Levin, Gallman (and even Simpson) on Rotov on Glatthaar

Yesterday evening Matt Gallman raised the following issue:

A year ago I critiqued Kevin because he posted a link to a blog that had insulted a friend of mine (and yours?). Kevin responded with his standard “who me?” The fact is that that original blog, by this fellow Rotov, was just horrible, despicable garbage. From a guy who has no platform beyond the fact that other bloggers like to praise him. Brooks, you didn’t praise him then, but you do tip your hat to him now and then. That is your choice, but you are a celebrated historian of infinitely greater stature than this guy and you are tipping your hat to someone who deserves no respect given his repeated lies. Well, precisely a year ago I challenged Kevin for linking that. So, today, if you google the name of our mutual friend, both the original post and Kevin’s link appear within the first 2 pages of links. This is I think evidence of why this stuff actually matters. Some clown sitting in his basement can write disgusting, ignorant, lies about a serious historian, and your students and my students who google that name will find those lies. So, yeah, it would be nice if bloggers would stand up for decency. Although I also take your point that it isn’t as if you as a blogger are responsible for all other bloggers.

Let’s try not to be coy here.  The historian in question is Joseph Glatthaar.  The post in question is here (with a link to the original post by Dimitri Rotov concerning Glatthaar’s book).  The comments sections reveals that I asked some tough questions of Kevin and raised some issues about Dimitri’s post.

Now, the usual disclaimer: Joe Glatthaar and I went to graduate school together.  We are friends.  We recently spent some good time together at the annual meeting of the Society of Military History, an organization of which Joe is president.  Joe’s one of the nicest, most gracious people I know in the profession, and he’s a hard-working researcher who continues to do good work.   He’s a class act.

You can read what I said about Dimitri’s comments on Joe’s book on Kevin’s blog.

Apparently this means I should despise Dimitri (whom I have never met) and give no credence to what he says.  Instead I “tip my hat” to him (I think Matt’s upset that I gave credit where credit was due in a recent post here).

I judge what Dimitri Rotov (or any other blogger) says based on the merits of what he says.  I’ve raised questions about his arguments before.  I’ve also agreed with him when that was warranted, and I’ve corrected him (sometimes privately) when it was the proper thing to do.  All of this is in keeping with his description of me, which I found to be very kind.  Sometimes I’m a bit bemused by what he has to say: two of his favorite targets (James McPherson and Gary Gallagher) are people I count among my professional friends and who supported my early efforts in the field (indeed, they were the readers for Let Us Have Peace).

Matt Gallman’s problem is that he wonders why I don’t do what he thinks I should do.  The answer is simple: because I’m Brooks Simpson, not Matt Gallman.  I will evaluate arguments based on the merit of the argument, not on what I think of the person.  Just because I like someone does not mean that I will refuse to disagree with him/her, and just because I may not get along with someone does not mean that I will disagree with them when I believe they are correct.  As I’ve pointed out, on occasion someone gets offended by what I’ve said, and some folks choose their own way to retaliate for that.  Every once in a while someone will ask me why I’m not part of this or that or why I was not on some television show or on some conference panel, and sometimes the answer is … because someone’s mad, someone’s jealous, or someone prefers their friends.  That’s not always the reason, nor do I suspect it’s the reason most of the time … but sometimes it is.  But if I have to contemplate how this person or that person might feel offended or threatened by what I say here or do there, well, I might as well do nothing, and then who would want to see me, anyway?

If someone’s ticked off with someone, why, they are free to set up their own blog or Facebook group to thrash away at their favorite obsession.  We all know of someone who’s done that, right?  Ah, the irony.  :)

Meanwhile, someone might now google “Matt Gallman” and see how that’s working out.  Ah, the irony yet again.  :)

Your turn, Ethan, to dig up another telling clip.  Given how things are going, this one comes to mind:

Saturday Night Live remains a rich resource.

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10 thoughts on “Levin, Gallman (and even Simpson) on Rotov on Glatthaar

  1. I have to say I find this all pretty amusing and it’s keeping me entertained. I’ve been actively reading civil war blogs only for a few months and like anything there are good ones and bad ones. Kevin’s and Brooks’ are must reads and I actively follow the Emancipation blog. Dmitri’s I can take or leave as he’s normally acerbic.

