From: Edwin Kennedy <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, May 1, 2011
Subject: Game On In Gainesville Paper
Due to my hands going faster than my brain, I made a gross error of fact on my earlier post that I just corrected. Alzheimers or not enough coffee this morning is to blame. I wrote "Taney" when I meant to write "Chase". It struck me when I referenced a letter I wrote to the Kansas City Star six years ago (below).
CSA filmmaker promotes stereotypical bigotry
Kevin Willmott, University of Kansas filmmaker, continues to stir the race pot. In the recent August 5 article in the KC Star, Wilmott continues to propagate illogical and false stereotypes about the Confederate Battle Flag. What I find amazing is that his complete lack of rational logic is swallowed like pablum by many. What is worse, he is supposedly a professor at the University of Kansas. Among other incorrect information he recently stated at St Mary’s University in Leavenworth: that President Jefferson Davis was imprisoned for “war crimes”. Not only is this completely false, it is used as a “fact” to justify his other outrageous assertions. The fact is that President Davis was imprisoned on charges of “treason”, not “war crimes”. The real fact is that Chief Justice Salmon Chase, appointed by Lincoln, and other key Federal judges, feared that any trial of Davis might actually validate the legality of Southern secession. They strongly counseled against trying Davis. Neither Davis, nor any other Southerners, were ever tried for treason for this reason. Davis was released. Why would Kevin Willmott intentionally pass false information like this?
The answer, I believe, is very simple. He counts on his audiences’ lack of knowledge to gain support through emotional, illogical reasoning. He has an agenda and he is willing to do whatever necessary to gain support for his position. In a graduate course that I teach on critical reasoning, we ask our students to evaluate critically what they read. Many people either do not have the necessary knowledge to know right from wrong, or, don’t ask the critical questions necessary to determine what is fact, what is fiction.
Critical thinking requires a little skepticism on the part of the recipient of the message. For example, Willmott asks a leading question: “How long will black people—and the (descendents) of the whites who died to free us — have to tolerate an image that represents the murder of an American president and the objective of enslaving thousands of human beings? This is known as post hoc logic. He has illogically tied Confederate symbology to the assassination of President Lincoln. Why not the U.S. flag? John Wilkes Booth was a U.S. citizen. Next, his assertion assumes that all blacks and descendents of white Unionists must “tolerate” (the fallacy of “prejudicial language”) Confederate emblems. Perhaps if Willmott was familiar with research techniques, he would be able to find that the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War have made a formal declaration supporting the Confederate Battle Flag because they know its true meaning, not what a small minority of racists who misuse it and uninformed anti-Confederate bigots claim it is (Resolution of Support For Display of Battle Flags of the Confederacy – 119th National Encampment of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, Lansing, Michigan August 19, 2000). These are the descendents of the white and black soldiers that Willmott claims must “tolerate” the Confederate Battle Flag. Funny thing is, they do tolerate it — intentionally. According to their own document, they don’t seem to have the problem Willmott has ascribed to them. They know that Confederate symbols like the Battle Flag are only perceived as a racist symbol by a few who misuse it and those seeking offense. Before the massive corruption problems in the NAACP during the early 1990s, no one had an issue with the misuse of the flag by an insignificant number of extremists. The NAACP predilection with this synthetic issue shows how bankrupt their platforms have become. What better way to shore up a program that needs issues to mobilize its membership than to "invent" a non-existent enemy?
Willmott again counts on his audiences’ lack of knowledge when he states that “a whole new generation of young people will be taught that the Confederate flag (sic — there were many Confederate flags) is not a racist symbol.” This is a classic case of the argument of “popularity” — a proposition is argued to be true because it is (purportedly) widely held to be true, a.k.a. an “appeal to motives in place of support”. The fact is that the last comprehensive national survey by Lou Harris (a national polling firm), found that 82% of all Americans “are not offended” by Confederate emblems”. Just because a minority is, it doesn’t make their convoluted and illogical reasons right. The Supreme Court says they are not protected from "offense". If they are, they must "avert their eyes". Every argument the NAACP and Willmott pose for the Confederate Battle Flag being a “racist” symbol, I can easily attribute to the “Stars and Stripes”. Mary Sanchez says it best in her August 11 KC Star article: “It’s the actions of the people who pick them up
I could enumerate on other gross leaps of logic Willmott seems to rely on. The bottom line is that race pandering and hate rhetoric by those who don’t know their facts only enflames passions. I have no hopes of changing Willmott’s mind. He certainly will not change my mind with falsehoods and distorted rationales. The energy he spends on his obsession with Confederate symbols would best be channeled into fighting slavery in modern Africa where Muslims are murdering and keeping thousands of our black Christian brothers and sisters in bondage. It’s in the South —- of Sudan.
Edwin L. Kennedy, Jr
LtCol, US Army (ret)
NOTE: I retired from the Army after teaching graduate level history at the Army’s Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth. I am now a private consultant and teach history at a junior college and to corporations as part of leadership seminars.