28 February 2014

Black History Month 2014 - Post #5

Dr. Vivien Thomas
This post brings together two topics that have been the subjects of posts here lately: Black History Month and autodidacticism, or self-education. Autodidacticism involves learning outside established norms and methods, even though that process may involve resources used within established norms, i.e. libraries, work in the particular field, mentoring, etc.) Case in point:Vivien Thomas. Thomas was the grandson of slaves and after losing his carpentry job during the Great Depression, he landed a job as a surgical research technician with Dr. Alfred Blalock at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. Thomas and Blalock initially worked together doing experimental heart surgery on dogs. Though still classified as a janitor, by the mid 1930's Thomas was doing work equivalent to a postdoctoral researcher. Wikipedia notes the following:
Thomas and Alfred Blalock did groundbreaking research into the causes of hemorrhagic and traumatic shock. This work later evolved into research on Crush syndrome and saved the lives of thousands of soldiers on the battlefields of World War II. In hundreds of flawlessly executed experiments, the two disproved traditional theories which held that shock was caused by toxins in the blood. Blalock, a highly original scientific thinker and something of an iconoclast, had theorized that shock resulted from fluid loss outside the vascular bed and that the condition could be effectively treated by fluid replacement. Assisted by Thomas, he was able to provide incontrovertible proof of this theory, and in so doing, he gained wide recognition in the medical community by the mid-1930s. At this same time, Blalock and Thomas began experimental work in vascular and cardiac surgery, defying medical taboos against operating upon the heart. It was this work that laid the foundation for the revolutionary lifesaving surgery they were to perform at Johns Hopkins a decade later.
I also found this Wiki comment interesting:
By 1940, the work Blalock had done with Thomas placed him at the forefront of American surgery, and when he was offered the position of Chief of Surgery at his alma mater Johns Hopkins in 1941, he requested that Thomas accompany him. Thomas arrived in Baltimore with his family in June of that year, confronting a severe housing shortage and a level of racism worse than they had endured in Nashville. (Emphasis mine)
Due mostly to Thomas's research and experiments, a procedure was developed to correct a condition in children known as "blue baby syndrome." Thomas initially received no credit nor acknowledgement for his work. That would eventually change. From Wiki:
In 1976, Johns Hopkins University presented Thomas with an honorary doctorate. However, because of certain restrictions, he received an Honorary Doctor of Laws, rather than a medical doctorate, but it did allow the staff and students of Johns Hopkins Hospital and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine to call him doctor. After having worked there for 37 years, Thomas was also finally appointed to the faculty of the School of Medicine as Instructor of Surgery.
HBO made a move of his life called Something The Lord Made and PBS's American Experience produced a documentary about Dr. Thomas titled, Partners of the Heart. I've seen the latter and it is quite good. Here's a clip from the PBS film, narrated by Morgan Freeman:

Thomas also wrote an autobiography.

That a black man in the 1930's and '40's in America could achieve what Thomas did with minimal formal education is a testament not only to his personal courage, talent and perseverance, but also to the possibilities of anyone who simply has a desire to learn. His example provides a dramatic example of the fact that you can teach yourself. And today, with technology offering so many options, no one can stop you. Go create your own miracle.

27 February 2014

Academia's Costly Mistake

So how smart are they?
Last year, Modesto Junior College in Modesto, Calif., ordered a student not to pass out copies of the Constitution. On Monday, the school agreed to a $50,000 settlement and vowed to revise its policies to encourage free speech on campus, a decision officials reached as a result of the student’s First Amendment lawsuit.
Hopefully, we'll see more students successfully sue those who attempt to violate first amendment rights. 

More here.

26 February 2014

A Passionate History Lesson From Senator Rubio

Senator Tom Harkin just got back from Cuba and described it, almost, as utopia. The progressive politician sung the praises of their oppressive, communist system. Senator Marco Rubio, whose parents immigrated from Cuba in the '50's, was seething when he took to the Senate floor and offered a rebuttal. A Miami reporter described Rubio's speech on the Senate floor like this:
For 14 minutes and 16 seconds, Rubio gave the best oration of his political career, speaking largely off the top of his head and with only the barest of notes. Rubio sometimes dripped with sarcasm or simmered with indignation as he made the case to Congress that the United States needs to continue Cuba sanctions and punish Venezuela.
Remember this as you listen to Rubio's speech: Harkin is a progressive. Rubio is a conservative and traditionalist. There is a very large lesson here, though I doubt those who need it most will learn a thing.

