Southerners are More Likely to Serve in Military

(January 12, 2020) As this New York Times article documents, Southerners are more likely to volunteer for military service.  Those “who sign up overwhelmingly come from counties in the South and a scattering of communities” close to military bases like Colorado Springs. “The South . . . produces 20 percent more recruits than would be expected, based on its youth population. The states in the Northeast . . . produce 20 percent fewer. Fayetteville, N.C. . . . provided more than twice as many military enlistment contracts as Manhattan, even though Manhattan has eight times as many people.”  Contrary to the politically correct expectations “African-Americans are [only] slightly more likely to serve.” Since the draft was abolished in the 1970s, Southerners have been more likely to volunteer. Their eagerness to defend America despite having ancestors in the Confederate Army may be one reason that the Army retains the names of ten military bases after Confederate generals.

Perhaps because she comes from the volunteer-deficient Northeast, Democrat New York Congresswoman Yvette Clarke introduced a bill in 2017 to require the Defense Department to change all ten names. Co-sponsor Congresswoman Grace Meng is also a New York Democrat. During a 2012 television interview, Clarke said that if she had a magic wish and could go back in time to 1898 she would have abolished slavery in Brooklyn. She apparently did no realize that American slavery had ended thirty-three years earlier. During her initial congressional election in 2006, Clarke claimed to be an Oberlin College graduate, but newspaper investigators discovered that she never graduated. Nonetheless, she got 90% of the vote against her Republican opponent.

Carlos Hathcock

Since today’s Army is disproportionately dependent upon the South for volunteers, the congressladies might consider the advantages of retaining the names to inspire enlistments in the region. According to Lieutenant Colonel Ralph Peters, Confederate solders merit such inspiration.

The myth of Johnny Reb as the greatest infantryman happens to be true. Not only the courage and combat skill, but the sheer endurance of the Confederate foot soldier may have been equaled in a few other armies over the millennia, but none could claim the least superiority. . . [T]he physical toughness, fighting ability and raw determination of those men remains astonishing.

The Confederate battle flag is a symbol of bravery, not slavery. I’m a Yankee, born and bred, and my personal sympathies lie with the Northern cause . . . To me, though, that red flag with the blue St. Andrews cross strewn with white stars does not symbolize slavery—that’s nonsense—but the stunning bravery of those who fought beneath it.”

Confederate soldiers may have inspired Southerner volunteers in twentieth century wars. Tennessee’s Alvin York was America’s most famous infantryman in World War I. Although his grandfather was a Union deserter, two of his grand-uncles sided with the Confederacy.  Texan Audie Murphy was the most decorated soldier of World War II. In Vietnam, Arkansas sniper Carlos Hathcock killed more enemy than anyone and even put a bullet in the eye of an opposing sniper through the foe’s telescopic sight. (Steven Spielberg theatrically copied this in his Saving Private Ryan movie.) Each man was born into the grinding poverty that typified much of the South for a century after the Civil War. As boys they hunted game for food, not sport.

During World War II, the first American flag to fly over the captured Japanese fortress at Okinawa was a Confederate Battle Flag.  A marine company put there to honor their commander—that happened to be a South Carolinian—who suffered a paralyzing wound in the victorious assault. Some of the tank crews that freed prisoners from German concentration camps also flew the Confederate Battle Flag.

Perhaps readers can see the merits of retaining Confederate memorials in America,  unlike The Washington Post that wants them destroyed while seeking to protect Iranian cultural sites regardless of that country’s future conduct.

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Sample my books at my My Amazon Author Page:

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh

Lee-Jackson Day Presentation: Save Confederate Memorials

(January 9, 2020) On Saturday, January 18th, I will be making a presentation at the Lexington, Virginia Lee-Jackson Day memorial to explain why Confederate statues and symbols should be preserved.

Presentation Subject: Defending Confederate Memorials
Speaker: Philip Leigh
Date: January 18, 2020 (a Saturday)
Time: Noon
Location: Hampton Inn on Col Mansion Grounds
401 East Nelson Street
Lexington, Virginia 24450

Although The Washington Post was recently outraged that President Trump briefly pondered whether he might retaliate against further Iranian aggression by targeting one of their cultural sites, The Post has for years eagerly advocated the removal of Confederate statues in America. Moreover, its opinion pages are silent about the vandalization and mob destruction of them. In contrast,  my speech will provide reasons why the statues should remain as inspirations of courage, duty and sacrifice that our country may yet need again. I am proud to be participating in the hometown of Washington & Lee and the Virginia Military Institute as well as the burial sites for Lee and Jackson.

