Earlier today fellow blogger and historian, Brooks Simpson, left a comment offering to host a debate between myself and Earl Ijames at Civil Warriors.
Sounds to me as if Earl Ijames has challenged Kevin Levin to a duel, so to speak.
Now, by the code duello, Mr. Levin has choice of weapons. I assume he’d rather conduct the contest on the written page/screen/blog, where all of us can see the result, not some hand-picked venue chosen by Mr. Ijames. And I think that’s appropriate. I’m perfectly willing to offer Civil Warriors as a field of honor where this can happen, so that historians can judge the result.
So, Mr. Ijames, it’s up to you. Are you going to make your case? Are you willing to conduct yourself according to the rules of scholarship? Remember what you said, Mr. Ijames: ” I’ll re-iterate that offer to you to put your money where your loose lips leak erroneous information…. If you don’t show, then we can conclude that you’re not as serious of a student of history as you misrepresent yourself to be.” I’d hate to see those words come back to haunt you. But it’s now a matter of public record. It’s up to you whether you’ll be as good as your word.
I think this is a great idea and I am more than happy to participate. It seems to me that the best way to proceed is for Mr. Ijames to write up a short essay (endnotes/sources included) on Weary Clyburn and/or John Venable. Let’s nail down the interpretation first and steer clear of broad generalizations about numbers and other ancillary concerns. It would be very helpful to me and the rest of us if we can just focus on one or two individuals. In fact, Mr. Ijames could do us all a favor by demonstrating how someone in his position goes about researching and constructing a profile for a “Colored Confederate”. I know I would greatly appreciate it.