Our “conservative” punditry go forth daily in what seems increasingly to be an already lost battle against the agenda of the left and its progressivist minions in and outside the Biden administration. That agenda enjoys overwhelming support in hysterically “woke” academia and counts on unwavering backing from cheerleaders and mouthpieces in the establishment media, entertainment, and the sports industry. Increasingly, corporate America—major international conglomerates and the all-but-invincible tech monopolies—use their power to staunch and disauthorise and ban any dissent. And when corporate America speaks, so-called “conservative opposition” to what is happening tends to melt away in retreat. Real jail time or at a minimum police harassment may await anyone accused of “misusing” (e.g., disagreeing with the Left), even in the most discrete manner, platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. That has already happened in California to Ryan Wentz who mildly criticized Representative Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter.
Watching just a few minutes of “Tucker Carlson Tonight” will disabuse any curious viewer of the belief that somehow this nation, at least as we have known it, is not spiraling rapidly towards extinction.
We are told that the only hope we have is to continue to support the current Republican Party establishment and its array of spokesmen who show up periodically on Fox News or Newsmax. But those so-called forces of opposition have been in constant and ignominious retreat for decades, indeed I would argue for more than a century.
Explanations for this “conservative rout” (to use a phrase once used by the late Dr. Russell Kirk) vary. To listen to a Dinesh D’Souza or Brian Kilmeade on Fox, a Dennis Prager, or to the Neoconservative followers of the late Dr. Leo Strauss, all we must do to recapture the initiative—the high ground—is get our message out there to the hungry minds of 20-somethings, to those besotted by the poison administered by academia and by the dominant American culture, who are eager to hear the truth.
The problem is that by and large the intellectual weapons presented for recovery are like the muzzle-loading muskets with limited ammunition distributed to the forlorn British auxiliary regiments at the Battle of Isandlwana (January 1879)—the single greatest defeat for the British Army at the hands of a native (Zulu) army: they are almost useless against the arms of the Left. (Recall the superb 1979 film, “Zulu Dawn,” with Peter O’Toole.)
Without a clear understanding of the American Founding, of American history and the intentions of those in the late 18th century who cobbled together the confederation of independent former colonies which would become the United States of America—without that comprehension—efforts to fend off, much less defeat, the seemingly unstoppable progressivist phalanxes will flounder and result in further disaster.
Indeed, the nostrums offered by establishment conservativism and its acolytes in the Republican Party end up only enabling and codifying the advances and success of radicalism. What was radical ten years ago—and at that time opposed by the conservative opposition—now becomes solidly conservative and acceptable. Thus, same sex marriage, once stoutly opposed by “mainstream conservatives,” is now part and parcel of the conservative ideological arsenal. Here in North Carolina as late as 2012, for example, Tar Heel voters rejected same sex marriage overwhelmingly, 61% to 39% (as did other states where it had become an issue). Many conservatives denounced it at the time…but only a few years later after the infamous 2015 Obergefell Supreme Court decision (by a 5 to 4 vote), most rushed to embrace it. And now all over Fox News the commentariat is overflowing with representatives involved in same sex arrangements, which are now considered “normative,” an extension—a “civil rights” penumbra, if you will—somehow derived mysteriously from the Constitution.
And same sex marriage is not the only instance where what my friend Paul Gottfried calls “Conservatism Inc.” has engaged in enabling progressivism to continue advancing the goalposts of what are called “equal rights.” More recently, Charlie Kirk and other luminaries in the ostensibly “conservative” youth movement, Turning Point USA, and representatives of Ben Shapiro’s Daily Wire, embraced transgenderism and “drag queen” culture, or as BigLeaguePolitics reported in an expose’ on October 30, 2019, “yucked it up” and posed for photographs with its epigones.
No doubt the next conquest will be the normalization of polyamory, which the Wikipedia defines as “the practice of…intimate relationships with more than one partner, with the informed consent of all partners involved.” The Wiki continues: “Polyamory has come to be an umbrella term for various forms of non-monogamous, multi-partner relationships, or non-exclusive sexual or romantic relationships.” In other words, polygamy without the no-longer-needed window-dressing—the charade—of formalized marriage. Federally-supported NPR featured a laudatory segment on it back in March.
And lurking in the wings—and heralded in recent news—are efforts to implement programs standardizing the manipulation of gender--gender “re-assignment” surgery and the use of puberty blockers—for children as young as eight or nine. You see, every eight year old has the right to determine what gender he or she wishes to be, nature be damned.
Although criticized now by some conservative personalities (e.g., Tucker Carlson), how long before this, too, will be considered an essential principle in the mainstream conservative quiver of arrows...and we behold young sixteen year conservatives parading on Fox proudly, and thankful that surgery saved them from sexual dysphoria when they were only eight?
Again, I am put in mind of the justly prophetic words of the great Southern post-War Between the States divine, Robert Lewis Dabney, who fiercely opposed women’s suffrage as contrary to both nature and Holy Writ. Dabney’s arguments go beyond the suffrage issue, however, for he recognized then the inherent weakness within the conservatism that came out of the defeat of the Southern Confederacy...and is still very much with us.
Here he writes in 1871 (The Southern Magazine):
“It may be inferred again that the present movement for women’s rights will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent, Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is to-day one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will to-morrow be forced upon its timidity, and will be succeeded by some third revolution, to be denounced and then adopted in its turn. American conservatism is merely the shadow that follows Radicalism as it moves forward towards perdition. It remains behind it, but never retards it, and always advances near its leader. This pretended salt hath utterly lost its savor: wherewith shall it be salted?
The defeat of the Confederacy was, in a very real sense, the triumph of what was and is an essentially egalitarian view of the American founding, which declared that the American nation was founded on an “idea,” or rather a “proposition,” and that proposition is that “all men are created equal.” That principle as the foundation and promise of America is false and based on a faulty and ahistorical view and reading of the Declaration of Independence as the fundamental document of our history. As Professor Barry Alan Shain of Colgate University has demonstrated convincingly in his encyclopedic study, The Declaration of Independence in Historical Context: American State Papers, Proclamations, and Letters from the Age of Revolution (Yale University Press, 2014), that is not at all what the Founders meant when they debated and then employed those words in the Declaration. But it was the vision that, with “Father Abraham” Lincoln, triumphed in trajectory in 1865. And it is the vision that informs the modern Conservative Movement….and fatally debilitates the so-called opposition to the rampant radicalism we are drowning in.
That vision informed the “Advisory 1776 Commission,” named by President Donald Trump to supposedly counter the historical fabrications of the much ballyhooed “1619 Project,” whose findings are now being frantically incorporated into every level of the American educational system. In essence, it is the same vision, with a few modifications, advanced by the 1619 progressivists.
This piece was previously published on MyCorner on April 10, 2021.
For some time now I have had a passion for classic films, in particular those films that portray sympathetically and with historical accuracy the Southland, and, more particularly, events of the War Between the States. I can remember going to the old Village Theater in Raleigh and, with my parents, seeing a re-screening of “Gone With the Wind.” And around that same time—about 1956—we also were able to view “Song of the South” before it was essentially banned by Disney—an early example of hysterical “wokeism” before being “woke” was the chic thing to be. (Note: Back on July 21, 2019, I listed in this column, later picked up by the Abbeville Institute, a Web site that offered fine, pristine DVD copies of “Song of the South,” but I warned then that the “cancel culture” totalitarians would most likely get around to purging it; as I searched for that sIte today, it had disappeared, been banned, just like I predicted.)
I share my passion for Southern film with my long-time friend Dr. Clyde Wilson, editor of the Papers of John C. Calhoun and the dean of Southern historians, now retired from the University of South Carolina.
Just recently (February 28) Clyde published a brief column, a movie review, at The Abbeville Institute. It was a short negative critique of the film, “The Burning of Atlanta.” Although I try to catch most movies with a Southern theme, and write about them if they interest me, I had not seem that one…and after Dr. Wilson’s commentary, I don’t plan to.
But in his review he mentioned another film that had somehow escaped my attention, despite the fact that he had written about it very favorably at least twice, back in 2014 and 2017, on the Abbeville site.
