Has anyone else noticed that no official statement in response to the Virginia textbook/black Confederate debacle has been issued by the Sons of Confederate Veterans? Perhaps they are taking the time to carefully craft a response, but I doubt it. There is really nothing they can do in the face of what the general public now understands is a flawed view of the Confederacy and the Civil War. Any statement that rehashes the same tired claims of revisionism and political correctness will do nothing more than assuage the concerns of its members and those who accept this flawed historical perspective. This morning I read that the publisher will provide stickers for the books indicating the problem with the passage in question while Loudoun County schools has decided to pull the books from the classrooms. [I was also pleased to see my black Confederate Resources page referenced in one article.]
I’ve already commented on the consequences of this story making the mainstream news, but there are a few more things worth noting. One of the most frustrating aspects of this subject is the ease with which the SCV has been able to publicize this silliness. If you go through old posts you will notice story after story of local chapters of the SCV and UDC commemorating the lives and placing grave markers of so-called black Confederates. In every case that I’ve come across no evidence was provided that the individual in question was, in fact, a soldier in the Confederate army. Reporters who cover these stories have no knowledge to judge the veracity of these stories and the ceremonies are reported as legitimate. Unless the reporter has had his/her head in the clouds over the past few days it is difficult to imagine these stories continuing to be reported without some kind of disclaimer. The most obvious example is the annual commemoration of Richard Poplar in Blandford Cemetery in Petersburg.
In the end, I couldn’t be more pleased that the author gathered her “sources” from the Internet. That is where this battle will be one or lost and I have no doubt that sites like Ann DeWitt’s will have less influence if those of us in the classroom do our jobs and teach our students how to use this powerful tool. And finally, it’s nice to see that we are thinking critically about the past and not turning this into an extension of political and cultural feuds. In contrast with the controversy surrounding Governor McDonnell’s proclamation, retraction, and recent statement this has been a breadth of fresh air.