Ranting As Usual …

One thing about the internet: it gives anyone who wants it a stage upon which to set forth their views, and, in most cases, somebody somewhere will endorse the message. Sometimes this is highly amusing.

Take, for example, the recent declaration of a blogger who is obsessed to share with the world (well, his small readership) whatever he can find in his clipping services about “political correctness”:

As I like to often remind readers, there are a couple of Civil War bloggers who like to poo-poo the reality of political correctness. These two fellas have their heads in the sand (or perhaps a convenient body orifice) but it’s easy to understand their denials: they live and breathe in academic circles so they’ve built up an intellectual immunity to PC. Of course, exposing PC also interferes with their agenda, so they MUST deny it’s existence or, at the very least, downplay it’s impact. They’re actually convinced they’re convincing others.

If this is what being a southern gentleman is all about, then this excerpt sure doesn’t say much about the supposed superiority of southern culture and manners. Quite the opposite. Rather, what we have here is a crude childish rant riddled with claims raised by a blogger who must construct strawmen to propel what passes for argument and analysis in what is little more than a blog alerting readers to the blogger’s own prejudices.

Let’s set aside the undefined term “political correctness,” which tends to mean (especially in this blog) “What I don’t like, I call ‘politically correct,’ because I lack the intellectual acumen or emotional temperament to engage in meaningful discussion.” Rather, I’d love to know what my undefined “agenda” is, and how “exposing PC …  interferes” with it.

Tin foil hats, anyone? Oh, yes, I’m sure this blogger is “actually convinced” he’s “convincing others,” although what they may be convinced about may not be quite what this particular blogger has in mind.

I’d also like to know when this blogger will figure out the difference between “its” and “it’s,” but I think that might take a while.

This is par for the course for this particular blogger, who elsewhere proclaims:

Yet we still have academic history bloggers poo-pooing the reality of PC. Why? Because its part of their own intellectual “safe space.” LOL.

Just another infantile rant, offered from that blogger’s own safe space … made possible by a lack of readership and less influence.

For after all, as this blogger also reminds us …

This is typical for those who don’t have a rebuttal or a coherent argument (or maybe feeling guilty?) – they launch ad hominem attacks which can’t be supported by facts.

Indeed.

But one must look elsewhere for a far more interesting admission:

Yet authors and historians and writers are advised to separate their own emotions and feelings from their work. But is that really possible? It is even advisable? Of course writers should, as much as possible, restrain their biases when presenting history. But what is writing without emotion? What is storytelling without sharing the passion of the event? Stale facts and recounting of numbers killed and wounded do not tell the story adequately. While connections to subjects and events can be a stumbling block when attempting to write objectively about those same topics, they can also serve as motivations—even giving keen insight and unique perspective attainable no other way. It certainly motivates me.

Indeed again. What we have here is, in short, an admission of bias as unavoidable … and perhaps as something to be embraced. Of course, this admission is partially concealed by a call for vivid prose (which is another matter altogether), as if a pretense for objectivity mandates stale prose. But this is typical of the blogger’s muddled logic that can best be understood as an extended exercise in patting one’s own back.

Facts are never stale, by the way. Maybe one calls them stale in order to avoid them.

And then there’s this:

It is my opinion that readers should be much more skeptical of historians and writers who refuse to acknowledge their biases and connections to the topics they write about, as well as of those writers who, though admitting their biases, make no attempt to bridle them.

We can’t wait to see evidence of this principle in practice … for, as we can see, this particular blogger is quite sure of the (unspecified) agendas of scholars with whom he disagrees, largely because they do not share his agenda, which in its own way is equally ill-defined but quite self-serving.

Take an example of the usual approach of this blogger. The post opens with the posting of a few links, in this case reports of the defacing of several monuments honoring American veterans. How to explain this rash of vandalism (which, one may observe, may simply reflect the internet’s ability to broadcast incidents across a wider audience in readily-accessible form)? Well, as this blogger concludes with a confidence that would amuse Sherlock Holmes, the answer is obvious:

Is it just coincidence that we’ve seen an increase in these types of acts since the feeding frenzy on Confederate flags and Confederate monuments? No, I don’t believe it is. As I’ve said over and over, Confederate iconography is the low-hanging fruit. It’s the whole of American history that is under attack and it’s politically and ideologically motivated. America’s history and founding must be evilized for the moral reformers to prevail. Activists and certain historians have created and encouraged an environment where everything representing America’s “evil past” must be destroyed. Don’t forget that. It explains much of what you’re seeing, both in the news and coming from a number of academic and professional historians.

