's said there, as well as the comments, though the emotional dislike for Barton is also quite palpable in much of the commentary. And on another Barton-bashing blog, the host even proclaimed "Barton Goes Down!" and how he was smiling from ear to ear as he typed the post. You think some folks don't have anti-Barton emotion involved in all this? But one comment jumped out at me on Levin's blog regarding the double-standard of some of Barton's critics. Professor Ken Noe pointed out that there were some folks in his local PBS affiliate whose jobs were in jeopardy for refusing to air Barton's videos, etc. Given some of the controversy surrounding Barton, I can understand why PBS would not want to be seen as endorsing any of his works.

    But here's my problem. PBS has no problem with Howard Zinn - a Marxist historian who is well known to have published distorted, agenda-driven history (see here and here for example). Did any of the PBS execs have trouble over Zinn? No, of course not. Why not? Didn't Zinn also push an agenda and one distorted with his version of the truth? Yes - but the difference is that Zinn's philosophical worldview is compatible with that of the PBS folks - and many in academia. They're much more forgiving of someone like Zinn because they're ideological soul-mates - not so with folks like Barton. Since a sizable chunk of PBS funding comes from the federal government, much of this makes sense. Can't be biting the hand that feeds you, now can you? Of course, the same is true with much of academia. We can see how the puzzle pieces fit rather nicely, don't we?

    Much (not all) of what is going on with Barton is the ongoing struggle about perspectives and approaches to the study of American history, i.e worldviews. Many bloggers love to point out the David Bartons on the right while ignoring the Howard Zinns on the left.

    Many (again, not all) of Barton's critics hail from the Eric Foner/Howard Zinn school of worldviews. Now that the dust has settled a bit, perhaps some folks can step back and take a less emotionally invested view of Barton's side of things. Here's a couple of links on Glenn Beck's The Blaze where Barton responds to his critics - 1 and 2.

    And, on the heels of this controversey, comes another clash of worldviews regarding PBS, one of the mouth organs for the Ruling Class Elites.

    Bill Nye the "science" guy on PBS recently opined that teaching creationism to children was wrong:

    "I say to the grownups, if you want to deny evolution and live in your world, that's completely inconsistent with the world we observe, that's fine. But don't make your kids do it." 
    No, of course not - don't pass your Christian faith onto your children. That makes it very difficult to get them to conform to our worldview and plans for society. Reminds me of the "homeschooling is child abuse" post.

    But a Gallup Poll noted on a CNN article about Creation pointed out the following:

    The Gallup Poll has been tracking Americans' views on creation and evolution for the past 30 years.  In June it released its latest findings, which showed 46% of Americans believed in creationism, 32% believed in evolution guided by God, and 15% believed in atheistic evolution. During the 30 years Gallup has conducted the survey, creationism has remained far and away the most popular answer, with 40% to 47% of Americans surveyed saying they believed that God created humans in their present form at one point within the past 10,000 years.
    Once again, since PBS is a mouth organ for a "progressive" society, teaching what roughly half of Americans disagree with is perfectly acceptable. I once tried in vain to get a professionally produced Creation documentary aired on our local PBS affiliate. No dice. These folks aren't interested in "balance" or real debate - they want to push their agenda, so promoting Howard Zinn's worldview is ok, promoting David Barton's is not. Promoting the "theory" of evolution is ok, airing the other side of the argument is not. Outlawing dissenters is ok, suing College Professors is not.

    Here's one response to Nye:

    And here's another by a scientist who holds a Ph.D. in biology from Brown University and by another who holds a Ph.D. in molecular genetics from Ohio State University:

    What's going on here with PBS and academia, both with the Barton controversy and Bill Nye is obvious; at least to those who want the truth.

    Academia's Mindset: "Freedom An Insignificant Good"

    Despite typically claiming to be neutral or uninvolved in the promotion of particular social goods, liberal regimes mobilize their immense procedural machines to the end of establishing two absolute and final goods—equality and freedom, or what Kalb derisively calls “equal freedom.”  This establishment requires a massive bureaucracy and constant policing “dedicated to the control and transformation of human life.” And while it proclaims “tolerance” and a sense of “fairness” as the two complementary cardinal virtues guiding or delimiting individual freedom, we have seen that the liberal public square proves very intolerant of any moral or intellectual claims that challenge the exclusive hegemony of tolerance.  Further, liberal regimes hasten beyond the purview of mere proceduralism in the name of establishing “fairness” in the diverse substantive affairs of social life to the point of rendering freedom an insignificant good. ~ James Matthew Wilson

    02 September 2012

    Front Porch Pickin' #26 - The Carolina Chocolate Drops Do "Little Rabbit"

    This is for all you folks who think that Southern Appalachian culture is just for white folk. This is as good as it gets. Love it! I've seen and heard a lot of fiddle players in my time, but I can't recall any better than this gal. I hope to see them live some time. And Arthur Grimes isn't too bad himself.

    "As long as the good Lord continues to bless me with good health, then I'll still be able to do my dancing," he says.

    Turn up your speakers.

    01 September 2012

    Front Porch Pickin' #25 - Yesterday Is All I'm After

    As always, get your culture here.

    Straining Gnats, Swallowing Camels

    "Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel." ~ Matthew 23:24

    While a number of academic historians and establishment type bloggers routinely take swats at the good ol' boys (and girls) within the Southern Heritage crowd and post screen shots of their Facebook pages (Really?), they're largely ignoring what appears to be a plague of plagiarism within their own ranks. Oh yes, they just love to use their supreme knowledge to mock and poke fun at the "great unwashed and unlettered." Kinda reminds me of the sick teenage kid who likes to catch flies and slowly tear their wings off. I suppose it makes them feel so big and strong. Perhaps they're insecure? I don't know - maybe taking those they deem weaker (in knowledge and intellect) to task is just how they entertain themselves and reveal to their readers how very smart they are. I know a lot of these folks see themselves as our "guides" to all things historically accurate and such but, somehow, I just ain't feelin' it.

    Back to the plagiarism issue . . . a recent article at The American Thinker shines a spotlight on this issue and at what is, ostensbily, the most respected "institution of higher learning" in America:

    Harvard University, Regis of America's higher educational system, has been rocked by an enormous cheating scandal.
    What is the big deal?  Harvard may not officially encourage plagiarism, but it hardly frowns on the practice, either.  Consider: legendary law professor Laurence Tribe was guilty of plagiarism, as were former Harvard prof and current Massachusetts senatorial candidate Elizabeth Warren Law and Harvard grad and historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.  These luminaries of Harvard get caught, mumble a stilted apology, and move right along, so why shouldn't the student body in general.

    I suppose discussing serious issues within their own ranks isn't quite as entertaining as poking fun at flaggers and such. Probably got a point there, they likely wouldn't get the giggles from their readers from discussing plagairism among the pros. Then again, maybe they just like pickin' on those "beneath" them.

    So, how do you like your camel meat?

    You can read the rest of the AT Piece here.