You may have heard that the Ku Klux Klan is planning a protest in Columbia, South Carolina, later this month. A spokesman for the group has spoken out in support of the man who last month slaughtered nine African-Americans in cold blood in a church in Charleston.
It is time for all those advocates of Confederate heritage who tell me that it’s all about heritage, not hate, to stand up and be counted.
I’ve just returned from nearly three weeks in Europe, much of which was devoted to visiting battlefields and historic sites. I spent several days at Waterloo, and walked the field all day on the 200th anniversary of the battle on June 18; I also visited in turn Bastogne, Quatre Bras (also on the 200th anniversary of the action there), Ligny (ditto), Ghent, Flanders, Ypres, Vimy Ridge, the Somme, Cambrai, Reims, Verdun, Chateau-Thierry, the Meuse-Argonne, St. Mihiel, and Metz, before returning to my point of departure, Luxembourg City. It was a busy trip, and it took a day or so to recover fully from over 24 hours of continuous travel.
I’ll be posting my reflections on what I saw in the next several weeks: although I kept up with administering this blog despite uncertain internet connections, I decided to approach the events at Charleston and its aftermath with some caution as well as curiosity for how the story would play out. I’m pleased with that decision, because I think that for me, given where I was, prudence and restraint paid off. However, I know that there were people who wondered what was going on (or why I wasn’t speaking out more frequently on whatever they wanted to hear). I preferred in this instance to watch from afar and select my spots. After all, other historians were quite visible, including several who had not taken part in previous debates about Confederate heritage; moreover, judging from site hits and posts read, I know that this blog served as a resource for others curious about aspects of this discussion. Whether that makes me a “content blogger” is another matter altogether. 🙂