6 thoughts on “The Sunday Question

  1. James F. Epperson April 17, 2011 / 11:03 am

    I think it is possible that all the commentary we are seeing online and in the mainstream media, and things like the re-broadcast of the PBS series, might give the broader public a bit more of an appreciation for the issues involved.

  2. Michael in SC April 17, 2011 / 3:40 pm

    I certainly hope people will learn more about the history and issues involved rather than blindly and ignorantly worshiping Lincoln. Thankfully, almost half of the public already understands the real issue involved in the mis-named “Civil War.” According to a recent CNN poll, 42% of the US public see the war as a power struggle between the Feds and the States. I guess the other 58% watch too much TV or were victims of government “education.”

  3. Chris April 17, 2011 / 5:54 pm

    I’m not so much focused on the Lost Cause myth which I feel is very important and thanks to the work of Mr. Levin and others, they have done well to combat that myth. I myself am more focused on soldier studies and the experiences of the average soldier, as well as the regimental study. Though through the work of numerous historians: McPherson, Hess, Faust, Manning, Linderman, Mitchell, et al, we have made strides. social history of this nature is a hard sell and I understand why. The nature of history itself brings focus to those major players, the movers and shakers if you will. The Esprit de Corps of the regiment and the men who fought and died fascinates me and I hope gains more interest. On that note, Mark H. Dunkelman’s work “Brothers one and All” was a refreshing take on the Civil War when it came out in 2004.

  4. David Woodbury April 18, 2011 / 1:33 am

    Do you think the sesquicentennial will have any lasting impact on changing Americans’ historical memory of the Civil War and its significance? If so, how and in what areas? If not, why not?

    No lasting impact, though it is encouraging to see so much attention paid to the “causes” of the war in such high-profile venues as the NYT and Time magazine.

    I don’t think it will have a lasting impact because our national attention span will not tolerate it. By 2015, people will be sick of hearing about it. Unless they do a Civil War-themed Super Bowl halftime show, or unless Lady Gaga choreographs Chesnut’s diary, somber essays and sensationalized TV news bits will have squelched any popular interest by December of this year.

    How will the sesquicentennial have a lasting impact on changing our historical memory when years of steady reporting has had no effect on the “memory” of Saddam having WMD and a connection to 9/11, the rationale for a more recent conflict?

    Understandings of the Civil War are akin to religious tenets adopted at childhood, and are probably tied to education in the same way that belief in the theory of evolution is. As recently as 2009, more Americans with a high school education or less rejected evolution than affirmed it (http://tinyurl.com/n77tk8). The more schooling someone has, the more likely they are to believe in evolution.

    I suspect the sesquicentennial will have the effect of affirming what people who are well-read on the subject already believe or understand, will excite the interest of some people who were moderately interested before — but only temporarily excite it — and will cause others to batten down the hatches on beliefs they don’t wish to see challenged.

    No one’s mind or “memory” will be changed. It will remain wildly significant for all of the same reasons (e.g., emancipation, or the start of the Federal take-over). What would be the lasting impact of taking the Birther Queen Orly Taitz to Honolulu and personally showing her President Obama’s original birth certificate? It would merely “prove” to her that this is the most elaborate hoax ever concocted. Minds are made up and opinions have become articles of faith.

    Some might argue that the “lasting impact” is to capture the imagination of a larger segment of the population who have no strong opinions on the subject, whose memory is still being shaped. But that happens every time they run the Burns documentary. Any changes to our national memory remain imperceptible in the long run.


  5. Ned Baldwin April 18, 2011 / 9:51 pm

    I say no. Many people dont care one way or another; other people will stick to their point of view despite any discussion. So I don’t see any significant change

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