Where I Won’t Be on March 28-29

I will travel fairly long distances to take part in conferences on the Civil War.  The chance to interact with fellow historians who are as passionate about this period in American history is always an invigorating experience for me.  One of my readers passed on this link for a conference on the Gettysburg Campaign which is being sponsored by Liberty University.  It looks like a super line-up, including Steve Woodworth, Ethan Rafuse, Kent Masterson Brown, Eric Wittenberg, and Tom Desjardin.  I thoroughly enjoyed Woodworth’s book on the Army of the Tennessee as well as Rafuse’s biography of McClellan and Brown’s study of Lee’s retreat from Gettysburg.  I hope to get around to Eric’s and J.D.’s book at some point in the near future.  Lynchburg is only an hour from Charlottesville, but even if it was right around the corner from my home I would not attend.  Simply put, I wish to have no connection whatsoever with this so-called institution of higher learning which was founded by such an incredibly hate-filled lunatic  Of course, I am speaking of Jerry Falwell. 

While I disagree with much of what Christopher Hitchens thinks about politics and culture I thought he hit the nail on the head in this interview with Anderson Cooper following Falwell’s death. 

Falwell’s madness hit home after 9-11 when he suggested the following:

God continues to lift the curtain and allow the enemies of America to give us probably what we deserve.

And, I know that
I’ll hear from them for this. But,
throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court
system,
throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The
abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not
be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we
make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists,
and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively
trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the
American Way — all of them who have tried to secularize America — I
point the finger in their face and say, "You helped this happen."

As someone who lost a cousin on 9-11 you can probably guess that I am pretty sensitive to such blatantly moronic statements.  I could list other claims made by this nut case over the course of his public career, but there would be little point in doing so.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t spend much time worrying about Falwell or the other charlatans out there who make their home on my channel 20.

As much as I would like to hear some of the speakers lined up for this conference I can find no justification for shelling out money that will be used to help perpetuate an extension of that man’s sick moral outlook. 

5 comments… add one
  • matthew mckeon Jan 23, 2008

    The mixing of religious organizations and politics in the last few years has been bad for politics and religion. I remember reading about the ministers who participated in the Monday conference call from the White House. I can picture them, leaning forward in anticipation, flattered and excited, eagerly waiting for Caesar’s phone call.

  • Dave Woodbury Jan 23, 2008

    Did you see Hitchens’s essay on Huckabee, racism, and the Confederate battleflag? Have a look-see:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2182358/

    -David

  • John Maass Jan 24, 2008

    Kevin: I can certainly understand your opposition to JF and some/all of what he stood for, how he presented it, and his inlfuence on politics in the 1980s. However, I fail to see the link between paying a conference fee to see some great historians, and perpetuating “that man’s sick moral outlook.” Do you really think that the conference folks are going to take your check and spend the $$ on “hate-filled” causes. I do not know for sure, of course, but I seriously doubt it. At the risk of giving you some unsolicited advice (for which I apologize in advance), don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. If you want to go to the conference, go. As you say, you like to “interact with fellow historians who are as passionate about this period in American history.” Then go!! You will be interacting with THEM, not the religious fundamentalists down there. I mean this not to lecture you but to try to have you consider going so you will have a good time, and not worry so much about Liberty U., with which I am not associated and don’t support. I hope it comes across this way. I’d also point out that for many moderate and reasonable Americans, Christopher Hitchens is just as venomous and “hate filled” as Falwell, in a secular way. It is a bit ironic that your anti-Liberty/Falwell post is the one directly preceeding the post praising the new “Magazine of History” issue on….religion!

  • Kevin Jan 24, 2008

    Hi John, — You make some excellent points. Let me be very clear that I do in fact find Hitchens to be quite quite detestable “in a secular way.” In fact, at times he is very much on par with the nonsense espoused by Falwell. I just couldn’t resist the opportunity to post the interview because he was one of the only commentators who told the truth (as I see it) about Falwell following his death.

    As for my money I don’t believe that they will use it for hate-filled causes, but at the same time I don’t want it to be used to spruce up Falwell’s grave site or anything that connects in some way to his memory.

    I should point out that this year’s conference at Shepherd University, which I spoke at last year, will be on the Gettysburg retreat. Wittenberg, and Brown are scheduled to speak. Thanks for the comment John.

  • Billy Yank Jan 24, 2008

    Hitchens should be more forthcoming with his opinions. I had a hard time deciding what he thought of Jerry!

    To thy own self, be true!

    Bill

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