We’ve had new developments on the efforts of Edward H. Sebesta, co-editor of The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader (2010), in his seemingly ceaseless efforts to refuse to have the book considered for a prize sponsored by the Museum of the Confederacy. Apparently Mr. Sebesta shared with H-Memory (a part of the H-Net system, which hosts discussion boards on various historical subjects) with a post entitled “Need advice on how to prevent getting an award from the Museum of the Confederacy” (here it is). According to Mr. Sebesta, “My co-editor wants the award and I strenuously object to getting the award” (the co-editor in question is James Loewen). Trouble in paradise?
It’s hard to take this ruckus seriously. Moreover, the debate is really between Mr. Sebesta, his co-editor, and the press. He’s made his wishes known to the Museum of the Confederacy, and that institution’s responded. He’s powerless in that respect. He’s also free to denounce the MOC, just as he has made a career of denouncing anything with which he does not agree (look up “Edward H. Sebesta” in the H-Net archives for proof of that). He even chided Civil War Memory‘s Kevin Levin on the proper use of language.
I believe Mr. Sebesta’s actions embarrass the very causes he seeks to advance, and make easy cannon fodder for his critics. His complaint rests upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the Museum of the Confederacy’s current mission and practice. Nor am I alone in wondering exactly what’s going on here. Perhaps this is in fact a skilled publicity campaign on behalf of the book, and, given the silence of co-editor Loewen and the University Press of Mississippi, that’s not an unfair conclusion. Unfortunately, more and more the discussion is going to be about Mr. Sebesta’s behavior and not the contents of the book. But that’s not my problem.
That said, I want to point out something. Mr. Sebesta claims to be against the Confederate battle flag … so much so that he’s designed an “anti-Confederate flag” that’s the perfect holiday present for someone you don’t like or who has no taste whatsoever. Yet both of the books where he appears as an editor carry images of the Confederate battle flag. Why is this? Why did he not only allow but is evidently seeking to cash in on the use of a symbol he claims is profoundly racist? Why didn’t he protest this? Certainly a man of principle would want to be consistent, especially when he spews forth such indignation at people who do not meet his standards of belief and behavior.
Mr. Sebesta is a man of one simple principle: the promotion of Edward H. Sebesta. And, should anyone try to tie me to him in order to craft some sort of guilt by association, I’ll point out that he lives in Texas, and so Texans have a lot to answer for, yet again.
This is a time for serious people, Mr. Sebesta, and your fifteen minutes are up.