In early 2023, accused plagiarist and Twitter (Princeton) historian Kevin Kruse published Myth America, a book that promised to replace “myths with research and reality.” You see, Kruse and his co-authors—many of whom are social media “celebrities” for their attacks on “conservative” scholarship—argued that, “The United States is in the grip of a crisis of bad history. Distortions of the past promoted in the conservative media have led large numbers of Americans to believe in fictions over facts, making constructive dialogue impossible and imperiling our democracy.”

Donald Trump certainly inspired the book. The introduction opens with an Orwellian tone: “We live in an age of disinformation.” Kruse’s “all-star team of fellow historians [sic]” then proceed to rant against Trump, Tucker Carleson, Ronald Reagan, Fox News, One America News, Newsmax, George W. Bush, the 1776 Commission, Liz Cheaney, and, in what might be the most humorously hypocritical statement of the book, “a new generation of amateur historians who, lacking any training the field or familiarity with its norms, have felt freer to write a history that begins with its conclusions and works backwards to find—or invent if need be—some sort of evidence that will seem to support it.” Kruse complained this has led to a “cottage industry…with partisan authors producing a partisan version of the past to please partisan audiences….” Kruse and most of his Twitter brigade are not “amateurs”, but they engage in the exact type of “history” they claim to be refuting. Orwell would be pointing the finger back at these “all-stars”.

Activist Karen Cox and her easily discredited and cherry-picked thesis that Southerners erected Confederate monuments to intimidate black people illustrate this point. Her chapter in the book aimed to take down the Confederate bogeyman by working “backwards to find—or invent if need be—some sort of evidence that will seem to support it.” This fits nicely with the “Twitter historian” war against the “Lost Cause Myth.” In fact, Kruse and his sycophants spend a lot of time whining about the “Lost Cause” on social media. The South, they say, “won” the second War, the “history war.” That would have been news to Southerners and the dominant literature on the War, even in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, but it supports the real lie of the postbellum period, “The Righteous Cause Myth”, something these “all-star” activists ignore in their thinly veiled polemic. Lies are only lies if the other side is telling them.

A recent controversy over a historic marker to Harriet Tubman in Maryland highlights this leftist duplicity. In the 1960s—right about the time dopes like Karen Cox think Southerners were erecting some Confederate monuments and hoisting Confederate flags to intimidate black people—the Maryland Civil War Centennial Commission placed a marker in Dorchester County that made two erroneous claims. First, it argues that Tubman was born on the farm where the State placed the maker. She was born ten miles away. Second, it insists that Tubman freed three hundred slaves during her time as a “conductor” in the “Underground Railroad.” The number was closer to seventy. Where did the Commission come up with this bogus information? An 1869 book written by Sara Hopkins Bradford, a noted Northern children’s book author who penned two biographies of Tubman to raise funds for her support. Bradford made the number up, but it sounded good, and a gullible American public adopted the number as accurate. But remember, the South “won” the history war, right? Such books never existed and had little impact according to the Kruseites. Yet, the three hundred number remained the standard “fact” until a 2003 biography corrected the lie.

You would never know as the marker with the incorrect information still stands in Maryland. The Maryland department of transportation said it will replace the marker in a “year or so”, but it has slow-walked the process. That’s an understatement. The lies have been publicly exposed for twenty years, at least. These aren’t interpretative disputes. But they serve a purpose. As one of Tubman’s descendants argued, “he can live with a little bit of inaccuracy and incompleteness. ‘Because history is a living thing…And it’s evolving.’” An adjunct professor at several local colleges agreed: “It’s a very good starting point for really understanding the dynamics of her story.” I’m sure all these leftist historians would use the same logic for keeping Confederate monuments or symbols in place. The Twitter historian brigade has used “inaccuracy” and “incompleteness” with great effect to justify removing monuments for the last several years. To her credit, the historian who corrected the factual errors has been leading the charge for a new marker, but for most of these people, the motto remains, “contextualization or removal for thee but not for me.”

Of course, the Tubman myth cannot be found in Kruse’s book, even though it probably has more currency than any part of the “Lost Cause” myth. According to a 2008 survey, Tubman was the third most recognized historical figure by (mostly white) American students and adults when presidents and first ladies were excluded. The other two were Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. So much for the “Lost Cause” victory in American history. The activists in Kruse’s book would have you believe that Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson graced the cover of every K-12 history textbook in America and that no white person ever learned about King, Parks, or Tubman. Hollywood crafted an entire movie about Tubman’s life, even going so far as to claim she was some kind of general officer in the Union army at the end of the war who led a successful raid against Confederate forces. Honest historians have scoffed at these exaggerations for years, but they persist, due in large part to activist crusaders throughout the academy at all levels. Fiction is better than fact when you have an agenda.

