Deep Thoughts By H.W. Crocker III (2)

It’s a pretty miserable day here in central Virginia.  On top of the rain I am strung out on the couch watching college football and dealing with a cold and sore throat.  Since it looks like I will not get anything serious done today I thought I might offer you the second installment of my examination of Crocker’s The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Civil War.  The following is titled “We’re All Confederates Now” and asks the reader to imagine the following:

Put yourself in Robert E. Lee’s shoes.  If the South seceded today, how many of us would think the proper response would be for the federal government to send tanks over the bridges spanning the Potomac into Virginia, to blockade Southern ports and carpet bomb Southern cities?  If we don’t, it’s because we see the United States as the Confederacy saw it, as a voluntary union.  The idea that we have to keep California, Mississippi, Minnesota, and Maine together by force would probably strike us as ridiculous.  And if it came to that, it would probably strike us as horrendous and wrong. (p. 33)

First, why do we need to put ourselves in the shoes of Lee?  Does he have some kind of privileged position that would steer us to the correct answer as to what would be considered a proper response by the federal government in case of a modern day secession?  To show how absurd this little thought experiment is, why not put ourselves in the shoes of Winfield Scott, George Thomas or any other Southern graduate of West Point who took part in the invasion of their own homes.  Scott himself outlined the invasion of much of the South in his Anaconda Plan. More importantly, we now know that the generation of Southern West Point cadets that graduated in the 1830s did not resign their commissions in 1861.   In the end, it is irrelevant what we would countenance as a legitimate response.  What we do know is that plenty of white Southerners in 1861 believed that “invasion” was the only response to the actions of most of the Southern states.

There is plenty more where this comes from.

CraterThanks for reading this post. Scroll down, leave a comment and join the conversation if you are so inclined. Follow me on Twitter and join the Civil War Memory Facebook group for continuous updates and additional links to newsworthy items from around the interwebs. Stay up to date by subscribing to this blog’s feed. You can also check out my recently published book, Remembering the Battle of the Crater: War as Murder.

16 comments… add one

  • Brooks Simpson Sep 26, 2009

    Crocker’s a crock. First of all, if I were in Robert E. Lee’s shoes, either I’d be in a museum or under the chapel at Washington and Lee. Second, tanks are of little use in establishing a blockade. Guess why (someone needs a copyeditor). And exactly why would the South secede today? So a president could say, “I can see Virginia from my house?”

    But it is interesting that these stories are at the core of his fantasy life.

  • matt mckeon Sep 26, 2009

    How about this: Put yourself in Lee’s shoes. The slaveowning elite want to plunge the nation into civil war to perpetuate human bondage. If a group of white supremacists started firing on federal employees and soldiers because of the results of an election. What would you do?

    I love it that this guy is named “Crock” er. Did you know one of the main advocates for Shakespeare didn’t write Shakespeare was named Looney? It’s like the world is a Dickens novel.

  • Kevin Levin Sep 26, 2009

    Yes, notice that Crocker’s little thought experiment says nothing about the reasons for secession. It’s as if the act was an end in itself.

  • Toby Sep 28, 2009

    What would Robert E. Lee do if modern Virginia seceded with the intention of reintroducing Jim Crow laws?

    Would he not do what he did when John Brown took over Harper's Ferry?

  • Corey Meyer Sep 30, 2009

    H. W. Crocker has a archive of articles on Lew Rockwell.com, but odly does not show up on the list of columnists for the site. This might be guilt-by-association, but I think this puts him in bed with the likes of Thomas DiLorenzo…

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/crocker/crocker-arch

    • Kevin Levin Sep 30, 2009

      Corey,

      I am well aware of his association with Lew Rockwell, but let's not let that enter into the discussion. His book is crap because it is bad history and not because of his political leanings. And the reason Williams likes it is because of his political leanings and not because it is good history.

      • Corey Meyer Sep 30, 2009

        I would disagree…I think the two are completly linked. I found a short audio sample of the first chapter called “Why the South war Right” and if that is not directly from the Kennedy brothers and their ilk, I don't know what is.

