Confederate “Saints and Sinners”

This is the latest in an ongoing public conversation at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. about what to do with its stained glass windows depicting Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. I’ve made my through about half of the discussion and it is quite good. I especially enjoyed listening to Rev. Dr. Kelly Brown Douglas, Canon Theologian at Washington National Cathedral, who has her finger on both Civil War memory and its religious implications.

Check out this earlier discussion that included John Coski.

Do Confederate Monuments Need a “Fearless Girl”?

A petition is now making the rounds to keep the “Fearless Girl” monument in downtown New York City in place indefinitely. The small monument of a girl standing defiantly against the famous Wall Street charging bull has proven to be very popular. It has been interpreted in more than one way and has altered the broader meaning of the bull itself. This is something that has not sat well with the bull’s sculptor. [click to continue…]

Reserve Your Seat at the Civil War Institute Now

There are still a few slots available for this year’s Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College. I have attended the past five years as a speaker, but I spend most of my time as a student listening to some of the top historians in the field and conversing with fellow Civil War enthusiasts, who are just as interested in this history. There is something invigorating about this particular institute and it has everything to do with the work that Peter Carmichael, Jill Ogline Titus and the rest of the staff put into organizing this conference. [click to continue…]

When at Gettysburg Remember to Turn Around

Just returned from a short trip in which I accompanied a group of high school students from Brooklyn to Washington, D.C., Harpers Ferry, Antietam and Gettysburg. Thanks to Lisa Kapp – a longtime reader of this blog and a very talented history teacher – for asking me to come along as a guide. I had a wonderful time. [click to continue…]

Facebook (sort of) Cracking Down on Fake History

Facebook is making good on its recent decision to flag “fake news” through a collaboration with the Associated Press and You can see this at work in reference to the myth of the Irish slave, which functions along the same lines as the Black Confederate myth. Both attempt to diffuse arguments about race-based slavery in the United States and particularly in the South.

Here is how Facebook is signaling to its users that they may be sharing “disputed” information.

Let me first say that I am not a huge fan of Facebook flagging websites even though I completely agree that this historical narrative lacks any basis in fact and I would like to see the sharing of these websites brought in check. The fight against “fake news” and “fake history” ought to be fought elsewhere, especially in the classroom.

The larger problem is that these popups don’t really address the larger problem on Facebook. You can join hundreds, if not thousands, of Facebook pages that promote all kinds of wacky theories and historical interpretations. Lord knows how much time I have spent on various Black Confederate pages and I suspect that there are just as many devoted to the myth of Irish slaves.

If Facebook was really interested in cracking down on misinformation it would have to do something on this end. But even going this far, as the actor James Woods notes, is unlikely to result in any substantial changes in how users judge information on their social media platforms.

That was not an endorsement of James Woods’s tweet, but was simply meant to point out that this battle will only be won through education.