Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

More Misrepresentation from Defending the Heritage

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on March 14, 2015

Over at Defending the Heritage, Robert Mestas offers us a damning indictment of the Gettysburg Address:

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The statement purportedly carries special weight because (Mestas tells us) it’s an assessment made by an esteemed American psychologist, Lewis R. Goldberg, backed by his academic credentials and decades of psychological research. The only problem is that Lewis R. Goldberg wasn’t the person who wrote this — it was Lewis J. Goldberg, editor of now-defunct PlanetGoldberg website, in August 2000. Lewis J. Goldberg’s quote has been circulating ever since, mostly on SCV and southern nationalist websites. As far as I can tell, Professor Goldberg has never written or said anything about the Gettysburg Address.

It’s unfortunate that Mestas sees the need to attribute this quote falsely to a respected academic to give it some additional heft. Seriously — if your heritage requires this sort of outright falsehood to support it, is it really worth defending?

___________

GeneralStarsGray

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12 Responses

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  1. Jimmy Dick said, on March 14, 2015 at 1:52 pm

    You surely were not expecting accuracy from the heritage crew were you? Just another example of their complete lack of honor and intelligence. If I were Lewis R. Goldberg I would file some legal documents and sue some of these liars who are defaming him and his reputation. He might not get any monetary settlement from them because they probably do not have much in the way of assets, but he could definitely force them to put up an apology for lying and sullying his reputation on their websites in plain and very prominent view.

    • Andy Hall said, on March 14, 2015 at 6:09 pm

      You surely were not expecting accuracy from the heritage crew were you?

      I’m an optimist.

  2. Matt McKeon said, on March 14, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Heritage is generally shot through with falsehood, and not just with the south. When you have an eagerness to belief sometime, your critical sense goes out the window.

    Predictably, the attribution will either (a) continue to be made (b) Or this attempt to puff up Goldberg’s credibility(“see, he isn’t a nut! He a psychologist!”) will be dismissed as an utterly unimportant little detail.

  3. Sorn Jessen said, on March 15, 2015 at 12:28 am

    A person’s view of Lincoln often depends upon the historical consciousness of the writer. Stephen Oates has what I think is the best deconstructions of the Lincoln Myths in Abraham Lincoln: The Man Behind the Myths. Agreed, that spurious views of Lincoln, invented by hearsay, fraud and abuse are horrible things. But, we don’t have to go all that far to find visions of Lincoln grounded in history that support our prejudices, whatever they are. There’s the story of Lincoln that authorized the largest execution in American History. The story of Lincoln from the debates where he comes off as a white supremacist–or the story of Lincoln from 1864 where he advocates colonization. I mean, Lincoln, is as much myth as actual person. I really do believe that he functions as a version of an American Jesus, and as with Christ you can construct a version of Lincoln if you so desire that fits whatever notion you have of the Civil War. Americans have been doing this since he was shot.

    I think it was David Blight that said that Lincoln has more apocryphal quotations attributed to him than any other American figure combined. Nationalist mythology surrounding Lincoln runs deep in American history. The Confederacy has it’s Lincoln, the guy who suspended Habeus Corpus, conveniently forgetting that Jeff Davis did the same thing. Northerners and Midwesterners have their image of a rail-splitter, while among folks I grew up with if Lincoln gets mentioned at all it’s the executioner.

    So, I think this is rather deplorable, but in some ways it’s true to the broad outlines of American nationalism that invents a mythology to serve a political purpose. (I hope this isn’t taken as a defense or as something that dtracts from your point Andy, if it does either please delete me and pay no attention to the Peanut Gallery.)

    • Andy Hall said, on March 15, 2015 at 10:38 am

      No, you’re right. What galls is that these are the same folks who habitually and explicitly crow about knowing the True History. And then they post stuff like this, from the follow-on comments to the Goldberg quote:

      Yes, that’s Lincoln with devil’s horns, and Booth with a halo.

      • Jimmy Dick said, on March 15, 2015 at 12:41 pm

        What it really shows is their lack of knowledge about history. They have a fantasy world vision of the past. Much of that is rooted in their delusion that if X was different in history, their current situation would be improved. They prefer the candy coated history where slavery was beneficial to the enslaved, where whites did no wrong, where white males were patriarchs for their families and the people around them. They fail to understand that almost all of them would be bowing and scraping to powerful men for scraps if that past were to exist in the present.

        Idiots like Austin Becker are why national history standards were developed. Idiots like Austin Becker are why conservatives resist national history standards.

      • Sorn Jessen said, on March 15, 2015 at 2:06 pm

        True history, like the Scotsman, is something I don’t think it’s possible to find. I view people who claim to have the true history in their back pockets the same way I look at people who claim to follow the true religion.

        They’re presenting in essence the results of their exegesis, as the final verdict on the meaning of the nation at large, but American history isn’t a settled thing. It has a lot of similarities to the fourth century debates over the meaning of the trinity.

        I do wonder quite a bit, however, about the meaning this has for American nationalism. Is it a good thing that people who praise a presidential assassin can wrap themselves in the flag and use history to justify their position? I don’t think so, but I also wonder if we see the same sort of thing elsewhere. I mean, what is this protean American nation that allows in the same public space the worship of and president killers and presidents? And, why do these contradictions continue to display themselves?

        I mean, no one who celebrates the Birmingham church bombers of the 1960s and claims to be patriotic gains a wide following, but we see this with Booth regularly enough that it has to be continually condemned. I can’t think of another example. Lee Harvey Oswald isn’t praised, Charlie Guiteau, he’s not a hero. But we can’t say the same thing about Booth. In some ways it strikes me as similar to people who want to disenfranchise black voters quoting King. But here again, what does this say about American nationalism? Would a Labor MP in Britain quote Margaret Thatcher? I don’t think so.

        Historical memory in the U.S. performs back-flips and contortions.

      • Trevor J. Davis said, on March 19, 2015 at 1:54 pm

        I would like to note that that image of a demon-Lincoln being assassinated by a sainted Booth is an art asset taken from the 2013 video game BioShock: Infinite, wherein it appeared as part of the iconography of a crazy neo-Confederate white supremacist cult that built a flying city and seceded from the Union in order to preserve their heritage. The picture in question was intended to part of the game’s irreverent satire of neo-Confederate historical mythology, but Mr. Becker seems to have missed out on the fact that it was intended to make fun of, well, Southron heritage worshipers like himself.

        • Andy Hall said, on March 19, 2015 at 1:58 pm

          Thanks. I had no idea where it came from, but I’m (1) not surprised that it was intended as mockery, and (2) has subsequently been adopted by the very people it was intended to ridicule. It’s happened before.

  4. Neil Hamilton said, on March 15, 2015 at 9:21 am

    Andy,

    I am left more with a sense of sadness than anger at the almost desperate attempts to grasp at ANY straw to support their twisted and false view of history.

    Neil

  5. Leo said, on March 15, 2015 at 9:43 pm

    And I thought Lincoln was a vampire slayer. 🙂


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