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”

Of Confederate Flags and Monuments

With the official end of summer upon us I decided to go back and list in chronological order all of the posts I have written about the ongoing debate about Confederate iconography going back to June.¬† I’ve been reviewing much of what I have written in preparation for a panel discussion that I will join in just a couple of weeks at the annual meeting of the American Association for State and Local History in Louisville. Participants include Bob Beatty, Dina Bailey, Steve Murray, W. Todd Groce and Eric Emerson. It promises to be an engaging discussion.

The other reason for going back is to try to make sense of what I’ve said and to see what threads, if any, can be discerned throughout. This brings me to an important point about blogging. Individual posts are very much time sensitive. They are opportunities to try out ideas and to see where things go. I’ve been pushed in different directions over the summer in response to various developments, many of which took me by surprise. In other words, you should expect that my thinking is going to evolve over time. Blogging is much more jazz improvisation than a carefully composed concerto. Continue reading “Of Confederate Flags and Monuments”

Portrait of J.E.B. Stuart Removed From Courtroom in Virginia

On August 19 Judge Martin Clark removed Stuart’s portrait from Patrick County, Virginia’s Circuit Court courtroom. Yesterday he offered a lengthy explanation for his actions and is well worth reading. On a side note, if I were teaching my Civil War memory class this year my students would be reading and discussing this document. It raises a number of relevant questions about the intersection of history, public memory and justice. Continue reading “Portrait of J.E.B. Stuart Removed From Courtroom in Virginia”

The Split Personality of Ken Burns’s “The Civil War”

On September 7 PBS will broadcast Ken Burns’s The Civil War on what will be the 25th anniversary of its release. Burns hopes that the re-packaging of the series in ultra high-definition will attract a new crowd. We shall see.

Recently, Burns was interviewed¬† about the anniversary of the series on CBS’s Face the Nation. He was asked about recent polls that continue to point to the percentage of Americans who do not identify slavery as the central cause of the war or its role in shaping the war’s outcome. Burns points to movies such as Birth of a Nation and Gone With the Wind as continuing to shape our memory of the war and the antebellum period. Certainly these movies influenced the viewing public at some point, but it’s difficult to believe that they remain relevant.

Burns would do well to look more closely at his own documentary for a better sense of why Americans continue to struggle to fully grasp the centrality of slavery to the Civil War. Continue reading “The Split Personality of Ken Burns’s “The Civil War””