(May 3, 2018) Bullies, who would normally be deterred by a punch in the nose or a slap on the face in the real World, presently flock to cyberspace. In the context of Civil War and Reconstruction era history, they loiter mischievously at FaceBook (FB) discussion groups and other online forums. The acceptable viewpoints in such forums are controlled by “administrators” or “moderators” who too often are really censors of perspectives—no matter how valid—that are contrary to their own. Generally their viewpoints conform to the teachings of history professors during the last thirty years.
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Thus, Ulysses Grant is presumed to be a heroic civil rights President and the best military commander of the Civil War. Any contrary analysis is viciously attacked and often censored. Similarly, anyone providing evidence critical of the Northern interpretation, or favorable to the Southern perspective, is swarmed with such assaults, against-the-rules personal insults, and eventually labeled a “slavery apologist”, racist, or proponent of “Lost Cause Mythology.” Any in-kind response that the victim’s attackers are “Grant Fanboys”, “Pious Cause Mythologists” and “tyranny apologists” is censored.
While those controlling such groups imagine themselves to be brave social justice warriors dedicated to “correcting” earlier misinterpretations of the war and reconstruction, their true character as bullies is revealed by the fact that they limit their remarks to their own forum—even when the original post in an applicable forum thread originated at a separate blog, e-zine, or other online publication. Here’s one example.
About six months ago somebody posted one of my blog articles to a Civil War FB group. Since my analysis differed from the group’s dominant viewpoint it was vigorously attacked by dozens of commenters including “administrators.” One commenter whined that he thought (erroneously) that I had been banned from the group. Other discussion participants had to tell him that somebody else posted the article, not me. Partly because I was unaware of the thread for several days, I did not participate in the FB discussion.
One reason I was unaware was because none of the FB group members critical of the article elected to ask questions, or comment, about it at my website. Instead, they restricted their remarks to the FB group where a mob of allies and agenda-friendly “administrators” protected them by censoring the best rebuttals to their arguments. Although most FB groups—including that one—generally cite good reasons (e.g. personal attacks) for “editing” participant remarks, ultimately enforcement-fairness depends upon the integrity of the “administrators.” Thus, unethical “administrators” and their buddies might accuse debate opponents of “intellectual dishonesty” without consequence, but promptly censor any opponent who makes the same accusation against them or one of their fellow mobsters. Such behavior is a time-proven characteristic of persons with unrestrained authority as Aesop explains in his fable of the Wolf and the Lamb.
Even dictatorships like Soviet Russia had rules intended to promote even-handed justice. But if Premier Stalin wanted somebody jailed or executed, the outcome was as certain as fleas on a yard dog. The situation is much the same where biased online “administrators” and “moderators” rule. And that is why bullies congregate there.