Lacking Intellectual Humility

Graduates of top schools can lack “intellectual humility”
You don't say.
“When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And we should do everything we can to find those people.” 
I assume by "school", they mean college. I did go - well, for one semester - but they weren't teaching anything I wanted to learn, so I hung out at the local bar during class where I learned some valuable life lessons; though I would not recommend others follow my example. That said, I'm honored to be considered an "exceptional human being" for dropping out of college and making my way in the world.

More here on why Google (and other smart organizations) "doesn’t care about hiring top college graduates."

25 February 2014

Black History Month 2014 - Post #4

No commentary needed except to say I love this.

Image source: Art of Manliness

22 February 2014

Southern Culture & Tradition: Hog Huntin'

From Jerry Nolan, who does a lot of great Southern focused videos. I sure would love to watch the expression on some folks faces when they watch this; such sheltered lives they live.

Black History Month 2014 - Post #3

"Capt. Ed. Armstrong (Col'd) & crew of batteau Tam O'Shanter on beach of New River, West Virginia." 1872 (Library of Congress)

According to Wikipedia:
Tam o' Shanter (often abbreviated TOS or Tam) is a 19th-century nickname for the traditional Scottish bonnet worn by men. It is named after "Tam o' Shanter", the eponymous hero of the poem by Robert Burns. . . . A khaki Balmoral bonnet was introduced in 1915 for wear in the trenches by Scottish infantry serving on the Western Front. This came to be known as the bonnet, Tam o' Shanter later abbreviated to ToS. Today, the Royal Regiment of Scotland and some regiments of the Canadian Forces continue to wear the ToS as undress and working headgear.

20 February 2014

Lincoln Feud: Guelzo vs. Magness

Allen Guelzo of Gettysburg College is presently engaged in a willfully mendacious portrayal of my ongoing research into Abraham Lincoln’s Civil War era colonization programs. This is not a lightly proffered criticism, but it is one I make note of to differentiate it from the honest interpretive disagreements that historians often have when considering a controversial subject, and to call attention to a breach of professional ethics in Guelzo’s characterizations of my work.
Read the latest on the dust up here. Would you say that Dr. Magness scored a knock out? And in a somewhat related post, Brooks Simpson asks, Are Academics Their Own Worst Enemies? 

Uh, yeah . . . pretty much.

(Hat tip to an anonymous reader for alerting me to the Guelzo/Magness spat.)

18 February 2014

The Politicized Classroom

Educators from K-12 to the university level used to come here and challenge posts suggesting that much of education in America was politicized and leaned left. They don't do that anymore - I suppose that's because the evidence refuting their defense has become overwhelming. Here's the most recent example:
A sophomore at the University of South Carolina was shocked recently to find a school textbook presenting as fact the claims that Ronald Reagan was a sexist and that conservatives think people are incapable of charity and those on welfare are "lazy." 
Yet one more reason homeschooling is growing by leaps and bounds. Story here.

17 February 2014

The Hunley Sinking 150 Years Ago Today

Three of my daughters had the honor and privilege of singing at the ceremony honoring the Virginia member of the Hunley crew, Frank Collins, in March of 2004. The ceremony was held in the old House of Delegates chamber at the Virginia Capitol. (Image is of Frank Collins lying in state at the Richmond Capitol. Click image for larger view.)

Interesting story here about the Hunley and one here about the crew of the Hunley. 

And if you've never seen TNT's' "The Hunley" it's worth the time. 

"In a submarine the called the Hunley, they fought to save their home."

16 February 2014

Academia & Unapproved Thinking

Update: Bama administrators apologize. Even academics can learn something every now and then. 

End of update.

