George G. Meade Gets Some Respect

https://www.c-span.org/video/?429297-2/historians-discuss-leadership-general-george-g-meade

At the 2017 Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College, institute director Peter Carmichael hosted a roundtable discussion featuring four scholars: John Hennessy, chief historian at the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania Military Park; Scott Hartwig, recently retired chief historian, Gettysburg National Military Park; Jennifer Murray, assistant professor of history at UVa-Wise who is engaged in preparing a biography of George G. Meade; and yours truly.

Enjoy.

 

Confederate Heritage: Should We Laugh or Cry?

It’s been a slow year for Confederate heritage, which has found itself increasingly on the defensive and with little ability to rally its forces. Perhaps these latest efforts to rescue the cause suggest why.
Nothing like embracing white supremacy as the cornerstone to your movement. Oddly enough, many radical opponents might agree with a portion of the central argument.

But that’s not all.
And, as for the initial issue …

I would use the ad space to sell tin foil hats.

I find this a rather unattractive flyer that could use a little proofreading. Too bad Confederate heritage spokespeople are design-deficient as well as a little too addicted to tired old slogans that don’t wear well.

Then again, this is just what critics of Confederate heritage desire, so I guess we should encourage more of the same.

Connie Chastain Unplugged … or Unhinged

At a time when so many people are engaged in endless political discussions that fray friendships and embitter foes, there’s always the need for humor … and then, as if by Providence, there appears Connie Chastain.

You’ll remember that Connie loves to produce dust jackets for books that will never appear, earning her the title “The Queen of Forthcoming.” Perhaps that’s in part because of her ability to devise such telling memes as these two:


But Connie can still demonstrate her mastery of the English language, even if the result might be a tad counterproductive. Take this essay:

The Nature of the Monument Destroyers

 The force behind the assault on Confederate heritage is the same force behind the attacks on President Trump. What we are seeing is an enormous psychotic episode, a colossal nervous breakdown by the ultra-left in America because their adored Hillary was defeated.

The left has always been destructive, increasingly so in recent years. But since Trump has been in office — since late January — where he has steadily razed the Obama legacy, they’ve been like an animal in the furious stage of rabies.These people are not Americans. Leftists are socialists. They are the antithesis of Americans. They are destroyers. Since they cannot have our country and transform it into Socialist America, they will destroy it.

Destroying Confederate heritage is an early phase, a trial run, you might say. They have the same fate in mind for the legacy of the Founders… not just monuments and statues, but the very country they crafted. They want to destroy every aspect of the culture — Christianity, the family, private property, education, historical memory, our cultural cohesiveness, our very identity as western man.

Western man. Man. Men. The left hates nothing the way they hate masculinity. From “feminism”, which is not about equality for women but about hating and hurting men … from feminizing industry, education, the military, church leadership, the popular culture, the government to the demonization of “dead white males” the left hates virility.

VIRILE, VIRILITY characterized by a vigorous, masculine spirit: manly character, vigor, or spirit; masculine energy, forcefulness, or strength in a marked degree.

Our Confederate heroes were some of history’s manliest of men. Even in cold, lifeless bronze, Davis, Beauregard and Lee exuded a level of virility that shames Mitch Landrieu.

The nameless Confederate soldiers in marble and granite standing atop pedestals and obelisks across the South shame the typical leftist male — the Michael Moores, the Morris Deeses, the brainwashed antifa, the mindless mobs, the spineless and weak-minded men, leftists themselves or influenced by leftism, who run government at all levels. The closest thing these men have to masculine energy and vigorous spirit is hatred. Oddly enough, this is the same fuel that energizes leftist women — the Hillary Clintons, the Maxine Waterses, the Ashley Judds and the Madonnas — as well.

As we craft and then implement our counter-offensive in the defense of our heritage — and our continued existence and the future for our children (make no mistake, these are in the Left’s crosshairs, as well) — it will do us well to remember the nature of our attackers.

With defenders like these, Confederate heritage is doomed.

Hysteria and Hypocrisy at Old Virginia Blog

By now nearly anyone with access to the outside world has heard how President Donald J. Trump has once more managed to mangle nineteenth-century American history by offering a rather tortured interpretation of Andrew Jackson and the coming of the Civil War. That the president asserts that no one every asks why there was a Civil War and why the issues at stake were not settled short of armed conflict demonstrates that he is not familiar with either historical scholarship or blogs, although there may be room for him in some discussion groups.

