Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Civil War Thought Police

We once knew that 1984 was a time span. A year, to be exact -- 365 days stretching between 1983 and 1985. We also knew it was the title of a distopian novel written by George Owell in the latter half of the 1940s. Many pop culture references grew from the novel -- War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength ... Big Brother, doublethink, Newspeak, memory hole -- and thought crime.

In the mid 1960s, when my class studied this novel, these concepts seemed foreign to us as Americans, and wholly unlikely to ever see the light of day in here in the USA.

How wrong we were. We've had thought crimes for several decades; they just have a different name: hate crimes -- selectively applied. And we have Thought Police. They work out of a network of police stations known as colleges and universities and, to a lesser extent, grammar and high schools, in the fourth estate and in government bureaucracy.

When I was coming up, the purpose of school was to teach one how to learn, so that education became a lifelong ability, self-achieved. Today, the purpose of school is to implant and cultivate in you what you must believe. Higher Education in the USA has become the (mostly) taxpayer supported, self-appointed Ministry of Truth. It is not at all surprising that the insidious manipulator of speech and thought that we call Political Correctness found its most welcome home in academia.

There used to be a saying in Old America -- "I may not agree with what you say, but I defend your right to say it."

How far we have strayed from that concept of rights, and live-and-let-live liberty. There are many illustrations of the distance we've traveled. I'm reminded of the news report several months ago of some government bureaucracy victimizing a woman who advertized for a roommate on her church bulletin board because her ad specified a Christian roommate...

But nothing illusrates the push toward totalitarian censorship -- in this case, in academia -- like the recent blog post by "civil war historian" Kevin Levin, urging a researcher into the black Confederates issue to take down her website.

Look at it again, folks. He's telling her to TAKE DOWN HER WEBSITE.

Can you believe the unAmerican audacity of this demand? It's truly breathtaking.

And why the demand? Because she's made a few mistakes in her research? (Who hasn't?) No. Because her work is "incredibly disturbing" and because her "commentary/analysis clearly points to a lack of understanding surrounding the larger issues related to African Americans and the Confederacy" and because she does "not understand how to conduct primary source analysis" and because her work as "been discredited."

All this, of course, is his "interpretation." It means "You didn't do it the way I did, therefore you're wrong. Anybody who doesn't do it the way I did is wrong."

He just can't seem to pile on enough slimy ridicule, which seems to be an increasing element in academia today. (There's even more of it in the comments at his and his cohorts' blogs.) But when you hose it all away, what's left is the incredibly arrogant assumption that only people who believe what he believes about any aspect the war and who arrived at the belief by the same route he did (academia) are right. This is a theme that recurs with the monotony of a pile driver in his blog posts -- and I've only read a fraction of them dating from the past few months.

The dust-up over the Black Confederates research and website in the self-appointed Ministry of Civil War Truth -- the blogs of Kevin Levin, Andy Hall, Brooks Simpson and tagger-along Corey Meyer, and who knows how many others -- will be the subject of more blog posts here at 180 DTS. If you want to see truly incredibly disturbing, stay tuned.


  1. Mr. Levin is no stranger to "interpretive mistakes." I informed him of a few in his study of Silas Chandler. He didn't seem to appreciate my input. Oh, well...

  2. BorderRuffian, why does that not surprise me?


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