Apparently a number of my recent posts about Confederate History Month are making the rounds among members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. This happens every once in a while and I end up having to deal with a sharp increase in silly comments and other personal insults. For the most part I am receiving the standard responses that rehash the same tired points about historical revisionism and a belief that their way of life and history are under siege. It’s impossible to respond to these claims, but I do find them instructive on a number of levels. You can have a look through the last few posts to decide for yourself.
I do want to make a few points clear. First and foremost, I don’t believe for a second that the members of the SCV have any kind of privileged status when it comes to commemorating and remembering the lives and service of Confederate soldiers. The accident of lineage is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for properly and accurately reflecting on the lives of these men as well as the event that played such a prominent role in their lives. While the SCV may wish to view the recent public backlash against Confederate History Month as a personal affront to their beliefs and on the lives of their ancestors there is no one group or individual that controls the past. As I’ve stated already, the response to Gov. Robert McDonnell’s proclamation had little to do with attacking the SCV; rather it was an assertion that the content of that document does not represent the views of a growing segment of the population. Nor does it represent good history. We would do well to remember that we are all foreigners in that place called history.
Yes, I have been quite critical of the SCV over the past few weeks, and at other points in the past, as have others. I will continue to point out dubious historical claims such as those contained in their Confederate History Month proclamations as well as other issues from the Davis-Limber controversy to the ridiculous stories of loyal Confederate slaves. My perspective on all of this stems from my work as a historian, educator, resident of the great state of Virginia, and as an American who cares about how we as a nation remember the past. That is my pass and that is all I need. I don’t need to be related directly to anyone connected to the Civil War to have a right to voice my beliefs/concerns and I will continue to do so.