An administrator at the University of Alabama removed the pro-life display of Bama Students for Life last week without notification, claiming that some students found the display “offensive.”
The thought police determined other things were not "offensive":
Bama Students for Life observed that the university permits other types of speech by other students and groups that others would find “offensive” or “graphic,” such as an ad for the UA Theatre & Dance program’s presentation of “Blood Wedding,” the poster for which states the event is “For Mature Audiences” and features bloodstained glass over a photo of a bride and groom. The group noted that a university art gallery depicted a student painting showing “male full frontal nudity,” and that other student organizations were permitted to display information about women’s health, safety issues, and the consequences of sex.
“This incident is yet another all-too-common example of university administrations attempting to silence speech with which they or others disagree,” said Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, which honored Bama Students for Life as its 2014 Group of the Year. 
Hypocrites. Source.

15 February 2014

Work, Wilderness & Worship - What American Men Have Lost

I thought for sure I'd posted this before, but couldn't find it sooo . . . I highly recommend this organization as worthy of your support. I absolutely love the concept and the fact these men are trying to recapture some lost values and concepts. The organization's founder, Cory Smith, is a native Virginian which is another reason I love the organization.

Training Ground Intro Video 2013 from Training Ground on Vimeo.

14 February 2014

On Being A Southerner

Those from outside the region often have difficulty grasping what it means to be a Southerner. This might help a little.

Being a Southerner from Your Life Story Videos on Vimeo.

13 February 2014

Metal Detecting Post #110 - Relics Of Valor & Sacrifice

I found these Civil War relics the week before this past Christmas. Nine .58 minie balls, two .69's, three .58 Confederate Gardners, one long-model "commercial" Sharps bullet, made for the .52-caliber Sharps Rifle/Carbine. (It is called a "commercial" Sharps bullet because it was put on the market for civilian use, rather than for the army.) Another unidentified CW bullet, a pistol bullet, musket ball, the tail end of an exploded Shenkl shell, two brass rivets, one brass cap-box finial, a brass piece that looks like it may be off a trigger guard and another that looks like it might be part of a spur or sword guard. I also another unidentified brass piece, iron piece, melted lead and melted brass. Not too bad for a day's fun and adventure.

All of these relics were found on a battlefield (on private property with the owner's permission) where one of my ancestors fought and was wounded. I'm working on a Youtube video of the hunt.

In the most recent issue of North South Trader's Civil War, publisher and historian Stephen W. Sylvia described what a friend of his and a lot of Civil War relic hunters (including me) experience:
He held each relic he unearthed with a reverence regardless of its scarcity or market value. To him, relics were documents of valor and sacrifice and were worthy of devoted appreciation no matter their affiliation, North or South.
He enjoyed reading extensively about a campaign and then visiting the site, gazing the vistas the soldiers saw, walking the fields and wood lots where they marched and deployed, crossing the creeks they crossed, climbed the hills they scaled, and searching for the relics that testified to their having been there.
I could not agree more.

H.L. Mencken On Professional Historians

"Nearly all our professional historians are poor men holding college posts, and they are ten times more cruelly beset by the ruling politico-plutocratic-social oligarchy than ever the Prussian professors were by the Hohenzollerns. Let them diverge in the slightest from what is the current official doctrine, and they are turned out of their chairs with a ceremony suitable for the expulsion of a drunken valet." ~ H.L. Mencken, 1920

Oh my, how little has changed. Of course, we know many professional historians and bloggers have their own, "preferred narrative" about this.

12 February 2014

Justice Thomas & And Northern Liberal Elites

“The worst I have been treated was by northern liberal elites. The absolute worst I have ever been treated,” Thomas said. “The worst things that have been done to me, the worst things that have been said about me, by northern liberal elites, not by the people of Savannah, Georgia.”
And . . .
“My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up,” Thomas said during a chapel service hosted by the nondenominational Christian university. “Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out.
Of course, we know there are those out there who will continue to embrace their "preferred narrative." More here.

