Just finished a brief exchange with a public historian that I highly respect. He sent me a brief note regarding a recent story that appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the ongoing controversy at Stone Mountain. The reporter contacted me to comment on claims made about the existence of black Confederate soldiers that are being made by heritage organizations to counter a planned exhibit on black Union soldiers.
I responded that it is always just a bit nerve racking talking to reporters about a subject like this because it is so widely misunderstood. You run the risk of being misquoted, taken out of context or placed in a story that has no business being published at all. Thankfully, that didn’t happen in this case, but my colleague offered the following in response:
Thankfully this reporter didn’t feel compelled to give those propagandist [SCV and other heritage groups] a voice in this matter. I keep telling reporters that sometimes there just isn’t another side—stories about the Holocaust don’t need the commentary of a Holocaust denier, nor do stories about the Civil War need rants from a slavery-was-the-cause denier.
I couldn’t agree more. There is nothing wrong with reporting divergent views surrounding a controversy, but there also needs to be some understanding that not all views are equal. The SCV’s understanding of the relationship between slavery and the Confederacy is on par with Holocaust denials. Their understanding of this important subject does not come close to anything resembling what is professionally accepted as reasonable.
This is a salient fact that deserves to be reported in these stories, if for no other reason than for the sake of their readers.