Of course. Mind you, that would testify to the very success of “activisits and certain historians” in convincing people to act.

The multiplication of strawmen in an attempt to fashion an enemy that must be defeated is amusing. However, when it comes to people who identify with Confederate heritage and who advocate violence in the pursuit of their ends, guess who’s silent?

Apparently someone’s only upset about particular forms of “politically and ideologically motivated” activities … ones that fulfill that always-undefined agenda we hear so much about.

Just some Sunday reading to pass the time.

UPDATE: Of course, it was only a matter of time before the blogger in question came upon this blog. Now he’s driving traffic here. However, he seems unable to counter or respond. This surprises me: usually he promises his readers he will respond, then fails to do so.

Guess I hit a nerve.🙂

7 thoughts on “Ranting As Usual …

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 17, 2016 / 12:03 am

      I just think he shared on his blog what he wrote elsewhere.

  1. Joshism July 17, 2016 / 5:33 am

    There’s a big difference between writing (or talking) with emotion i.e. passion about a subject and letting emotions cloud one’s opinions and conclusions about that subject. It is possible to have the former and not the latter.

    “America’s history and founding must be evilized for the moral reformers to prevail. Activists and certain historians have created and encouraged an environment where everything representing America’s ‘evil past’ must be destroyed.”

    There is a school of thought in the public mind and some historians who DO make the the argument that pretty much all of American history (and much of the rest of the world too, but they seem to focus on the US) is awful, terrible stuff mostly involving straight white males abusing everyone else. I have met such people and seen such books.

    That said, the existence of that mindset does not mean we live in an either/or world where all American history is good OR all American history is evil. History is always a mixed bag. Acknowledging some of American history is bad, if not downright evil, does not beget that all American history is that way. For example, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owning slaves and helping to found a country that included slavery is not morally equivalent to the Confederates committing unilateral secession to protect and perpetuate slavery.

    • Brooks D. Simpson July 17, 2016 / 1:31 pm

      It seems to me that this blogger and Mr. Dunford have much in common.

  2. Rob July 17, 2016 / 7:00 am

    “It is my opinion that readers should be much more skeptical of historians and writers who refuse to acknowledge their biases and connections to the topics they write about, as well as of those writers who, though admitting their biases, make no attempt to bridle them.”

    But don’t most historians argue that history is at its most reliable when its reported with an unbridled and clearly biased agenda?

    • Kristoffer July 17, 2016 / 1:10 pm

      What historians would say that, I wonder?

  3. Shoshana Bee July 17, 2016 / 4:07 pm

    Quote: “Activists and certain historians have created and encouraged an environment where everything representing America’s “evil past” must be destroyed. Don’t forget that”

    This guy must have thrown one heck of a bash when Yale decided to retain the name of Calhoun College. The really sad part, is that he would not understand the reason why they decided to keep the name, rather, he would just view it as a score for the home team..

    Quote: “Of course, exposing PC also interferes with their agenda, so they MUST deny it’s existence or, at the very least, downplay it’s impact”

    This must come directly from some sort of conspiracy playbook. Every time I try to have a conversation about anything that involves making right on a wrong (the Georgetown University slave sale now being addressed comes to mind) The first line out of the mouths of the naysayers is the usual “what is their REAL agenda???” yadda yadda yadda. Is it impossible for these people to comprehend that the decisions were made because it was the right thing to do? Does there always have to be an underlying motive unrelated to the actual decisions?

    Lastly, it seems to me that those two historian bloggers that he speaks of are keeping him up at night. Maybe the plethora of comments found on their sites vastly outnumber his, thus, he sees how irrelevant he really is, as compared to those frighteningly influential historians?

    Perhaps all of this cynicism and paranoia indicates insincerity in his own motivations, whomever the quoted blogger may be..

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