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Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Regular friends of the decanter may have seen this NYTimes article on the Decline of the Civil War Reenactor.  (The pics that accompany the article are pretty neat.)

Enthusiasm for this sort of thing peaked in the 90’s, but apparently has been tailing off since then.  Shifting demographics and distracting alternate forms of entertainment are mentioned, but it’s pretty clear that the New Woke Jacobinism is at the heart of things:

The military details are meticulously researched and recreated down to the stitching of a uniform, but the broader social and political realities of the Civil War — the profound struggle over slavery and emancipation, racism and equality, citizenship and disenfranchisement — are largely confined to the margins.

Still, those issues can’t be ignored. After a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017, where demonstrators wore swastikas and carried Confederate flags, and where an anti-racist protester named Heather Heyer was killed, at least two smaller Civil War re-enactments were canceled. That the battle flag Confederate re-enactors carry is still used as a means of intimidation makes it hard to defend as a purely historical object, independent of its racist implications.

Hard to defend if you have the intellectual capacity of a five-year-old and rely for guidance solely on Muh Feels, that is.

I’ve never done this sort of thing myself, although I’ve watched a few reenactments. (Indeed, I accidentally almost got caught between the lines at a reenactment of the Battle of Droop Mountain one time when I thought I was just going there to hike.)  But it seems to me that if somebody is going to invest that much time, energy, and money into such a hobby, one is probably also going to find oneself thinking about “the broader social and political realities of the Civil war” – the article cites no data to support its assertion to the contrary.  If you’re going to go to the trouble and expense of decking yourself out as, say, an authentic, dirt-poor, foot soldier in the 10th Alabama, you’re probably also going to try and get into that fellah’s head – the real one, not the one assigned to him by some smarmy 21st Century NYTimes soy-boy.

But of course, that’s not what this is about. The New Woke Jacobinism is not interested in the complications, partial justifications, or nuances that make up historickal realities.  Instead, it deals in absolutes.  And wrong-think, including historickal wrong-think, is not to be studied or put in context, or otherwise allowed to exist in any form whatsoever, but is to be completely eradicated.

Because the New Woke Jacobinism is all about control, not about truth.


Incidentally, it wasn’t like that even until very recently.  I have Tony Horwitz’s Confederates In The Attic, which explores race relations and includes several chapters on Southern Heritage and the Civil War Reenactment movement.  It is perfectly clear that Horwitz does not agree with some of the attitudes and justifications he finds, but he at least has the honesty to delve down into the roots of said attitudes, to frankly admit that the issues generally are a lot more complicated than an absolutist position can accommodate or even comprehend, and to recognize that you can’t deal with history that you don’t like simply by trying to erase it.  For that, I respect him greatly even where I don’t necessarily agree with his conclusions.  (I find the same thing in his other books I own, including Blue Latitudes and A Voyage Long and Strange.)

(And no, Ol’ Robbo is not a Southern Apologist.  My people were Scots Presbyterian Abolitionists.  The family ran a station on the Underground Railroad in southwestern Ohio, and my great-grandfather was a lieutenant in an Ohio artillery battery that fought in the Atlanta Campaign.  So, there.)

And speaking of such things, Eldest was telling me yesterday about some people who are claiming that Charlemagne never really existed but was an invention of the  Church and the Holy Roman Emperors?  To her credit, the Gel said, “There’s even written documentation related to Charlemagne from the goddam Chinese, for Pete’s sake!” Heh.

A glass of wine with The Puppy Blender!


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August 2018