I have shared my thoughts about the ongoing debate concerning Confederate monuments in numerous blog posts, published articles, in the classroom and on the speaking circuit. My ideas have evolved over time, which I hope reflects my willingness to consider new perspectives and place my own working assumptions in check.

With that in mind you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I read through a column today at theGrio by David Love titled, “Why are Hundreds of Confederate Monuments Still Standing?” and learned that my views about the removal of Confederate monuments fall on the same side and are even worse than those expressed by white supremacists and neo-Confederates.

Mr. Love chose to talk with Edward Sebesta, who as many of you know, I have had disagreements with concerning a number of topics in the past. I am not for a minute going to try to explain Sebesta’s comments.

My frustration is with Mr. Love, who describes himself as a journalist on his twitter profile and website.

Here is the passage in question that I find troubling:

According to Edward H. Sebesta, an author and expert on the neo-Confederate movement, the removal of the Confederate monuments is exposing the banal white nationalist mindset of white America. He says people such as Signer will become the obstacle to blocking the removal of the statues.

“I think everyone needs to know that the most serious opposition that those who want to remove Confederate monuments face, isn’t white supremacists, neo-Confederates, or the Republican Party. It is a faction of public historians of which Kevin M. Levin, though he declares himself emphatically to be a neutral on the topic, is, I believe, the leading figure,” Sebesta told theGrio.

I am not quoted. No reference is offered for any of my recent publications on this issue and no hyperlink is included back to my website to give the reader even a cursory understanding of my position and background. Two days ago I started a crowdsourcing project called #NOLASyllabus to help teachers, students, and the general public better understand the situation in New Orleans and across the country.

Let me be as clear as I possibly can. I have never stated that I am opposed to the removal of Confederate or any monuments. As best as I can remember, I have never even used the word “neutral” to describe my position.

This is nothing less than sloppy and irresponsible journalism on the part of Mr. David Love and theGrio.

About Kevin Levin

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11 comments add yours

  1. In less than 1 minute of Googling “monuments site:cwmemory.com” I found a blog you wrote 8 years ago that addresses Sebasta’s concerns:

    The Civil War statues that dominate Monument Avenue in Richmond and the soldier statues that populate local court houses serve as a reminder of white supremacy and a commitment to imparting to the general public a memory of the war that reinforced its preferred view of the past. Such a view worked to reinforce political dominance through much of the twentieth century. One wonders what the landscape of memory would look like if between 1880 and 1920 black Americans were able to take part in the decisions over who and what to remember. How might Monument Avenue appear today under such changed circumstances?

    Levin, Kevin. “Civil War Monuments and Virginia Politics.” Civil War Memory, 21 March 2009, http://cwmemory.com/2009/03/21/civil-war-monuments-and-virginia-politics. Accessed 26 May 2017.

    When will people learn how to use a search engine. :p

  2. Ed’s decided to be at his worst again. There might be public historians that meet his description, but you aren’t one of them. In contrast to his description, you aren’t fixated on keeping the monuments.

    • I have been critical of public historians, who don’t take seriously arguments for removal. In fact, I did so on Wednesday on a panel for Al Jazeera.

      Even so, it is beside the point. The author allowed Mr. Sebesta to characterize my position without giving me a chance to respond or even following up to see if his description remotely reflects my own through a quick search.

  3. Kevin,
    Today is the first time that I ever heard of this Love fellow. I have no idea how big an audience he has. Hopefully he has the courage and the honesty to print your views on his article, if he should you could use it as an opportunity to expand your readership and attempt to raise the level of the debate. Right now the squeaky wheels are getting all the attention.
    On a positive note I think that articles such as Loves’, where you are the only one mentioned, will entice the more enlighten people who read the article to do research into your scholarship. Keep up the good work.

    • Bob,

      I never heard of him either. At this point I have yet to hear anything back from Mr. Love. I am not so optimistic that people will take it upon themselves to search my name with out link provided. Anyway, that is not my concern. My concern is with a self-described journalist who believes it is ethical to allow an interviewee to slander and misrepresent others without any fact checking.

  4. “With that in mind you can imagine my surprise and disappointment when I read through a column today at theGrio by David Love titled, Why are Hundreds of Confederate Monuments Still Standing? and learned that my views about the removal of Confederate monuments fall on the same side and are even worse than those expressed by white supremacists and neo-Confederates.”

    The SJWs of the radical left are intolerant of tolerance. Where Neo-Confederates and their ilk the radical right refuse to let a single flag or monument come down or move, the radical left will not be satisfied until every Confederate symbol is stricken from the country, regardless of location or context. It is every bit as important that we defeat the White Guilt liberals as the White Nationalist conservatives.

    • All I am focusing on here is bad journalism. I will leave the deconstruction of Mr. Love’s view of Confederate iconography to others.

    • By uttering all the right-wing magic words of the moment? Though it is nice to see “ilk” re-entering ordinary usage of a kind.

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