PRINCETON EDUCATOR MALIGNS UDCOn November 3, the noted WBTS historian and Princeton University professor James McPherson appeared on a Pacifica Network radio broadcast. Also on the broadcast was Ed Sebesta, alias "The Crawfish," a notorious hater of all things Confederate who operates a Web page that is especially slanderous of the UDC.
Their topic was "George W. Bush and the Confederacy: Where Does He Stand?"
During the course of the broadcast, McPherson -- a highly educated scholar, Pulitzer Prize winner, and author of such books as Drawn with the Sword and For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought the Civil War -- made the statement that the UDC and the SCV have the promotion of "white supremacy" as their "very thinly veiled agendas."
We have listened to the broadcast, which is posted on the Pacifica Web site. McPherson was not misquoted or taken out of context.
If you have an appropriate plug-in installed on your browser, we encourage you to listen to the broadcast at:
If you cannot access the broadcast, click HERE for a written transcript of the remarks in question.
Please be advised that the interview will likely be very upsetting to any UDC member. One would expect such thoughts from Ed Sebesta/Crawfish but not from McPherson, whose Battle Cry of Freedom is considered one of the seminal works on the War Between the States.
We urge you to write to Dr. McPherson and let him know that the UDC has no "thinly veiled agenda." We openly and proudly stand for the preservation of the cultural heritage and history of the Confederacy. We neither promote nor condone racism of any sort, let alone something as odious as white supremacy. He has done us a great injustice with his comments. Remember the five objectives of the UDC, and fill him in on our many good works. Remember to be very constructive and positive in your comments; also remember that you may speak only as an individual member of the organization and not for the UDC as a whole.
Dr. McPherson may be reached at:
Dr. James M. McPherson
Department of History
Princeton, New Jersey 08544
We would also encourage you not to support Dr. McPherson financially by purchasing any of the books he has written or edited, which include the following titles:
Every now and again, even the educators have to be educated. It is, after all, one our five objectives.
- Battle Cry of Freedom
- Drawn with the Sword
- For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought the Civil War
- What They Fought For, 1861-1865
- The Abolitionist Legacy: From Reconstruction to the NAACP
- Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution
- Lamson of the Gettysburg: The Civil War Letters
- Liberty, Equality, Power: A History of the American People : Since 1863
- Ordeal by Fire: The Civil War and Reconstruction
- Marching Toward Freedom : Blacks in the Civil War 1861-1865
- Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union
- Lincoln and Black Freedom: A Study in Presidential Leadership
- The Struggle for Equality: Abolitionists and the Negro in the Civil War and Reconstruction
- We Cannot Escape History: Lincoln and the Last Best Hope of Earth
- Why the Confederacy Lost
- Writing the Civil War: The Quest to Understand
- The Atlas of the Civil War
- The American Heritage New History of the Civil War
In the February 18, 2000, issue of Harvard University's Chronicle of Higher Education, James McPherson made the following remarks regarding the letter-writing campaign begun by the UDC:
Mr. McPherson said that when he agreed to the radio interview, he was told he would talk about the Confederate-flag issue. Instead, he said, the interviewer and a guest pressed him "about whether the Museum of the Confederacy was promoting a right-wing agenda." On the program, Mr. McPherson defended the professionalism and research of the museum, but criticized the Confederate-heritage groups.If Dr. McPherson offered these remarks in an attempt to mollify the Southern heritage organizations that he has so grievously offended, he should know that he has failed. Far from apologizing for his baseless accusations of racism, he has now added ignorance to the list of sins that we have committed.
"I think if I'd been thinking more carefully and not been put on the defensive, I wouldn't have put it quite the way I did," he said.
"If I implied that all U.D.C. chapters or S.C.V. chapters or anyone who belongs to those is promoting a white-supremacist agenda, that's not what I meant to say," he said. "What I meant to say is that some of these people have a hidden agenda of white supremacy, [which] they might not even recognize they're involved in. Basically I was trying to defend these groups against what was a fairly relentless effort to get me to stop defending them, so this was my concession to the interviewer -- that sometimes they do have a hidden agenda."
Mr. McPherson, the author of a Pulitzer Prize-winning history of the [War Between the States] is often interviewed about issues surrounding the war and Confederate heritage.
"It is a minefield," he said. "I should know enough to negotiate it carefully and skillfully. But I think I was blindsided in this particular case."
Clearly Dr. McPherson has not absorbed the contents of the many letters he has received from members of the UDC explaining the aims and purposes of our organization. Until such time as he does, he would do well to refrain from further attempts to clarify his ill-conceived remarks.
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