The Washington Post “Airbrushes” Debate About Confederate Iconography

The editorial team at The Washington Post has decided to jump into the debate surrounding Confederate iconography. Unfortunately, they provide little more than the standard platitudes and offer nothing for communities that are in the midst of what is a highly emotional and divisive discussion.

At the center of the argument is the assumption that the changing of a name or removal of a monument represents the “airbrushing” of history. The term is never defined, but the author appears to believe that any alteration to a community’s commemorative landscape involves a conscious effort to look away or ignore history.  Continue reading “The Washington Post “Airbrushes” Debate About Confederate Iconography”

Steve Earle Declares, “Mississippi, It’s Time”

It’s been another tough week for Confederate flag advocates. Virginia unveiled the new specialty plate for the Sons of Confederate Veterans that does not include the battle flag. Why even bother. Alexandria, Virginia will no longer fly the Confederate flag on Robert E. Lee’s birthday and Confederate Memorial Day. And in Pittsylvania County (again in Virginia) a judge has ordered that a display of Confederate flags and memorabilia must be removed from its county circuit courtroom.

Way out in California, the state senate voted to ban the naming of schools and public buildings after Confederate leaders. A police officer, who was photographed wearing Confederate flag shorts, lost his appeal to be reinstated. Continue reading “Steve Earle Declares, “Mississippi, It’s Time””

Why I Won’t Be Watching Ken Burns This Week

I didn’t read a book about the American Civil War until I was in my mid-20s and it wasn’t Bruce Catton, Shelby Foote or a used copy of the American Heritage picture book. It was Stephen Sears’s Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam. If memory serves me correctly the next few books included David Donald’s biography of Lincoln, Eric Foner’s book about the Republican Party and James McPherson’s Battle Cry of Freedom. I read these books as I was finishing up a master’s thesis in philosophy – specifically philosophy of history. From the very beginning of what would become an entirely new intellectual focus for me I approached these books as analytical arguments that demanded careful thought and a critical eye.

My own Civil War memory is not wrapped up in visits to battlefields at an early age with the family. In fact, I have no memory of learning about the war in grade school or even high school. What prompted my foray into Civil War studies was a chance visit to Antietam in 1994. The visit certainly sparked something in me, but even this visit and subsequent visits in the weeks to follow was decidedly a function of my intellectual curiosity. It was my first visit to a battlefield apart from a family trip that included Yorktown, which I only remember as hot and boring. Continue reading “Why I Won’t Be Watching Ken Burns This Week”

Mike Huckabee ‘Getting Wrong’ With Lincoln

With the presidential election season moving into high gear it is just a matter of time before we are bombarded with the tired references to the Founding Fathers and Abraham Lincoln. It’s all about “getting right” with these men, but this past week Mike Huckabee completely missed the boat when he referenced Lincoln in his defense of Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk, who as you all know is currently in jail for defying a court order authorizing marriage certificates for gay couples.

Huckabee argues that Kim Davis is following in the footsteps of Lincoln, who he believes defied the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Dred Scott. Continue reading “Mike Huckabee ‘Getting Wrong’ With Lincoln”

Why I Will Not Sign the Civil War Trust’s Petition

The Civil War Trust is asking members and others to sign a “Citizens’ Petition in Support of War Memorial Preservation,” which will eventually be sent to Congressional leaders. I will not be signing it. It is certainly not because I don’t support the spirit of the petition. Let me explain.

The petition asks the public to reduce all American wars and all soldiers as worthy of continued honor. All soldiers, including Confederates , according to CWT ought to be remembered as “young soldiers who defended freedom.” How we remember the freedoms that Confederates fought so hard to achieve is exactly what is currently being debated. It is a legitimate debate/discussion that relates directly to the meaning attached to many Civil War monuments from Nathan Bedford Forrest in Memphis to the standard soldier monument on the courthouse lawn. Continue reading “Why I Will Not Sign the Civil War Trust’s Petition”