20 July 2015

Yankee Projection?

Justice Clarence Thomas Weighs In
A writer from the Washington posts seems to think so:
Northerners seek to absolve themselves of responsibility for their own sins by holding aloft an outdated and inaccurate caricature of a socially stunted South.
As I've been saying for years. And, from all places, the Washington Post.

Which is why the morality play currently being displayed on many Civil War history blogs is so transparent. It's activism and agitating, but it's not history. And, of course, this whole issue goes much deeper than the current debate over Confederate images and icons. While readers may get tired of me saying it, Confederate icons are just the low-hanging fruit. The "moral hand-wringing" in American history studies is systemic.

As National Review's commentary about the reaction to Professor Gordon S. Wood's previously published perspective on the current state of American historiography so accurately points out:

“It’s as if academics have given up trying to recover an honest picture of the past,” Wood writes, “and have decided that their history-writing should become simply an instrument of moral hand-wringing. .  .  . College students and many historians have become obsessed with inequality and white privilege in American society. And this obsession has seriously affected the writing of American history.”
All of this, of course, should be obvious to any student of the subject, and the consequences of politicizing history are evident for all to see: a growing ignorance about American origins, hostility to learning about them, and the reflexive habit of judging the behavior of people in the distant past by contemporary standards. This has had the effect not only of distorting our understanding of American history, but of alienating students from an appreciation of their country’s rich heritage.
And that pretty much sums up what those who do appreciate our country's rich heritage are up against, does it not? The chasm between these two perspectives is wide and getting wider. I see little hope of reconciling the competing perspectives any time soon.

Hat tip to Robert Moore for the WAPO link.

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