|View single post by JeffOYB|
|Posted: Wed Oct 10th, 2007 02:58 pm||
|I don't quite get all this fuss. Of course it's just propaganda---it's a move in a game. Defeat it or be defeated.
The story of the fight over his rep is itself an amazing story. ---Is there a more convoluted one out there?
All war and fighting is unfair (and wrong and bad) at some level.
How did Forrest kill those 29 guys by hand? --When they finally had their guard down---had twisted around to give him their back or when they dropped their sword or had an empty firearm. It's messy and ugly. And when it's finally "unfair" the other guy can win. For Forrest to sharpen his sword was itself an incorrect thing that gave him an advantage that other officers didn't have. ---Of course, the sword-sharpening is also part of a story, of propaganda with a certain goal in mind.
I can't imagine a leader with an unblemished record. We look at the whole story. I emphasize that what's reported is part of a STORY. One either controls their story or doesn't.
Forrest had no class connections, for one thing. How could he control his story? The people who like(d) him are/were free spirits---even today---they don't like control. Probably they're not connected in terms of class status either---his fans are populists, underdogs. So lack of control comes back to haunt them.
As part of the story game we can ask if other leaders killed or mistreated black enemy or if they were slave traders.
Slave trading had a bad rep even in the South, from what I read. It wasn't what a gentleman did. It was a dirty job that lower people did. This works both for and against Forrest. He was a rare leader who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty. But then the dirt hurts the rep.
Anyone who has lived openly at mixed levels of society has felt the sting of losing control of their reputation---but probably not so severely. For instance, those who post their opinions candidly on the Internet can have them come back to bite them even though they're legit. They can be seen as having the wrong image for another level of life. That's why people of authority or even credential rarely post candidly online---lines can be crossed. I've tasted another tiny aspect of this. I grew up rural and ran traplines---considered a low-class, dirty thing by some---as an adult I've socialized with college-grad city people where stories about my past come up---and some blanch at the thought of traplines and hunting and some then feel privileged to be abusive to me. It's a tough game to play!
Part of today's fight against Forrest is over statues---black Southerners say they're offensive. But couldn't all statues of CSA leaders come under such fire? ---They were fighting to preserve slavery. Thus another tool in the story game can be: stand by them all or all will fall.
Detractors say he particularly represents oppression. Fans have to beat that rap, pure'n'simple. I'd say it's fair to say that his story is a uniquely mixed one. Can we handle mixtures? If not, his rep is doomed.
Forrest had a wild temper---it's amazing that more atrocity stories aren't out there.
Actually, I vaguely recall that Forrest's rep was that he mistreated a lot of black Yankees---so the bad rep might extend past Pillow. I know that his strategy when capturing forts was to cause fear to provoke surrender. It almost seems comical how well the gambit worked in the bio's---but did he also put regular doses of reason to fear in there? Wasn't EVERYONE rightly afraid of going against him? Was it all Pillow? Maybe the rep of that one bad incident let him get surrenders from there on out. If something goes wrong, use it to your advantage anyway. Sound familiar?
So he's a hero with flaws. (It's so cliche'!) Patton had them, too---he was a real nut, but thank heaven for him.
Abe Lincoln had flaws too. I recall reading that some of his political moves were considered appalling at the time. His defenders have had to work from time to time to keep the lead. It helps that he was on the winning side, eh?
Didn't Grant basically "out die" the enemy? He had more troops he could get killed. Appalling.
Maybe there's a tactical way to handle it when we hear detractors. Maybe say: "OK, he was involved with 2 or 3 bad things, for which he was largely cleared, but he actually and definitely did dozens of amazing things."
What about Rommel? The perfect leader---for the bad guys. The public is able to separate the military from the "team" in other cases. Why can't the same be done for Forrest? Maybe we (some of us) can forgive Rommel because his flaw wasn't personal---he had an evil boss but was scrupulous himself. With Forrest everything seemed a unique mix of personal and tactic.
The trouble is partly because BOTH "sides" of the Forrest debate are working against him. The "I ride with Forrest" stickers themselves send multiple messages---well, one main message. Even tho the KKK of Forrest's day wasn't very violently racist, most of those who fly the sticker are just saying they're into the KKK, aren't they? They've tainted the "real" story, anyway, for those who might fly the sticker because they know that to have ridden with Forrest would've been an amazing thing---but does anyone fly it for that reason? It's a contrarian sticker, for sure. Which can be a good thing. But in this case the racists who like Forrest for the wrong reasons are working with those who dislike Forrest for the wrong reasons! And the bad reputation thus persists.
Forrest was an early civil rights advocate---maybe the first southern leader to take that stand? But the nail is in the coffin. It's a shame to lose a story that way. It's a heck of time winning back a story where both sides work against truth.
I've read a bunch of CW bio's and NBF's is easiest the best on many levels.
It's probably just a bunch of yahoos with stickers who wreck it for the rest of us.
Well...I ordered the video documentary---I'll report after viewing.
Last edited on Fri Oct 12th, 2007 06:15 pm by JeffOYB