January 31, 2005
ERIC MULLER REPORTS that the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History appears to be a neo-Confederate secessionist.
That's a bit too politically-incorrect, don't you think? I have to say that while I understand, to a degree at least, people's fascination with the Civil War, I've never understood the romanticization of the Confederacy. It didn't last very long, it was horribly run and governed, it accomplished nothing but disaster and defeat, and it existed in the service of a horrible cause. I once angered an alumnus of Washington & Lee by suggesting that Robert E. Lee, however personally admirable he might have been in some ways, bore huge responsibility -- if he had honored his oath to the Union, the war probably would have been over in six months, leaving everyone (and especially the South) better off.
One suspects that for a certain sort of infantile mind, pro-Confederacy statements provide the same sort of thrilling sense of nonconformity that Marxism has provided. This, I guess, explains the weird strain of pro-Confederate sympathy that one finds among a certain segment of libertarians. Or, of course, there's always racism as an explanation -- an explanation you'd rather believe didn't apply, but that clearly does sometimes. Muller makes a pretty persuasive case that it applies here, and author Thomas Woods seems to have connections to some of those fringe libertarians.
As a political force, neo-Confederate sentiment is pretty trivial at the moment, even compared to the decaying remnants of Marxism. But that's no reason not to smack it down when it appears. That's particularly true because -- as Muller's discussion of Wood's belief that the War on Terror is the product of a Jewish conspiracy illustrates -- the overlap between crazy-left and crazy-right is getting more significant. (Indeed, there are people on the Left talking about secession, in terms that Woods might find congenial). And there's no place for either one, especially these days.
Way back when the term "idiotarian" was coined, it was quite explicitly aimed at the idiots of the Left and Right equally. The idiots of the Right have been somewhat quieter lately, but they're no less idiots for that.
UPDATE: Power Line notes that the book is getting bad reviews on the right, too:
This is not really a conservative take (“arch” or otherwise) on American history, after all. At its core, The Politically Incorrect Guide (or PIG) is more wheezy propaganda from the Old Confederacy. . . . On the most important matters, it weaves together all the familiar fictions: the sovereign states reserved a Constitutional right to secede, the so-called Civil War was really the War of Northern Aggression, Lincoln was a smooth-talking lawyer bent on tyranny. Blah, blah, blah. Some people never learn.
No, apparently they don't.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Justin Raimondo appears in Muller's comments to defend the book. But of course!
MORE: A reader sends this:
This reminds me of the time in 1966, I (aged 6) sat on my grandmother's porch in a small farming town in Missouri. As the "yahoos" drove by in their el caminos with Confederate flags painted on the hood and horns that played Dixie on the way to the "Dog Prairie Tavern", my grandmother clucked disapprovingly. Asking her what was wrong, she (in her late 70's) replied: "My father fought in that war. If I could catch one of them boys, I'd give 'em a piece of my mind. I'd tell 'em: THEY LOST."