Vist the Washington Post, folks, and read the following, and then come back here for my piercing and decisive commentary:
The dodgy world of Southern history
by Peter Galuszka
Galuszka doesn't make his case any better than Masoff, the woman he's criticizing, does, and he inescapably exposes his biases.
"Masoff, who is not a trained historian..." (i.e., doesn't toe the court-historian line), "says she got the information from a Web site. It can be traced to the Sons of Confederate Veterans, a Tennessee-based group open exclusively to males who can show that their ancestors fought for the Confederacy."
Nothing in that "tracing" of the source proves the information untrue.
"It can be traced", incidently, is a journalistic lapse into the passive voice, which usually signals a reluctance to be forthcoming with concrete information, likely because the information doesn't exist. If Galuszka was a journalist worth his salt, he'd have used the active voice (as he did later in the article) and said, "I traced the information to a web site, http://www.jacksonblackregiments.com/, which is owned by the Sons of Confederate Veterans and I confirmed that's what the website claims that Jackson..." That he didn't say it this way leaves me suspicious.
Article continues, "Disputes like this used to be fairly common some years ago, and it is surprising that they continue to crop up."
Surprising to who?
"Many serious historians note...."
Court historians toeing the PC line, no doubt. And unnamed, you'll notice. "Many historians note" doesn't establish untruth, proof or disproof. It just informs us what the "many" (unidentified) historians (trained ones, unlike Masoff? Why, he doesn't say!) "note."
Presumably, in this case, note means "believe" or "think" or "write" or "teach" or something. It's another one of those squishy, mamby-pamby terms some "journalists" use to keep from having to be held to what they say. Presumably, because they "note" something, we're supposed to swallow it as gospel.
Speaking of court historians, anybody recall who is the respected historian who said he BECAME a historian out of a personal desire to make the South look bad? I can't remember his name right now, I'll try to look him up if I have time, but I don't have a lot of respect for court historians who display that kind of biased attitude.
"...very few African Americans fought for the Confederacy, although some slaves were used as forced labor to build fortifications or as valets to Southern officers."
Whether blacks fought for the Confederacy, and in what numbers, is a nonissue to me. I don't know or care whether Jackson had a couple of black battalions. If he didn't, it shouldn't be in history books that he did. On the other hand, if blacks fought for the Confederacy, in whatever numbers, for whatever reasons, their service should be acknowledged and honored.
There is quite a bit of anecdotal evidence in the letters, diaries, journals and reports of officers and soldiers on both sides that report witnessing themselves, or receiving reports from others, that blacks were fighting for the South. There is also the evidence that blacks were treated as veterans by Confederate vets at their anniversary gatherings, and were given residence in old folks homes provided for Confederate vets. It is just as wrong for court historians to ignore this evidence, or attempt to downplay or neutralize it, as it is to claim Confederate black battalions existed if they didn't.
Since the civil rights movement and the advent of political correctness, an attitude has developed in this country that black folks all think alike about everything. They're mental clones. During the Confederate flag flaps of the last decade, newspaper writers (I won't call them journalists) wrote over and over and over and over, "Blacks think the flag is offensive" and "To blacks the flag symbolizes slavery" etc. They all think alike about slavery, about the war, about Jim Crow, about the civil rights movement, about the Great Society...
I don't believe it. Most blacks who were *identified* as offended by the flag were activist types, like local NAACP leaders wanting to keep their organization relevant, or leftist Hollywood/music biz types (think Spike Lee-types or Ludicris) who play to a PC audience. The black population in the South had lived with flag displays, Confederate monuments, streets, and other memorials, for years, decades...gen-er-a-tions...without a peep.
During the flag flaps, white liberals (white-guilty liberals wanting to force the whole Southern white population to share their guilt feelings) did as much bellyaching as black activists. They were the "journalists" who reported flag flaps with descriptions like this: "...the Confederate flag, a red flag with a blue X and white stars in the X, which is an offensive and painful reminder of slavery to blacks..."
It was like they were giving lessons... "See, folks? Expecially black folks? This is what you're supposed to be offended by; here's what it looks like, and here's why you should be offended...."
(Some learned their lessons a little too well. During the outbreak of flag-flaps and the war against all kinds of Confederate memorials and symbology, I came across a news report of some black lady in Georgia who was "offended" by her BANK. She said it had a RACIST name. It was "Heritage Bank." I'm not making this up.)
The outrage and offendedness today still seems more a function of white liberals (like this "journalist" Galuszka) than ordinary blacks.
Galuszka inserts bias into this "report" like this: "Critics say that assertions such as Masoff's ought be strongly opposed because they are designed to give the Southern cause -- maintaining slavery -- credibility. Groups that tend to romanticize the traditional white Southerners' view of the conflict counter that a lot of honest history gets lost in politically correct versions that have been taught in schools for decades."
How do critics know what such assertions are "designed" to do? That's just their opinion. You'd have to ask the person doing the asserting, and Galuszka evidently didn't. He just assumes. Then, there's this phrase, "Groups that tend to romanticize the traditional white Southerners' view of the conflict..." Unnamed groups, I, um, note. And who determines that they "tend to romantacize" anything? Galuszka? LOL.
And does he prove this assertion of his? Why, no. Look what he says next, "I am not a Southern by background but have lived a good part of my life in the South. One still cannot escape what some whites wish could have been."
What whites? How does he know what they wish?
Hey, a lot of honest history DOES get lost in politically correct versions taught in schools -- and not just the South's history. Does he not know this? Or does it just not matter to somebody whose purpose is the PC put-down?
His contempt for the South and Southerners (one assumes only white Southerners) is threaded throught this short piece of writing (I won't call it journalism) and serves to give readers a biased view of them. (...Groups that tend to romanticize the traditional white Southerners' view of the conflict counter ... One still cannot escape what some whites wish could have been ... a pleasant little town with the usual characters waxing eloquent about moonlight and magnolia ... a self-styled historian who would fit right in with the Sons of Confederate Veterans ...)
He ends with, "You would think that anyone with a hand in the contents of a grade-school textbook would understand that. Cribbing material off a Web site posted by a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans is suspect at best."
But he didn't bother to provide proof that Masoff's account is untrue, regardless of where she cribbed it from.
This Wapo "journalist" deserves completely indifference or mild contempt --and that's precisely what he gets from me.