Episode 2: The “Confederate Taliban” Strikes Back

Hi kids.  Every once in a while we here at Civil War Memory like to take the time to share the myriad ways in which this site is impacting the broader Civil War community.  Today’s good cheer comes from the fine people at Southern Heritage News and Views [you must subscribe to get their newsletter].  It seems that one of their contributors is unhappy with a recent story about the Museum of the Confederacy and its decision to disperse items from its collection around the state in time for the Sesquicentennial.  The story was picked up by a number of newspapers, including The San Francisco Chronicle.  Yours truly was interviewed, which apparently did not help to minimize this particular writer’s wrath:

Well! It seems everyone’s been properly housebroken. The San Francisco Chronicle, appointing itself moral bellwether for the universe, somehow brings itself to do a general article on the MOC. But why? It Obviously hates everything about the subject.  “Critics have called the museum a shrine, a relic of the Old South.” Can’t have that! Of course, you go to a shrine — excuse me, a museum — on Indian history and see exhibits on how the tribes fought and sometimes decimated each other, but you’re supposed to come out of it with your abject worship of Indians undisturbed. You go to a “Holocaust” museum and, if you’re a white Christian, you’d better come out hating yourself or you’re not politically correct. But it seems that in order to be truly hip today, you must regard THE SOUTH’S “holocaust” — OUR “holocaust” in which politicians and newspapers recreationally nuked a large portion of the country — as merely a righteous working out of the socialist imperative.

Museum officials are only too happy to affirm this. “Oh, we’re not CELEBRATING THE CONFEDERACY,” mind you. It would be wrong for anyone or anything in RICHMOND VIRGINIA to CELEBRATE THE CONFEDERACY — basic logic! That’s because every worthwhile city today busts a gut trying to be New York City Junior, no matter how small, how far from the Big Apple, no matter how iconic of healthy regional culture.  And if the Chronicle and the protestations of the Museum aren’t enough to convince you, why, even KEVIN LEVIN agrees. Who’s KEVIN LEVIN, you say? Why, haven’t you heard? Kevin Levin teaches history in a Charlottesville private school and runs a “civil war” blog!

What, you don’t think that qualifies him to cancel out 148 years of Southern/Confederate valor? What are you, a bigoted redneck throwback or something? You should fall on your knees and thank God for placing so many Kevin Levins in Dixie — thousands and thousands of them, forming young Southern minds for a truly PROGRESSIVE future for all mankind.  Nawww, says the “museum” (as the Chronicle sassily writes it). We don’t celebrate anything — except maybe how the yankees saved us?  It wasn’t about freedom, it’s about spurs, saddles, tack, belts, medals and buttons. We just “tell the Confederacy’s story in depth”, may it rot in h***!

I’ll take this as a clear indication that this blog is doing exactly what it was meant to do.  And by the way, this is not just a “Civil War blog”…it’s the CIVIL WAR MEMORY BLOG, SUCKA

20 comments… add one
  • Kevin Levin Sep 29, 2008 @ 14:03

    Mr. Purvis, — I really do appreciate the comments and the invitation to post at SHAPE. I did browse a bit and I have to say that I was not impressed. Most of the posts are about news items surrounding they typical that the Southern Heritage folks get all excited about. I should remind you that I am a full-time high school teacher. I barely have time to manage my own site. Thanks also for your definition of civil war.

    Finally, let me be clear that I do not consider blogs and listservs to be reliable historical sources unless I can identify an institutional affiliation such as a university or historical society, etc. I would also caution you not to interpret my blog postings as anything other than short thought pieces. You can find my curriculum vitae by clicking on the “About Me” link. There you will find a list of publications in university press books and historical journals. Please consult those sources for examples of my research. I will say one more time that you are more than welcome to comment on a post if you feel a need to do so.

  • George Purvis Sep 29, 2008 @ 13:45


    First off you did not pot the definition of “civil war.” That being the case I shall post one for you.

    Civil War – Is a war between two regions of a country. That being the case the conflict of the 1860s was not a “civil war” since the Confederate States of America was a legally formed independent and free country with its own constitution.

    As a researcher I believe I know what counts as legitimate sources. I also know that most anything can be checked and verified online as more and more legitimate sources come online. If you would actually read some of the posted articles in the SHAPE website you will see they are written by historians, and educated people, some of these articles date to the early 1900s. You cannot dismiss them as a legitimate source because you do not agree with them.

    As far as your standards go for historical researchers they appear to be very low and biased. Perhaps you should expand your scope of sources and get a more un-biased opinion?