There’s no reason to harvest President Trump’s low-hanging fruit once more. I accept that respected historians know more about the Civil War than does our 45th president. They also know more about Andrew Jackson, Frederick Douglass, and Susan B. Anthony. What I noticed, however, is that those bloggers who pretend that they are writing about heritage and/or history in a never-ending battle against the hypocrisy of the left or “political correctness” have remained rather silent about this latest presidential stumble.

Why is that worthy of note? Consider this:

OVB 01

It seems that the author of Old Virginia Blog, Richard Williams, is arguing that because other blogs did not seize upon this tweet, interpret as he has as a sign of Chelsea Clinton’s stupidity, and so on, that those blogs are really no more than the expressions of the political opinions and philosophy of their authors (which, as he freely admits, is what he’s all about … see here):

ovb 02

Note that Mr. Williams has declared that he’s not a historian, just a writer who writes about history (in order, it appears, to show his biases and push an agenda that may or may not have anything to do with understanding the past). Assess the worth of what he has to say with that caveat in mind.

Thus, we can conclude from what this blogger has declared that either he agrees with Trump’s historical analysis or that he’s chosen not to hold President Trump to the same standard he holds Chelsea Clinton. We can also conclude from what he says that he doesn’t hold himself to the same standards of blogging that he applies to bloggers he does not like because of what he presumes to be their political preferences (he never actually documents those preferences: indeed, reading Williams’s blog reminds me of reading Trump’s Twitter feed).

In other words, Richard Williams is either incompetent when it comes to American history, or he is a hypocrite about his blogging practices (or he could be both).

Remember, after all, his rather shoddy practices when it came to this case.  There’s been no change (and yes, he reads this blog).

Who’s dishonest and cowardly? Ahem. What we have here is a case of someone projecting their own shortcomings, prejudices, and severely limited integrity and honesty upon others, and then parading about the result as a sign of his own self-professed virtue.

Compare this to what Bill O’Reilly said about the president’s recent ranting:

ovb 04

At least Bill O’Reilly stood up for his hero, while Richard Williams remained cowardly in his hypocritical silence. One might conclude that O’Reilly possesses more integrity than Williams. That’s saying something.

But that’s not all. Several months ago Williams felt compelled to offer this observation:

OVB 03

Now, I don’t know who these “moral reformer historians” are, but then Williams has a reputation for erecting strawmen in his imagination before posting about them as points of departure for various rants. But let’s apply his logic to a matter far more important than the defacing of a statue to Thomas Jefferson. Using Williams’s own logic, aren’t advocates of Confederate heritage who espouse those beliefs in advance their own agendas also at least “partly” responsible for Dylann Roof’s decision to gun down members of an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina?

Note I have never made this argument. But it seems consistent with Richard Williams’s logic, or what he believes passes for logic. If “moral reformer historians” are “partly” responsible for the painted blood on Jefferson’s hands, who’s “partly” responsible for the real blood on Dylann Roof’s hands?

Well, according to what Williams says … if one connects the dots a la Williams …

Is there a cause and effect? Just asking.

Tired of the Virginia Flaggers?

You are not alone. But that doesn’t mean that people can’t make fun of them, as this little piece does.

I appreciate the allusion to performance art, although I still prefer seeing the Flaggers and an uunintentionally funny reality show. In either case, however, the act is getting old. Some of the characters have faded into the background (Tripp Lewis, Karen Cooper) or are shells of their former selves (Connie Chastain). No one invites them to community shad bakes anymore (no George Pickett/Fitz Lee flag, I guess). Oh, Susan Hathaway continues to use the group as a vehicle for self-promotion (catch her at Gettysburg on June 10, although you could learn some real history a few miles north that day) and Barry and Grayson do a great job of portraying angry old white men, but, really … it’s time to try something else instead of putting up another flag as if that means anything. That’s so old.

Some people see the Virginia Flaggers as the new face of Confederate heritage, an example of the movement’s future. That’s the same as suggesting that the movement has no future. Good enough.

Another Opportunity for the Virginia Flaggers

I’m sure many readers of this blog are aware of the dispute in Charlottesville over whether to remove equestrian statues of Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. Jackson from their namesake parks in the downtown area.