It is “Firetrail,” originally released back in 2007 and still available on DVD. Although the original well-over two hour version (two DVDs) is still available (more on that in a moment), there is also a more recent, heavily cut issue that comes in at only 82 minutes; stay away from that heavily-butchered one, as Dr. Wilson advises.
But the original, uncut version demands attention and a recommendation, not only for those Southerners interested in the ravages that General Sherman inflicted on South Carolina and North Carolina (as opposed to the vicious anti-Confederate ahistorical ignorance of supposed movie pundits like Fox News favorite Victor Davis Hanson), but for its entirely believable story of true romance, devotion to duty, exciting derring-do, and bearing up under the intense suffering of “total war” inflicted on civilians by Sherman’s host of barbarians.
“Firetrail” takes us from the first entry of Sherman into South Carolina—and Sherman’s bummers and amoral scavengers—below Orangeburg, South Carolina, up through the burning and devastation of Columbia, then on to Fayetteville, North Carolina, and a well-mounted recreation of the Battle of Bentonville. Based on a fine historical novel by Southern novelist Lydia Hawke (aka, Lydia Filzen) who has also authored several other war-themed works, “Firetrail” was directed by Christopher Forbes. He managed to enlist various re-enactment units, create a model of Columbia set to the torch by Yankees, and perhaps most importantly, to cast some essentially non-professionals as his actors who actually make the storyline come alive.
True, they are amateurs compared to, say, a Robert Duvall or a Stephen Lang in “Gods and Generals.” And “Firetrail” lacked the millions of dollars lavished on Ron Maxwell’s grand production—don’t expect another “Gone With the Wind.” But nevertheless as I watched the entire presentation I could not help but get involved and be mesmerized: these are real people, with real stories and lives made terribly precarious by the brutalization of war. I wanted to follow them, I wanted them to make it through successfully.
Jim Hilton assumes the role of the film’s hero, the dashing Captain Blake Winberry, of the 5th South Carolina Cavalry. His bride-to-be is Judith Rogers, as played by Lin Lafitte. At the beginning we learn that Rogers is a desperate refugee from the burning of Atlanta hoping to make her way to Fayetteville where an aunt resides. Her husband has been killed, and she is essentially by herself in dangerous country. In the first scene she dramatically holds off three Yankee bummers just as Captain Winberry appears to offer his support. For him—and then for her—it's almost love at first sight.
Winberry insists that she accompany him to his family’s home in Columbia; his father is a doctor, and there she meets the rest of the cast of characters, including Blake’s zestfully delightful sister Lexi (Nicole Dye) who would like nothing better than to go out and fight Yankees, and his former sweetheart Sally Dubois (Tomme Hilton), who seems only interested in marrying for better social status (something that Blake doesn’t seem to have)—she ends up later squiring off with the notorious womanizer General Hugh Judson Kilpatrick!
The action never ceases. As the Yanks move irresistibly northward into North Carolina, Blake insists that Judith leave the war zone, and they separate only to be reunited towards the end of the film as Blake lies wounded and nearly killed by a Northern soldier.
As I stated earlier, I could not stop watching it. Despite its length—it took all of an afternoon, and I have not had the time to watch the bonus material yet—and despite the lack of Hollywood polish, this film touched me as I think it will touch any Southerner who honors his heritage and understands the sufferings and sacrifice of his ancestors.
The complete film—the two DVD set—is available and is the one to get. It is professionally and commercially done and handsomely produced and packaged, not a “private” edition in any way. It can be easily obtained from Lydia Filzen (the author of the novel uses the pen name “Lydia Hawke”—she’s also a member of the UDC), either by check or via PayPal transfer made out to Mrs. Filzen. The price is $20.00, which includes postage and shipping for the two-DVD set.
Her Web site contains many additional details: http://www.lydiahawke.us/ I urge you to investigate it. She can be reached at the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org. For mailed orders with check her mailing address is: Lydia Filzen, 13 Robin Road, Orange Park, Florida 32073.
In our age of “cancel culture” when even Dr. Seuss and familiar cartoon characters can be outright banned and essentially made non-existent for us and our children…when ruthless totalitarians, whether pitiless barbarians in the dominant culture or spineless cretin-like “conservatives” and Republicans who give in to them, prowl about like the “rough beast” St. Peter the Apostle warns us of (I Peter 5:8), “seeking whom he may devour,” then we must continue and treasure such works as “Firetrail.” It reminds us of the reality of our past, for in that memory of our past is also the seed of rebirth of our Hope for the future...and the justice of God.
This piece was originally published on MyCorner on March 9, 2021.
Most Saturdays I drive in to the nearby town to do my weekly grocery shopping at the local Food Lion. As I go in I sometimes tune my radio to the local NPR station and catch a bit of the programming. It’s about the only time I listen to public radio—as a general rule I can only take NPR in bits and small doses. Its programs tend to be outrageously “woke” and condescending to those of us out in the hinterland, anyone mired in a traditional lifestyle who might have voted for Donald Trump and who doesn’t share the latest hip views spouted by the featured guests.
This past Saturday as I listened to “Wait! Wait! Don’t Tell Me,” which advertises itself as a quiz program, the panelists began with an especially noxious and vicious attack not just on Trump, but also on anyone and everyone who possibly supported him. It wasn’t just the normal invective which I have come to expect from America’s taxpayer-supported public radio system; it conveyed a certain and real venom and dripping hatred that surpassed all previous times I had heard the program.
You would think that with the Donald now outside of government, and now impeached twice with even leading Republicans (e.g., Mitch McConnell) solemnly and dourly condemning him as if we needed somehow to reconvene the Nuremburg Trials, that the invective would lessen. But no; it was even worse this Saturday, on steroids, as it were.
It betrayed, I think, just how nervous and fearful our elites in entertainment, the media, politics, and in corporate America still are, not just of Trump, but of what was arguably his major accomplishment while at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Although not successful in some of his promised reforms, he actually, perhaps unwittingly, tore the mask off of the “deep state” managerial elite establishment which has increasingly exerted almost inexorable control over every aspect of our lives. Their grimacing and barbaric faces were revealed, their foul activities and crass manipulation of nearly everything exposed as never before.
That was an unforgivable sin, and as such only a stake through the heart of the man responsible would suffice, and, likewise, that stake must also be driven into the hearts of all those who partake in what one CNN pundit called “the Trump cult.” Thus the calls from prominent Democrats and media personalities for something resembling a “ministry of truth” or massive “re-education” programs (i.e., modern Gulags?) for those who dissent from the new “reality” proclaimed—and enforced—by our elites.
Have those folks not read Orwell? Or, maybe they did…?
It would be easy to dismiss such calls as outliers or isolated demands, but they are uttered in all seriousness by significant and powerful voices on the Left. And the Harris-Biden administration, ever sensitive to the demands of its progressivist wing, now evokes the language of “equity,” which carries the ideologically-armed language of “racism” and “white privilege” much farther than anything envisaged even a few years ago, as my friend Dr. Paul Gottfried pointed out recently (January 26) in his essay “Multiracial Whiteness Is the Latest Leftist Branding Iron,” at American Greatness.
Whites are now informed that they are guilty of the sin of “white supremacy” and racism until they prove their innocence. Indeed, being white may mean that one can never really prove his innocence, that the sin may be ineradicable. Thus those multiple examples of white “woke” academics—mostly women—who have tried to actually change their race and pretend that they were black (e.g., Rachel Dolezal), and thus escape the horrible onus of whiteness.
This feverish anti-white hysteria pervades our educational institutions with a vengeance. Nothing is sacred, nothing is off limits. Already we know that standard English is a “white construct” and therefore must be abandoned. Teachers can no longer grade a student for what once was considered bad or faulty English or grammar. We are told that the works of William Shakespeare are shot through with racist imagery and must be purged if employed in the classroom, if not banned outright. In England there are calls to purge Winston Churchill’s name from institutions and monuments—he was both a colonialist and a racist.
Two recent instances of this frenzied cultural barbarism—and eventual cultural genocide—should come as no surprise, but I must admit that I was not ready for them.
