Brooks Simpson is optimistic that a dialogue is possible with the SCV’s new chief of heritage operations. I fully support whatever extent Brooks and Mr. Jones are able to engage in a civil conversation about those issues related to Civil War memory that continue to divide Americans. That said, I think it is safe to say that however civil and productive the conversation turns out to be we should remember that Jones will not be speaking for the SCV.
The SCV has proven itself to be a reactionary organization with a distorted understanding of the history of the Civil War era. Incoming president, Kelly Barrow, has played a central role in perpetuating some of the most extreme myths about the Confederacy and slavery. More to the point, it is clear that the SCV is not interested in dialogue with anyone, which was on full display in the recent controversy at W&L. I don’t know what, if anything, the SCV expects of Mr. Jones when it comes to engaging the university, but I hope that W&L steers as far away from engaging these people as possible.
I would love to know what Mr. Jones thinks of Michael Givens’s farewell speech to the SCV. What does Mr. Jones think of the fact that Givens is even on the phone with the likes of Kirk Lyons in addition to the overall tone of his speech? It doesn’t take long at all to realize that this is an organization that is not interested in meaningful conversation with anyone?
I look forward to reading more give and take between Brooks and Mr. Jones, but if he is truly interested in honoring his Confederate ancestors and meaningfully engaging others about history and heritage he would be wise to find another group.