As someone who lived in Charlottesville for four years, I liked the statues, and frankly I wish they were not being moved (I think there are other ways to place them in context). But I don’t live in Charlottesville, and I think it’s up to the people who do (and not people who live outside Albemarle County) to decide what should be in their public parks.

Few people have noted, BTW, that the same sculptor who planned the Lee statue, Henry M. Shrady, executed the Ulysses S. Grant Memorial in Washington, DC. I happen to think that the Grant statue is a superior piece of work, although his Lee is nice enough.

But I digress … because the Charlottesville City Council has decided that the best way to dispose of the statue is to sell it, with the seller responsible for the costs of removal and relocation.

What an opportunity for the Virginia Flaggers.

This well-known Confederate heritage organization needs to do something new and different. No one really cares about their erratic and token presence outside the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (even Judy Smith seems tired of taking endless pictures of them parading about, one consequences of the emergence of digital photography). And then there are the flags along the interstates and clustered around several smaller cities.  No one cares much about that exercise, either, although the Flaggers suffered a recent setback outside Lexington, when, despite their bluster, a flag came down under pressure from local authorities.

So it’s time for something new, Susan Hathaway. Buy Charlottesville’s Lee (and Jackson, if you can afford it). Make a big fuss. Fly drones over the statues. Have planes pass overhead with banners to remind us of our Confederate “heros.” Do something creative with Tripp Lewis’s defense fund. Buy the statues, have Grayson Jennings rent a trailer, and take those statues to a place where Karen Cooper can appreciate them (if they can first find where Karen Cooper now is). Have Barry Isenhour open a hot dog stand to support the endeavor (make sure he doesn’t eat the product). Give Bobby Lee and Stonewall a new home. Don’t forget Traveller and Little Sorrel.

Restore the honor. Rescue the statues.

Become entertaining again.

 

Research Question: How Reliable is Richard Williams’s Old Virginia Blog?

Had it not been for Kevin Levin, I probably would never have heard of Richard Williams’s Old Virginia Blog, which over the years has become better known for its author’s rants about political correctness (as well as his distain for certain blogs, including this one) than for anything having to do with the study of the American past. During that time Williams has abdicated offering original commentary in favor of presenting his blog as a largely uncritical clipping service of conservative news sources supplimented by his own distinctive prose stylings. Readers of his blog (which will now most assuredly reach double digits) already know of his boasting that proclaim his subjectivity and bias is superior to everyone else’s (Williams believes that one’s political position explains nearly everything about them and how they see the world, although only he really knows what they think), as well as his assumption that people who don’t post about what he thinks they should post about are part of some left-wing (and usually Marxist) conspiracy to upend American values, which he thinks are best reflected through the experiment in Confederate independence.

Or so some might say.

So let’s test this proposition and in the process assess Mr. Williams’s blog by exploring his most recent post, reproduced below:

polston OVB

This is his only post on this news item. For the item to which he links, look here.

So, folks … let’s do a little research, and see whether this post is complete, sufficient, and accurate in understanding the incident it purports to highlight. Tell us what you find and how what you find might alter your understanding of the story as presented by Mr. Williams.

Oh, yes, and then be on the lookout for the whailing and whining that are sure to follow from Virginia Whine Country.

Enjoy.

Another Defeat for the Virginia Flaggers

Back on March 6, the Virginia Flaggers through their blog assured us that a flag they had helped erect in Rockbridge County outside Lexington was not coming down, desite the fact that local authorities had raised questions about the flagpole’s location.

The flag then came down. Now it appears it isn’t going back up anytime soon.

Not to worry, folks. The Flaggers claim they’ve made arrangements for many more flags to go up around Lexington, and they celebrate this as an act of defiance.

So much for honoring the service and sacrifice of the Confederate soldier in a dignified manner. But then it never was about that, was it?

Virginia’s Corey Stewart: Restoring the Honor?

At last the Virginia Flaggers have found ther ideal candidate for governor: Republican Corey Stewart. He believes that the Confederate Battle Flag is all about heritage, not hate, among other things. It’s a major theme of his campaign.

We’ve been told that the Virginia Flaggers have been changing hearts and minds when it comes to Confederate heritage. Stewart’s candidacy will provide a good test of just how successful they have been, and just how much Virginians have embraced their message. We hope the Flaggers follow Barry Isenhour and support Stewart with all the tools in their arsenal. I’m sure Stewart will welcome the association: it may be one others choose to emphasize.