The significance and existence of the “Underground Railroad” has also been overstated. In 1961, historian Larry Gara published The Liberty Line which explained that much of the “Underground Railroad” was in fact a myth propagated by Northern abolitionists after the War to pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Gara was no “Lost Cause” mythologist. He was a Quaker who was booted from his job at Groove City College after being [incorrectly] accused of being a communist. But he was a real professional historian who sought to understand the past rather than use it for political advantage, something the alleged cribber Kruse cannot comprehend. I would bet that every student in America knows something about the “Underground Railroad” and some, if not many, would think it was a massive network of thousands of morally righteous Northern white people dedicated to helped tens of thousands of escaped slaves make it to freedom. The truth is far different, as Gara explained over sixty years ago. Funny that his conclusions have been virtually ignored by the academy. It doesn’t fit with the leftist activist agenda. But as we’ve seen on the news recently with violent “student” protests, higher education ceased being about real knowledge a long time ago. When you have professors like Kruse and Cox, it’s easy to understand why.

Brion McClanahan

Brion McClanahan is the author or co-author of six books, How Alexander Hamilton Screwed Up America (Regnery History, 2017), 9 Presidents Who Screwed Up America and Four Who Tried to Save Her (Regnery History, 2016), The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Founding Fathers, (Regnery, 2009), The Founding Fathers Guide to the Constitution (Regnery History, 2012), Forgotten Conservatives in American History (Pelican, 2012), and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Real American Heroes, (Regnery, 2012). He received a B.A. in History from Salisbury University in 1997 and an M.A. in History from the University of South Carolina in 1999. He finished his Ph.D. in History at the University of South Carolina in 2006, and had the privilege of being Clyde Wilson’s last doctoral student. He lives in Alabama with his wife and three daughters.


  • James Persons says:

    Many thanks to Dr. McClanahan for another very informative column with links. The Yanks may be the biggest self deluded bunch on the planet. I know lots of them are just cynical political hacks after money and power. In my experience though, they are just ignorant believers of the myths created after the war so that they can still practice bigotry: in this case against Southerners. I am still running across the urban myths they tell on another about the South, the ‘Civil War’ and segregation/Jim Crow.

    When I lived up North I lived in a place that once had a 2,000 acre slave plantation. Of course, NO ONE EVER spoke of it. A slave that was born on the plantation later became a slave in Maine before being freed very late in life and was the inspiration for “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. Only a Yank could write an ‘expose’ about the evils of Southern slavery based on a Yankee owned slave. Bless their hearts, Yankees are one hot mess, to be polite about them.

  • I recently completed Issac Bishop’s, “Defending Dixie”, which I enjoyed immensely.

    Bishop also recounts the myth of the “Underground Railroad”, finding that it freed around 6000 or so slaves in total. And it never was the underground route to freedom as many after the conflict wanted people to believe.

    In fact, Bishop goes on to say, that the majority of slaves preferred to stay on the plantations and work for those families that treated them like extended family member, not being the “beasts of burden” that many northern propagandists would have people believe.

    In fact, if we take Louisiana as a prime example; had the plantation owners worked their slaves in the fashion that popular mythology has provided for, the owners would have been forced to replace the entirety of their slave populations within a few months considering that the Louisiana summers were so brutal that no one would have been able to work under such conditions for very long. So slaves down there did in fact work 14 hour days, but these days included many breaks for meals and rest as well as a 3 hour break during the worst of the day’s heat…

    • James Persons says:

      One book I found especially enlightening about what slavery in the South was truly like is Grady McWhiney’s “Cracker Culture, Celtic Ways in the Old South”. There are numerous primary source footnotes taken from Yankees’ writings that show that it was far from all whips and chains and endless hours of toil and torture in the blazing climate of the South. My favorite is the one where the Northern visitor complains about how lazy the white Southerners were, and then goes on to complain about how the slaves were even lazier!! LOL But it was whips and chains etc. 24/7/365 wasn’t it?! But as you pointed out, don’t try to tell THEM that. They KNOW how it was. Yankees, ginormous hot messes.

    • And I won’ ever forget the Lousiana system of “placage”, where there was a place for people of mixed race in society. Just both fascinating and wonderful.
      This idiot Northern historians know nothing about the South and never will. Also, the only way any Twitter historian (love that term) could think that the South won the second war, the history war – would be the fact that we still exist, thanks much to Abbeville!!

  • Barbara says:

    I just finished reading Bishop’s Defending Dixie’s Land which I loved. At the end of the book he talked about how the south was like feudal England and that the Aristocracy ruled and in that way preserved liberty while democracy destroyed it. Some people wanted us to have a king with limited powers and I would love to understand how a good system would guarantee liberty and would be one in which there are slaves and a ruling aristocracy. I don’t think that everyone should be allowed to vote but I’m shocked at the same time about the idea of a king and slaves and other things that Bishop said.

    The book makes it seem that the north really sucks and we can see what it has brought us to today so I have to agree.

  • William Quinton Platt III says:

    Rosa Parks was an naacp employee. That’s why she got credit for leading the 13th bus boycott in Alabama.

    King was a serial adulterer, plagiarist and communist.

    Tubman stole property from black and White alike.

    No northern State ever freed a slave…they just made it against the law for owners to own slaves in their State…owners had plenty of time to sell their stock down the river.

  • scott thompson says:

    the fictional edifice those up there have created is stunning in its scope at this point….i can only gape at what I was taught and what was left out, and what my folks had to pay for, for me to ‘learn’ my history. I’m aarp age, so hopefully I wont have to put with the garbage too much longer.

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