11 February 2014

Shirley Temple - R.I.P. (And Black History To Boot)

Readers may have heard that Shirley Temple Black died in her California home last night, surrounded by family. Curly-Top was staple fare for Saturday reruns when I was growing up in the 1960's and '70's. WTTG, Channel 5 out of Washington ran many of her old films on weekends and late nights. She was a classic and one of a kind. Fox News had this to say about her:
Shirley Temple Black, who as a dimpled, ringlet-haired moppet starred in a series of winsome films that lifted the spirits of millions during the hard days of the Depression, then retired from the screen at 22 and eventually went on to a diplomatic career, died surrounded by family at her home in Woodside, Calif. She was 85. Temple was the most famous child star of her time and arguably of all time, beginning her film career at age three and becoming the symbol of upbeat family entertainment during an era when many had little to smile about.
My own 4 daughters also grew up watching her films, as do my granddaughters today. I too love many of her films, one of my favorites being The Little Colonel. Rest in peace Curly Top.

I love this scene with Richmond Virginia's own Bill "Bojangles" Robinson. A true classic:

Bill Robinson was a legend in his own right and was known for his generosity. 
Despite earning millions during his lifetime, Robinson died poor in 1949, at the age of 71. Much of his wealth went to charities in Harlem and beyond before his death. Robinson's funeral, arranged by longtime friend and television host Ed Sullivan, was held at the 369th Infantry Regiment Armory and attended by thousands, including many stars from the entertainment industry. A eulogy by Adam Clayton Powell Sr. (father of Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr.) was broadcast over the radio. Robinson was buried in the Cemetery of the Evergreens in Brooklyn, New York. 
He even has a statue in Richmond.

10 February 2014

Understanding The Perspectives Of Progressive Historians

Of all persons, comedian Evan Sayet nails it:
The modern liberal [including historians and academics], there’s something about his ideology that leads him to invariably and inevitably side with evil over good, wrong over right, the lesser over the better, the ugly over the beautiful, the profane over the profound, and the behaviors that lead to failure over those that lead to success.”

If no religion, no culture, no person, if no behavior, if no form of governance – if nothing is better than anything else, then success is unjust. Why should a person, a nation, a government, religion succeed, if it’s not better than any other? So that liberalism says everything is equally good, man, coexist – doesn’t make everything meet in the middle. It makes the better, bad.

Failure as proved by nothing other than the fact that it has failed is proof positive that some injustice has taken place. Why should a person, a country, a  nation, a business – why should it fail, if it’s not worse than anything else? And by the same logic, just by extension,  if success and failure are proof of injustice, then great success and great failure is proof of great injustice, and at a certain point, great and sustained success and failure – 6,000 years of Jewish survival, thriving when it’s not oppressed; America, the longest surviving and most successful democracy – you wonder why they hate America and Israel most? . . . Great and sustained success and failure is proof positive not just of great and sustained injustice, but that this injustice is intentional, and part of an evil conspiracy.
And, as we know, this "great injustice" is why so many academic historians find it necessary to use their "craft" in "reforming American society." If you keep this in mind when reading many (not all) academic history bloggers and writers, you will understand why they write what they write and why they see every issue as a nail. All they have in their toolbox is a hammer. They truly have tunnel vision. What's so amazing is they actually believe that on one sees this.


09 February 2014

Should Americans Hate Robert E. Lee Or Crown Him The Greatest American?

I've seen a couple of blog posts lately by progressive historians which come off as rather
"defensive." To use Shakespeare's familiar phrase from Hamlet, "The lady doth protest too much, methinks." With that in mind, I recently came across an interesting essay about Robert E. Lee and the author's observation that Lee is "under attack in modern America." I've discussed the same topic here before.