    However, if you don’t like his blog, nothing says you have to read it. He’s probably gotten more attention through Prof. Gallman’s post than he would have have otherwise. Wonder what Connie thinks :)

    Hey, what do you think about the Devils?

    Brad

    • Important things first: I think the Kings have more scoring punch than the Devils, despite Parise and Kovy. Both teams will hit, and both are solid in net. So this should be a good series … although the Kings were lucky that Phoenix lacked offensive skill. New Jersey’s team defense shut down the Rangers, who looked exhausted by the end. The series will likely go seven games (and at least six).

      One of the ironies of the events of the last twenty-four hours is that Dimitri Rotov’s blog has gotten attention, and those Google rankings will go up. And yes, it’s because of Matt Gallman denouncing him. Given that he doesn’t want me to pay attention to certain themes because to do so gives their proponents some sort of stage, even credibility, this is ironic.

      Connie who? :)

      • Putting aside the irony of Gallman’s stance, I find Dimitri’s blog to generally br provocative in a beneficial way. He is far from always right and can be impolitely direct but he pushes for intellectual honesty and elevated stadards in Civil War historiography. Occasionally he stumbles on a hidden truth or one that’s staring us in the face but is getting overlooked. And this comes from a reader who disagrees with him quite a bit.

        As to the Finals much depends on whether Sutter has kept Carter, Richards, and Penner off the party circuit. We’ll see but the Western Conference has had a strong aroma of “weak” this post-season. By the way, since neither of our teams are involved, what say you to a 12:01 A.M. July 1 trade in which you get a Vezine/Conn Smythe winner to fill your critical goaltending needs in exchange for, let’s say, John Tavares? If pushed I’ll take Moulson.

        • I agree with John’s judgment about the the overall impact of DR’s writings. I think Dimitri’s dead wrong on some counts and sometimes I cannot for the life of me figure out what he’s trying to say, but he comes up with posts of such startling ingenuity at frequent enough intervals that I will always categorize his blog as one of the few ‘must reads’. I do find myself more in sympathy with his views on McPherson than Gallagher.

          Undoubtedly, he resonates with different people in different ways. His blog certainly finds a spot on CW blogrolls more than any other that I know of. I also believe that there is far less malice in his heart than some believe exists solely from the evidence of his writing.

          • “I also believe that there is far less malice in his heart than some believe exists solely from the evidence of his writing.”

            I agree with you. As one commenter said yesterday or the day before here, he has an acerbic style. It’s not really mean, but biting or sharp. At least from what I can tell.

          • I’m with Drew on the Gallagher/McPherson issue. Of course, Dimitri has tried to position Gallagher (the editor) vs. McPherson (the author). One example of a legitimate question he raises which gets swallowed by his style is that regarding McPherson’s forthcoming 350 or so page book on the Naval War. One is indeed tempted to ask what will be new in such a limited space for such a broad topic and, if the answer is “not much”, how clear/extensive the attributions will be.

        • I have become quite a Tavares fan this past year, because he’s gained so much confidence, creates opportunities for himself and others, and has learned to stay on his feet and hold his ground. Moulson’s a quality guy who certainly has an ability to score. Tim Thomas? Matters where his head is.

          The Western Conference is in a state of transition. I think we’ll see the Big Four of Detroit, San Jose, Vancouver, and (once upon a time) Colorado continue to struggle. If the Phoenix situation stabilized to the point that the team would become a player in free agency, then I’d worry, but their lack of offensive skill doomed them.

          • I’ll give you two of the four who will continue to struggle. Colorado’s a money situation. San Jose just went too long with their beloved “core” and doesn’t have a lot coming down the road. (Don’t get me started on their “Captain”.) Detroit’s too good an organization and has some nice prospects – plus they are supposedly in the mix for Parise/Suter. If Vancouver can figure out how to dump Loo’s contract and stick Schneider in there, they’ve still got too much talent to write them off. Of course, last night puts me in the category of “what do you know”. You’re right about Tavares. Among many other things, and to use a much-overused cliche, he is surprisingly “strong on the puck”. But you really, really, really need a G….:)

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