        But I do agree that Richard Williams likes it for the political leanings…

        • Kevin Levin Sep 30, 2009

          I guess what I am saying is that while I do not deny that Crocker is influence by his politics I do not judge the book based on this. What I want to analyze is the argument he puts forward. That is the reason I think the book is a disaster and not because he happens to be conservative, liberal, Democrat or Republican.

  • bdsimpson Sep 30, 2009

    Look, bad history is bad history. Now, one might discuss why someone produces bad history, and the answer may well be because of their political leanings, their agenda, or whatever. It can also be because someone's ill-read or a poor researcher, or because someone hasn't considered certain sources, etc.

    Frankly, I don't care why Crocker produces bad history. It's enough for me to know that it is bad. It may also be harmful in terms of the misunderstandings it promotes. However, Richard Williams either overlooks bad history or doesn't even know/care whether it's bad history so long as it supports his political agenda. I've seen that too many times already, and most clearly in the Crocker instance. The irony is that he in fact comes off behaving in precisely the same way he claims left/liberal/socialist/whatever label he so desires historians come off as when they endorse work he doesn't like. For Richard Williams, it's the politics, not the history, that counts.

    I just don't let it bug me. To deal with Richard is like teaching a pig to sing. Better to devote quality time to more constructive pursuits. I suggest others follow that example (I would never come across Richard Williams if it wasn't for this blog, for example). He's established himself as a fraud, and I would think that would be enough.

    • Kevin Levin Sep 30, 2009

      Brooks,

      Glad to see you set up a profile page. You pretty much summed up my own argument. Williams will no doubt try to justify his endorsement of Crocker and try to show that he has been misunderstood or will try to divert attention onto something else. I'm not really interested anymore.

  • Corey Meyer Sep 30, 2009

    H. W. Crocker has a archive of articles on Lew Rockwell.com, but odly does not show up on the list of columnists for the site. This might be guilt-by-association, but I think this puts him in bed with the likes of Thomas DiLorenzo…

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/crocker/crocker-arch

  • Kevin Levin Sep 30, 2009

    Corey,

    I am well aware of his association with Lew Rockwell, but let's not let that enter into the discussion. His book is crap because it is bad history and not because of his political leanings. And the reason Williams likes it is because of his political leanings and not because it is good history.

  • Corey Meyer Sep 30, 2009

    I would disagree…I think the two are completly linked. I found a short audio sample of the first chapter called “Why the South war Right” and if that is not directly from the Kennedy brothers and their ilk, I don't know what is.

    But I do agree that Richard Williams likes it for the political leanings…

  • Kevin Levin Sep 30, 2009

    I guess what I am saying is that while I do not deny that Crocker is influence by his politics I do not judge the book based on this. What I want to analyze is the argument he puts forward. That is the reason I think the book is a disaster and not because he happens to be conservative, liberal, Democrat or Republican.

  • Brooks D. Simpson Sep 30, 2009

    Look, bad history is bad history. Now, one might discuss why someone produces bad history, and the answer may well be because of their political leanings, their agenda, or whatever. It can also be because someone's ill-read or a poor researcher, or because someone hasn't considered certain sources, etc.

    Frankly, I don't care why Crocker produces bad history. It's enough for me to know that it is bad. It may also be harmful in terms of the misunderstandings it promotes. However, Richard Williams either overlooks bad history or doesn't even know/care whether it's bad history so long as it supports his political agenda. I've seen that too many times already, and most clearly in the Crocker instance. The irony is that he in fact comes off behaving in precisely the same way he claims left/liberal/socialist/whatever label he so desires historians come off as when they endorse work he doesn't like. For Richard Williams, it's the politics, not the history, that counts.

    I just don't let it bug me. To deal with Richard is like teaching a pig to sing. Better to devote quality time to more constructive pursuits. I suggest others follow that example (I would never come across Richard Williams if it wasn't for this blog, for example). He's established himself as a fraud, and I would think that would be enough.

  • Kevin Levin Sep 30, 2009

    Brooks,

    Glad to see you set up a profile page. You pretty much summed up my own argument. Williams will no doubt try to justify his endorsement of Crocker and try to show that he has been misunderstood or will try to divert attention onto something else. I'm not really interested anymore.

Leave a Comment