CIVIL WAR MUSEUMS CHANGING AS VIEW ON WAR CHANGES
Here is a link to the article in another paper I found online. Credit for the article goes to the author Mary Foster of the Associated Press. I'm glad to see the information getting a public forum.
History is made up of facts which should be checked and rechecked closely for verification. We've all seen errors in books and articles--and we've seen writers insert their own political slant into history. It's a slippery slope. Several people quoted in this article seem to allude to a feeling that southern Civil War museums are viewed by many as inherently racist and that the displays and information provided should be more diverse.
I'm not opposed to as much information as I can get--on every facet of the war which threatened to end this country as it was established after the American Revolution. There will always be differing views on the real reason it was fought, the motivation behind the atrocities on both sides, and what it did or did not accomplish.
Expanding exhibits to include information on everything and everyone involved in this great conflict can only be a good thing. But, I repeat, it's a slippery slope As Joe Friday used to say in Dragnet, "Just the facts, ma'am." Historians can go too far and basically reinterpret history until it is unrecognizable. Each time I view a documentary or read a (non-ficition) book, I get a new look at old ideas. It's food for thought. Tunnel vision is dangerous--the big picture is what counts.
I have an M.A. in history, so when I write books with a historical/vintage setting, I work hard to get the facts right. Maybe no one will notice an error, but then again, maybe they will. I'll know it's there. Obviously, an author's feelings are projected onto her characters; if said characters are believable, okay, but one has to be careful.
I remember my aunt calling the books of one of my favorite authors when I was growing up "too sweety-sweet". That's how she saw them. I see many things today as "too darned PC". (And btw, I'm a southern girl, Texas born and bred, but I'm probably as critical of the South's responsibility for the conflict as of the North's responsibility for it.)
Joe Friday had the right idea--"Just the facts, ma'am."
Here's an additional resource for any of you out there who write about the Civil War era--a terrific 3-disc documentary "Civil Warriors" from National Geographic.