My speech will begin as follows:

In 1965 Texas novelist William Humphrey wrote:

If the Civil War is more alive to the Southerner than the Northerner it is because all of the past is, and this is so because the Southerner has a sense of having been present there himself in the person of one or more of his ancestors. The war filled merely a chapter in his . . . [family history] . . .  transmitted orally from father to son [as] the proverbs, prophecies, legends, laws, traditions-of-origin and tales-of-wanderings of his own tribe. . . It is this feeling of identity with the dead (who are past) which characterizes and explains the Southerner.

It is with kin, not causes, that the Southerner is linked. Confederate Great-grandfather . . . is not remembered for his (probably undistinguished) part in the Battle of Bull Run; rather Bull Run is remembered because Great-grandfather was there. For the Southerner the Civil War is in the family.

Clannishness was, and is, the key to his temperament, and he went off to war to protect not Alabama but only those thirty or forty acres of its sandy hillside, or stiff red clay, which he broke his back tilling, and which was as big a country as his mind could hold.

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Sample my books at my My Amazon Author Page:

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh

Washington Post on Cultural Icons

(January 7, 2020) This morning’s Washington Post includes an article criticizing President Trump for saying that he is prepared to target Iran’s cultural sites if they retaliate for the killing of Qasem Soleimani who our intelligence services claim is a terrorist. The Post’s “art and architecture critic” writes:

Another line crossed. With his threat to destroy cultural sites in Iran if that country retaliates for the killing of one its top military leaders, the president of the United States has told the world that everything is on the table, including the deliberate targeting of things that bear in them the accumulated emotion and artistry of centuries, things that are invaluable and can never be replaced. And it’s not just a line determined by international law or conventions on the preservation of culture. It is about the soul of a culture or a people, their inmost essence, their fundamental values.

Now our president has declared that cultural destruction is our right. Likely, it is a test, to see how far he can transgress the old boundary lines between civilized and barbaric behavior.

The new line we crossed this weekend, isn’t between one set of cultural values vs. another; It is between culture and the void, between the many ways in which different people try to live together peacefully and the pure nihilism of autocracy.

Nonetheless, the Post is eager to destroy “cultural sites ” in the American South, most notably Confederate memorials. It applauds those who engage in the “barbaric” behavior of tearing down Confederate statues. It doesn’t promote measures to let Americans “live together peacefully” but prefers to promote “pure nihilism” by autocratically exercising its elite power to decide what memorials people of another region should be allowed to keep, no matter how long they’ve been in place.

The Goal of Our Academic Historians

During the past five years, or longer, the Post has published numerous articles sarcastically disparaging anyone seeking to honor the memory of Confederate leaders, or even the common soldier. Yet they have not published even a few in the defense of the statues. The Post evidently cannot believe that it is possible that there are two sides to the story.

Today’s article demonstrates, as well as any, that The Post writers are so uniform in their opinions that they cannot tell when they apply their opinions hypocritically. But they are not fooling anyone but themselves. Even kindergarten-aged children notice hypocrisy.

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Sample my books at my My Amazon Author Page:

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh

Pat Conroy on Gone with the Wind

(January 4, 2020) Literature often has a soft spot for the lost cause. Defeat lends an air of tragedy and nostalgia that victors find unnecessary. But history will forgive anything, except being out written. None can explain the devotion that Gone with the Wind has inspired from one generation to another, but one cannot let this ardor go unremarked upon either. Because its readers have held it in such high esteem, it has cheapened the book’s reputation as a work of art. Democracy works because of the will of the people, but it has the opposite effect when scholars begin to call out those books that make up the canon of our nation’s literature. Gone with the Wind has outlived a legion of critics and it will bury another whole set of them after the this century closes.

