Goodbye, history: No brown wrapper required
In the summer of 2003, the editor of Blue and Gray magazine issued a warning. His editorial was titled "Civil War History Under Attack".
Blue and Gray magazine is a publication rife with maps and military information. It shunned any political biases or references to the causal nature of the war. It was a battlefield "trampers" guide. Reading the articles, so very well researched, enticed one to visit the battlefields, walk the grounds, follow the regimental movements. It was a treasure trove, a magazine you kept on the bookshelf rather than in the recycle bin. The Civil War student cherished this publication.
In his editorial of 14 years ago (Summer issue 2003), the editor of that publication cautioned of the surge in political correctness regarding Civil War studies:
If things continue in the manner I've witnessed the past few years … we may not be far from having to meet in secret locations and speak in whispers, lest they be members of the PC police. ... Longtime traditions have fallen to political correctness.
The editor continued:
Once everything Confederate is torn down because a few individuals view it as a reminder of slavery or racism, will everything "Civil War" be next? Some highly connected anti Civil War activists are already trying to turn our battlefield parks into slavery museums.
In 2000, Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. "slipped language into an appropriations bill that mandated that the National Park Service address slavery's role as the primary cause of the war at relevant sites." That's right. In an appropriations bill, history was forced to be taught in a specific fashion. We now reap the effects.
Enter the "publish or perish" politically correct faculty members of the university history departments. There is an old adage that the duty of a historian is "not to invent." But in order not to repeat that which has been written regarding a war 150 years ago, invention described as "new scholarship" is peddled. A prime example is a recent book by Professor Elizabeth Varon titled Appomattox in which she supposes meanings and alters the intent of the speaker, in this case none other than Robert E. Lee, to arrive at new conclusions and insights. The author maintains that Lee implied certain things that were never actually said, yet she dismisses that which was indeed articulated by Lee. Invention.
In 1960, a nuclear submarine was named in honor of Robert E. Lee. Yet now, for some, a statue of him is too much to bear. Removed without referendum or any input based on the notion of democracy, our history dies by a process of nicks and cuts.
Jesse Jackson, Jr. would presumably relish the events of late and might even reach around and give himself a pat on the back. But what of these politically correct professors who might, just maybe, realize the damage they have done via their inventiveness, which has fomented this political correctness surge in Civil War studies? Professors the likes of Varon, McPherson, and Foner just might realize they have killed the horse they've been riding. But worse than that, what history has been lost, twisted, and intentionally distorted in the process?
The editor of Blue and Gray magazine finished his editorial in 2003 with this:
Will Blue and Gray be driven underground and to find its way to your mailbox in a plain brown wrapper? Those who might destroy or censor any aspect of history would be wise to remember a lesson of history – that once a society permits books to be destroyed, bodies are usually the next to follow.
No brown wrapper will be required. Blue and Gray magazine has announced that it will cease publishing.