History as Identity and Ideology

Over at Civil War Memory Kevin Levin commented on a report filed by Al Jazeera on the commemoration of the firing upon Fort Sumter, in part because it featured Walter and James Kennedy, commonly known as the Kennedy brothers and authors of a series of books that have become, er, controversial.

I always find interesting what the Kennedy brothers have to say.  Indeed, at times you can simply play all four of these interviews simultaneously, and they make about as much sense (and it’s an interesting experience to hear the same themes pop out from each section of the interview).  Try it.

However, Kevin made an allusion to something one hears a great deal, and one reads it a great deal on the internet, including the comments sections of several blogs.  The argument, simply put, is Continue reading

A Multicultural Confederacy Embracing Diversity?

In my world, “diversity” and “multiculturalism” are terms invoked at various times in support of various policies and programs usually deemed to cater to what some people call “political correctness.”  My own view is that people walk a tightrope between issues of identity, multiculturalism, and diversity all the time, and I’m much more interested in people who live their lives embracing such notions than in talking about them.  In short, I’m well aware of the uses and abuses of these terms as deployed in the world around me, and I wonder about the sincerity or commitment of some of the people who seem eager to inject them at every opportunity, even as I see that there’s much to be learned and valued from incorporating the merits of these concepts into one’s own life and approach to living.

I offer this as background to bringing up a topic that is a cause of amusement and bemusement for me: the claim that the Confederacy was a multicultural experience and that it embraced diversity.

Continue reading

Honoring Lincoln and Grant on Presidents Day

Today is Presidents Day.  Oh, of course people link together Lincoln and Washington (who had his original birthday shifted when there was a change in the calendar not too long after his birth), but now they get to share this day with Millard Fillmore and Chester A. Arthur.

What follows are some rather interesting ways in which Americans have chosen to celebrate two Civil War-related presidents, Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant.  Continue reading