Yesterday evening Matt Gallman raised the following issue:
A year ago I critiqued Kevin because he posted a link to a blog that had insulted a friend of mine (and yours?). Kevin responded with his standard “who me?” The fact is that that original blog, by this fellow Rotov, was just horrible, despicable garbage. From a guy who has no platform beyond the fact that other bloggers like to praise him. Brooks, you didn’t praise him then, but you do tip your hat to him now and then. That is your choice, but you are a celebrated historian of infinitely greater stature than this guy and you are tipping your hat to someone who deserves no respect given his repeated lies. Well, precisely a year ago I challenged Kevin for linking that. So, today, if you google the name of our mutual friend, both the original post and Kevin’s link appear within the first 2 pages of links. This is I think evidence of why this stuff actually matters. Some clown sitting in his basement can write disgusting, ignorant, lies about a serious historian, and your students and my students who google that name will find those lies. So, yeah, it would be nice if bloggers would stand up for decency. Although I also take your point that it isn’t as if you as a blogger are responsible for all other bloggers.
Let’s try not to be coy here. The historian in question is Joseph Glatthaar. The post in question is here (with a link to the original post by Dimitri Rotov concerning Glatthaar’s book). The comments sections reveals that I asked some tough questions of Kevin and raised some issues about Dimitri’s post.
Now, the usual disclaimer: Joe Glatthaar and I went to graduate school together. We are friends. We recently spent some good time together at the annual meeting of the Society of Military History, an organization of which Joe is president. Joe’s one of the nicest, most gracious people I know in the profession, and he’s a hard-working researcher who continues to do good work. He’s a class act.
You can read what I said about Dimitri’s comments on Joe’s book on Kevin’s blog.
Apparently this means I should despise Dimitri (whom I have never met) and give no credence to what he says. Instead I “tip my hat” to him (I think Matt’s upset that I gave credit where credit was due in a recent post here).
I judge what Dimitri Rotov (or any other blogger) says based on the merits of what he says. I’ve raised questions about his arguments before. I’ve also agreed with him when that was warranted, and I’ve corrected him (sometimes privately) when it was the proper thing to do. All of this is in keeping with his description of me, which I found to be very kind. Sometimes I’m a bit bemused by what he has to say: two of his favorite targets (James McPherson and Gary Gallagher) are people I count among my professional friends and who supported my early efforts in the field (indeed, they were the readers for Let Us Have Peace).
Matt Gallman’s problem is that he wonders why I don’t do what he thinks I should do. The answer is simple: because I’m Brooks Simpson, not Matt Gallman. I will evaluate arguments based on the merit of the argument, not on what I think of the person. Just because I like someone does not mean that I will refuse to disagree with him/her, and just because I may not get along with someone does not mean that I will disagree with them when I believe they are correct. As I’ve pointed out, on occasion someone gets offended by what I’ve said, and some folks choose their own way to retaliate for that. Every once in a while someone will ask me why I’m not part of this or that or why I was not on some television show or on some conference panel, and sometimes the answer is … because someone’s mad, someone’s jealous, or someone prefers their friends. That’s not always the reason, nor do I suspect it’s the reason most of the time … but sometimes it is. But if I have to contemplate how this person or that person might feel offended or threatened by what I say here or do there, well, I might as well do nothing, and then who would want to see me, anyway?
If someone’s ticked off with someone, why, they are free to set up their own blog or Facebook group to thrash away at their favorite obsession. We all know of someone who’s done that, right? Ah, the irony. 🙂
Meanwhile, someone might now google “Matt Gallman” and see how that’s working out. Ah, the irony yet again. 🙂
Your turn, Ethan, to dig up another telling clip. Given how things are going, this one comes to mind:
Saturday Night Live remains a rich resource.