It was in Southern women that the deep hatred the war engendered came to nest. The women of the South became the only American women to know the hard truths of war firsthand. They went hungry just as their men did on the front lines, they starved when their men failed to come home for four straight growing seasons and hunger was an old story when the war ended. The Civil War still feels personal in the South, and what the women of the South brought to peacetime was Scarlett O’Hara’s sharp memory of exactly what they lost.

(The above are edited excerpts from Pat Conroy’s My Reading Life.)

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Sample my books at my My Amazon Author Page:

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh

 

Presentation Event: Southern Reconstruction

I’ll be making a PowerPoint presentation about my Southern Reconstruction book next week as detailed below:

Presentation Subject: Southern Reconstruction
Speaker: Philip Leigh
Date: January 7, 2020 (Tuesday)
Time: 9:00 AM
Location: Savannah Center
1545 N. Buena Vista Boulevard
The Villages, Florida 32162

Although the typical Reconstruction book focuses on the racial aspects, this presentation is chiefly about the era’s economics and politics. While there is no denying that blacks were maltreated during the era and that a legacy of racism continued, most of today’s historians ignore the fact that Southern poverty lasted longer than did segregation. Notwithstanding such results, they often claim that “the South lost the Civil War but won Reconstruction,” transforming blacks from slaves into de facto serfs.  Yet the photo below taken seventy years after the end of the Civil War suggests that the winners of Reconstruction were the white Northerners who exploited the South as if it were an internal colony, much like Great Britain did Ireland.

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Sample my books at my My Amazon Author Page:

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh

Yankee Cannibalism

(December 27, 2019) Although few, if any, of the most prominent Civil War and Reconstruction era historians object when Confederate statues are vandalized or removed, several were offended by the New York Times’ “1619 project,” which proclaims slavery and the contributions of black Americans as the central story of American history. Five professors, including James McPherson, Sean Wilentz and James Oakes wrote the Times asking that the newspaper correct misrepresentations about Abraham Lincoln and the alleged racist motivations for the American Revolution, among other factors. It’s not that the professors object to the disparagement of their favorite icons or ancestors, implying that only low-brow Southerners would do that. It’s that the “1619 Project” is bad history, unlike their own anti-Southern perspectives of the Civil War and Reconstruction. That’s the difference, see?

Apparently, few colleagues share the letter-writers’ viewpoint.  Although Wilentz invited other academics to join the five, he said that the timing was bad due to Christmas and the end of the fall semester. Nonetheless, when he circulated a letter calling for President Trump’s impeachment last week he amassed hundreds of signatures. When asked why she didn’t add her name to the 1619 letter, Princeton colleague Nell Painter, said: “For Sean and his colleagues, true history is how they would write it. And I feel like he was asking me to choose sides, and my side is 1619’s.” Similarly Duke historian Thavolia Glymph declined to sign because the letter showed “concern” that “placing the enslavement of black people and white supremacy at the forefront . . . somehow diminishes American history.”

In the letter and a New Yorker interview, Wilentz felt compelled to express his objections apologetically: “Each of us think that the idea of the 1619 Project is fantastic. I mean, it’s just urgently needed. The idea of bringing to light not only scholarship but all sorts of things that have to do with the centrality of slavery and of racism to American history is a wonderful idea. Far from an attempt to discredit the Project, our letter is intended to help it.”  In contrast, he didn’t hesitate to erroneously disparage Southerners with comments about the Carpetbagger interpretation of Reconstruction formulated by the Dunning School. Notwithstanding that Willam Dunning was from New Jersey and earned all his degrees from Columbia where he taught, Wilentz said, “The Dunning School is not a white point of view; it’s a southern, racist point of view.”

Thus, there’s an apparent split in the history profession. If the five signatories prove to be the minority, academics may soon be urging students to vandalize and protest the memorials for any historical figures judged to be inconsistent with “1619” interpretations, regardless of what uniform the historical person wore. Meanwhile, Confederate statues might be smiling to see their enemies eating one another alive.

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Sample my books at my My Amazon Author Page:

The Confederacy at Flood Tide by Philip Leigh
Trading With the Enemy by Philip Leigh
Lee’s Lost Dispatch & Other Civil War Controversies by Philip Leigh
Southern Reconstruction by Philip Leigh
U. S. Grant’s Failed Presidency by Philip Leigh