Students at Gettysburg College have asked me to respond to a couple of questions about my blogging and research for their Gettysburg Compiler blog. I am going to do my best to respond in the next few days. One of the questions they asked is why, in the minds of some, has my blogging and other activities been interpreted as reflecting a hatred for the South and I assume Southern/Confederate heritage. Perhaps you’ve seen comments in this vein both on this blog as well as other places around the Internet.
I have some idea as to why a few people embrace this belief about me. What is funny, however, is that since moving to Boston I’ve found myself, at times, going out of my way to challenge overly simplistic generalizations about the South and its history as well as stereotypes that have recently been embraced by various television networks. What I find so disturbing is how so little of it reflects my time living in the region, first for two years in Mobile, Alabama and then in Charlottesville, Virginia for the next ten. Of course, it wasn’t always ideal, but my experience living in the South brought me a great deal of happiness. I rarely felt like a stranger or was made to feel like I didn’t belong. Quite the opposite was the case. My interest in history nourished a strong connection to my community, especially in Virginia and many friendships that I hold dear to this day. I always look forward to traveling in the region.
You can imagine how difficult I find it to reconcile the charge of being anti-South (or whatever you want to call it) and my experience living in the region and my short fuse around my new friends here in Boston.
For those of you who do believe that I harbor some kind of hatred for the South and its history here is your chance to share it. You can post whatever you like as long as it is not insulting or merely a rant. What I want is something that approaches a reasoned explanation however difficult that might be for you.