Thursday, May 9, 2013

"The Foolishness of Civil War Reenactors" Reconsidered

Do Reenactors INSULT True History?
    After putting up my post about Living History being a snap-shot of history, I decided to do a search on what others had written on Living History.  Mostly what I found were links to living history events taking place around the nation.  But I did happen across one post on by Glenn LaFantasie, Professor of Civil War History at Western Kentucky University from May 8th, 2011 in which he laid out the insulting stupidity of reenacting the Civil War.  His post title says is all:  "The Foolishness of Civil War Reenactors".  I will admit I did not discover his profound revelation of the stupidity of my hobby until after I wrote my post about Living History.  I now realize the error of my way.  It's two years later, the sesquicentennial is in full swing, and sadly we stupid reenactors continue to distort the truth about the Civil War.
    What LaFantasie's post shows is the typical hubris of progressive elitist thinking:  ONLY the credentialed few can lead to truth.  The rest are mere peasants which must be herded, kicking and crying, into the light of elitist truth.  We stupid reenactors despise the truth, we distort it by selling it to the interested but sheepishly more stupid spectators as entertainment.  There is no real blood, no real death, no Quentin Tarrantino revelations of horror.  LaFantasie is ashamed of the many military veterans who should know better, but insist on reenacting anyway as a way to reconnect with their shameful dependence on the military.  Ah the wisdom of "credentialism".
    Do reenactors do a perfect job in teaching history?  Of course not!  Some excel, some are OK, some don't care much about teaching, and some are just plain nut cases.  But according to the elitist LaFantasie, NONE are "Living Historians" -- ALL are perverts seeking "an excitement like that of sexual arousal".
    Just for the record.  The "I now realize the error of my way" was said sarcastically.  I will continue unrepentantly doing my attacks on the elitist progressive history LaFantasie fantasizes about.  I reject the arrogance of LaFantasie's credentialist world view -- that ONLY those who have gone through the leftist educational system can know the truth.
    As I read his tirade against our hobby, and I do have a real life in which I work and pay taxes, I thought back to two years ago and the Fort Sumter reenactment.  I wasn't there.  But by coincidence my stationery was.  Earlier in 2011 a reenactor contacted me about getting stationery he could use when on site so he could write letters as part of his reenactment presentation.  I was honored to be able to help him enjoy the event.  When I asked how the event went, he emailed back he had so much fun it should be illegal.  He felt a sense of connection with the past and satisfaction in being part of an event that reminded people of a pivotal event in US history.
    There are some good rebuttals on line to LaFantasie's tirade.  Check out:  The Sable Arm May 10, 2011 post by Jimmy Price who does a good job of taking on LaFantasie.
    One of the greatest things about our nation is that LaFantasie is as free to espouse his elitist views as I am free to stupidly muddle through wasting my time reenacting.  He can post his rantings against reenactors on line.  And I can post my rantings supporting "Living History" on line too.  I have a recommendation to those who think reenacting is worth the effort:  do NOT buy LaFantasie's books and tell other reenactors to not buy them.  Avoid events which promote him.  Oh, I know he will still make money, but lets' not have it come from us 'stupid reenactors'.  He is free to despise us . . . and we are free to reject him. 
    Do reenactors insult true history?  Pick a side.