First, a new mathematics guide sent out to teachers in Oregon by the state Department of Education declares that traditional math, you know the kind that states unequivocally that “2 plus 2 = 4,” projects a form of white supremacy. Titled “A Pathway to Equitable Math Instruction,” the 82-page instructional guide lists the ways that this is perpetrated in the classroom:
“White supremacy culture infiltrates math classrooms in everyday teacher actions….Coupled with the beliefs that underlie these actions, they perpetuate educational harm on Black, Latinx, and multilingual students, denying them full access to the world of mathematics….”
The guide offers a year-long framework for “deconstructing racism in mathematics,” and calls for “visibilizing [sic] the toxic characteristics of white supremacy culture with respect to math.” Examples of this racist toxicity “include asking students to show their work, focusing on getting the right answer, tracking student success, and grading students.” No longer should a teacher ask a student to show his work—no longer is an answer to be considered “right” or “wrong,” as such responses only reinforce “paternalism” and the “worship of the written word,” more signs of the oppressive white culture.
Well, math was never my best subject in school—I wish those guidelines had been around fifty years ago when I was taking algebra! I might have gotten an “A” instead of “C’s”—Oh, wait, under that system there would be no grades. Darn it!
The second example has to be read and reread carefully to be believed. It seems that loving your dog, protecting him and allowing him to sleep inside is an act of white privilege and racism. According to Katja Guenther, Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Riverside (where else?), in her new book The Lives and Deaths of Shelter Animals:
“…allowing dogs to sleep inside is a privilege reserved for the white and wealthy and that policies against keeping dogs chained up in backyards are intended to oppress people of color by imposing ‘middle-class norms of animal keeping in which companion animals are considered family and treated accordingly,’ which ignore the fact that people of color ‘are themselves trapped in poverty, may have few options for legitimate income generation and possibly rely on their dogs for … status’.
Additionally, the good professor argues that laws against canine mistreatment discriminate against “anyone in the US other than white, middle class and upper-class individuals.”
Take that! dog lovers everywhere!
And I can do Professor Guenther one better: not only does my cocker spaniel, Jasper, sleep inside—a clear indication that I am guilty of white privilege—but since reading that report I have noticed that little Jasper, who is white, also projects all the tell-tale signs of white supremacy; he insists on being the boss over all the neighborhood dogs (especially those of a darker hue) and has a patriarchal attitude towards them. Most egregiously, he only eats prepared Cesar Prime Rib and Filet Mignon, and barks ferociously if I don't provide it for him at the appointed dinner hour. I must be at his beck-and-call at all times, or face unwanted and undesirable deposits in my hallway! Alas, perhaps some "woke" researcher should do a government-financed study on "Canine racism"?
And what about cats? I would think they are even more stained by privilege and racism.
Where all this madness and insanity ends—most of it supported by taxpayers and government largesse—I won’t hazard a guess.
But I will admit that I exult in my blatant canine paternalism and, as the saying goes, if this be racism, I damn well will make the most of it!
This piece was previously published on MyCorner on February 17, 2021.
There has been abundant and over-the-top discussion about the events of this past week and the so-called “insurrection” of Trump supporters—the Deplorables—at the United States Capitol on January 6. Since that day the major news media—the media establishment, including notoriously Fox News—have kept up a constant and ranting drumbeat, with dire images of “sedition” and “treason,” and the absolute and (for them) undebatable demand to “suppress” and “cancel” anyone who disagrees with their views. Not just of Deplorables with a higher public profile, but ANY person who might in the slightest way demur or dissent from their template.
The persecution now reaches down to regular folk who have been denounced because they are Trump supporters.
Already there is news that literally hundreds of men and women have been terminated, fired from their jobs if their employers find out about their dissident views...not just attending a pro-Trump event.
Just the other day North Carolina’s Attorney General (and suitably “woke” Leftie) Josh Stein publicly demanded that Tar Heel citizens denounce their neighbors if those folks might have attended the January 6 “Stop the Steal” rally. And your children? They should denounce their parents, says Stein. Remind you of the old Soviet Union? This may be worse: the advent of a new, more severe “totalitarian democracy.” Josh Stein is, ironically, North Carolina’s chief legal enforcer….
Already there is an FBI investigation occurring of a Fort Bragg [it still bears that name but not for much longer!] officer who as a private person helped a group of regular Moore County NC people to attend the January 6 rally. None of them invaded the Capitol—none of them. But that doesn’t matter: hold them up for media scorn, blacken their reputations, maybe even inveigle them in bogus legal charges; in other words, silence them and stomp them down so that they never again question Big Brother.
The airline stewards union demands that any Trump supporter be barred from flying, and they may well get their wish. So if you were one of the several hundred thousand folks who went to Washington last week, even as a peaceful and respectful participant, if some “woke” person knows that and squeals, Bam! You’re apt to be kicked off a flight or not permitted to board.
The coordinated and nearly universal cabal of Big Tech now asserts not only a total ban of hundreds of conservative groups AND individuals, but collaborates with the incoming Biden team, just as they collaborated with the Democratic National Committee to help steal the November election. Their minions will populate the incoming administration, and soon you will not be able to tell the difference. As in Orwell’s Animal Farm, the dominant pigs will become indistinguishable from the humans…and Big Tech and Big Government will effectively merge and control our lives.
Dozens of major banks and corporations now ritualistically “cancel” anyone who raises even the slightest question about what happened last November. Howls for blood go out for Senator Josh Hawley who stoutly defended the president and made a reasonable case that widespread election fraud existed last year. He must be expelled from the US Senate; his home and family have been threatened by real violent demonstrators. No problem about that, say the media.
You see, no one with a public profile can now openly state that there are “questions” about November 3. It is verboten to even meekly raise the issue. And if you do, then your wife and children may be terrorized with impunity by those “mostly peaceful” Antifa types.
Television personality, Black Live Matter enthusiast, and intellectual nullity, Joy Reid, dredges up the tried-and-true canard: the Trump rally was actually a manifestation of “white privilege” and historic “white supremacy.” Millions of Democrats AND Republicans agree. We simply must be stamped out…now!
National Washington Post columnist and media pundit Eugene Robinson—with much acclaim from the agents of Big Brother—declares that “Trump supporters are a cult and need to be forcibly ‘deprogrammed’.” Sent to re-education camps? Aren’t our children in public schools already there? So now our enemies, in the name of “defending our democracy” suggest we be sent to the Gulag? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s experiences will be like a vacation compared to what may await us.
Joe Biden rails against Trump and all his supporters, blasting them as “followers of Nazi Joseph Goebbels [he can’t even correctly pronounce the name] and the Big Lie.” And this is the man who is supposed “to unite” America? His dementia surfaces nearly every time he opens his mouth. Can President Kamala Harris, waiting in the wings, be far away?
Welcome to the inevitable result of “our democracy”: the Globo-Socialist Republic of America. We were warned and we did not heed those warnings. Those wise men, like Southerner Robert Lewis Dabney, were as Cassandra at Troy: “predestined to prophesy truth and never to be believed until too late.”
This piece was previously published on My Corner on Janary 13, 2021.
When I was a boy, scarcely out of the first grade, there was released a film—now a cult movie—titled “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1956). Although my parents would let my sister and me go occasionally to the old Ambassador Theater or the Colony Theater in Raleigh, usually with friends or accompanied by either or both of them, that was one film which was strictly off limits—we could attend a Saturday Western double bill or maybe something like “Friendly Persuasion” (with Gary Cooper) or “The Ten Commandments,” but nothing eerily bizarre that might produce childhood nightmares. Besides, my sister and I were probably too young to get in, given the old Hollywood Code.
Still, that movie was the subject of a lot of conversation. And much of it centered on the famous “pod people” at the center of the film’s plot: those extraterrestrial beings who were transported to earth as vegetable pods and who eventually took over the bodies of sleeping, unaware human beings, and possessed them, turning them essentially into robotic creatures who continued to look like real humans but weren’t. We had great fun pretending from time to time to be “pod people” back then.
That imagery has vividly come to mind in recent days, indeed increasingly since the election 2016 and now even more so since November 3, 2020.
With all the growing discussion of “two Americas,” of a country—our geographical entity—irreconcilably divided in which not only interests, values and beliefs radically and sharply differ, but inhabitants can no longer communicate, even though they supposedly speak the same language, that imagery of six decades ago becomes more a fulfilled prophecy than science fiction, even if only impressionistically.