Certainly no "neo-Confederate", the author is an academic with advanced degrees in history. Here are a few interesting excerpts from the article by Dr. Stephen Klugewicz:
Once a symbol of national unity and reconciliation, Robert E. Lee, whose birthday is January 19, is under attack in modern America. In the last few decades, his name and that of other Confederate generals have been removed from schools across the South. Even in his native Arlington, Virginia, there was recently a proposal by a school board member to expunge his name from Washington-Lee High School. Perhaps more significantly, the Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania is considering removing his portrait and that of his most trusted lieutenant, Thomas Jonathan “Stonewall” Jackson, from one of its hallowed halls. Like the Confederate flag itself, Lee has become in the eyes of many an emblem of racism and, increasingly and interestingly in our jingoistic age, treason.
And . . . 
Long the embodiment of the South’s “Lost Cause,” Lee’s place in the pantheon of America’s secular religion has always been problematic. The Nationalist interpretation of American history holds that the internecine conflict of 1861-1865 was at its heart a conflict over slavery and that the Southern states, by engaging in secession and the use of armed force against the federal government, had essentially committed treason. The clear implication of this interpretation is that those who fought for the Southern cause were traitors and, at least by association, racists. Americans have generally agreed with Ulysses S. Grant that the Confederate cause was “one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse.”
And . . .
The charge of traitor against Lee—and indeed against all who took up arms in the name of the Confederacy— rings quite hollow. There is not the space here to go into a full-blown analysis of the Constitutional, political, and philosophical issues involved in secession. Suffice it to say that the charge of treason can just as easily be leveled at those in the North who made war upon the Southern states (Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution states, in part, “treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them.”) Southerners did not choose war and wished only for a peaceful separation and independence. Certainly, in the particular case of Lee, it would be churlish to condemn him for either course of action that he might have chosen. Conservatives should praise him deeming that his ultimate duty was to his family and state and that he could not raise his sword against his family.
And . . . 
As his name and image, and those of his fellow Confederate officers, are removed from shops, schools, and museums across the country, it is ever more important, especially for conservatives, to speak up for Robert E. Lee. A man of military genius and personal honor, a defender of civilians and civilization, a champion of duty and truth, a model of humility and prudence, Lee was perhaps the last defender of the ideals of the Old Republic, whose greying glory was ground under the wheels of the New Order of the centralized, industrialized state that triumphed in 1865. Though he wore the racial blinders of his class and time, Robert E. Lee was a man of exemplary character and remains an excellent role model for all Americans and is indeed a worthy contender for the title of “Greatest American.”
As biographer and former Washington and Lee University professor, Marshall Fishwick noted in his wonderful little biography about Lee:

Lee’s genius was essentially military; but his greatness was essentially religious. He cannot be understood against a background of politics, philosophy or polemics. All efforts to find Lee’s “secret” have failed because they have followed the wrong leads.
And they follow the wrong leads because they always look in one direction. When the only item in your toolbox is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail; thus explains part of the problem with modern historians and their perspectives and obsessions. 

You can read the essay by Dr.  Klugewicz here. Though overall complimentary of Lee, the author does not shy away from Lee's faults and blind spots.

08 February 2014

Lee Is More Valued Than Grant

I've blogged about this phenomenon before. I think it drives certain quadrants of academia quite crazy. Envy.
“Basically, if it’s a thread from Robert E. Lee, you take it,” he said. “Gen. Grant is one thing, but Robert E. Lee’s a couple of steps above that in my opinion.”
I'd say quite a bit more than a couple of steps, but I'm a bit partial. Of course, I'm not the only one. Actually, I think mine is the majority opinion - outside the Ivory Towers of anti-Confederate historians.
Antiques Roadshow regular Matt Quinn hand-delivered the Lee prizes Wednesday that Richey bought for $55,000 during a hotly bidded auction at Quinn's Auction Galleries in Falls Church, Va. “Rarely does someone get to own something from Robert E. Lee,” Quinn said. “It just doesn’t come to market.
The rest of this quite interesting story can be read here.

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/02/02/5533845/prolific-fort-worth-civil-war.html#storylink=c

Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/2014/02/02/5533845/prolific-fort-worth-civil-war.html#storylink=cpy

07 February 2014

Bean Strangins & Corn Shuckins

My, my, my how I love Old Virginia. I'm right proud of those crooked roads myself Ralph.

06 February 2014

Happy Birthday Mr. President

I sure do miss you.

