Ole Miss does away with Dixie; history teachers should be replaced with videos?; Destroying history is a war crime; Williamsburg captures the Pokemon crowd


The University of Mississippi, (or Ole Miss, as we call it down here) is in the news for once again confronting their long history of connection with the Confederacy. This time, it concerns the decision to have their band stop playing Dixie at sporting events. It is a big move that no doubt has angered a major portion of their fan base, but has received high praise from others, both inside and outside of the Ole Miss community. Over on Civil War Pop, Christian McWhirter shares his thoughts on the decision, arguing that the institution really had no choice but to do what they did.  (As a foremost historian on Civil War music, as well as an SEC football fan, he’s well qualified to comment on the situation).

Speaking of southern universities and the Confederacy: last week I pointed out the irony of Vanderbilt having to pay the Daughters of the Confederacy over a million dollars in order to change the name of their Memorial Hall, given that the organization played a large role in the creation and spread of the Lost Cause. Over the weekend, Kevin Levin did an excellent job for the Daily Beast digging much deeper into that irony than I did, offering a good primer on how the Daughters mainstreamed their revisionist history of the Confederacy.

The Hague is currently in the process of convicting a terrorist for committing a war crime because of his participation in the destruction of historic sites and relics in Timbuktu. The official charge is destruction of cultural heritage. This is obviously a good thing that the international court is seeking to protect history, but I just wonder how long it will be before the neo-confederate crowd hears this and starts to allege that Ole Miss, and Vanderbilt, and other places that are breaking free from the symbols of the Lost Cause, are committing “war crimes.” Wait for it.

So did you hear the one about the Senator that wants to replace history professors with videos posted on the internet? This isn’t an Onion story, folks. Videos are a good classroom tool that we all have used, but this dude seriously wants videos to REPLACE teachers. He then uses Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary as an example of how a good video could teach students what they need to know.  This idea is so preposterous that it doesn’t really even require/deserve a response, but I would really like to hear Ken Burns’ reaction. In the meantime, Nick Sacco’s response pretty much says it all. I’ll add only one thing: the good Senator must not realize that all across the country history teacher/coaches have been using videos as a replacement for actual teaching for years. A lot of good that has done us.

So I was very critical of my beloved Colonial Williamsburg last week in regards to their upcoming ridiculous Halloween festivities, but I’ll give them credit for this one. They have taken advantage of the Pokemon Go craze by organizing a special evening program that teaches players the history of the town, while indulging in the game. “I was just trying to take advantage of something that gets people excited to be in a museum,” said tour guide and Colonial Williamsburg interpreter Emily Doherty.  “In my mind, if Pokemon Go is that thing, then great.” I’m glad to see that the staff there still knows the purpose of the place.

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