No; certainly I am not accusing the minions and followers of the Progressivist Left of being extraterrestrial interlopers. But I do suggest that the virus of a highly contagious (post-)Marxist venom in our culture has infected millions of our fellow citizens and exacted a tremendous toll—that it has been percolating for many decades in our institutions, oftentimes just below the surface—that its initial target was our educational system (and media)—and that its major accomplishment has been to persuade us to accept as undeniable, dogmatic truth, the idea of irreversible and steadily-advancing Progress which its self-appointed heralds and standard-bearers continuously proclaim and update as they see fit.
You know the drill: just take, for instance, the institution of marriage. From being a holy sacrament, indissoluble, between one man and one woman, our society has “progressed” from that traditional Christian doctrine. First, it was secularized, then came easy and widespread divorce, now same sex marriage as a constitutional right, and beyond, why not polygamy—do not the laws forbidding it also deny “my human and constitutional rights”?
There are countless other examples, but I submit they are usually advocated, and eventually accomplished, in the name of “equality” and “human rights,” but always subsumed under the Idea of Progress, that “society must move forward,” not just materially but intellectually. And that inevitably means Leftward. Anything or anyone who stands in its way must be thwarted, cancelled, and eventually forbidden to write and speak.
In 2016 an upstart millionaire businessman named Donald J. Trump upset that applecart just a bit; not that he knew what he was actually doing, not really. But his instincts and his intuition were mostly right, and like millions of us out in what leftwing novelist Philip Roth once called “fly-over country,” that expanse of America between New York’s Upper East Side and Silicon Valley and San Francisco, Trump sensed that something was wrong in “our democracy,” that in the name of social justice and equality, this country had devolved into a stratified neo-plantation system in many ways more rigid and more inhuman than anything my ancestors in antebellum North Carolina ever envisaged—or would have ever countenanced.
I doubt that “the Donald” had ever read James Burnham’s classics on the evolving dominance of what he termed the “managerial elite” or class over American life, and assuredly he hadn’t peeked into Samuel Francis’s texts developing the same topic (e.g., Leviathan and Its Enemies, etc.). Nor had most Americans. But the fact is that today—in “our democracy”—the country is basically divided more or less into three classes:
-A highly selective and controlling managerial class, composed mostly of corporate tech millionaires (and their minions) from Silicon Valley, hedge funders on Wall Street, the academic and media elites, brainwashed Millennials and soccer moms, and Deep State political pawns and dependents buried deep in government;
-A broad middle class that ends up footing the bill for the corporate class and enduring its divinely proclaimed ukases and rules of conduct that only seem to affect the “deplorables” and “chumps” who live in Middle America, never in those gated million-dollar estates in San Jose or luxurious penthouses in Manhattan;
-And lastly, a growing dependent class, who are generally bought off by the beguiling promises of the managerial class and the goodies that are promised them.
The past four years—the first term of President Trump—awakened among many hitherto mostly regular citizens an understanding that the old republic in which they had lived and raised their families was quickly slipping away. Trump, however imperfect he was, was seen as a kind of bull-in-the-china shop, someone who would force the agents of the Deep State and its machinations—and the role of the managerial elites in our lives—out into the light of day. For those of us in the hinterland this comprehension was not always that clear. Yet, among the Big Tech/Big Media/Big Academia apparatchiks and Deep State managerial class, they understood far better what was at stake: their masks had been partially ripped off, and what we began to behold were…modern “pod people,” in every way they looked like us, but now forced out into the open to protect their positions and authority, they were increasingly revealed as radically different, programmed, as it were, like “pod people” from outside our universe determined to control every aspect of our lives…and regain lost power.
Often those of us who reject the Idea of Progress and the proposals of its fanatical votaries are labeled “racists” or misogynists, or defenders of “historic white supremacy”—facile epithets intended to shame and silence us.
Since the November 3 election those of us who question its legitimacy, who have noted multiple, literally hundreds of examples of mass fraud and manipulation of the vote, are labeled “conspiracy nuts” running to-and-fro sporting tinfoil hats, spouting outlandish and bizarre theories. Yet those “theories” are not outlandish and bizarre if they are true. And the mounting evidence—and that is what it is, evidence—is more than convincing.
Those who demand our submission—our obeisance—to their claim that this election is over, that there was little or no fraud and abuse, who refuse to even examine the evidence, are engaged in “gaslighting” and projection. They accuse us—as the neoconservative honcho Jonah Goldberg does consistently on Fox—of failing to acknowledge reality. Yet it is they, like G. K. Chesterton’s unfettered bird out of its natural nesting place, who have turned much of America into something outside the laws of God and of Nature. It is they who have created their own unreality, the swamp of lunacy which bids to overwhelm us.
And that we cannot and will not permit to happen, even if we must for a time endure in modern catacombs. To quote the president of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis: Truth crushed to earth is truth still and like a seed will rise again.
Every once in a while a book is published which takes its place as critically significant and pivotal—which has an influence and reach far beyond other similar studies or writings—in how a culture and society see themselves, and how they see their past and also perhaps their future. For Southerners aware of their history and traditions or desirous of (re)discovering them, so it was in years past with Richard Weaver’s monumental study, The Southern Tradition at Bay (originally published in 1968). And before that the work of the Twelve Southern Regionalists, I’ll Take My Stand (1930), a book never out of print and still very influential today ninety years after its first publication. And one must add to these the various works and essays of the late Mel Bradford, perhaps the modern South’s most brilliant author and defender.
Just this past November 3, 2020—election day, ironically—the newly-revised third edition of James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy’s The South Was Right! was published. And that publication is a truly signal event. For it incorporates the insights and understanding of Southern history, specifically the justice and rightness of our ancestors in 1861-1865, and brings them forward to our own perilous times when it seems that everything Southern, everything we hold dear and we honor, the very living memory and inheritance of our ancestors…indeed, the very existence of Western Christian civilization on this continent, which found its most noble expression in the South of our ancestors…is under merciless, perhaps mortal assault.
Since The South Was Right! was first published in 1991 and then published in a second edition in 1994, much history—far too much of it terribly negative—has fitfully passed us by and oftentimes seems to overwhelm us. The South Was Right! in this new edition from Shotwell Publishing is like a powerful shield and buckler which can offer us indispensable support not only in the defense of our Confederate heritage and our Southern civilization, but also provide us with ample ammunition to go forward on the offensive, to begin the arduous, difficult, but still possible effort of regaining our history, our culture and our birthright.
The late Mel Bradford used the expression “remembering who we are” in several of his works. Indeed, his 1985 book of trenchant essays carries that title: Remembering Who We Are: Observations of A Southern Conservative. But for Bradford, as also for the Kennedy brothers, it is not just the imperative to awaken the memory and legacy of our ancestors and of their inheritance, but to fathom it in its fullness and to know that that inheritance, that culture, those beliefs and that faith are profoundly nourished by traditions and foundations that go back two millennia, that are real….And that despite their apparent eclipse by our contemporary society which despises them and seeks to abolish them, they still offer sustenance and illumination for us—if we let them.
Certainly, such a return to, as the pro-Southern poet Robert Lee Frost once wrote, “the truths we keep coming back and back to” (cf. “The Black Cottage”), is fraught with extreme risks and severe danger in our day and time. We are called racists and neo-Confederates, or “white supremacists” and worse if we defend our heroes of 1861-1865. Our reputations are besmirched; we are doxxed by vicious radicals; even our livelihoods are threatened.
Yet, in our heart-of-hearts we know with President Jefferson Davis, that “Truth crushed to earth is truth still and like a seed will rise again.”
The Kennedy brothers understand, they fathom this, and they have set upon the path of both defending “who we are” and reclaiming our real history and existence as a people from those who would destroy and eradicate them. Here, in this volume, is a veritable goldmine of vital factual information and history grounded in a foundation of truth and faith which we all should digest and know. For once armed and strong in the Faith we may go forward and do battle as our ancestors once did on the fields on Manassas and Chancellorsville.
We have only that choice—or, the ignominious and miserable disappearance from the annals of history. The Kennedys chart our course, and we should follow them.
This piece originally appeared at MyCorner on November 28, 2020.
