Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Kevin LevIn, Washington & Lee University, White Paternalism and Black Confederates

A group of minority students at Washington & Lee have asked the university to stop glorifying Robert E. Lee, ban neo-Confederate groups from campus, and generally stop being a shrine to the Confederacy.

An article on their efforts can be read at this link:

Kevin Levin has a blog posting at this link. It really is incredible to read this exposition of white paternalism. 

Kevin Levin opposes the student's efforts to remove Confederate flags and have the university stop functioning as a shrine to the Confederacy. 
"Instead of calling for the removal of objects from the chapel and barring certain groups from using it, these students ought to take the high road and add to the meaning and legacy of this site. Organize events for the chapel that address issues that are deemed to be important. Leave your own mark that students who follow can build on in a constructive way."
Exactly why being accommodating to neo-Confederates and a Confederate shrine is the "high road" and why minority students should contribute to the meaning and legacy of a Confederate shrine and that should be considered "constructive" escapes me. What Levin is trying to do is stigmatize the student's effort as being the low road and as destructive.  Levin doesn't debate the issues that the student raise, he just stigmatizes the student and denigrates their goals.

What is interesting is that Levin's blog posting starts with pointing out that African American's have spoken at the Lee Chapel so that somehow the chapel is okay. He has links to YouTube videos of African Americans speaking in the Lee Chapel. This is the same strategy of the Sons of Confederate Veterans (SCV) in parading around H.K. Edgerton to justify their agenda. It is the strategy of the neo-Confederate movement with their inventions of Confederate soldiers of African ancestry to legitimize the Confederacy.

Levin's book on Black Confederates is likely to be narrowly focused on the historical record and technical details on whether Black Confederate soldiers existed. He is unlikely to have a theoretical analysis in which the promotion of the idea that Black Confederate soldiers is put in a larger historical context of using token African Americans to justify discriminatory white racial attitudes, policies, and institutions. How can he when he engages in these same tactics himself?

On a side note one of the more amusing things is that he has a video of African American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas speaking at the Lee Chapel. It doesn't occur to Levin that Thomas is just the type of African American that people would expect to speak at a Confederate shrine. There is this link to an article, "Clarence Thomas is the Last Confederate."  Or there is this article:

Another thing is that Levin posts a YouTube video of Gary Gallagher speaking at the Lee Chapel where the speaker introducing him makes it clear that the Lee Chapel is about revering Lee and the chapel is a shrine to Robert E. Lee.

African Americans who speak at the Lee Chapel or hold events there are enabling the Lost Cause interpretation of history by proving a cover for this shrine.

What is happening is that America is moving into the future where more and more white paternalism won't have a place and won't be credible and where there is an oncoming generation of African Americans who won't be deferential to white paternalists.

I think we can expect that as the Lost Cause, neo-Confederacy, and white racialized landscapes are opposed we will see more of Kevin Levin rationalizing the Lost Cause, neo-Confederates and banal white nationalistic agendas. I think we will find him more and more upset also, such as shown in his response to the head of the Virginia NAACP's comments about the Museum of the Confederacy.

Levin is upset because King Salim Khalfani doesn't care for the Museum of the Confederacy and Levin is going to put that upstart in his place with his blog posting. (My expose of the Museum of the Confederate is a four part series at Black Commentator. You can find the free guest links at

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