Black History Month 2014 - Post #1

I'm sure a number of readers here are familiar with Holt Collier; apparently a bona fide "black Confederate" soldier though, admittedly, I'm not thoroughly familiar with Collier's service. There's even a biography about Collier, though I've not read it. But what I found interesting was the following reference pulled from the National Cowboys of Color Museum in regards to what this organization calls the Civil War, War Between the States:

Uh-oh. Two major PC violations in just 4 sentences. 
  1. Not calling the Late Unpleasantness "the Civil War"
  2. Considering Collier's involvement in the CSA, "service."
The wrath and scorn cometh. Source here.

I hope to bring a few more of these lesser known topics involving Black History Month to light this month. Some I've talked about before, others not so much. I'll also be uploading the Ted Savas/Kevin Levin/delete button/screen shot controversy post soon. Stay tuned.

05 February 2014

Does This Distort "Memory" Studies In History?

I found the following quote from an article titled, Remembrance or revision? Brain study shows memory misleads, quite interesting when reflecting upon the political and ideological conformity of most "memory studies" in regards to our nation's history:
"It seems like a basic function of memory is that it is built to change," Bridge said. "It’s built to adapt to what is currently important to us." [Emphasis mine.]
Particularly when you consider this observation from a recent National Association of Scholars study:
. . . the root of the problem is that colleges and universities have drifted from their main mission. They and particular programs within them, increasingly think of themselves as responsible for reforming American society . . . 
Yes, a lot of educators and "objective" historians are certainly on a mission, as they recently reminded us. But what's "currently important" is not necessarily true. As I've said before, modern historiography is obsessed with the latest fad, like so much of American pop-culture, it seems to have a rather juvenile mindset - Botox for the brain. Of course, the "brain study" would, if accurate, cut across all ideological perspectives but it seems to be particularly applicable these days.

So, do you believe that academia's obsessions with certain perspectives and "what is currently important" to them could be misleading and distorting their "memory" studies?


Hating Our American Heritage

Students at a Colorado high school are accusing officials of rejecting an effort they waged to honor the U.S. with a special day devoted to celebrating American heritage. Parents and students spoke with conservative commentator Todd Starnes on condition of anonymity, telling him that their request for “‘Merica Monday,” an event during which they hoped to inspire fellow classmates to dress in red, white and blue was turned down by Fort Collins High School administrators over fears that some might be offended.

The students hoped the day could be integrated into next week’s Winter Spirit Week, but their dreams were reportedly dashed by school officials. “They said they didn’t want to offend anyone from other countries or immigrants. They just really did not want to make anyone feel uncomfortable,” a student council member told Starnes.
Wow. Students can't even celebrate American heritage in American schools now. Yet we continue to see academics and history bloggers cling to their straight-faced fantasies of "no such thing as political correctness" despite these types of things occurring almost daily. Their denial attests to their intellectually sheltered (or dishonest) life.

Self-loathing seems to be all the rage these days - particularly among educators.

Absolutely amazing.

04 February 2014

More On Academia's Speech Codes For Members Of The Flat Earth Society

Just as a follow up to some recent posts. (See here and here.) Modern academia, the very antithesis of free-thinking.

Academia's Prejudices

The other day in a post about "speech codes" when it comes to the War for Southern Independence, I quoted William F. Buckley, Jr.:
Liberals claim to want to give a hearing to other views, but then are shocked and offended to discover that there are other views. ~ William F. Buckley Jr.
Then I recalled a piece I had read about the late Eugene Genovese; the writer making this observation:
Academia normally defines as political that which lies beyond its ideological consensus, which is generally though not always accurately perceived as "liberal." And academia defines as objective and scientific that which expresses its own prejudices and viewpoint.
How true, how true - particularly when it comes to perspectives on the War for Southern Independence. Remember, with much of academia, it's not about history, it's about conformity.

02 February 2014

The End Of Civil War Memory?