As of Friday, November 6, the votes are still being counted in at least six states. The large pro-Trump margins that seemed to prevail late election night have now disappeared as mail in votes, many of doubtful legality have begun to trickle in. Large Democratically-controlled cities like Philadelphia, Detroit, and Atlanta have miraculously produced tranches of almost completely Biden votes—legal Republican poll watchers have been excluded from observing the vote count—mail-in votes with unverified signatures of doubtful provenance have been counted. In short the safeguards that would guarantee a fair election have been egregiously ignored and violated.
Philadelphia, heavily Democratic and where armed Black militia groups have been known to exert what they call “vigilance” over polling places, once again seems like “ground zero” in this year’s election. Whereas almost all counties in Pennsylvania were strongly supportive of the president, the local machine in urban Philadelphia was once again grinding out huge—and unbelievable—majorities for Joe Biden, almost like clockwork.
Can a truly fair election be held when what is essentially a political mafia masquerading as a political party has a stranglehold not only on how votes are counted but, more importantly, which votes are counted—and when? Is this what has become of the American republic?
President Trump may well lose this presidential election. But if he does, there will always be a lurking and burning question: Is this really what happened? Was not this election, in fact, stolen?
I realize some may dislike my language, and even reading this very question may seem distasteful. How dare I raise such a specter, such a possibility in our great democracy?
I have written before that American progressivists engage in a form of “gaslighting” and projection onto their opponents of the very actions they themselves are guilty of. For how many months now have we heard Representatives Adam Schiff and Nancy Pelosi and multiple talking heads at CNN, NBC and most all the media claim that Trump threatens “our democracy,” in particular the insanely bogus accusation that the Russians have corrupted our elections, if not the president himself ? Yet, it is exactly those political allies and minions of Pelosi and Schiff significantly on the state level who continue to seriously imperil what is left of the old American republic. It is they, using the COVID-19 panic and resulting shutdowns in a number of states, who implemented the most far-reaching and dangerous destruction of election security in our history, enabling the utter disaster we see unfolding before us.
Despite all the suffocating fog of this election, despite the apparent vote manipulation and fraud, despite the use of the media as unpaid and scandalously dishonest allies—despite all this, and even with the potential toppling of the “man with the orange hair,” the progressivist Left has to be aware in those moments of private reflection that Donald Trump in a real sense may “triumph even from his political grave.” That is, the forces and the citizens that he has roused cannot be forced back into silence, pushed back into their previously quiet acquiescence.
All across the United States the generally predicted “blue wave” that the near totality of pollsters told us would occur simply did not happen. On the contrary, in state after state, congressional district after district, the strongest advocates of the Trumpian populist message won election, even against huge odds and millions of campaign dollars from Silicon Valley billionaires, Wall Street hedge fund manipulators, entertainment magnates and the concerted efforts of the media.
In North Carolina, Democratic Senate candidate Cal Cunningham, running with a dishonest smirk on his face, railed against “big business, big banks and big pharma,” while actually receiving nearly 100 million dollars in campaign funds, mostly from the billionaires of Silicon Valley, Michael Bloomberg, and big hedge funders. Yet, despite the mobilization of thousands of zombie-brained Millennials and soccer-moms (whose voting patterns argue strenuously for the repeal of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution), it was that very working, tax paying middle class North Carolina citizenry, those voters whom Cunningham appealed to, who voted largely for incumbent Republican Senator Thom Tillis.
Cunningham was, we were told, supposed to win. True, there was a scandal involving him and the wife of a military man. But we were informed by the media that he would win despite that. Tillis, you see, was the puppet of those shadowy moneyed types—and indeed, he does get some support from them. But what the voters figured out along the way was that Cunningham was far more indebted to dark money and the elites than Tillis. And it was, without doubt, the “Trump effect,” the rousing of the Tar Heel citizenry that proved critical in Tillis’ win.
In my local precinct, in what is arguably a mixed suburban/rural area of Wake County, President Trump received nearly 60% of the vote (unofficial). In past elections Democrat and Republican vote totals have been roughly equivalent. Yet, this year—this election—seemingly the landscape has been transformed. This is what has happened all across North Carolina and in other states: Trump rolling up large margins in mostly rural areas but more significantly in those working class/blue collar regions where the Democratic Party once commanded unquestioned loyalty, while Democrats strengthened their control in major metropolitan centers.
Most national Democrats and the media continue to slam Trump now that he is down, pronouncing his presidency dead: the “man with the orange hair” will finally be gone, they exult. Still, a few staunch Democrat columnists—perhaps not yet getting their cues from those national founts of thought control—have actually seen something, and at least for the moment stumbled across what may be occurring, what may be bubbling up in the remaining sensible and sane areas of the old republic.
Veteran Democrat progressive Thomas Mills, who has damned the president from the beginning, wrote in his column (“Wow, Was I Wrong,” November 5):
“Last night, I learned how little I understand North Carolina politics. For years, I thought I had a pretty good handle on my native state. Since 2016, though, most of my assumptions have been proven wrong. I never thought Democrats would have such bad night in this state.
“Several of my assumptions about politics, and North Carolina politics in particular, no longer hold. It will take a while for me to better understand what happened, but I will certainly need to find new assumptions and data points. And I’ll have to stop believing the polls….
“Money matters less than pundits and consultants believe. Democrats had a staggering financial advantage and it clearly didn’t pay off in North Carolina. Republicans added seats in the state house and won most of the Council of State seats as well as the U.S. Senate race and the presidential contest despite healthy Democratic war chests.”
Mills’ early sentiments were echoed by Gary Pearce, another long-time Democrat operative (“Democrats Overdo It,” November 5):
“By the wee hours Wednesday morning, Democrats went into full finger-pointing, breast-beating mode as Trump swept the South and Republicans won big in North Carolina: President, U.S. Senate, legislature, Council of State and judicial races. They sounded ready to jump out the window.”
Pearce continues, quoting another Democrat:
“…‘I think in NC specifically, we are communicating to an electorate that doesn’t quite exist yet – the demographic blue wave that’s hitting our cities, but is probably still a decade or so away from fundamentally reshaping our politics – at the expense of rural and urban-adjacent counties, where we have effectively zero support anymore’.”
Obviously, Mills and Pearce had not yet gotten the memo—but no doubt it is coming, and after the requisite soul searching, they will most likely be securely back mouthing the platitudes and template proclaimed on high by the Deep State apparatchiks who drool at the prospect of recapturing 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Let us assume that Biden will finally win…horribile dictu!…which, of course, is still quite debatable at this point (with legal contests looming). Some pundits (mostly on Fox) have sought to reassure us that Republicans will continue to control the US Senate and will have at least five to seven additional seats in the House of Representatives—potentially a break on a Biden presidency. Yet, doubts about just how strong and resistant this congressional “opposition,” this GOP establishment, will be to a President Biden are not at all unreasonable given the past inglorious history and cowardice of our Washington representatives.
But beyond all this, what is becoming ever so clear and evident is that the nation we call the United States of America has now become de facto two countries with populations which not only disagree fundamentally with each other, but cannot communicate or talk with each other at all. They—we—speak entirely different languages, they—we—think in entirely different ways, and those differences are growing wider and more irreconcilable not less so.
This election—2020—underlines and emphasizes that radical and unbridgeable divide.
Throughout this year there has been increasing talk of some sort of nationwide separation, regional secession, as the only means to avoid continued, heightened and potentially violent conflict. Scholar Frank H. Buckley (at the George Mason University School of Law) has authored a fascinating book on the topic: American Secession: The Looming Threat of a National Breakup (Encounter Books). Although Buckley laments it, he begrudgingly admits that the nation we know as America cannot last, and that some sort of constitutional break-up might be a way out.
The time for that serious discussion, and on a national level, has arrived. As Professor Donald Livingston writes in his review in Chronicles magazine (October 2020) of Buckley’s volume: “When two people are about to come to blows, it is best to separate them. Secession could do that for a deeply dysfunctional and hate-filled America.”
This piece was originally published at Boyd Cathey's blogspot on Nov 6, 2020.
