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:

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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):

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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:

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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:

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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.

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Ben Carson Clarifies … Kinda

Ben Carson took a lot of flak for a comment he made about slavery and immigration on Monday. In turn, when I highlighted his comment, some readers of this blog, reflecting their own assumptions, went off on what I conclude was a Rorschach test of reading and reacting to blog posts.

Even Ben Carson understood he had to clarify what he meant. On his Facebook page, he did so:

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If only he had stopped there … because, afterwards, in chatting with Armstrong Williams, a conservative commentator, Carson observed: “Slaves came here as involuntary immigrants.” That drew renewed criticism in some corners.

I’m inclined to give Carson the benefit of the doubt here, because the modifier represents an important advance. The same could be said of the formulation Barack Obama used, because, contrary to some careless readers (I’m being kind here), he did not simply declare that slaves were immigrants.

In short, Dr. Carson now admits he could have spoken better, and he’s offered observations that ought to be heeded by his defenders here and elsewhere. Let’s see whether they are as big as he is, or whether they wish to go the way of, say, someone who resides in Virginia Whine Country, where heritage correctness and right-wing opinions always trump historical accuracy and objectivity in what amounts to a mindless clipping service of the blogger’s referred political reading pretending to be a blog about history.

Ben Carson, Dred Scott, and Historical Memory

Today is the 160th anniversary of the Dred Scott decision … you know, where Chief Justice Roger B. Taney declared in his opinion that African Americans …

had for more than a century before been regarded as beings of an inferior order, and altogether unfit to associate with the white race, either in social or political relations; and so far inferior, that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold, and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever a profit could be made by it.

Almost as if to commemorate this event, what did Ben Carson, the incoming Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, tell his new colleagues today?

That’s what America is about. A land of dreams and opportunity. There were other immigrants who came here in the bottom of slave ships, worked even longer, even harder for less. But they too had a dream that one day their sons, daughters, grandsons, granddaughters, great grandsons, great granddaughters might pursue prosperity and happiness in this land.

Ah, yes. Enslaved people as immigrants looking to come to a land of opportunity for their descendants. They would work longer (and for a long time), to be sure, and harder, and for far less … as in no wages. In many cases, they would be torn away from husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children, so that they would never know what happened to sons and daughters, let alone other generations down the line. Black women would be raped by white men and offspring would come of such violence.

Yes, these people dreamed of freedom. Recall the folks who wanted to deny them that freedom in 1860 … and how they continued to do so after 1865.

Then again, as we’ve been told by one famous Confederate heritage apologist, slavery was, after all, a choice.

I can’t wait for those whiny blogs that bemoan “political correctness” and proclaim that they are committed to historical accuracy and truth to get on this one. What, you say … those principled folks won’t do that? I wonder why?

Heritage, not history … has gone mainstream.

As for Dred and Harriet Scott, here’s a statue of them outside the very courthouse in St. Louis where they gained their freedom:

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Let’s honor the cause for which they fought, and pray that it never becomes a lost cause.

Frederick Douglass Is Making a Comeback

One way to make America great again is by recognizing the greatness in America’s past. Of course, some people continue to do a great job, according to President Donald J. Trump:

Press secretary Sean Spicer elaborated as only he can:

I await the usual protests of political correctness from Virginia Whine Country. Fake history? Yup. Not that it bothers him (perhaps because it’s about a black person? Perhaps because he doesn’t know it’s fake?). His concerns are different. As he has admitted: “I’ve been ranting and raving about rampant leftist indoctrination and political correctness in American colleges and universities for over 10 years now.” Ranting and raving … someone’s applying to be a spokesperson for the new administration, although that would force him to emerge from his safe space (note the silence about Trump’s prattling about the theater as a safe space).

Toughen up, butternut buttercup. You can dish it out, but boy, you can’t take it.

A Black Trump Supporter Embraces the Black Confederate Myth

That’s right. 

As the story says,

Derek Boyd Hankerson is an African American university lecturer, filmmaker, author, and political operative. He’s also a Donald Trump supporter. Pledging his support for Trump last year, Hankerson served as Trump’s Northeast Florida Field Director….

He received his undergraduate degree in Political Science in 1991 from the University of Maryland College Park. In 2007 he earned his Masters in Business Administration from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.

But he has co-authored a history book, Belonging: The Civil War’s South We Never Knew.  The book makes the astonishing claim that blacks in large numbers fought for the South during the Civil War, a myth advanced by white racist groups that long ago was debunked by historians.

Now, I’m sure some whiny Confederate heritage advocate will claim that this is a way to get at Donald Trump. That in the process they will be defending poor history is something to note. After all, opponents of “political correctness” embrace heritage correctness … and, it seems, they don’t mind what Trump supporters say, regardless of its historical accuracy, because they are invested in what I might call “partisan correctness.”

Actually, as the comments show, I’m just as tired of anyone citing John Stauffer as a reliable source on this subject. We know better.