Most of the emails that I received over the weekend in response to my interview for a story about Mattie Rice Clyburn were predictable. The responses included references to the fact that I am “from” Boston even though no true Bostonian would agree with such an assessment since I’ve only lived here for three years. And, of course, many of the emails include the tired mantra that I “hate the South.” I filed the emails away with the rest of the hate mail that I’ve received over the years.
I am, however, disappointed with Ben “Cooter” Jones, who as many of you know appeared on the popular television show, “The Dukes of Hazard” and more recently served in Congress. Mr. Jones is now the Chief of Heritage Operations for the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Here is what he had to say about my interview.
For that Associated Press story, the reporter, Martha Waggoner, interviewed a man identified as a “blogger”, a man who is a high school teacher from New Jersey who lives in Massachusetts. Claiming to be a “historian”, this blogger has said that Mrs. Rice had promulgated a hoax, and that it was not true that men like Weary Clyburn had supported the Confederacy because Weary Clyburn was a slave. Never mind what the man Weary Clyburn himself said. The blogger, a man named Kevin Levin, thinks he knows the minds of Southern people who lived in the 1840’s better than they knew it. In choosing to interview a blogger who is best known as an avowed anti-Southern propagandist, the A.P. reporter has insulted the memory of Mrs. Rice and her father and brought great pain to her family and to the many friends who knew this wonderful lady….
Of course, the “reporter” did not bother to cover the actual event and talk to Mrs. Rice’s children and grandchildren. She and her colleagues were nowhere in sight. She had “covered” the story with a phone call to a self-obsessed Massachusetts blogger.
It is an outrageous and disturbing piece of “reporting”. How anyone could slander this father and daughter is beyond comprehension, but that is exactly what “reporter” Martha Waggoner and “blogger” Kevin Levin managed to do.
It’s unfortunate that Mr. Jones can do little more than engage in the same type of slander and insult that he accuses me of engaging in. I have never suggested that Ms. Rice or anyone in the family has “promulgated a hoax”. In fact, the other day I argued just the opposite. There is no indication that Mr. Jones apparently has looked at any of the documents related to the history of Weary Clyburn.
What I have written about slaves, who functioned as personal servants to their masters in the army or as impressed workers for the Confederacy, in print and online is easily accessible for those who are interested. I certainly don’t believe that I ought to be given the last word on any of these issues.
A Chief of Heritage Operations for the SCV and a former congressman, however, ought to be able to do better.