A few days ago I sent out to some friends a short piece, unsigned, on “gaslighting.” If you follow media pundits and online scribblers, you’ve probably heard or seen the term used in a political or social context and wondered exactly what it meant.
Gaslighting, in that currently employed sense, can be defined as a form of psychological abuse aimed at controlling a person by altering perceived reality to the point where the person will doubt his own sanity. Essentially it involves mental manipulation “in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes, including low self-esteem. Using denial, misdirection, contradiction, and information, gaslighting involves attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s beliefs.”
This usage apparently originates with the play, Gas Light (1938) and two succeeding classic movies from 1940 and 1944 (this latter film famously stars Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, and Joseph Cotten). The main character in the play (and in the films) literally attempts to drive his wife crazy by gradually dimming the gas-powered lights in their home. As she complains that the lights seem to be getting dimmer, her husband not only denies the fact, but convinces her that it is just her imagination…to the point where she begins to question her own sanity.
In contemporary America “gaslighting” has become a praxis, a weapon of choice of the post-Marxist Progressivist Left: That is, repeatedly projecting on to their opponents the belief and sense that somehow they (we), because of our "unenlightened views" are racist, sexist, and "against progress and 'democratic values'." Nearly the entirety of the media, the entertainment industry, and many political leaders do this on a regular basis; it is inculcated into our children in practically all our schools.... And once we begin to believe that meme, we then retreat from real opposition, we may apologize for our perceived sins, and defensively we may compromise and give way, or just be silent.
This praxis has been very successful in essentially neutering many voices of the supposed opposition to the madness that is eating away at our society.
How many elected Republicans have given way to “gaslighting” for fear of being called “racists” or “white supremacists”? But not just their apologies or silence, and their running to hide “in the tall grass”: Some have convinced themselves of the rightness of Progressivist positions, even supporting them publicly. We only need cite the literally dozens of former Bush administration officials, staffers for John McCain (his wife is voting for Biden) and Mitt Romney, and Neoconservatives like Max Boot, Bill Kristol, and others who now openly support Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.
Does this not indicate something deeply disquieting about these so-called "Establishment Conservatives"? That they are easily spooked by the constant barrage of Progressivist accusations is one thing…but more profoundly, does this not indicate their own lack of deeply-held conservative convictions?
And these were the folks we were to support as our champions in 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012?
Whatever criticisms we might level at Donald Trump, and yes, certainly there are some, he has at least done one thing of immense value: he has torn the mask partially off those "Deep State" apparatchiks, made them surface publicly, revealing them as the condescending elitists, Managerial State globalists that they are. And that, despite all the negative things, in a sense compensates in some ways for many of the Donald's peccadillos....
It is those who righteously claim the Progressivist mantle who are the real madmen, lacking rationality, outside reality, and strangers to the inherent laws of nature and Divine Positive Laws of God. It is they who, like demons from the bowels of Hell, seek to convince us that we are "outside reality" and "unprogressive." And in this they engage in a form of transference, that is, projecting zealously onto their victims—onto the “deplorables” and those who dissent from their template—the insecurities and sense that our thinking and actions are somehow distorted, wrong, hurtful, and not normal…that we are crazy.
In fact, it is they who are, to quote the great Christian English essayist G. K. Chesterton, the real “lunatics.” In his volume, The Poet and the Lunatics (1929), Chesterton discusses the concept of liberty, and in so doing defines it succinctly as “the power of a thing to be itself…We are limited by our brains and bodies; and if we break out, we cease to be ourselves, and, perhaps, to be anything. The lunatic is he who loses his way and cannot return….” Those who have rebelled against the order of Creation and nature, he adds, are “already outside the world of reason, raging with a desire to be outside of everything.” It is they who have in fact rejected reality. Thus, their frenzy and anxiety not so much to convince us, as to convince themselves of their rightness….for like all Children of the Night, down deep, gnawing at them is the dark, if faint but constant sensation that this is so.
Against their constant barrage we need to affirm our rootedness in our God-given and created nature and in two-thousand years of Western tradition and civilization...while rejecting the Progressivists as crazed fanatical rebels against that Creation and its Author.
They must be totally repudiated...no compromises or deals with them. Things may—and probably will—get worse, and our enemies appear to gain triumph. But in the end the Faith will conquer…if we let it.
This post originally appeared on Boyd Cathey's blog on Oct. 13, 2020.
Back a little over thirteen years ago (2007) as chairman of North Carolina’s annual Confederate Flag Day observances, I invited my friend Dr. Paul Gottfried to travel to the Tar Heel State to be the keynote speaker for our event at the historic 1840 State Capitol. His remarkable address was later reprinted in several journals, including the old and much-lamented Southern Partisan magazine.
Recently, in surveying the hundreds of older files I’ve collected I noticed Paul’s address, and I re-read it. And I noticed how prescient and still-current it remains. In 2007 he observed events occurring and trends that were quickly developing, and in dramatic fashion he both saluted the dwindling number of Southerners who were actually defending their culture while also warning them about what was happening and about to happen.
Since Dr. Gottfried’s Cassandra-like advertence to that audience of 150 brave souls in the State Capitol’s House of Representatives chamber that crisp March Saturday, things have gotten incredibly worse…to the point that there is now a real question as to whether anything, not just symbols and monuments, but anything in our Southern heritage will survive the present revolution and the utter and craven cowardice of the political (and cultural) elites who are supposedly on “our side.” Almost without exception those leaders have deserted the battlefield, even given way to the Enemies of our culture.
These days lines from William Butler Yeats’ eschatologically-tinged poem written after the devastation of the First World War, “The Second Coming,” return to me constantly, emblematic of our current age:
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Ironically, I know of no stronger defender of our Southern heritage and traditions and our rights historically, than my friend Paul Gottfried. Of Jewish Hungarian descent, educated at Yale (PhD), professor emeritus at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania, author of around twenty superb books mostly on political theory, a polyglot whose work is actually better known and appreciated in Europe—he has continued the, at times, lonely task of defending the older Conservatism (which welcomed Southerners) that once enjoyed respectability and currency, but now has been overwhelmed and practically exiled by the pseudo-conservative, warmed-over globalist Neoconservatives, descendants of Marxist Leon Trotsky, who despise our Southern traditions and heritage.
They much prefer embracing all the “civil rights” conquests of the far Left and zealously pushing American involvement in wars—almost anywhere—across the globe to establish what they call “liberal democracy.” Which of course, means the imposition of same sex marriage, transgenderism, destruction of older traditions and religious belief if these stand in the way of their plans: thus, for example, the late John McCain’s frenzied attack on Russia’s Vladimir Putin because Putin supports traditional marriage and because Russia has outlawed homosexual propaganda in Russian schools. Such positions are a no-no, unacceptable to our Neoconservative elites in the Republican Party or on Fox News. Older traditions which stand in the way of Neoconservative internationalism and egalitarianism must be attacked and displaced, and anyone defending them maligned and excluded from “the Conservative Movement.”
Just recently the American embassy in Moscow ostentatiously flew the gay liberation flag to celebrate gay rights (Russia had just overwhelmingly passed constitutional amendments completely outlawing same sex marriage). President Putin’s comment (July 3) was to mock the silly American gesture: "Let them celebrate,” he responded to the stunt. “They've shown a certain something about the people who work there," he added with a wry smile. But the embassy’s action also illustrates something about current American culture and society, and the Neocon dominance even within the Trump administration, and it may help to explain why the Neoconservative virus which dominates the Conservative Movement and the GOP also despises the traditional South and its heritage.
I pass on Professor Gottfried’s remarkable clarion call, his 2007 speech, which is still current and spot on, even more so in today’s revolutionary, anti-Southern and anti-Confederate atmosphere. Prophetic and hard, but necessary truth, if we would only listen and act.
Why do they hate the South and its Symbols? By Paul Gottfried
Confederate Flag Day, State Capitol, Raleigh, N.C. – March 3, 2007
Those Southern secessionists whose national flag we are now celebrating have become identified not only with a lost cause but with a now publicly condemned one. Confederate flags have been removed from government and educational buildings throughout the South, while Confederate dignitaries whose names and statues once adorned monuments and boulevards are no longer deemed as fit for public mention.
