06 November 2007 by Published in: Blogging 26 comments

Kevin Levin has been following the evolution of a new blog dedicated to the advancement of Neo-Confederate ideology for several months now. Today, for the first time, I took a look at it, and it’s scary.

Calling herself Dixie Dawn, here’s how our Neo-Confederate heroine describes herself: “a staunch rebel if you will. A true southern raised redneck girl and a believer in the real causes for civil war as well as preserving the heritage of our south and the confederate soldiers.” Not hard to figure out what her worldview is, is it? It likewise isn’t hard to figure out that any attempts to try to engage her in rational discussion that might get her to change her mind won’t be terribly successful and will only lead to excruciating levels of frustration for those who might try.

What’s more is that Dixie Dawn allows anonymous comments on her blog. She permits one clown in particular to launch personal attacks on anyone who disagrees with the neo-Confederate worldview and then allows that person to hide behind anonymity. NOTHING infuriates me more than that, which is why I don’t permit it here. I likewise do not permit anyone to hide behind some made-up name here, either. If you’re going to attack someone, at least have the guts to sign your name to your post. Otherwise, you’re a gutless coward who’s not worth the time of day or the bandwidth clogged up by him or her.

Nevertheless, to his undying credit, fellow blogger David Woodbury has fought the good fight and has tried, with admirable patience and with admirable restraint, not to respond to the numerous personal attacks launched upon him by the anonymous knuckle dragger who refuses to sign his comments. David, I don’t know how you do it. Perhaps you have a Don Quixote complex, or perhaps you enjoy being frustrated. More power to you. I’d have blown a gasket long ago.

In any event, this sort of neo-Confederate hooey scares me, as I worry that the uneducated will actually buy into this crap and accept it as true. We have to be diligent and we have to fight the neo-Confederate wars every day. I have done so, and will continue to do so. Kudos to Kevin and David for fighting the good fight (although Kevin’s post makes it pretty clear that he’s throwing in the towel on Dixie Dawn).

Scridb filter

Comments

  1. Steve Basic
    Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 2:00 am

    Eric,

    As you know, I visited the HQ of the SCV in Columbia, TN this past June, and it was an eye opening experience, and one that scared the hell outta me. For once, I did not blow a gasket, and left earlier than I was supposed to after listening to an hour of “rhetoric”. No point in staying, and knew I was in another world when the only flag flying there was the Confederate flag.

    There are 2 sides to the story of the Civil War, and yet I keep coming in touch with those who only focus on one side, and do so as if the war is still not over. My advice to them is to honor their ancestors who fought and died in the CW and remember them for their courage and duty. I know I do, whether they wore Blue or Gray. I have no ancestors who fought in the war, and while I am a Yankee, I have never disrespected the soldiers who fought for the South.

    I have a hard time understanding folks like the aforementioned Dixie Dawn, and am with you. Have the guts to post your real name if you are gonna spout off such nonsense. The Southern soldiers who fought in the war were not cowards, but it is easy to see that Dixie Dawn does not follow their example. Talk about a disgrace to Southern heritage.

    Hope all is well.

    Steve

  2. Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 10:09 am

    Well said Steve. I posted a couple thoughts on this over on my blog. It’s no secret my work tends to favor the southern-perspective, but I agree that there is ‘extremism’ in everything. I also understand the notion of ‘biased’ interpretations based upon regions and other factors. To me, that division is part of the history itself. I’m not saying that I support blatantly false presentations, but I am saying that I see two very different perspectives when it comes to the war and the divisiveness that caused the conflict in the first place and believe that it is still relevant today. In other words, the idea that “Sherman was brilliant.” OR “Sherman was a bastard.” is a perfect example of two TRUTHS depending upon where you ‘sit.’ Both statements are equal in value and merit. Both ‘cancel’ each other out. But they don’t have to (IMO). I like to think that Sherman was a ‘brilliant bastard.’

