Summer Camp With the Sons of Confederate Veterans

What do you do for your child after a full year of indoctrination in the public school system where they are taught that the Confederacy was evil and the war was about slavery?  You send them to Summer Camp with the SCV for a “true” history of the war.  According to an advertisement:

There is no question that the youth of today must run a terrible gantlet, and that many are struck down along the way by one or more of the politically correct influences which flourish in our schools…. Sometimes these youth are from the best homes with strong families and religious training. With even the most conscientious parenting, though, oftentimes (sic) in high school or college, even these best and brightest finally succumb to the liberal, politically correct view of history. This summer you can help turn the tide.

In addition to learning how to fire a cannon and parade/dance in period dress, campers learn lessons in the “Theology of the South During the War.”  Unfortunately, I don’t think the kids will be reading Eugene Genovese’s The Mind of the Master Class or Michael OBrien’s Intellectual Life and the American South, 1810-1860.  Rather, it looks like much of the time will be spent undoing the damage of being taught that slavery was somehow central to understanding what the war was about.  Perhaps the course will be taught by none other than H.K. Edgerton.

Specifically, the teens are exposed to the group’s contention that the Civil War was not about slavery, James said. Too many people have bought into that notion, he said, and wrongly exalt then-President Abraham Lincoln as wanting to end slavery.  Lincoln was “a bigger racist than I ever knew,” James said.  The truth is that the South was fighting for independence and the North was fighting to preserve the Union, James said. Slavery played into the tensions, he said, calling the practice “morally unacceptable.”  But painting the war as being primarily about slavery falsely gives the North the “moral high ground” and makes it seem as if Confederate soldiers were fighting to maintain slavery, James said. He said slavery eventually would have ended on its own, as it has in other countries.  “To attribute the war to something that wasn’t the cause isn’t right,” James said. “We try to tell it like it is.”

Rather than offer summer camp, I would suggest that the SCV organize their own schools.  This way children will be completely removed from the dangers posed by our public schools.

Let’s see, what would that curriculum look like?  For starters, Biology would be replaced with the course Stonewall Jackson taught at VMI.

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43 comments… add one
  • Barbara McCoy Jan 27, 2011 @ 18:20

    My daughter wanted to do a report on Rose O’Neal Greenhow, the female spy for the Confederacy. Her teacher told her that the report was supposed to be on someone who made a positive contribution to America, so she would have to choose someone else because the Confederacy was only trying to destroy America. I responded that I thought it it was a positive contribution for the South to take a stand against what they thought was an encroachment of the Federal Government on State’s rights, which is what we learned from last year’s Civil War Reenactment we attended. (Sounds like the same mess we are in right now.) Her teacher is going to allow her to do the report. I hope we can be persuasive enough. If you have any information she can use to prove her point about the South taking a stand being a positive contribution to America, we would greatly appreciate it.

    • Kevin Levin Jan 28, 2011 @ 2:27

      I highly recommend Ann Blackman’s recent biography, _Wild Rose: Rose O’Neale Greenhow, Civil War Spy_ (Random House). Good luck.

    • Marianne Davis Jan 28, 2011 @ 4:59

      I think you may have bitten off a bigger issue than you suspect. It is true that the Confederacy took a stand against the Federal government’s anticipated encroachment on their right to spread slavery into existing and new territories. But it is also true that the Confederacy took a firm stand AGAINST the right of other states to make their own laws respecting slavery and fugitives from bondage. This cherry picking of “my” rights against “yours” is surely nothing new. This sounds like an excellent opportunity for your daughter to delve into history, but to do that she will need more than a re-enactor’s opinion. Good luck to any little girl who wants to know about women!

  • Patrick Lewis Jun 24, 2010 @ 4:25

    James said. “We try to tell it like it is.”

    And that quote, with its verb in the present tense, is why this blog is necessary.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 24, 2010 @ 4:37

      Be nice, Patrick. 😀

  • Marianne Davis Jun 23, 2010 @ 7:51

    “Sometimes these youth are from the best homes with strong families and religious training.” Hmm . . . My children are from a good home with a strong family and religious training. They grew up knowing that the argument over the spread of slavery led to the Civil War, that “states’ rights” was a state’s right to choose to allow slavery, and that the secessionist war was rebellion. What I was unable to explain to them is how people can fly BOTH the battle flag and the U.S. flag without any apparent sense of irony. And finally, can someone in the SCV tell me what religion has to do with the Civil War?

    • Kevin Levin Jun 23, 2010 @ 8:06

      You must remember Marianne that Robert E. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, J.E.B. Stuart were Christian Warriors while Grant and the rest of those damn Yankees were godless barbarians. 😀

    • Bob Pollock Jun 23, 2010 @ 10:26

      “What I was unable to explain to them is how people can fly BOTH the battle flag and the U.S. flag without any apparent sense of irony.”