    I do note that you only post websites to the readers who support your comments. I did manage to visit the blogs of some of your supporters this morning. To say they are not historical researchers would be an understatement. This is fair and unbiased?????

    Oh and I see you chose not to debate Rev. Swann for the reason your blog is not the place to do it. That being the case I offer the Southern Heritage Advancement Preservation and Education “general discussion board” for such a debate. I will not take part in the discussion but will only moderate the debate and as long as it stays civil will not edit anything. Notice is posted at the bottom of each post that has been edited. I make note of when something is edited by either reader or admin. You can bring all of the sources that meet your “standards of analytical rigor and research.” Fair enough to you? Anything you would like to have added?

    George Purvis

  • Kevin Levin Sep 29, 2008 @ 5:57

    Mr. Purvis, — With all due respect to you I think we simply disagree with what counts as a legitimate historical source. I tend not to share listservs and most other websites since I have no way of accounting for quality control. I’ve been attacked so many times on various websites, including SHNV that it seems best just to ban all references to these sites. The sources that I regularly refer to are published books by mainstream and university presses usually authored by professional historians. Of course, I may not always agree with individual arguments, but they do meet my standards of analytical rigor and research. As I stated before you are always welcome to comment on my posts as long as the comment is directed at the content.

    I will be happy to discuss what I mean when I refer to the Confederate Taliban. Hopefully, at some point this week I can get to it. Thanks again.

  • George Purvis Sep 29, 2008 @ 2:33

    First of all thanks for adding my comments. I still have serious doubts you will leave them when I disagree with you.

    I did address a specific point I asked if you could define “Civil War” for me.

    Also I said most of these posters you have do not seem to hang around for an answer or they are just drive by posters.

    Spending a little time on the SHAPE message board isn’t gonna get you involved in much history. My I suggest you go the articles sections and read some of the articles posted there. I recommend “The Gray Book’ as a start. This will get you introduced to some of the other history related subjects posted there. Also I would suggest you check Mark Raines “This day In History” section. If you visit the SHAPE “General Discussion’ board you may post anything you like as long as you post on a historical related event. Depending on the post I sometimes even let them get way off topic.

    Of course I understand you not allowing my link to be posted, you are afraid your readers will actually start to find out the truth and leave this obviously biased site. Perhaps you are afraid they will find a site that is not as heavily moderated as this one and they have the freedom to post their questions and opinions and get actual historical fact as an answer. I fully understand

    Now would you mind explaining what is the basis for your and your friend’s remark “Confederate Taliban” refers to and how does that relate to actual historical events?

    Thank you for your time,

    George Purvis

  • Kevin Levin Sep 24, 2008 @ 15:28

    Mr. Swann, — Thanks for the comment, but I don’t think you need to compare me with a Nazi to make the point that open dialog is of some value. Of course I agree with you. As to your point that I only allow comments that agree with my point-of-view I can only conclude that you have not spent much time on this site. I encourage you to peruse the archives. You will see not only do I allow a broad range of opinions through, I encourage it. What I don’t allow are comments that are insulting to me personally so in the case of your comment I am making an exception.

    I appreciate the challenge to a debate, but my blog is a place for me to share my thoughts with those who care to read. Thanks again.

  • Rev. Swann Sep 24, 2008 @ 15:17


    It is often said that you will not allow contrary opinions or anything that questions any of your opinions, and under no circumstances can anyone post facts that you don’t agree with. There once was another person who dealt with those disagreeing with him, perhaps you have even mentioned him in you history classes, his name was Joseph Goebbels.

    The only way to achieve truth in relationship to any matter is through open dialogue. Present day believers in the Nazi movement deny the Holocaust ever happened, yet confronting them with truth such as pictures of the Concentration Camps, first hand accounts of those American Soldiers who liberated many of those camps, and finally and most indisputably the testemony of those persons who survived the camps, all prove to most of the people that no matter how loud you scream it, or how often you deny it, there was in fact a holocaust in Nazi Germany which killed more than 6 million Jews.

    Like those members of the Present Day Nazi Party, you appear to operate under the theory that as long as no one can challenge your opinions, you are factually right. This is known throughout the free world as propaganda, and pretty much throughout the Southern US as bull manure.

    Open discussions lead to the truth, or at least the opportunity for people to make up their minds given divergent facts with which to form their own opinions.

