By John Fox
Yes, I ended this headline with multiple question marks. As a longtime member and supporter of the Museum of the Confederacy [MOC] I have many concerns over the merger with The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar [ACWC]. Why has the behind the scenes maneuvering by the leadership at both institutions been conducted in secret? In fact, last July when rumors surfaced that a merger would happen, the MOC/President, Waite Rawls, stated that no merger would take place. Rawls indicated that there would only be additional collaboration on programs. That has turned out to be untrue and the leadership at both places knew that last summer. One reason this great country of ours has such a leadership crisis right now is because leaders from the White House down to the local level have no problem telling a lie as long as it serves their own purposes and allows them to get the end result that they want.
I have questions about the splitting up of the MOC’s vast collection of artifacts and archival material. Apparently, the artifacts [uniforms, flags, weapons etc] will go into a proposed $30 million museum to be built next to the current ACWC site on the James River. The vast archival material [manuscripts, letters, books etc] will be housed at the Virginia Historical Society several miles away. The MOC was founded in 1890 and through the years thousands of Southern families donated memorabilia to the collections. Is the memory and trust of these families going to be “preserved” in this merger? Is the true story of the Confederate soldier and why he fought going to be “preserved” too?
How is the combined collection at the new entity going to be interpreted or “reinterpreted”? Seekers of historical truth are frankly tired of being drowned by the Politically Correct [PC] wave that continues to wash over this country. As a native-born Richmonder, I can testify that certain elements are continually trying to sweep anything Confederate out of the city and into the James River. Is this merger another attempt to do that?
Focus groups will be formed to invent a new name for the combined museum. Does anybody believe that “Confederacy” will remain in the new name? BTW, I am not a fan of focus groups because they are too often used as political cover by people who call themselves leaders.
A huge amount of money has been raised recently by the ACWC. Most non-profits are struggling to raise funds now and I am very curious to see where all the ACWC $$$$ came from. Would the ACWC open its donor list so that the public can see what companies and organizations have written big checks? Is it possible that a left-leaning group hoping to rid Richmond of the Museum of the Confederacy is fronting this merger so that they can influence the “reinterpretation” of the MOC’s massive collection?
I know that most longtime MOC members would like to see these questions answered in a truthful way with no spin.