      On my way home yesterday I saw that someone just around the corner is doing just that; battle flag and U.S. flag side by side extended from the house. I think the battle flag was slightly lower than the U.S. flag, but I’m not sure. It may be a statement on current politics or that they are just honoring their ancestors courage and sacrifice, or any other of the reasons for flying the battle flag that we are all so familiar with. Coski explores all this in his book “The Confederate Battle Flag.” Nevertheless, I would agree that there is a failure to recognize the inherent irony as you point out.

  • Marc Ferguson Jun 22, 2010 @ 15:19

    Considering that the population of the U.S. in 1810 was a little over 7 million, that certainly is a staggering number of children (2 million) working in the North. And completely credible! Also, I wonder when those imps were making $1.10 a night, because if it was in 1810, or any other time prior to the Civil War, they were definitely in the bucks!

    Every now and then it truly becomes silly time here on Civil War Memory!

    • Kevin Levin Jun 22, 2010 @ 16:21

      Hi Marc,

      I decided to delete Tatum’s comment as well as my response. We are definitely rarely at a loss for a good laugh around here.

  • Jimmy L. Shirley Jr. Jun 22, 2010 @ 12:29

    Why are you so focussed on such an issue? Did you guys not win the war? Or what? Let it go, the slaves are free and have been for what, some 145 years? Such hateful (this means “full of hate”), mean spirited monologues like yours do nothing except stir up strife, exactly what your yankee ancestors did for the years after Yorktown leading up to Fort Sumter. Had they not ever done that, chances are, the slaves would have been freed without the resulting bloodshed and generations of enmity between the two sections.
    Let it go! You dont find us writing garbage about the yankees. Lord knows we have every right to.What we do is counter-punch, something you are not fond of. Clearly this is a contradiction of opinions. Find something else to write about.
    Hey!! I have an idea!! How about start writing about whether the north was right with regards to Korea and Vietnam!! Yeah!! That is a great idea! With all the resources available to you, plus you penchant for stirring up trouble, and with millions of Vietnam veterans living amongst us, plus some fewer Korean veterans, not to mention some people from those two respective countries living here amongst us, you aught to have a grand ol’ time.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 22, 2010 @ 12:35

      Hi Jimmy,

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m sorry to hear that my post does not meet with your approval. I also appreciate your suggestions on other topics to write about. Unfortunately, that’s probably not going to happen given my interest in this particular period of American history. I would suggest not coming back if you are offended by what I have to say. Thanks again.

    • Jonathan Dresner Jun 22, 2010 @ 13:34

      Yorktown? Wow.

      This comment is such a mass of internal contradictions, it’s hard to believe that it’s not parody. Southerners never say nasty things about Northerners, except for calling them all Yankees and saying nasty things about them. The war was unnecessary strife, except that there’d been tension since before the founding of the nation between the North and South. Since there’s a difference of opinion, one side should just shut up and let the other side say it’s piece without ever being contradicted, because they’re only responding to what other people said. And we should put the past behind us, since it’s over and done with, except that we’re dedicated to reviving and glorifying the past….

      It’s almost beautiful.

      • Kevin Levin Jun 22, 2010 @ 13:35

        Hi Jonathan,

        Dave is the gift that keeps on giving.

  • NAt Turners Son Jun 22, 2010 @ 11:24
    • Kevin Levin Jun 22, 2010 @ 11:30

      Thanks for the link. One dude was actually discussing the Boer War. I can’t imagine having to spend a week with Kirk Lyons.

  • Snaggle-Tooth Jones Jun 22, 2010 @ 10:51

    “What matters to me is his scholarship.”

    Oh, same here, though it obviously isn’t an either/or thing. Genovese’s conversion, which puts him much closer to the average SCV member’s political philosophy than it does to yours, is a direct result of his historical scholarship.

    “Last I checked we live in a democracy. . . .”

    You might want to check again.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 22, 2010 @ 11:00

      Mr. Jones,

      Like I said, I am not really that interested in Genovese’s politics or religion nor do I care whether he is in line with your average SCV member. What I do know is that he is an incredibly talented historian. Thanks again for taking the time to comment.

  • Snaggle-Tooth Jones Jun 22, 2010 @ 10:17

    Last time I looked, Genovese had converted from Marxism to the kind of Southern conservatism you and other anti-Confederate pseudointellectuals decry. While perhaps not a “neo-Confederade” per se, he’s awfully close to being one. But you’re right in implying that Genovese’s work is essential reading.

    “Rather than offer summer camp, I would suggest that the SCV organize their own schools. This way children will be completely removed from the dangers posed by our public schools.”

    Well, sure. Give us our real property taxes back (not to mention our lawfully seceded states), and we’ll do just that. Then we’ll see where each respective culture is, say, 100 years from now.

