A reader of this blog recently alerted me to another blog by one Tim Kent, who recently went off on a rant about me.
I found the blog entry amusing, primarily as an example of Mr. Kent’s struggles to come to grips with the truth. The entry’s a model example of how some people construct strawmen, disregarding the facts and (in this case) fabricating material in their desperation to advance their personal agenda.
Here’s what Mr. Kent declares:
I had a discussion with an Arizona State University history professor who was completely sold on slavery being the only reason of the war.
Sigh. I have never said any such thing, as readers of this blog or my other writing know. I certainly don’t believe that. Note that Mr. Kent produces no proof in support of his allegation.
But things get even more bizarre (although I recall Mr. Kent bragging about how many books he had read, and I recall he was particularly sensitive about his level of academic accomplishment: apparently these issues persist in his mind). Mr. Kent proclaims:
Mr. “S” insisted that the American Civil War had nothing to do with anything except the northern states being more moral and upright than the evil slave holding states.
Really? Show me the quote, Mr. Kent. And note your own intellectual confusion about what I’ve said. First you said it was all about slavery; then you say it was all about Yankee superiority.
Again, I’ve never said this, and I don’t believe it. Only an idiot would think otherwise, and only a dishonest person would say that I’ve said this or believe it (hi, Connie!).
It’s not the first time Mr. Kent has lied about what I’ve said. He’s very confused. It appears that I live in his head rent-free.
Mr. Kent’s real purpose in all this was to quote Charles Dickens on why Dickens thought the war came, as if that explained everything. Mr. Kent thinks that because Dickens was English, he must be “neutral” (which displays an astonishing ignorance about Great Britain and the American Civil War, something you think Mr. Kent would have come across in all that reading he claims he has done).
Type “Charles Dickens American Civil War” into your favorite search engine and you’ll find that Dickens was far from “neutral.” Having done that, let’s see whether being from Great Britain entitled one to being called neutral. Look up John Bright. Then look up William Gladstone. Read the letters of Henry Adams, who was his father’s private secretary during the war (Charles Francis Adams, Sr., was Minister to the Court of St. James). Adams describes various points of view in Great Britain.
What Mr. Kent wants you to understand is that Dickens came to believe that the war was about the tariff … and, since Dickens was British (and thus supposedly “neutral”), the war must have been about the tariff, not slavery.
As Mr. Kent reminds us, poor historians “tend to ignore those parts of history that don’t fit their perfect world version and insert what they want. ” Such seems to be the case in his own post. Anyone who reads about Dickens knows that he was not a neutral or disinterested party.
Unfortunately, Mr. Kent’s stumbles do not end there. He announces that “Mr. “S” still insists the war had nothing to do with money, but the holy north against the evil slave holding south.”
I await his producing a quote to demonstrate that I said this. Moreover, Mr. Kent is wrong: I believe that money did have something to do with the coming of the war … namely the debate in the South as to whether the substantial economic investment of the South in slavery would be helped or hurt by secession. After all, slavery is an economic institution; the position of most white southerners on the tariff was shaped by their economic and financial interests (thus Louisiana sugar planters, fearing foreign competition, wanted tariffs on imported sugar). Whichever way federal policy went, it had an impact upon the economic interests of various parts of the country … and, of course, as most people know, the Morrill Tariff of 1861 passed after seven states seceded from the Union, not before.
Mr. Kent is entitled to his opinion, but he isn’t entitled to his facts, and he isn’t entitled to make things up. It says something about him that he did so anyway. And yes, he thinks he’s a historian.
And so I again ask the Confederate apologists out there: Is this the best you folks can do?