A post at Civil War Memory poses the question. The post seems to put a lot of (optimistic) stock in an unscientific student/classroom poll posted at Wiki, part of which "revealed":

The post's author, Kevin Levin, then uses the "polling data" (not collected by Kevin's efforts), along with other anecdotal evidence to conclude:

Instead of an unreliable Wiki poll and anecdotal observations, let's take a look at some recent (2011) scientific polling from the Pew Research center on the same topic:

But more importantly, as to Kevin's straight-faced fantasy (specifically regarding younger Americans), that "The war over memory is finished and from a certain perspective we should be able to say with a straight face: "What a relief.", one should consider this data from the Pew research:

The above should be quite enlightening to Kevin, given the fact he stated: "Despite our tendency to complain about the historical knowledge of young people I suspect that they are no more knowledgeable than previous generations."

And this "certain perspective" to which Kevin refers should be interpreted as any perspective which conflicts with the narrower-and rather shallow-single cause interpretation of the WBTS, as well as what often comes off as a "North good, South bad" morality play or, in a description used by historian Bob Krick, "anti-Confederate." 

Many from Kevin's perspective extrapolate that any deviance from their view equates to the sweeping generalization (and automatic discrediting) and labeling as a "Lost Causer." In other words, if you reject single causation (or even question slavery's emphasis) of the Civil War, or if you revere Confederate figures, or respect the Confederate Battle flag for the honor it represented to Confederate soldiers/ancestors, then you are considered a pariah and should be dismissed out of hand. As Dr. Clyde Wilson has pointed out:
. . . according to the wisdom of current "scholars," no credit is to be given to anything that Southerners might say about their own reasons and motives. They are all merely repeating "Lost Cause myths" to cover up their evil deeds.
But this is what an "activist historian" (words Kevin has used to describe himself) does. As another educator to Levin's post noted: "I’m glad that it is fading away, but we have to do our part in making it fade away." Indeed. I thought educators simply presented facts to their students objectively, taught critical thinking, and let students make up their own mind. Silly me.

Such doing their part dovetails perfectly with a recent National Association of Scholars study which concluded that educators, "increasingly think of themselves as responsible for reforming American society . . ."

While I readily acknowledge that perspectives can change with generations and time, I would suggest that the reality regarding this issue over "memory" is that these educators have a lot more "making it fade away" work to do before they can finally relax and joyously proclaim, "What a relief."

Here's the link to the Pew Research on the topic.

I do recommend you read the post at CWM, along with the ensuing comments. Quite instructive.

01 February 2014

American Exceptionalism: A Statement Of Fact

In recent days, I've seen a number of comments on blogs and elsewhere over Tennessee's proposed legislation promoting the teaching of "American Exceptionalism" in the state's public schools. The reaction from the left is the typical hand-wringing, "blame America first" attitude which emanates from that ideology. It's filled with nonsense, lies and ignorance.

What's interesting to note is the fact that this perspective on AE was the norm at one time in our country's schools and supported by the vast majority of those on the right and the left, Democrat and Republican. But liberals in America have evolved to the point where they now embrace what amounts to a disgust and a palpable disdain for our nation's founding principles and documents. Though admittedly flawed, our founding produced a nation which, in the words of Charles Murray, "had not counterparts anywhere else." That is an indisputable fact; a fact which makes America exceptional.

The opposition to efforts like we're seeing in Tennessee are motivated by the left's need to further their agenda - much of which is antithetical to our founding i.e., anti-capitalism and a bigger, more centralized government.

Below are a few excerpts and an excellent video clip from a site promoting Dr. Charles Murray's latest book (at 70 pages, more of a monograph than a "book") on the topic of AE, titled appropriately, American Exceptionalism: An Experiment in History:
The phrase "American exceptionalism" is used in many ways and for many purposes, but its original meaning involved a statement of fact: for the first century after the Constitution went into effect, European observers and Americans alike saw the United States as exceptional, with political and civic cultures that had no counterparts anywhere else.

And Murray hits the nail on the head with this comment:
American exceptionalism is a fact of America’s past, not something that you can choose whether to “believe in” any more than you can choose whether to ‘believe in’ the battle of Gettysburg. Understanding its meaning is indispensable for anyone who wants to understand what it has meant to be an American.
Here's the link to the site promoting the book. The text accompanying the video is well worth the read as Murray cuts through the emotionalism which surrounds the debate. I will be adding Murray's latest to my ever-expanding list of must reads.