When you’re a writer of opinionated political commentary things can get dicey. You mysteriously lose friends on Facebook. People can seem offended at you for no apparent reason. Sometimes your spouse gets jumped and questioned about something you’ve written. That’s par for the course.
I’ve often laughed as I told people about my most hated of all articles titled General William Tecumseh Sherman: What’s Not To Love About Him? I wrote this article for Clash Daily back in May 2014. I wrote it as a letter of admiration for my distant relative, Uncle Billy. You see, I believe he saved countless lives as he wreaked havoc on the South in his epic March to the Sea. He emulated a form of Total War or Shock and Awe that I personally feel is the only way to fight war. War must be fought to bring your opponent forcefully to their knees by the most violent means necessary.
General Sherman on war. “War is cruelty. There is no use trying to reform it. The crueler it is, the sooner it is over. Every attempt to make war easy and safe will result in humiliation and disaster.”
My previous article stated how I feel General Sherman’s true understanding of the nature of war and his brutal application of it ended the civil war with a finality that saved lives. Obviously, my appreciation of Sherman is not shared by many in the South. The comments section lit on fire! It settled down after 89 comments…almost all of them negative. My friends and I laughed at the serious anger directed at me, my article, and the good General. After some time it drifted into memory…until today…more than a year later.
Sometimes it can be interesting to “Google” yourself. I mean that in a literal computer search engine way, not in some kind of Huffington Post kind of way. It turns out that in June 2014, right after my General Sherman article ran, a man named Dan E. Phillips took so much offense to the article that he actually wrote an opposing article for the Abbeville Institute (they’re really smart). I just found it and let me tell you…I felt like Trump getting interviewed by Megyn Kelly. Dan’s rebuttal is titled Conservatives for War Criminals?. I am sure my friend Mr. Phillips, is a Southern Gentleman, whatever that is, but apparently I hit a nerve. Here’s what he had to say about me.
“Mr. Sherman is apparently a writer of some accomplishment. [gee thanks] Well, Mr. Sherman should stick to fiction, because his grasp of history stinks…He is from Iowa, so perhaps some grace should be extended to him since I’m sure he was taught the victor’s version of history in school…Mr. Sherman clearly has a lot to learn.” [not nice]
He didn’t just attack me. He attacked my state. What’s he got against Iowa? Iowa rocks! Oh yeah, it’s in the north and what’s worse, my hometown, Grinnell, was part of the Underground Railroad. (no trains) Dan also thought it would be a good idea to trash Doug Giles as well. Here is what Dan had to say about Doug.
“…Clash Daily which is run by a fellow named Doug Giles. Their stuff is your typical Tea Partyish fare, but it tends toward a more in-your-face attitude. It also has a masculine vibe with frequent articles about guns, hunting, etc.” Mr. Phillips meant that as a jab, but it is rather a compliment for ClashD! That’s right! Boom. In your face. Dan continued to chastise Doug. “I am also disappointed that Mr. Giles, who is himself a pastor, allowed this blatant advocacy of barbarism on his website. It is neither Christian nor conservative, and has no place on a website that purports to be both.”
Doug can stick up for himself, and I felt compelled to at least respond to this heap of excrement (even a year later). It’s people like this who purport to be some kind of scholar, but want to elevate the southern culture in its old form – with slavery intact – that give the South a bad name. I like southern culture and people from the South. I like the Dukes of Hazard. I liked the rebel flag on the General Lee. It seems like all good fun until I read something like Dan’s article. He highlights the South’s right to secede or that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. Or one of Dan’s favorites, that fighting war violently somehow violates my Christian faith or the “Rules of War” (Rules…really?) or that destroying ones enemy is less than chivalrous.
I have one point I agree with Dan on. He called my article an “advocacy of barbarism”. It is. When war is being made. It is barbarism, it’s not chivalrous or with rules. It’s sick, rotten, and evil. I don’t understand his way of thinking. It is what loses wars.
The blacks who were freed by Sherman’s March didn’t care about your precious southern way of life. They cared about being free. I’m sorry that the South has to bear this shame. Truth: The Southern States did enslave blacks. I’m sorry millions had to die to get that to change. A relative much closer to me than the General (my Grandpa’s Uncle) from St. Ansgar, Iowa, marched to Missouri to join up. He survived the “Hornets Nest” of Shiloh and eventually was captured and later died in Andersonville Prison in Georgia. It wasn’t a very Christian or chivalrous place. I’m sure Dan won’t weep for our family’s loss. His name was John. My grandpa named his oldest son John. John was a farm boy from Iowa. He shed his life’s blood not for the economics of the North or South or Lincoln or the South’s secession. He did so to stop the Southern States from the disgusting practice of enslaving other human beings like animals.
General Sherman continued, “War is hell…War is the remedy that our enemies have chosen, and I say let us give them all they want…I would make this war as severe as possible, and show no symptoms of tiring till the South begs for Mercy.” And that is just what he did.
Dan, I’m sorry I’m not educated enough to understand why slavery was a good thing. I’m sure the South was really cool before Sherman wrecked it (if you were white). I’m sorry I’m not Christian enough or chivalrous enough for you. I believe in crushing enemies and giving no quarter. I guess I’ll stay in the north…not sure I’d be too welcome down south.
S.C. Sherman grew up an Iowa farm kid. He graduated from the University of Iowa and lives and works in Hawkeye country. Steve is an author, popular radio commentator, and former Iowa House candidate. His articles have appeared nationally in both print and online. His most recent novel, titled Mercy Shot, can be found on Amazon or at www.scsherman.com Steve can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org