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.