  3. Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 10:50 am

    “In other words, the idea that “Sherman was brilliant.” OR “Sherman was a bastard.” is a perfect example of two TRUTHS depending upon where you ’sit.’”

    I would argue that both claims are meaningless as historical statements. They are staements of personal opinion that are not subject to any amount of evidence.

  4. Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 11:09 am

    Kevin, obviously that is a simplistic example. The ‘meaning’ behind it that the North’s historical view of Sherman’s actions vs. the South’s view of his actions are opposite – yet BOTH equal in their validity and honest in their perspectives. Neither is untrue. (And it doesn’t surprise me that you would want to take the ‘personal’ out of historical narrative. We understand you have zero attachment to any of this genre as you have stated that again an again. That is entirely your prerogative. I however do.)

  5. Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 11:12 am

    Michael,

    With all due respect–and you know I respect you and your opinions–doesn’t the fact that you admittedly do have a personal attachment/stake make it difficult for you to be objective about this?

    Eric

  6. Jim Morgan
    Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 11:38 am

    Anyone know anything about the ref on “Dixie Dawn” to pension records of several thousand Virginia Confederates? What’s the background to that? Did the poster make it up? Is there some grain of truth in there somewhere that he exaggerated? I’d never heard of that before.

    Jim Morgan

  7. Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 11:46 am

    Perhaps Eric, but I think it all depends on what your ‘angle’ or audience is. Since I write more in the Christian realm, my ‘freelance’ work has an agenda. I try to focus on positive and uplifting subjects. The work I do in the newspaper and magazines is more mainstream and/or secular and I tend not to write from that focus. Therefore I respect both approaches depending on their intended audiences and applications. There is quite a difference between a devotional and a tactical study.

    My point in this discussion is that there are clearly different sides to every history and that the interpretations should be looked at from both sides. Yes there are extremists, but there are also those who look at things from a regional perspective based upon their own interests and experiences. The idea of this ‘neutral’ realm where everything is intentionally 100% impartial bores me to tears. I couldn’t do anything in life with any kind of passion if I didn’t love it. Then it would be too much like a job and who the heck wants that?

    Clearly the reasoning behind my religious vignette on Stuart and your excellent tome were different, but I think that we both respect the heck out of this guy and felt drawn to him. My book paints him as a hero to look up to. Your book presents the story of what made him heroic. I like to think that we’re both correct even though we have very different approaches.

  8. Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 11:47 am

    Michael,

    Fair enough. Now that you explain that, it makes sense.

    Eric

  9. Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 11:47 am

    Jim,

    I know NOTHING about that. I wondered the same thing.

    Eric

  10. Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 12:02 pm

    Hey guys. I just wanted to pop in again in reference to your query. The NPS here has pension records in a database. I believe it was Robert Krick who went through thousands and only found reference to a handful of “Colored Confederates” and by a handful I mean less than 10 or 20. I interviewed him for an article a couple years ago and he referenced the pension records being an excellent source for genealogists tracking down ancestors. In some cases they are the ONLY proof (in writing) of their service. I also believe there are searchable pension records online at many of the historical societies. I think I went through Allegheny Counties a couple years ago. Not sure that helps but caught my eye.

  11. Marc Ferguson
    Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 12:50 pm

    “Anyone know anything about the ref on “Dixie Dawn” to pension records of several thousand Virginia Confederates?”

    A number of Southern states were quite liberal in granting Civil War pensions to blacks who claimed to have provided labor for the Confederate army. As I understand it, all they had to submit was some form of documentation, often in the form of a letter from an ex-Confederate soldier, to the effect that they had been “employed.” This is similar to the argument that blacks showed up in Union prisoner of war camps, so they must have been enlisted as soldiers. When these individuals are investigated, they are listed as having been cooks, musicians, etc… not exactly military ranks.