    S. Jones

    • Kevin Levin Jun 22, 2010 @ 10:34

      Mr. Jones,

      You are correct in pointing out that Genovese recently experienced a political/religious conversion. I don’t know much about this as it doesn’t really concern me as a historian. What I do know is that there are few historians that I’ve learned more from about the history of American slavery and the intellectual life of slaveholders than Eugene Genovese. His most recent study is a must read if you can make it through it. However you choose to label him is of little concern to me. What matters to me is his scholarship.

      Finally, best of luck on getting your tax dollars back. Last I checked we live in a democracy where we elect our public officials.

  • Nat Turners Son Jun 22, 2010 @ 8:03

    I know of a neighbors kid that went several years ago and he said it was a lot of fun, But his family flys the Battle Flag everyday.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 22, 2010 @ 8:12

      Oh, I don’t doubt that it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

  • Michael Loret Jun 22, 2010 @ 5:12

    So Kevin…this is a very interesting post and I think I am going off the beaten path here when I tell you that the first statement regarding the indoctrination about the “evils” of the South, slavery, etc occurring in public schools troubles me. I may be wrong here, but that sounds like an unqualified assumption about public schools, particularly questionable (for example) in states like Virginia or Alabama. The Commonwealth gives us the SOL’s as a guide to what should be taught in the classroom. Take a look at the standards and curriculum framework for VA/US History. ( Reading through the framework, I saw one reference to slavery as you describe it, but only in the context of Abolitionists. There is no reference to the “evils” of the Confederacy or the war being fought about slavery (see standard 7a). None, even after the Emancipation Proclamation.

    It is true, and research does suggest that despite Standards and High Stakes tests in American schools, teacher decision-making continues to play a huge role in what is taught and how. This leads me to suggest that while indoctrination you described may take place in American schools, to attribute itnwhimsically to the institution of public schooling is inaccurate. It’s the product of poorly informed instructors.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 22, 2010 @ 5:45

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for the link to the SOLs. I am actually quite familiar with Virginia’s SOLs as a result of my involvement in the Teaching American History program. This is the standard line from the SCV and as you rightly point out they have no idea of what is taught in the public school system. As to your last point, note that I am not the one claiming anything having to do with “indoctrination.” It is the SCV that is making this claim. Or perhaps you missed the sarcasm in my final point.

  • Gary Van Ess Jun 21, 2010 @ 21:11

    Kevin: Of course I meant Alexander Stevens….. I somehow confused the name of a second rate actor with that of a first rate traitor.

  • Al Mackey Jun 21, 2010 @ 17:04

    One correction, Kevin. Not Biology–Physics. : )

    • Kevin Levin Jun 21, 2010 @ 17:09

      Of course. Thanks Al. I am going to submit your name for the position of Head of Academics at the new SCV school.

  • Gary Van Ess Jun 21, 2010 @ 16:58

    How can these revisionists totally ignore the extensive writings and speechs of Jefferson Davis and Andrew Stevens… not to mention many other southern state’s “leaders” of that period? They came right out and said that preserving and expanding the right to own slaves was the major cause of going to war with the North.
    The ability to deny objective reality seems to be spreading these days.

    • Kevin Levin Jun 21, 2010 @ 17:02


      I think you meant to say Alexander Stephens. Members of the SCV do it without flinching and in the fact of overwhelming primary source evidence as well as scores of scholarly studies. This is an organization that is desperate to hold onto any vestige of the Lost Cause and pass it on to a younger generation.

  • Robert Moore Jun 21, 2010 @ 16:05

    Kevin, you really need to warn readers when you post stuff like this… clearly, an accompanying barf bag needs to be attached. Maybe even a deep box of Kleenex so we can mourn the demise of children at the hands of the indoctrinators of the “truth”.


    • Kevin Levin Jun 21, 2010 @ 16:11

      Hi Robert,

      I think you ought to know by now that my postings may lead to an upset stomach or much worse. 😀

      • Robert Moore Jun 21, 2010 @ 16:15

        I play it safe and have a bottle of Pepto handy for just these occasions!

        • Kevin Levin Jun 21, 2010 @ 16:20

          Keep in mind that as bad as it is to have to read it, imagine what it’s like to write it up.

  • Boyd Harris Jun 21, 2010 @ 15:11

    Is it bad that a small part of me wishes that they had this when I was a boy? Perhaps it is just a small remnant of my childhood as a unreconstructed Rebel. Maybe it is the cannon firing…those things are wicked cool!

    • Kevin Levin Jun 21, 2010 @ 15:16

      At least they are preventing the kids from bringing electronic devices. That way they are completely cut off from gathering information that may not conform to the party line.

  • Rebecca Jun 21, 2010 @ 13:17

    Heh heh. I wonder if they’ll read Dew’s Apostles of Disunion?

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