It’s been a while since ECW has published a barn-burner of a post, but Book Review Editor Steve Davis’s piece yesterday on Niels Eichhorn’s The Civil War Battles of Macon seems to have lit some fires.
We take a “big umbrella” approach at Emerging Civil War, which is the only way we can accommodate a community of writers with such a variety of perspectives, opinions, interests, and voices. Our writers fall on both ends of the political and interpretive spectrums and everywhere in between. ECW, as an organization, keeps a neutral stance on issues so we make room for all those voices.
As a community, ECW strives for factual and grammatical accuracy at all times, and we prohibit vulgarity and name-calling (see our guidelines here). We also try to be sensitive to current trends in the field of Civil War public history (see Jon Tracey’s post this afternoon on nomenclature as an example). Otherwise, we give wide latitude to our authors to express themselves. As a personal advocate of the First Amendment, free speech, and freedom of expression—I do, after all, teach in a School of Communication with a strong journalism tradition—I abhor censorship, which can come from the left and the right, so as editor in chief I intervene as little as possible in what people write so long as it meets those first two criteria.
In turn, we hope the wide variety of material our writers produce gives our readers much to consider so they can make up their own minds about things. This is the very model of critical thinking and liberal education. A different reader might read Eichhorn’s book, for instance, and come to different conclusions than Steve did, just as readers have come to different conclusions about Steve’s review.
Readers may take issue with any piece at ECW (and often do!), and that’s fine. The discussion, debate, and even disagreement are all part of the point. That’s how the marketplace of ideas functions. Even within the ECW community itself, we don’t always agree with each other—but we do always respect each other’s right to expression. The multitude of diverse voices produces a well-rounded whole.
All of us at ECW appreciate your willingness to be part of the conversation. At a time when so much of society suffers from historical amnesia, keeping Civil War history fresh and relevant remains more vital than ever.
— Chris Mackowski, Ph.D.
Editor-in-Chief, Emerging Civil War
P.S.—If you’d like to participate in the conversation as a contributor to Emerging Civil War, we’re always looking for fresh talent and “emerging” voices. See here for our submission guidelines.
P.P.S.: I also appreciate all those folks who reposted Steve’s review—even if they did so out of indignation and outrage—and drove so much extra traffic to us. Thanks!