    Marc

  12. Lee Hodges
    Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 1:43 pm

    One of the most comical examples of the “neo-Confederate” viewpoint is “The South Was Right” by the Kennedy brothers (James Ronald and Walter Donald) of Mississippi. I read that book sometimes just for laughs. One of my favorite quotes is when they say:

    “It may prove a little embarrassing to those who claim that the North was fighting for the blacks to note that no less than two African-Americans were taken prisoner from the Southern army at the Battle of Gettysburg…”

    Huh? “No less than two”? Thousands of Confederates were taken prisoner at Gettysburg. Blacks were not some small minority in the Civil War South–they were about 40% of the population. One immediately wonders why, if the South was as tolerant of blacks as the Kennedys claim, why so few were taken prisoner at Gettysburg, not so many!

    And then they say that one of these prisoners could have passed for a white man!! They seem not to realize that this information weakens, not strengthens, their case!

    On the book jacket, it says that the Kennedys enjoying reenacting Civil War battles in their spare time. I certainly wouldn’t want to be a Union soldier “captured” by them!

  13. Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 3:16 pm

    “The South Was Right” is the neo-Confederate bible. I’ve poured through it for some online discussions before, and the ignorance and misinformation in that book is astonishing. It would be a humorous parody if so many people didn’t quote it as “research.” Richard McMurry tore it to shreds many years ago in a brilliant review for “The Civil War News.” For some reason, none of McMurry’s quotes showed up as dust jacket blurbs. (g)

    What I can’t understand is why, year in and year out, you see “The South Was Right” on the shelves of major chains like Barnes & Noble.

    David

  14. Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 6:01 pm

    And in the non-fiction section, to boot.

  15. Rob Wick
    Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 7:35 pm

    Because at B&N we sell whatever we can to make money. I’m in charge of the history section and sometimes I have to hold my nose when I sell a book but I’ve had to do that for the past 10 years I’ve been there in various sections. And believe me, I agree the book is dumb, but it does sell (mores the pity!)

    Best
    Rob

  16. Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 8:32 pm

    Rob,

    I can appreciate that you sell what the customers want. I would never advocate censoring it. I guess I’m just disappointed that there’s a continuing demand for the book. The combination of that title, and the battleflag design on the dust jacket probably generates a lot of sales to people who have no idea it’s a crappy political tract.

    David

  17. Lee Hodges
    Wed 07th Nov 2007 at 11:47 pm

    A lot of what’s in “The South Was Right” reminds me of the play “Springtime for Hitler” in the movie (and musical) “The Producers.” Although the Kennedys, unlike Mel Brooks, didn’t write their stuff for laughs, they might as well have because it’s just as over the top.

    For me, the most hilarious part of all is when the Kennedys argue that slaves in the South were better off than free blacks in the North because according to the 1850 census records (why do they just look at this one census?) only one in 1,464 Southern slaves was “deaf, dumb, blind, insane, or idiotic” where as one in 506 free blacks in the North are recorded as being one of these things. But they also say that one in 1,000 whites, Northerners and Southerners, are listed this way in the census. So by their reasoning, it was better to be a black slave than a white person in pre-Civil War America! If I heard someone suggest that to me, I’d think the person should be committed to a mental institution!

    Who knows, maybe it was better to be a Jew in Germany in 1939 than in the United States! We’ll have to look at the numbers of Jews in both countries who had physical or mental problems before we can say for sure 🙂

  18. Thu 08th Nov 2007 at 12:30 pm

    Hope this question isn’t out-of-bounds, but based on the discussion of the Kennedys’ book, does that make you unlikely to approach Pelican as a publisher? I had approached them several years ago as a possibe outlet for my first book, but was treated poorly and have good reason to belive it had to do w/ a manuscript that was “Yankee-centric”…having seen more of their titles since then, I’d rather print a book at Kinko’s than at Pelican.

