An old letter with an ongoing viewpoint
While searching for a much newer letter, I unearthed the following. It predates my heavy involvement in “Confederate” matters, but the sentiment has not changed. P.S. I never received an answer or even an acknowledgement; I let my membership lapse.
May 1, 2007
The History Channel Magazine
P.O. Box 3485
Minnetonka, MN 55343-2185
I am seriously considering ending my membership in the History Channel Club. One more example of incompetence or blatant bias will just about do it.
To begin with, I must vehemently complain about your paean of praise to that genocidal monster, William T. Sherman. Believe me, I can supply you with validated sources (including Sherman’s own words) which clearly demonstrate that he wished to destroy (murder) every man, woman and child in the South whom he considered ‘recalcitrant’ in their willingness to be obedient to the United States and its military forces. In his (in)famous ‘march’, his men looted, raped, tortured and murdered men, women and children black AND white. Such a man should be a blot and a shame upon this country’s history, not a glorified hero.
In the same way – and not nearly so ‘politically correct’ as wanting to kill ‘secesh’ – Sherman wished to exterminate the ‘Native Americans’ (Indians pre-p.c.) and, again in his own words, he complains bitterly at the end of his life that he was prevented from doing so by ‘civilians’. Now, if this is the sort of person that you wish to idealize, I would suggest that you have the courage to likewise glorify other practitioners of genocide such as Adolph Eichmann. Indeed, Eichmann is the less culpable of the two because he was a subordinate carrying out orders while Sherman – like Hitler – was in fact, the originator of these ‘strategies’.
Having almost recovered from ‘Sherman’s March’, I then received your magazine. In it, I find a repetition of the tired Northern lie that Confederate Jefferson Davis was captured wearing women’s clothing. You know, that simply isn’t true. It is propaganda pure and simple – and stupid. I have done a lot of research on contemporary newspaper accounts on a particular individual (not Davis) and I can tell you that the newspapers – North and South – printed whatever they thought the public wanted to read. Well, the Northern public wanted Davis humiliated and the United States government – in collusion with the press – gave them this tasty little treat to make them smile and feel all better.
On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln most assuredly did wear some rather outlandish clothing when he had to sneak through pro-Confederate Baltimore on the way to his inauguration. Even Northern papers showed that in their cartoons. I don’t blame Lincoln, however, since there had already been violence in that city and had he been less circumspect, he might never have lived to become President! Parenthetically, considering Davis, you notice that he was never brought to trial on a charge of treason, though this ‘crime’ was leveled at Davis and every other Confederate throughout the war. It is more than suggested by some legal minds that Davis wasn’t tried because the judiciary would have found that the South had every right under the Constitution to secede – and if that were true, then the actual ‘criminals’ in the War Between the States (Civil War) was not the South at all, but the Union which chose to wage war on a people (who wished no harm desiring only to be left alone) in order to force them into compliance. The problem is, a true union can only be created and maintained when all parties wish to participate. Force any of the parties into that ‘union’ and you don’t have a union at all, but imperialists and their conquered colonies.
And finally – just to show that my unhappiness isn’t limited to matters of the 19th Century – I read a small part of the response to the question about John F. Kennedy’s presidency being ‘unduly influenced’ in Chicago. Apparently, the gentleman to whom you went for information has declared that this is an ‘urban myth’. Sorry! He’s dead wrong. Mayor Richard Daley – that bulwark of political purity – delivered Cook County (and thus, Illinois) to John Kennedy just as Lyndon Johnson gave him Texas. There is no question that the mob in both places helped put JFK in the White House which is one of the reasons that they turned so violently against him when RFK decided to be another Thomas Dewey (sans moustache). The mob helped Jack out of loyalty to his father Joe who was deeply involved with them from his days as a bootlegger during Prohibition. Many theories about Kennedy’s death implicate the Mafia and many Mafia figures are involved to a greater or lesser degree (like Jack Ruby) in the assassination. Sam Giancana was murdered before he could testify to a Congressional committee about the mob’s involvement in Kennedy’s murder; Giancana was shot many times in the mouth, a tell-tale mob method of identifying the corpse as a ‘stool pigeon’. As well as political favors, apparently Giancana also shared his ‘lady love’ with the President, one Judith Exner. So the ‘urban myth’ might well be ‘urban’, but it ain’t no myth!
History is written by the winners. Much of what people ‘know’ about the Civil War is less true than the story of Santa Claus. Certainly, before you undertook to do a program on Sherman, some simple research might have presented at least part of the truth to you. However, it seems that what was desired was a ‘glorification’ of the man and so that is what came to pass. I joined the ‘History Channel’ Club to learn about ‘HISTORY’. This isn’t ‘history’, it is propaganda, legend, myth, diatribe, demagoguery and ‘selective memory’. I don’t need to belong to a club to get that. All I need to do is tune in to the mainstream media any day of the week and I’ll get far more than I can stand.
I am now waiting to see if your standards improve and we actually get to see something that is not ‘politically correct’ or ‘by the book’ – as written by the North, of course! If so, I will rejoice in hopes that maybe both sides will be heard and at least some of the facts known. If not – well, I will be saving myself some money.
Very truly yours,
Post Scriptum: Lest you think that I was born below the Mason-Dixon line: I was born and raised in the borough of Queens, New York City and have lived all but two years of my life within 35 miles of the City on Long Island