Hysteria and Hypocrisy at Old Virginia Blog

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:

OVB 01

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):

ovb 02

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:

ovb 04

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:

OVB 03

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.

16 thoughts on “Hysteria and Hypocrisy at Old Virginia Blog

  1. Kristoffer May 4, 2017 / 10:32 am

    You should re-title your post “Hysteria, Hypocrisy, and 100% Correctness at Old Virginia Blog and CW Crossroads.” Both of you are hypocrites. Both of you are somewhat hysterical. Both of you are 100% right.

    You are 100% right in that he does not hold Trump to the same standard that he holds Chelsea Clinton, when both are horrendously ignorant. You are 100% right in that he does not apply his standard of incitement to Dylann Roof.

    He is 100% right in that generally no academic American Civil War blog, yours included, jumped on Chelsea Clinton’s ignorant tweet, when you would have rightly done so if the person who made her tweet was Ben Carson.

    How is this possible? It’s possible because hypocrisy doesn’t make you wrong. There is a common implicit assumption among people, yourself included by your use of “Hysteria and Hypocrisy,” that you can prove someone wrong by proving that they are a hypocrite. This is a logical fallacy known as tu quoque, or appeal to hypocrisy. I see it all the time with Holocaust deniers who try to disprove the Holocaust by aiming flimsy accusations of war crimes against the Allies.

    • Brooks D. Simpson May 4, 2017 / 3:16 pm

      You presume that I even knew about the tweet in question. I didn’t. So your outrage is wildly misplaced, however emotionally satisfying you find it to be.

      I’m simply pointing out that Richard Williams fails by his own criteria. You accept that. So we can move on.

      • Kristoffer May 4, 2017 / 4:57 pm

        My apologies for my assuming that you were aware of the tweet in question.

  2. John Heiser May 4, 2017 / 1:14 pm

    Hypothetical question: Is “I’m not a historian. I’m a writer who writes about history,” about the same as “I don’t understand the system of the United States government but I’m still the president”?

  3. bob carey May 5, 2017 / 12:00 am

    I just spent an hour or so going through the archives of the Old Virginia Blog. I’ll never get that time back. Williams is more of a self promoting marketer than anything else.

  4. hankc9174 May 5, 2017 / 8:10 am

    I cant say I understand either Chelsea’s tweet or the blogger’s reaction to it or this blogger’s reaction to that blogger

    • Kristoffer May 5, 2017 / 6:36 pm

      How so?

      • John Foskett May 6, 2017 / 8:30 am

        You’ll figure it out. And you’ve apparently missed posts and comments on this site about other pols butchering history – including the last President and the last defeated candidate who attempted to succeed him. In your alleged search for objectivity, keep a sharper eye.

        • Kristoffer May 7, 2017 / 7:54 am

          Was that aimed at HankC instead of me?

          • Brooks D. Simpson May 7, 2017 / 9:25 am

            John can answer for himself. However, it’s clear that you had to overlook a lot in this blog in your eagerness to go after me so enthusiasically.

            Richard Williams would be proud.

          • Kristoffer May 7, 2017 / 11:43 am

            John’s comment is nothing but a bunch of ranting about his mistaken assumption that I “missed posts and comments on this site about other pols butchering history” Which is something that I never assumed, never implied, and my initial comment was aimed at this post and this post only.

            I didn’t have to overlook a thing here. All I had to do (and, to my regret, did) was make one mistaken assumption. Just like John.

          • Brooks D. Simpson May 7, 2017 / 7:34 pm

            However, the only way you could make your charge of hypocrisy persuasive was if you could prove that I ignored the historical missteps of Democrats. That charge falls based on the facts. After all, even when I revealed your assumption was mistaken, you did not retract your charge of hypocrisy. So John’s assumption is reasonable: had your charge of hypocrisy rested upon a single post where you made a mistaken assumption, you would have withdrawn the charge. But you didn’t.

          • John Foskett May 8, 2017 / 10:36 am

            Nope. It was aimed at this assumption:

            “He is 100% right in that generally no academic American Civil War blog, yours included, jumped on Chelsea Clinton’s ignorant tweet, when you would have rightly done so if the person who made her tweet was Ben Carson.”

    • Brooks D. Simpson May 5, 2017 / 7:13 pm

      1. I think Chelsea Clinton’s tweet demonstrates that humor sometimes doesn’t transmit well on social media. I think she’s perfectly aware that the item’s a political device (a color photographed image on top of a b/w engraving). If one thinks otherwise, I’d say that person had it in for her and her side of the political spectrum. If someone thought Lincoln would approve of Trump, then they can make the argument.

      2. You’ll have to ask Richard Williams why he thought Clinton’s tweet was a spectacular error of ignorance. I think that interpretation is ridiculous. Williams also assumes that we all should share his interpretation … and thus it’s another left-wing Marxist politically correct conspiracy by moral reformer historians to pass over this in silence (although some of us who are far less addicted to right-wing smear sites might simply not be aware of this stupid issue) … that’s typical of Virginia Whine Country.

      Then again, someone seemed sure I was aware of this at the time, which amused me.

      3. I am simply pointing out that Williams violates his own principles. I will point out, contra what another commenter said here, that I have gone after Democrats for misstatements as well … such as two posts on Hillary Clinton’s muddled rendering of Lincoln and Reconstruction in January 2016. Now, if I were to resort to the Williams line of reasoning, I’d call out that commenter and accuse him of deliberately ignoring that fact and issue an indictment of his integrity. I didn’t. But the evidence contradicts the thrust of his comment. Moreover, one is assuming that I’m a Democrat, a leftist Marist, and all of Williams’s other idiotic claptrap. One wonders why conservative groups have asked me to work with them or interviewed me on radio about politics, in part because they think I’m evenhanded.

      Anyone’s free to show me examples where Williams went after Republicans fumbling the historical record in the same way I went after Hillary Clinton. Get to work or shut up when you declare that I follow his practices.

      Note my post isn’t about Trump being ignorant about American history. That point’s been established, and it’s obvious. It’s about how a blog says bizarre stuff, posts misleading, incomplete, and incorrect information, constructs strawmen, and fails to practice what it preaches. I haven’t seen anyone say otherwise. Prove me wrong.

      • Shoshana Bee May 20, 2017 / 10:32 pm

        Quote: I think Chelsea Clinton’s tweet demonstrates that humor sometimes doesn’t transmit well on social media. I think she’s perfectly aware that the item’s a political device (a color photographed image on top of a b/w engraving). If one thinks otherwise, I’d say that person had it in for her and her side of the political spectrum.


        I agree on both counts. I would go farther to say that it has become low-brow, underhanded methodology to place a dunce cap upon a person by purposefully feigning ignorance to his/her obviously display of humour. One either has to consider the audience in which he/she plays to, and steeply lower the bar, or simply resign to be a social media curmudgeon, in order to avoid these “misunderstandings”. I find that being curmudgeon is much more gratifying 🙂

  5. Michael Lynch May 14, 2017 / 6:45 pm

    Richard has always had this irksome habit of assuming that if somebody doesn’t explicitly denounce something he must ipso facto condone it. The possibility that someone might be unaware of what he’s expected to denounce, or that he might have other things to do with his time, never seems to occur to him.

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