The ostensible reason for this obliteration or dishonoring of Southern history, save for those civil rights victories that came in the second half of the twentieth century, has been the announced rejection of a racist society, a development we are persistently urged to welcome. During the past two generations or so, the South, we have been taught, was a viciously insensitive region, and the Southern cause in 1861 was nothing so much as the attempt to perpetuate the degradation of blacks through a system based on racial slavery. We told now that we should therefore rejoice at the reconstructing of Southern society and culture in a way that excludes, and indeed extirpates from our minds, except as an incentive to further white atonement, the pre-civil rights past, also known as “the burden of Southern history.” This last, frequently encountered phrase is from the title of a famous study of the South by C. Vann Woodward, who in his time was a liberal-minded Southern historian.
Arguments can be raised to refute or modify the received account of Southern history now taught in our public schools and spread by leftist and neoconservative journalists. One can point to the fact that a crushing federal tariff falling disproportionately on Southern states contributed to the sectional hostilities that led to the Southern bid for independence. One can also bring up the willingness of Southern leaders to free blacks and even to put them in grey uniforms, as the price of the freedom that Southerners were seeking from Northern control. And even if one deplores slavery, this commendable attitude, which was also shared by some Confederate leaders, does not justify the federal invasion of the South, with all of its attendant killing and depredation. That invasion took place, moreover, in violation of a right to secede, with which several states, including Virginia, had entered the Union.
A comparison is drawn nowadays between two supposedly equivalent evils, the Old South and Nazi Germany. This comparison has entered the oratory of the NAACP and the Black Caucus; it has also has appeared with increasing frequency in social histories that have come from the American historical profession since the Second World War. A bizarre variation on this comparison, and one frequently heard from the American political Left, is between the Holocaust and Southern slavery. First brought up by the historian Stanley Elkins (when I was still an undergraduate), this seemingly unstoppable obscenity is resurrected whenever black politicians demand reparations. Not surprisingly, those who claim that the Holocaust was unique and that comparing it to any other mass murders, particularly those committed by the Communists, is an impermissible outrage have never to my knowledge protested the likening of American slavery or segregation to the ghastliness of Auschwitz.
The benign acceptance of this comparison by would-be Holocaust-custodians has more to do with leftist political alliances than it does with any genuine reaction to Nazi atrocities. At the very least, reason would require us to acknowledge that Southern slave-owners were vitally concerned about preserving their human chattel, even if they sometimes failed to show them due Christian charity and concern. Unlike the Nazis, these slave-owners were not out to exterminate a race of people; nor did Southern theologians and political leaders deny the humanity of those who served them, a point that historians Eugene Genovese and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese have demonstrated at some length.
But all of this has been by way of introduction to the gist of my remarks. What interests me as a sympathetic outsider looking at your culturally rich region, goes back to an agonized utterance made by someone at the end of William Faulkner’s magnificent literary achievement, The Sound and the Fury. The character, Quentin, who has journeyed from Mississippi to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to study at Harvard, and who will eventually take his life, tries to convince himself that “No, I don’t hate the South.” This question is no longer a source of tortured embarrassment, but part of a multicultural catechism that requires an immediate affirmative answer. That is to say, every sound-thinking (bien-pensant) respondent is supposed to hate the “real” South, as opposed to warm-weather resorts that cater to retirees and in contrast to places commemorating Jimmy Carter and Martin Luther King. The South, as the location of the Lost Cause and of Confederate war monuments, is one that we are taught to put out of our minds. It is something that a sensitive society should endeavor to get beyond—and to suppress.
Looking at this anti-Southernness, in whose filter displaying a Confederate battle flag, particularly in the South, has been turned into a hate crime, one may wish to consider the oddness of such an attitude. Why should those associated with a defeated cause, and one whose combatants were long admired as heroic even by the victorious side, become moral pariahs for their descendants? Is there anything startlingly new about our knowledge of Southern history since the early 1950s, when my public school teachers in Connecticut spoke with respect about Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, which would account for the present condemnation of the same figures? A few years ago, following my viewing of “Gods and Generals,” a movie that deals with the personality and military career of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, I was struck by the widespread attacks on the movie director, Ron Maxwell. Apparently this celebrated director had failed to use his art to expose “Southern racism.”
In fact there was nothing in the movie that suggests any sympathy for human bondage. In one memorable scene, for example, Jackson’s black manservant raises a question in the presence of his master, about whether it is proper to hold a fellow-Christian as a slave. The devout Presbyterian Jackson, who ponders this question, has no answer for his manservant, with whom he has just been praying. How any of this constitutes a defense of slavery is for me incomprehensible, but it does confirm my impression that there is something peculiarly twisted about the current repugnance for the Old South-- and indeed for any South except for the one reconstructed by federal bureaucrats in the last fifty years. On visits to Montgomery, Alabama, I have noticed two local histories, which, like straight lines, never intercept, but nonetheless confront each other on public plaques. One is associated with the birthplace of the Confederacy; and the other with the political activities of Martin Luther King and the distinctly leftist Southern Poverty Law Center. The headquarters of the SPLC, this watchdog of Political Correctness, stands obliquely down the street below the state capitol.
It may have been a pipe dream that the two historical narratives, divided by culture as well as race, could be either bridged or allowed to function simultaneously. What has happened is entirely different. One of the two competing narratives, the one about the South as a bigoted backwater until the triumph of revolutionary forces aided by the federal government changed it, has not only triumphed but has been used to drive out its rival narrative. It might have been a happier outcome if Southern whites and Southern blacks could have agreed on a single narrative that would not demean either race. The second best outcome would have been if both had retained their accounts of the Southern past, as separate non-intersecting ones that nonetheless remained equally appropriate for different groups. The worst outcome, however, is the one that we now have. It is one in which the descendants of the defeated are taught to vilify or treat dismissively their ancestors, so that they can demonstrate their broadmindedness and remorse about past racism. As a result of this inflicted attitude one is no longer allowed to speak about the South as an historical region without focusing on its real or alleged sins.
But this has not always been the official situation. Certainly this was not the case, even in the North, from the years after Reconstruction up until the second half of the twentieth century, when even veterans of the Union army praised their former foes. It was also not always the case even afterwards, as Shelby Foote’s treatment of the losing side in his work on the Civil War, a classic that has gone through multiple printings, would indicate. The venting of hate and contempt on the South, as found in such predictably unfriendly authors as Eric Foner and James McPherson, is a relatively recent phenomenon. It underscores the fact that the Old South has been defeated twice—and the second time at the level of historical memory even more disastrously than in a shooting war that it lost in the 1860s.
The American white South has fallen victim to the “politics of guilt,” a dreary subject, albeit one on which I have written widely. The Yankee victors of the 1860s, who overwhelmed the Southerners by virtue of their numbers and superior industrial power, did considerable wartime damage. They also subsequently occupied the land of those whom they had vanquished militarily, but then did something that was equally important. They went home, and permitted their devastated opponents to rebuild without an occupying army. What I mean to say is that the first occupation was morally and psychologically less destructive than the ever deepening humiliation that is going on now.
The first victors were mostly Yankee Protestants, who in some ways were similar to those they had invaded and occupied. Once the passions of fratricidal war had cooled, these Yankees were able to view their former enemies as kindred spirits. Although they were establishing a bourgeois commercial regime, one that differed from the prevalent Southern way of life, the winning side had also recruited farmers and those whose culture did not diverge significantly from that of those who had fought on the Southern side. In a certain sense Socrates’ observation about Greeks once applied to Americans as well. While they could fight brutally with each other, they were still brothers, and so some form of “reconciliation” was eventually possible for the former enemies. And both North and South came up with a narrative about their past differences which bestowed honor to the heroes on both sides. This was possible with the Yankee Unionists, who wished to draw Southerners back into their community, even after a terrible war had been fought to keep the Southerners in a Union that they had tried to leave.
But the second civil war seeks the utter humiliation of those who are seen as opponents of a society that is still being imposed. The Southern traditionalists from this perspective are particularly obnoxious inasmuch as they are a full two-steps behind the project in question. Those who insist on these changes are no longer Victorian capitalists or Methodist and Congregationalist villagers from the North. They are post-bourgeois social engineers and despisers of Western civilization, a stage of development that these revolutionaries identify with discrimination and exclusion.
