Trolled Once Again by Edward Sebesta

I hesitate responding to posts by Edward Sebesta that are about me, but in some corners he is still taken seriously. This past week brings two posts in which I am referred to as both a ‘Neo-Confederate apologist and “establishmentarian.” Someone will have to clue me in on the latter’s meaning.

First, Sebesta takes issue with a post I wrote back in 2014 about former plantations that host weddings. He conveniently only quotes a passage that supports his position, which is not entirely clear.

More recently, Sebesta responded to a post I wrote about a ceremony that once again blurs the distinction between slaves and soldiers in the Confederate army. His concern is with my contention that the vast majority of people who fall for the black Confederate myth are not “neo-Confederates” or “Lost Causers,” but are simply misinformed. I have argued that many people cannot properly interpret the evidence available or do not understand the broader history of the Confederacy and slavery.

Levin just thinks they are just poor historians for whom, he the great expert, will show them the way.

The larger problem, as I have explained over and over again, is that many people are incapable of properly searching and assessing online information about this subject. I have seen this over and over and have written numerous blog posts to support it.

I have been very clear that heritage organizations such as the Sons of Confederate Veterans, Virginia Flaggers and others have intentionally distorted this history for self serving reasons. In fact, I have tried to nail down when the myth first emerged.

Sebesta continues:

This search for Confederates of African ancestry or to find African Americans to defend the Confederacy is part of a very long history of finding some African American to endorse some racist policy or practice.

No kidding. This is another point that I have stressed over the years on this blog and in various publications. In fact, I have an entire chapter in my forthcoming book on the subject that explores how former camp slaves were interpreted by postwar southern writers to support the Lost Cause and the politics of white supremacy. At veterans’ reunions these men were welcomed and seen as proof of peaceful race relations before, during and after the war.

I track this use of African Americans to vindicate the Confederate cause right through to the present by exploring why heritage organizations support and/favor writers like Walter Williams and activists like H.K. Edgerton, Karen Cooper and others. Sebesta is not saying anything that I haven’t covered already in great detail. All he has to do is spend time reading this blog.

21 comments… add one
  • I wouldn’t pay any attention to someone who has that much difficulty interpreting what you write.

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    • Sebesta is as intolerant of views that diverge from his own as the neo-Confederate community. I wouldn’t pay any attention to him, but for the fact that people like James Loewen and others do take him seriously.

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      • It might hurt his feelings to know I have never heard of him and I do a lot of reading!

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        • Sebesta doesn’t write history. His focus is more on the politics of the neo-Confederate movement. He did edit a compilation of primary sources on the Lost Cause with James Loewen.

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          • I looked him up on Facebook. I am one who is usually called a socialist or wild left winger, so I did see some posts that reflect my views on contemporary political figures. But I certainly disagree with his assessment of your views and works!

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  • Since both of you guys appear to be on the side of speaking out against Neo-Confederates and Lost Cause supporters, I guess I’ve never understood the feud between you two. Just saying.

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    • I have certainly been critical of some of his posts, but I have never accused him of being an apologist or worse. I certainly don’t mind criticism, but I at least expect that my argument will be presented clearly.

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      • FWIW, I’ve never seen it as a feud, but rather quite unfair criticism leveled at Kevin for his reasoned and nuanced approach to the topic.

        The fact is, very, very few people are as deep into the Lost Cause myth and/or Neo-Confederate worship as Sebasta is claiming. More folks are just flooded with bad information and take that as gospel. Kevin’s right on this point for sure.

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        • The fact is, very, very few people are as deep into the Lost Cause myth and/or Neo-Confederate worship as Sebasta is claiming.

          Sebesta has never proven the claim that the vast majority of people who embrace the BCM do so for nefarious reasons. What I have witnessed firsthand is a great deal of misunderstanding about how to interpret evidence and the broader history. I approach this from the perspective of an educator. Sebesta applies a back-handed slash and burn strategy that only serves to alienate people unnecessarily.

          Thanks.

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  • I think a classic analogy puts it best:

    Sebesta is to modern Confederate heritage advocates as someone like Joe Rose is to the study of US Grant—Rose doesn’t just want to offer an alternate view of Grant, he wants to rip Grant’s reputation to shreds, light the pieces on fire, and then bury them in a latrine. So, to Sebesta, anyone who actually tries to understand the neo-Confederates is really a closet neo-Confederate himself, or perhaps only an apologist. He can’t see any nuance to the issue at all—if you don’t want to consign anyone with a fondness (of any sort) for the Confederacy to the seventh level of hell, then you really are just one of them.

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  • Ed Sebesta has done important and valuable work, like archiving and putting online old copies of the newsletters of the white citizens’ councils from the 1950s in the South (colloquially known as “the downtown Klan”), which is the ideological forefather of far-right, white nationalist groups today, including the Council of Conservative Citizens, the group whose online postings were explicitly cited by the shooter in Charleston as having set him off on his path to murder. Sebesta’s work in that and other efforts underscores the reality that the far-right, white nationalist groups that have seemingly appeared de novo on the current political landscape have, in fact, been around all along. His work brings a needed historical perspective to discussion of modern politics, culture, and democracy.

    But he’s also shouty and intemperate, and often seems to get so rapped up in his own righteousness that he completely misses other writers’ intent or nuanced meaning. That’s unfortunate, because (as in this case) he ends up tarnishing his own credibility more than those he targets.

    Dude needs to chill a little bit.

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    • I agree that the online publication of those sources is valuable. In fact, I have utilized them in the classroom and in my research.

      Dude needs to chill a little bit.

      That about sums it up.

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  • I’m always thought of you as my favorite neo-Confederate. šŸ™‚

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  • Ed is the Richard Williams of the left.

    “I have been thinking about writing something on claims of African Confederates, but felt that it will be dealt with elsewhere and I will focus on something else. Obviously now I realize that it need to write the book on the topic.”

    THE book? Good luck. Charming modesty and all that.

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    • … with apologies to Richard Williams. I think. šŸ™‚

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  • He called KEVIN a Neo-Confederate? Is this dude high? :-/

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  • To be honest I forgot Sebesta had this feud, if you could call it that, with you.

    On an unrelated noted – I just got back from the Appalachian Studies Association Conference and a young lady from Emory and Henry did a wonder piece about Civil War Memory and the Saltville Massacre. It reminded me a lot of your blog posts and book about the Crater. It’s something you might want check out if you get the time.

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    • Don’t know much about the Saltville Massacre apart from an essay that was included in a collection edited by Mark Grimsley some time ago.

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      • I didn’t either – I know of the school’s role in spreading Southern nationalism through the Methodist denomination prior to the war, a legacy ignored by the school, but the massacre was news to me. It apparently also included a Guerrilla Forces vs Regular Confederate Troops dynamic. But anyways, just thought you’d be interested.

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  • Notice that the pompous blowhard is now taking full credit for the removal of the Lee statue in Dallas. In fact, Heather Heyer is the single individual most responsible for its removal. She gave her life. I wonder if he has any regard for the truck driver who died in a collision with the crane truck going to do the statue removal. Sebesta is a despicable egomaniac consumed by self-hate. Projection is his pitiful remedy.

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