    Best Regards,

    Jim Schmidt

  19. Thu 08th Nov 2007 at 12:55 pm

    Jim, I had submitted the manuscript for my 3rd book which was more ‘Confederate-centric’ and was on the verge of a deal when they suddenly pulled out in the 11th hour. I wasted 6 months after they sent promising emails that made the deal look close. I even had an excellent review by the assigned reader. I was very surprised when they canceled. They said they were concerned about marketing the piece, which was fair. So I used my media contacts and acquired pledged press support with magazine, newspaper, and radio outlets. Unfortunately they said that they don’t reconsider works that have been rejected. It was a tad unprofessional in my opinion and they don’t return my emails anymore. Thankfully I’ve moved on to bigger pubs, but that stung for a while. As they do publish both Christian and Southern materials I thought I was a shoe-in w/ a Civil War Devotional titled “The Southern Cross”… Wrong! 🙂

  20. Thu 08th Nov 2007 at 2:49 pm

    Jim,

    That makes two of us. In my mind, they’re the new White Mane.

    Eric

  21. Thu 08th Nov 2007 at 2:51 pm

    That’s a good question, Jim. Seeing as they’re still all over the place in major bookstores, the Kennedy books are probably a bit of a cash cow for them. But is this outweighed by harm to their reputation or their ability to attract better manuscripts?….I don’t know. I am sort of uneasy including them on my publisher links because of the Kennedy books. Confederate-themed books do seem to dominate there, but on your question of ‘Yankee-centricity’, the recent Jim Lane bio they published is very sympathetic to the subject and his actions, so I don’t think one can maintain that they reject books simply on those grounds. The author’s Blunt bio presumably has the same tone. The Shelby book is quite evenhanded. There is a mix of craziness and levelheadedness in their catalog.

  22. Thu 08th Nov 2007 at 2:53 pm

    BTW, by ‘outweighed’ I meant to them, not us. I think we would all agree that the Kennedy books are a significant black mark against the publisher.

  23. Thu 08th Nov 2007 at 4:02 pm

    THE absolute worst Civil War book I’ve ever seen was published by Pelican, by the way. It can be found here, and which has been the subject of a number of rants by me on this blog in its very early days.

    Eric

  24. Thu 08th Nov 2007 at 6:21 pm

    Thanks for the replies, guys. My experience w/ Pelican was very much like Michael’s. That is, very encouraging e-mails from the editor including “we’re working up the contract, etc.” followed by a “I’m sorry, but he (the publisher) thought your book was about something else.” That’s what made me think that the contract being pulled might have been motivated by “certain sympathies.” I had already been a little leary based on reviews of books (as Eric mentioned) but of course I had the conceit that I could naturally turn their ship around.

    No matter…I’ve got a great partner now in Edinborough Press.

    All My Best,

    Jim

  25. Thu 08th Nov 2007 at 7:50 pm

    I initially had high regard for Pelican, when they came out with Jerry Potter’s book on the Sultana disaster. But the Kennedy books, and one or two others, make it unthinkable for me personally to ever consider submitting a manuscript to them. I would not want to have something of mine associated that stuff in a catalog, or on a website, or on a dealer’s table at a bookshow (easy for me to say, since I don’t have a manuscript to send to anybody).

    David

  26. Lee Hodges
    Fri 09th Nov 2007 at 12:26 am

    What pisses me off about so many of the neo-Confederates is their seeming need to make everyone else adopt their beliefs. Why can’t they just say they are honoring their Confederate ancestors and leave it at that? I have a video called “Echoes of the Blue and Gray” which shows footage of Union and Confederate veterans at joint reunions, including the Gettysburg reunions of 1913 and 1938. These men are not beating each other over the head, trying to convince each other of the righteousness of their respective causes (I guess there were some who did do that, but they generally didn’t go to the joint reunions in the first place). If real life survivors of the Civil War managed to act so mature, why do so many of their descendants have to be so childish? Even aside from the slavery issue, it should be obvious that given the stunning success of the modern United States as a nation, most non-Southern (and many Southern) Americans will seriously question the idea that the country should have split in two in the 1860s. Yet the neo-Confederates seem to expect everyone to swallow their viewpoint hook, line, and sinker.

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