    I challenge you to a debate on your website covering a multitude of areas on the time period from 1850 up to and through Reconstruction. Covering areas like whether secession was legal, and why the Southern States felt like they had to secede in order to survive. The Causes of the War for Southern Independence, or the name the US Congress gave the fight, The War Between the States. It is impossible for a War to be a Civil War unless there are two or more factions fighting to govern a single political entity or nation. Since the South/Confederacy never wanted to control the North or Northern People, there could not have been a Civil War.

    You choose the first topic and we’ll go from there. We can alternate answering a question and responding to the previous post.

    I have no question I will learn something from your set of facts and I hope you will learn something from mine.

    Rev. Dr. William H. Swann
    Marietta, GA
    Chaplain of the Robert E Lee Son’s of Confederate Veterans camp 2005

  • Kevin Levin Sep 24, 2008 @ 13:46

    George, — Thanks for taking the time to write. It’s impossible for me to respond to your criticisms since you fail to address any specific post or topic. You are more than welcome to do so in the future.

    Most of the comments are from people who are loyal readers of Civil War Memory. They come from all parts of the country and include National Park Service employees, professional historians, and countless Civil War enthusiasts.

    I have spent a little time on your message board, but I honestly have not yet come across much history. Most of what I’ve read is commentary about politics and other social issues. Perhaps I need to spend more time, but that is something I have little of at the present moment. Finally, the “SUCKA” reference was just me having a little fun and shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    Finally, please understand that I am not going to allow you to pass on your links to my readers, especially given the fact that I am the subject of at least two discussion threads. You are more than welcome to question anything on this site, but I expect that it will be done in a mature manner. My reference to a “Confederate Taliban” -which was the subject of one thread in particular – was in response to an attack against me on a newsletter site that was also included in your list of links.

    Thanks again for commenting.

  • George Purvis Sep 24, 2008 @ 13:09

    Just reading a few comments seems like this site is a bit one sided and biased and absent of any real fact. I also notice that most people who have posted here are only drive by posters — one time and gone. That being said makes me wonder if I post actual facts here if the post would remain. Let’s see.

    Kevin defines “civil war” if you would and explain how that term defines our conflict of the 1860s.

    “SUCKA” Is that some sort of black rap slang? Is it supposed to make you feel superior in your knowledge or your status in life? Is that the best you can do?

    George Purvis

  • Kevin Levin Sep 19, 2008 @ 16:32

    That’s right Marc, and they have the nerve to call me the revisionist.

  • Marc Ferguson Sep 19, 2008 @ 16:28

    That was very educational. I hadn’t realized that among its other crimes, the Lincoln administration was apparently the first to use nuclear weapons on civilians, and just for sport at that.

  • Kevin Levin Sep 19, 2008 @ 14:01

    David, — It’s nice to know that you are still in the land of the living.

  • Heather Sep 19, 2008 @ 13:57

    Thanks for the laugh– I’m highly amused.

    “We just “tell the Confederacy’s story in depth”, may it rot in h***!”

    This made my day.

  • David Woodbury Sep 19, 2008 @ 5:16

    Kevin, that was classic. And now that you’re officially in league with the San Francisco element, the circle is complete. This particular letter had a little something for everyone. Even “holocaust” was placed in quotation marks. I just wish he’d gotten around to the so-called theory of “evolution” while he was at it.

    Stay alert! These people are nuts.

  • Nick Sep 18, 2008 @ 16:12

    Wow. I’d love to find out what he wrote after the Abe and Tad statue was put up at Tredegar.

  • Rogue Sep 18, 2008 @ 12:15

    There are a few people in the world who think the wrong side won world war II. There are a few people in the world who think the wrong side won the civil war. They are called nutjobs. Don’t be offended, he’s just some yahoo who’s been propagandized his whole life. You are important, he is not. Please keep that in mind and keep up the good work.

  • Brooks Simpson Sep 18, 2008 @ 3:58

    “You should fall on your knees and thank God for placing so many Kevin Levins in Dixie — thousands and thousands of them, forming young Southern minds for a truly PROGRESSIVE future for all mankind.”

    Will do.

  • Thud Sep 18, 2008 @ 3:42


  • Clio Bluestocking Sep 17, 2008 @ 21:48

    That was just funny! Foaming-at-the-mouth funny!

  • Kevin Levin Sep 17, 2008 @ 21:03

    Matt, — I don’t claim to have any answers for you other than to say that these people constitute what my friend calls the “Confederate Taliban.”

  • Matt McKeon Sep 17, 2008 @ 20:40

    Why is civil war in quotation marks? And why are these people so insane? And why the bizarre holocaust remark?

Now that you've read the post, share your thoughts.