Saying Goodbye to the “Confederate Taliban”

Thanks to Brooks Simpson for providing me with a good laugh as I continue to make the tough decisions about what stays and goes from my library.  Most of you now know that my wife and I are moving to Boston this summer.  The overwhelming majority of emails and comments have been nothing but supportive, but I have received a number of messages that have not been so kind.  These come from a small, but vocal minority that I fondly refer to as the “Confederate Taliban.”  Their hate-filled pronouncements do little more than highlight an inability to intelligently discuss history and in many cases I suspect that their rants are a function of very little, if any, understanding of a history that they claim to own and defend against those they perceive as outsiders.  Oh well.

As I contemplate my life in Boston I find it funny that – all things being equal – I ought to expect the very same attitude in response to my blogging that I’ve experienced here in Virginia.  After all, I will be as much of an outsider in Boston as I am in Charlottesville.  Will there be an equivalent to the Confederate Taliban in Massachusetts that springs into action when a boy from New Jersey asks questions or delves into certain aspects of its past?  When I point out the role of slavery or explore difficult moments in the history of race relations in the region will I hear that the South also had slavery and that it was much worse?  And what will happen if I ask certain questions about John Adams or Col. Robert Gould Shaw?

On the one hand I know the CT will miss me.  They thrive on being able to explain all that they perceive to be wrong by pointing the finger at those they perceive as outsiders.  Interestingly, I never felt like an outsider during my ten years in Virginia, which is a testament to the kindness I experienced from the many new Virginia transplants as well as those who can trace their lineage back to the early years.  In the end, very little about this blog is going to change in terms of content and style.  I know the CT will take comfort in knowing that what I blog about in Massachusetts will still be accessible down here in Virginia.  Perhaps once I am gone they can reorganize and go after those of their own, who have betrayed the sacred cause.

Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth

“Levin’s study is the first of its kind to blueprint and then debunk the mythology of enslaved African Americans who allegedly served voluntarily in behalf of the Confederacy.”–Journal of Southern History

Purchase your copy today!

19 comments… add one
  • John Buchanan Mar 14, 2011 @ 11:46


    You will have no problem in Boston so long as:

    You never

    a) say anything bad about the Red Sox, and
    b) say anything good about the Yankees or Canadiens, and
    c) remember anything west of the Connecticut River in CT is no longer New England. It is just Upper Long Island!

  • Nat Turner's Son Mar 10, 2011 @ 9:43

    Enjoy Boston and Charm City Cakes.

  • James F. Epperson Mar 8, 2011 @ 4:03

    One problem with the modern digital world—you are never too far from the Confederate Taliban 🙁

  • Neil Hamilton Mar 7, 2011 @ 16:51


    As a great man once said, “History is not history, unless it is the truth.”

    I’ll be looking forward to coming to this blog and learning about the truth of Civil War Memory for many years to come, no matter what state it comes from.

    Thank you for all the time and effort you place here. It is sincerely appreciated.


    • Kevin Levin Mar 7, 2011 @ 17:11

      Thanks Neil.

  • Jeff Howell Mar 7, 2011 @ 15:32

    Hi. I recently discovered your blog. I really enjoy it. I teach history for a living at a college in Georgia. I have had to deal with some of these CT folks over the years. They defy all rationality. Keep up the good work.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 7, 2011 @ 15:33

      Nice to hear from you, Jeff. Thanks for the kind words.

  • Matt McKeon Mar 7, 2011 @ 13:16

    With a website, how does it matter where you are geographically? Maybe that’s why the relative lack of fireworks: in terms of your site, you’re not really leaving.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 7, 2011 @ 13:26

      Exactly, but like I said you haven’t seen the best of the lot. 🙂

  • Richard McCormick Mar 7, 2011 @ 12:04

    My apologies – I didn’t mean to post that last link to this thread. I thought Kevin might like to see it and thought I had found a way to send it to him without posting it here. My bad

    • Kevin Levin Mar 7, 2011 @ 12:07

      No problem.

  • Richard McCormick Mar 7, 2011 @ 10:58

    I really enjoy this site. It’s quite educational.

    I thought you might be interested in this story.

  • Tom Ward Mar 7, 2011 @ 10:12

    I figured the whole move to Boston was just some sort of protective custody thing for you.

    • Kevin Levin Mar 7, 2011 @ 10:13

      That’s right, just think of that last scene in Goodfellas. 🙂

  • Andy Hall Mar 7, 2011 @ 9:53

    Not surprised in the least that you’re getting messages of that sort privately, but I haven’t noticed much public crowing over your departure for colder climes. The Southron Heritage™ crowd isn’t especially bashful about things like that; did I miss it?

    • Kevin Levin Mar 7, 2011 @ 9:54

      I had to delete the worst of it and a number of high ranking members of the CT emailed me privately.

  • Patty Mar 7, 2011 @ 9:43

    I am a Southerner who lived in Massachusetts for 20 years, you will be fine in Boston. Boston’s ethnic lines are divided on so many levels.. you have the South End (Irish American) , the North End ( Italian Americans), China Town.. (Asian Americans), Watertown (Middle Eastern-Americans), etc… You will be lucky if you find anyone who even remembers the Civil War.

  • Marianne Davis Mar 7, 2011 @ 9:35

    I know you will be happy in Boston, and that you will find as many gracious and intellectually curious people there as anywhere else in the United States. While the Civil War is not as “present” in New England as it may be in Virginia, the legacy of our shared past hangs heavy over Boston as well. No one should forget that for every video of Bull Conner setting dogs on protesters, there is one of loving mothers spewing venom at black children trying to enroll in Boston public schools.

    But, when you settle in, drop me a line and I will steer you to the best dim sum in town. Good luck, Marianne

    • Kevin Levin Mar 7, 2011 @ 9:37

      Thanks Marianne. Hope you are doing well.

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