It’s been interesting to watch the comments section at The Atlantic evolve in response to my most recent post. I have no moderating power so it is just a matter of sitting back and watching individuals talk past one another in their typical self-absorbed fashion. That said, some of the comments are worth a bit of reflection. Here is one in response to the work of the Virginia Sesquicentennial Commission, which has gone furthest in promoting the sesquicentennial:
I believe I speak for many Virginians when I say that we are very disappointed in the Virginia Civil War Sesquicentennial Commission and its blatant exclusion of any recognition of the 32,000+ Virginians who answered the State’s call to take up arms in her defense and never returned home, or the thousands more who survived the war and returned to help rebuild the ruins of the State.
While no one denies that slavery was one of the main issues that led to the conflict and deserves a place in any discussion of the War Between the States, this commission has taken its original focus of inclusion, which we applaud, and twisted it so far as to make slavery/emancipation its main focus, in effect excluding any remembrance of the men and women who so valiantly defended Virginia.
Now, we could jump in and detail for this individual the extent to which Virginia’s Confederates fit into the many projects sponsored by the commission, but that would be a waste of time. Even a cursory glance at their website should be sufficient to satisfy most people that the memory of the Confederate soldier is secure.
If we take one step back, however, it is clear that it is not the lack of coverage of the Confederate soldier that is of concern to this individual, but the way in which the narrative itself is framed. First, notice the nod to the importance of slavery as “one of the main issues” that led to secession and war, but once the war begins it’s about the soldiers and apparently there is no more need to bring it up. What this individual wants is a narrative that celebrates the Confederate soldier along with his goal of an independent nation. The coming year is going to be a good one for those Virginians who find themselves imagining the possibilities of a Confederate victory. It’s going to be Faulkner’s “Intruder in the Dust” on a grand scale.
I guess it comes down to the question of whether the state of Virginia should commemorate the Civil War as if it hoped to become part of an independent Confederate nation or in recognition that the past 150 years – even with all its setbacks – was a better outcome not only for the generation that fought the war, but for us as well.
Last month I gave a talk to the Rhode Island Civil War Round Table in which I offered an assessment of the first full year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial celebrations and commemoration. I decided to work on it a bit more and I am pleased to share it with you in The Atlantic. It looks like I will be writing for The Atlantic on a fairly regular basis as long as my schedule can accommodate it. Last week’s review of the Gingrich novel was a huge success. It led to an interview on public radio, but most importantly, it is connecting me to a much broader audience. Thanks again to Jenni Rothenberg at The Atlantic, who has been an absolute pleasure to work with.
I truly appreciate that so many of you not only take the time to read this blog, but leave comments as well. You leave a lot of comments. All comments are moderated by me and I do my best to approve them as quickly as possible. I also do my best to respond to as many as possible. I may not go into great detail with my responses, but it is important to me to acknowledge your contribution to the site. Fortunately, I spend most of my day in front of the computer, but over the past few weeks I have been bombarded with comments. Something has to give.
While many of the threads function as a natural extension of the post more and more are moving much too far beyond the content of the post and in some cases involve nothing more than the hurling of mild insults back and forth. I am even growing impatient with certain contributors and I don’t like how it feels. I think what I need to do is find a happy medium between letting go of the discussion and directing it through the moderating tools that I have at my disposal. Don’t be surprised if I disable the comments feature every once in a while on individual posts and don’t expect that your comments will be approved right away if things begin to deteriorate between individual contributors. Perhaps a cooling off period will help.
Like I said, I thoroughly enjoy taking the time to read your comments. Thanks for your understanding.
Yes, it’s a slow day here at Civil War Memory. Not all of the credits that I earn as an Amazon affiliate go to purchasing the latest Civil War scholarship. I don’t read much Civil War fiction, but when I do I like to curl up with a book that reminds me of the war’s pain and suffering and the
joys heat of reunion. From Land of the Falling Stars:
Penniless, her parents and brother dead, Sophia Whitfield struggles to save her beloved childhood home during the Civil War. Another bluecoat is staggering down the hill, but before Sophia allows him to rob and pilfer like the others, she shoots him. How is she to know it is Gavin, the dark knight of her youth, carrying secrets too horrific to imagine and a passion that ignites her deepest desires? As Sophia gradually learns Gavin’s secrets—and enjoys his talents in the bedroom—she discovers how to finally know her own heart. Can she save the Land of Falling Stars, or will she lose it all to the horrors of the War and Reconstruction? And will the Southern lady and the Yankee soldier be able to recapture the bliss of their youth—this time in each other’s arms?