A Plea To My Readers

I highly value the comments of my readers; however, I ask that you stop using the phrase ‘politically correct’ since I have no idea what it means.  It seems to be a quick way of stating some kind of disagreement, but as to its more specific content I admit to being clueless.  So I suggest that instead of referring to it you explain your position clearly and concisely. 

As many of you know I am very interested in questions relating to how public spaces have been used by various groups to maintain political control as well as control of the way we remember as a nation.  There is a very rich literature on this and I hope to add to it with my work on postwar commemorations and memory of the battle of the Crater. 

Feel free to voice your informed opinion, but if you expect me to respond make sure that you have an argument, and that means a set of assumptions followed by a conclusion.

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5 comments… add one
  • Hiram Hover Dec 11, 2006 @ 17:24

    Just to reinforce what Kevin is saying here, and has said before–taking the name off a public place is no more or less an exercise of political power than the act of putting it on in the first place.

    I’ve yet to hear a cogent explanation of why one is okay and the other isn’t, and the commenter here and on the previous thread don’t even seem to be trying to provide one.

  • Kevin Levin Dec 11, 2006 @ 16:45

    John, — I think you should take one step back and relax. I have never called for the renaming of all public places names after Confederate figures nor do I know of anyone who has proposed such a thing. My interests as a historian connect with issues that are situated at the intersection of politics, public memory, race, and history.

    Your insistence that this issue should be understood as just another example of pc ignores the complexity and history surrounding the naming of public spaces. As I stated in the post there is a rich literature on this issue and I am more than happy to engage in a discussion about it. I am not interested in throwing vague phrases around that say absolutely nothing informative.

  • John Smith Dec 11, 2006 @ 16:34

    The post that prompted your comment was perfectly clear in the context it was presented. The Forrest issue is pc related. I think most readers know exactly what the writer meant. I have no problem with new buildings, bridges, roads, etc. being named after more current figures-that is logical-but the effort across America to rename anything associated with the Confederacy or with colonial slaveholders is pc motivated. And your sandblasting comment has already been proposed at Vanderbilt. Fortunately, the courts saw differently.

  • Kevin Levin Dec 11, 2006 @ 15:23

    You expect me to believe that you didn’t understand the broader point that I was trying to make? I can’t tell you how many times readers have left messages on this blog or have mailed me directly and have included references to political correctness. My point is that the phrase is vacuous. If you have a point to make than make it, but be clear and concise. That is all.

  • John Smith Dec 11, 2006 @ 15:17

    You expect me to believe that you don’t know what “politically correct” means? Please.

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