Confederate Strategic Options in 1864

In many ways 1864 was the critical year of the American Civil War. At the beginning of that year, despite a number of setbacks over the preceding twelve months, the Confederates were still in position to win the war (and thus independence) if only they could tire the Yankees (and the northern public) out. But how best to go about this?

You tell me whether the Confederates did about as well as they could have in the spring and summer of 1864 (and whether replacing Joseph Johnston with John Bell Hood really made much difference). What alternatives did the Confederates have, and why did they pursue the course they did?

An About-Face on Diversity

connieredAfter denouncing diversity and multiculturalism for years, it appears that Connie Chastain and several of her commenters (including one who seems rather afraid to reveal his identity) are now in favor of it. Indeed, over the last week there’s been a tidal wave of tirades over at cacklin’ Connie’s blog, in which I’m taken to task for various institutional hiring practices not in my purview (it is now conceded that ASU has a fairly diverse student body).

I think this is all to the good. We certainly can support this turnabout in favor of toleration and equality. But there are ways that Connie can advance her cause even more with the usual fervor of the new-found convert.

First, Connie and her cohort claim that because the faculty at ASU is 75% white (so they assert, once more confusing race and ethnicity), that’s not diverse enough (especially in math and the sciences, where diversity in terms of race and gender has long been a problem in higher education). Fair enough. However, where are the non-white people in Connie’s extensive body of fiction? Why are all the “sweet southern boys” white? Heck, by Connie’s own criteria, she’s a racist writer! Surely her South ought to have people of color in it, if it is to be about the South, and not some fantasy lily-white supremacist paradise.

Second, what about the Virginia Flaggers? They have exactly one person of color marching with them … far below the percentage of African Americans in Virginia (indeed, according to some of them, far below the percentage of blacks who “served” [with] the Confederate army)! Again, by the criteria of Connie and her cohort, the Virginia Flaggers are a racist organization!

We are glad to see that Connie Chastain’s leading the fight for diversity, and we ask simply that she practices what she preaches. We ask the same of her identity-challenged commenter “Austin,” who places Hofstra University in New Jersey (although a team that once trained at Hofstra now plays in New Jersey).

When it comes to joining the continuing struggle for human dignity, pride, and equality, I say of Connie Chastain, the on-again, off-again spokesperson for the Virginia Flaggers: better late than never! We assume that she’ll withhold her services from the Flaggers until they comply with her interest in diversity. Don’t worry: we can check the progress weekly as we look at pictures of flagging the VMFA. Since we are on the eve of Black History Month, we can rest assured that Connie is committed to the cry, “We will overcome!”

Tinkering With the Layout

Readers may have noticed that over the last few weeks I’ve been tinkering with the layout. There are several things for me to consider, including the appearance of comments as well as the blog itself (some very attractive layouts don’t offer much in the way of threaded commentary).

For the moment I’ve settled on this format, although that’s far from final. I welcome feedback (through the feedback/comment section) as to what you think. After all, with this blog having now passed over 20,000 comments, your input is valued. Thanks.

Robert E. Lee’s Birthday at the Confederate Memorial Chapel

As many of you know, January 19 was Robert E. Lee’s birthday. As it fell on a Sunday, you might well expect people to commemorate the event in proper fashion, and pay their respects to the most iconic figure of Confederate heritage.

For some other folks, however, it appears to have been just another day to stage a confrontation on video, complete with threats of lawsuits, so that they could post it on You Tube as soon as possible.

Continue reading

Quote of the Week: January 19-25, 2014

Although I’m sure many of you would agree that Jerry Dunford’s a rich source of quotable material, I find him a bit repetitious. Besides, it’s this exchange that set me to laughing …

Roden Grove

Color me satisfied.

“Shhh. Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits.”

Then again, Susan Hathaway comments on the contents of a blog she claims she never reads. Right, Susan.

UPDATE: we do have a compelling runner-up that just came in:

CapturSI racismThat must be it.


Imagining What I Think

Last Friday and Saturday folks traveled to Lexington, Virginia, to celebrate Lee-Jackson Day. Having attended a university in Virginia where monuments to Lee and Jackson stand in the downtown area, I’m more than familiar with the holiday. However, I left it to other interested parties to hold forth on the holiday, from suggesting that calls to boycott the town’s businesses had failed to questioning whether the holiday would persist in the future. Oh, yes, someone did notice the usual outburst of historical ignorance, but what’s new about that? Even a long-time chronicler of such missteps decided that it wasn’t worth following up on what he speculated might happen.

Continue reading

Outrage at ASU

As many of you may know by now, over the weekend a fraternity at Arizona State University held an off-campus party that made the news, and with good reason. Approximately fifty students took part in a party that mocked African Americans. The fraternity in question was already in trouble, having been placed on probation.

We’ve been waiting to see what the university administration decided to do. I’ve heard no one defend the event; I’ve heard many people deplore it, and rightly so. However, it seemed inappropriate given my position to comment on the event on this blog while the university administration investigated the incident, interviewed participants, and spoke to other groups, including the national offices of the fraternity in question.

Continue reading