In Southern traditionalists they see those who are still celebrating a pre-bourgeois, agrarian, and communally structured world. That world appealed to hierarchy, place, and family, and its members displayed no special interest in reaching out to alien cultures. Such ideals and attitudes and the landed, manorial society out of which they came point back to a nineteenth-century conservative configuration. For our post-bourgeois leftist intelligentsia, this point of reference and model of behavior cannot be allowed to persist. It clashes with feminism and the current civil rights movement, and hinders the acceptance of a multicultural ambience.
The fact that people like yourselves are still around and still honoring the national flag of nineteenth-century landed warriors from the American South might have the effect, or so it is thought, of making others equally insensitive. Even worse, those who engage in these celebratory rites do not express the now fashionable “guilt” about members of their race and tribe. Those being remembered had owned slaves, and they would have denied women, whom in any case they treated as inherently different from men, equal access to jobs. Needless to say, non-Westerners are not required to dwell on similar improprieties among their ancestors or contemporaries, and so they may celebrate their collective pasts without disclaimers or reservations. The hairshirt to be worn only fits Western bodies, and in particular impenitent Southern ones.
It is against this background that one might try to understand the loathing that the political, journalistic, and educational establishment reserves for the unreconstructed white inhabitants of the South. You seem to bother that establishment to a degree that Louis Farrakhan and those unmistakable anti-white racists, who are often found in our elite universities, could never hope to equal. You exemplify what the late Sam Francis called the “chief victimizers” in our victimologically revamped society, an experimental society that fits well with our increasingly rootless country. But your enemies are also the enemies of historic Western civilization, or of the West that existed in centuries past. You may take pride in those whom you honor as your linear ancestors but equally in the anger of those who would begrudge you the right to honor them. What your critics find inexcusable is that you are celebrating your people’s past, which was a profoundly conservative one based on family and community, and those who created and defended it. For your conspicuous indiscretions, I salute you; and I trust that generations to come will take note of your willingness to defy the spirit of what is both a cowardly and tyrannical age.
This article was previously published by Boyd Cathey on July 25, 2020.
Often as I work at my computer I keep on the Sirius FM Classical Music Service, “Symphony Hall,” with an occasional switch-over to a Bluegrass channel. Both, I believe, reflect at their finest superior elements of our Western cultural tradition with deep popular roots in our civilization, in the songs and compositions of people—our ancestors—which are inspired by their faith, their heroes, their tragedies and triumphs, events in their cumulative history.
Sometimes at night I try to catch a classic film on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) or on my preferred Encore Westerns Channel. Not so much on Encore Westerns, at least not yet, but TCM has begun bracketing certain politically-incorrect classics with “woke” commentary, usually by black and/or gay film critics. Some films, once shown on network television, will probably never see the light of day again. They are far too reactionary, mired in a time long ago, unable to be salvaged even by the most superficially talented social justice progressive movie maven.
Over recent years, certainly since the end of World War II and more aggressively since the momentous civil rights years of the 1960s, there has been a progressive and widespread effort to both “deconstruct” our cultural tradition and alter its expression, with a specific emphasis on the influence of women and minorities who, we are told, have been underrepresented. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. Of course, women and minorities, especially racial minorities, have played a distinctive and important role in our artistic heritage and traditions. And there have been some significant and worthy contributions made by them. But always to be understood in perspective and in the context of two millennia of Western culture, with its roots in, to quote the late philosopher Eric Voegelin, “Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome,” and the predominate role of notable men who were uniformly white.
But increasingly cultural elites in literature, music, art, and film have attempted to treat the essential characteristics and aspects of our culture, those emanations and glories of our heritage by radically re-interpreting them, recasting them completely, and they have done so by excluding, even censoring or banning certain works long held to be of great value and grandeur. Indeed, a long festering anti-Western and anti-Christian animus, always present but for decades percolating just beneath the surface, now aims to reign supreme and totally dominate. Woe to anyone who would oppose it; to do so means you are a “racist” and partake of “white supremacy.” And once that death knell is sounded, once that fatal sentence is pronounced by some poorly educated “woke” lunatic on Twitter or in some corporate board room, well, there is nothing to do but subserviently crawl on all fours, beg forgiveness for everything your ancestors may have done, essentially for being white.
Especially since the death of George Floyd, a drug addict and convicted felon now apparently up for sainthood (by both Democrats AND too many Republicans), the madness we’ve witnessed in the actions of our political class now is also translated with a renewed vigour into the arts, into education, into religion, into sports, into practically everything that makes life interesting, varied and rewarding.
Ominously, the goal lines are advancing rapidly in all of those areas, as we see each day recounted by brain-dead Marxist apparatchiks on television. Outright censorship and banning are becoming the rule…and it seems that those who should be stoutly opposing them are giving in readily to the lunacy.
Consider that such “conservatives” as US Senators James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) now propose replacing Columbus Day as a national holiday with Juneteenth to celebrate the manumission of the last slaves in 1865. Tell me, please, what is the difference between these pusillanimous fake conservatives and those “woke” social justice warriors out in the streets who actually pull down monuments to Christopher Columbus? At least the rioters are honest about their designs. Lankford and Johnson think they can “compromise” their way around what is going on. Their lack of conviction, their cowardice, is revealed for all to see. And in the end the mob will not spare them, either.
Recently, Paul C. Graham, author of the book Confederaphobia (Shotwell Publishing, Columbia, South Carolina), received notice from Amazon.com that they planned to stop marketing his volume.
Here is part of Amazon’s message to Graham (June 23, 2020): “Greetings from Kindle Direct Publishing. I have received feedback from our technical team. They advised that your book has been identified as confederate flag merchandise [sic!]. Amazon policy prohibits the listing or sale of confederate flag merchandise. For more information, please see our seller help pages…. We've unpublished this title and placed a publishing hold. Thank you for reaching out to KDP. If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to get back into contact with us. Regards, Haashim S., Kindle Direct Publishing.”
Amazon forbids and will not sell anything that promotes what it says involves Confederate flag merchandise. You see, for Amazon’s highly educated technical staff a “book” is actually “Confederate flag merchandise.”
Not only that, but the list of banned and forbidden items grows even as I write these words. Anything deemed to be racist, Confederate, misogynist, “Nazi” and so on by Amazon’s “technical team” will be eventually proscribed, and you won’t be able to get it from the world’s major seller of merchandise.
The ramifications of this massive assault reach into every sphere of our culture, including notably film. Consider Gone With the Wind, the Civil War epic considered a classic of American cinema, that has been pulled by HBO Max (until maybe at some future date a politically correct version can be confected). As The Hollywood Reporter puts it: “The move comes as media companies reappraise content in light of nationwide protests over police brutality and systemic racism after the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by Minnesota police…Long considered controversial for its depiction of Black people and its positive view of slavery, Gone With the Wind faced renewed scrutiny…. “
I know what you are thinking: Americans just won’t tolerate that and won’t let this happen.
But you are wrong, deadly wrong: it IS happening all around us, such that the patrimony we leave to our children and grandchildren will be immeasurably poorer and barren, only a remote memory, and after we pass from the scene, not even that.
This is one of the aspects of the culture war we find ourselves in. Indeed, Pat Buchanan back in 1992 spoke of it in what were then considered stark and divisive terms. But what he said back then was only a mild forecast of what has occurred since 1992: that conflict “is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.”
It is not just those public symbols, those statues and monuments which are coming down, it is practically everything that differentiates and distinguishes our culture, our inheritance, the very essence and emanation of who we are and what we hold dear, our art, music, literature, our very soul as a people, that is at stake.
If we fail in this battle, in this culture war—and it IS a war—our civilization is finished, it is over, consigned to the dust bin of history—a goal so earnestly desired and pushed by the militant mobs of Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and associated groups. There is absolutely no room for compromise a la Lankford and Ron Johnson. For compromise leads to surrender, and surrender leads to extinction.
The Russian people suffered under seven decades of Communism, to emerge from the catacombs in the early 1990s with a reborn and vigorous religious faith and devotion to their pre-Soviet traditions.
My question for us all is this: are we prepared to do likewise until that day that God ordains when His justice and triumph arrive?
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations.