Charlottesville

This weekend groups of individuals gathered at Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest … something. What the groups were protesting is not quite clear: that the protest was an unfiltered expression of white supremacy is quite clear.

Images of whites brandishing tiki torches by the Rotunda at the University of Virginia filled Friday evening social media. The next day, the protests moved to Emancipation Park, ostensibly to object to the efforts by the Charlottesville City Council to relocate the equestrian monument of Robert E. Lee still standing at what was once called Lee Park, just north of downtown Richmond. Counterprotesters soon appeared, as did law enforcement. The scene looked rowdy and ugly …

… and then it got worse, when a car bearing Ohio licence plates plowed into a crowd of counterprotestors just south of the pedestrian mall. One woman was killed, nineteen people were injured, according to media reports … and this was in addition to fifteen people reported injured earlier during confrontations during the protest.

My sympathies to the families and friends of those who died today and best wishes for the recovery of those injured. It’s a tragedy.

President Donald J. Trump declared, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” Critics noted the president’s failure to single out the white supremacists who instigated the rally: apparently the man who chided others for their inability to say “radical Islamic terrorism” finds saying “white supremacist terrorism” very difficult.

But that at least was better than this:
You can always count on some folks to protect their allies.

Taken together, the events at Richmond’s public hearing this past week concerning what to do with that city’s Confederate statuary and the protests and violence at Charlottesville, as well as the reaction to these events, lead us to several conclusions:

1.  While not all advocates of Confederate heritage are racists, one cannot deny that there are links between certain prominent Confederate heritage groups and white supremacists/nationalists, as the case of Matthew Heimbach suggests.

2.  Confederate heritage advocates generally are muted if not completely silent when it comes the the activities of Confederate Battle Flag-waving white supremacists/nationalists. You won’t see the Virginia Flaggers denounce them; you won’t see Connie Chastain put out memes assailing them; you won’t hear a peep from Virginia Whine Country; and we await the Sons of Confederate Veterans announcing that the use of the CBF in Saturday’s events constitutes a “heritage violation.” In large part this is because a good number of the supporters of such groups share the racial attitudes of white supremacists, as we’ve demonstrated in Chastain’s case. In other cases, they’re just skeered.

3. Charlottesville 2017 may join Charleston 2015 as signposts on the path to the eradication of Confederate symbols on public land. I’ve always thought that white supremacists are their own worst enemies, and, just as Charleston 2015 created a backlash against Confederate symbols, so will Charlottesville 2017.

4. The hearings in Richmond this past week suggested that middle ground between those who want monuments to stay in place without any contextual interpretation and those who want removal (yes, I recall someone recently called for destruction, but let’s set that aside) is eroding quickly. Forced to make a choice between extremes, policymakers and politicians are unlikely to render many decisions that will please advocates of Confederate heritage. Nor will what happened in Charlottesville these past several days help heritage advocates in the long run, in part because of their own flaccid reaction to events. Meanwhile, removal/relocation will pick up support.

I’ve always said that (1) Confederate heritage advocates are their own worse enemies and (2) they seem unwilling to disassociate themselves from white supremacists or denounce them with anywhere near the same vigor with which they assail their critics elsewhere. We are about to see the consequences of those decisions.

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.