Was There Anything Good About the Confederacy?

In a recent discussion, a defender of Confederate heritage issued the following challenge. After listing a series of events where she found the behavior of the United States to be abhorrent, she asked:

Do you (a) totally support your country, including all these horrors in its history, or (b) totally condemn it? Or (c) are you able to distinguish what’s good about the country from what’s bad, and condemn only the bad?

And if you can and do, why should I not do the same for my region and its people?

That’s a reasonable question.

However, when I asked her to list the positive features of the Confederacy, this Confederate romantic, so quick to comment on so many other things, was silent. Despite repeated reminders, she failed to list a single positive thing about the Confederacy. Since she’s never at a loss to say other things, one must conclude that she can’t find anything positive about the very experience she embraces (and, of course, she can’t explain why she remains a citizen of a nation she despises).

Can you find anything positive to say about the Confederacy? Was there anything good about it?

Should Historians Write About Historians Who Write About the Myth of Black Confederate Soldiers?

Over at Civil War Memory Kevin Levin updates us on the progress of a scholarly examination of the nature of the debate over whether significant numbers of blacks served in the Confederate military as soldiers. The article to which he links makes for interesting reading on issues of interpretation and authority, as well as the reluctance of most professional historians to get involved in these discussions.

On the latter issue you can review what I have said here, here, here, and here.

I hope no one argues that Leslie Madsen-Brooks, the author of the piece, is wasting her time. Her essay addresses important issues about the changing nature of historical discourse and highlights the issues professional (or academic) historians should consider as they contemplate how to engage this everchanging terrain. Arguments from academic authority alone simply won’t cut it in this word, and if academic historians decry their fading influence on the public mind (an influence I’d argue was always limited in impact and limited to a few people), maybe they need to look at themselves when they ask why.