By now nearly anyone with access to the outside world has heard how President Donald J. Trump has once more managed to mangle nineteenth-century American history by offering a rather tortured interpretation of Andrew Jackson and the coming of the Civil War. That the president asserts that no one every asks why there was a Civil War and why the issues at stake were not settled short of armed conflict demonstrates that he is not familiar with either historical scholarship or blogs, although there may be room for him in some discussion groups.
There’s no reason to harvest President Trump’s low-hanging fruit once more. I accept that respected historians know more about the Civil War than does our 45th president. They also know more about Andrew Jackson, Frederick Douglass, and Susan B. Anthony. What I noticed, however, is that those bloggers who pretend that they are writing about heritage and/or history in a never-ending battle against the hypocrisy of the left or “political correctness” have remained rather silent about this latest presidential stumble.
Why is that worthy of note? Consider this:
It seems that the author of Old Virginia Blog, Richard Williams, is arguing that because other blogs did not seize upon this tweet, interpret as he has as a sign of Chelsea Clinton’s stupidity, and so on, that those blogs are really no more than the expressions of the political opinions and philosophy of their authors (which, as he freely admits, is what he’s all about … see here):
Note that Mr. Williams has declared that he’s not a historian, just a writer who writes about history (in order, it appears, to show his biases and push an agenda that may or may not have anything to do with understanding the past). Assess the worth of what he has to say with that caveat in mind.
Thus, we can conclude from what this blogger has declared that either he agrees with Trump’s historical analysis or that he’s chosen not to hold President Trump to the same standard he holds Chelsea Clinton. We can also conclude from what he says that he doesn’t hold himself to the same standards of blogging that he applies to bloggers he does not like because of what he presumes to be their political preferences (he never actually documents those preferences: indeed, reading Williams’s blog reminds me of reading Trump’s Twitter feed).
In other words, Richard Williams is either incompetent when it comes to American history, or he is a hypocrite about his blogging practices (or he could be both).
Remember, after all, his rather shoddy practices when it came to this case. There’s been no change (and yes, he reads this blog).
Who’s dishonest and cowardly? Ahem. What we have here is a case of someone projecting their own shortcomings, prejudices, and severely limited integrity and honesty upon others, and then parading about the result as a sign of his own self-professed virtue.
Compare this to what Bill O’Reilly said about the president’s recent ranting:
At least Bill O’Reilly stood up for his hero, while Richard Williams remained cowardly in his hypocritical silence. One might conclude that O’Reilly possesses more integrity than Williams. That’s saying something.
But that’s not all. Several months ago Williams felt compelled to offer this observation:
Now, I don’t know who these “moral reformer historians” are, but then Williams has a reputation for erecting strawmen in his imagination before posting about them as points of departure for various rants. But let’s apply his logic to a matter far more important than the defacing of a statue to Thomas Jefferson. Using Williams’s own logic, aren’t advocates of Confederate heritage who espouse those beliefs in advance their own agendas also at least “partly” responsible for Dylann Roof’s decision to gun down members of an African American church in Charleston, South Carolina?
Note I have never made this argument. But it seems consistent with Richard Williams’s logic, or what he believes passes for logic. If “moral reformer historians” are “partly” responsible for the painted blood on Jefferson’s hands, who’s “partly” responsible for the real blood on Dylann Roof’s hands?
Well, according to what Williams says … if one connects the dots a la Williams …
Is there a cause and effect? Just asking.