Edward H. Sebesta is well known to many readers of this blog. He styles himself as a researcher who combats neo-Confederate positions (although it isn’t quite clear what he means by this term: I think he’d castigate an overcast day as being neo-Confederate). He’s written the president; he’s declared he would not accept an award for his work from the Museum of the Confederacy, and openly deplored being nominated. He believes that the Museum of the Confederacy is a front for neo-Confederate ideals (an elusive term), although the MOC has come under attack from other corners for not being Confederate enough. He’s the co-author of The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The “Great Truth” about the “Lost Cause“, the book he did not want recognized by the MOC.
Recently we’ve observed an interesting coincidence. While Mr. Sebesta has posted about his continuing crusade against the Museum of the Confederacy, the co-author of the book he did not want recognized by the MOC, James Loewen, actually appeared on a panel with an employee of the institution (John Coski), and admitted to Kevin Levin that he recruited Coski for this panel. Fair enough: Coski’s work on the Confederate flag is a noteworthy contribution to the literature. But Loewen’s willingness to recognize someone from the MOC puts Mr. Sebesta in something of a difficult dilemma. Given his denunciations of the MOC, how can Sebesta work with a man who recognizes that MOC staff do worthwhile historical scholarship and are not, in fact, representatives of neo-Confederate beliefs? Wouldn’t that make Sebesta something of a hypocrite?
James Loewen takes great care to dance around the issue of his co-author’s behavior. That’s fair enough: scholars are not necessarily accountable for the actions of co-authors or co-editors. Still, it’s evident that he ducked Kevin Levin’s inquiries this past week. But Mr. Sebesta leads us to believe that he holds himself to a higher, purer standard. One must thus ask how he justifies working with a man who does not share his views on the MOC if he is indeed as ideologically pure as he presents himself. Might it not be the case that the MOC is not nearly so bad as Mr. Sebesta claims? Or is Mr. Sebesta willing to compromise his principles and reveal that his ranting is no more than a stunt to draw attention to himself? Or is he really a neo-Confederate mole?
Which is it, Mr. Sebesta?
I suspect Mr. Sebesta will duck this, too. Interesting that neither Loewen or Sebesta is willing to comment on his co-author. Must have been an interesting collaboration.