White Southerners, and Americans in general, are by now accustomed to hearing and seeing screeds issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), often quoted by the media as serious news, about how “racist” they are. Despite mounting evidence—now detailed in such journals as The New Yorker—that the SPLC is mostly a giant money-making con operation which uses accusations of “hate” as its vehicle for financial gain, it continues to enjoy an undeserved reputation for revealing “the dark underside of bigotry” that, according to them, appears to be rampant almost everywhere.
But right behind them in the quest to expose the evil souls of our fellow citizens is another professional “hate-monitoring” organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith. And just recently, the ADL came out with its latest list of “35 hate” symbols and hand signs which must be banned from public use. Ostensibly founded as a “watch-dog” organization to surveil against anti-semitism and anti-semitic behavior, the ADL has become, like the SPLC, little more than a strident, far Left voice for suppression and limitation of free speech.
But even its latest list, rather what is included on that list, caught many observers off guard. In addition to the expected enumeration of pro-Nazi and white supremacist symbols, tattoos, and hand signs, the ADL includes the “okay” hand sign as racist and, thus, verboten.
That is, the traditional “okay” sign, usually made with the thumb and index finger, is dangerously racist, a diabolical signal by one racist to other racists expressing agreement and unity, possibly implying terrible violence against innocent minorities, specifically black folk, Hispanics, and perhaps Jews, as well. Oh, the horror of it all!
Think I’m unserious? The Washington Post (September 26) published a long article on the subject, with a straight journalistic face. And the seriousness of this latest advance of the fanatical left—the lunatic hysteria associated with its advancing agenda—is completely apparent. In addition, the ADL added what it called the “Dylann Roof bowl haircut” and “men with moon shaped heads” to its monitored list.
You see, according to the Post, the “okay” sign apparently is used by Trump supporters who “use the gesture primarily to ‘trigger’ liberals who believe the hand sign serves as a decoder ring to detect secret Nazis.” [I’m not making this up.]
“That was what the OK symbol was literally invented to do: Both serve as a white supremacist symbol and also one that is just ordinary-enough looking that when liberals expressed outrage, the white supremacist could play the victim of liberal hysteria,” Amanda Marcotte, a politics writer for Salon, wrote on Twitter in September 2018.
But it gets worse, as the Post relates:
Prominent figures and private citizens alike have made headlines for making the “okay” gesture in public. Critics accused Republican operative Zina Bash of making the symbol for white power last year when she made the ‘okay’ sign at Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing. A spokesperson for the Senate Judiciary Committee said at the time that Bash was aiming the sign at a staffer who fulfilled a request for the judge — an explanation that aligned with video of the hearing in which Bash is visible.
Not too long ago in this country such accusations would have been seen as exactly what they are: sheer madness, lunacy on public parade. But, no longer; now they pass for solemn mainstream warnings, dire exclamations, very grave and serious charges hurled with furrowed brow against anyone who in any manner should stand in the way of the onrushing wild-eyed progressivist agenda.
And that agenda must not be opposed, for if you do, even in the slightest…and if you make the “okay” sign…why, then, you are positively evil, probably a Nazi, maybe just like Dylann Roof with the bowl haircut. You may call yourself a “conservative” and register Republican, but never fear, the ADL (and SPLC) and The Washington Post (and other mainstream media) have got you all figured out. Unless you recant and recant publicly and profusely like most public figures who forty years ago may have told a non-PC joke or uttered a non-PC word and then were “found out” by zealous Leftie fanatics who researched their high school Yearbooks or quizzed an old girlfriend they may have had back in 1970 for incriminating information—unless you do this, the media and the establishment will come down on you, shame you, cause you to lose your job, in short, expel you from what passes for “civilized society.”
And what is perhaps most egregious in all this is the radical perversion and degradation of our language, the devaluation of our words and phrases and how we communicate with each other…in the name of an agenda that uses accusations of “racism” and “hate” as weapons to gain total power over us.
Most establishment “conservatives” remain clueless when it comes to such issues and such accusations about race and racism. Most readily and fearfully accept the template and narrative put forward by the fanatics. Establishment “conservatives” are consistently on the defensive, always in a disadvantageous response mode to the ever-advancing post-Marxist Left, always beginning any conversation by first fully embracing the goalposts and talking points advanced by it. And that starting point can only lead to surrender and additional conquests by the Left and by the so-called “conservatives” normalizing and legitimizing that latest conquest.
One-hundred and thirty years ago the great Southern author, essayist and acute observer, Robert Lewis Dabney, saw clearly the fatal flaw in the kind of “conservatism” which has dominated in this country since the end of War for Southern Independence. In the debate over women’s suffrage (which Dabney ably and staunchly opposed), he penned words which I have cited previously, but which are entirely apposite in this context:
"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.
Today’s “conservative movement” has learned nothing since Dabney wrote those words, has learned nothing from voices like those of the late Mel Bradford, Russell Kirk, Sam Francis, Patrick Buchanan, and Paul Gottfried. Too often, like Dabney, these men are as Cassandra at Troy, “destined to prophesy, but not to be believed until too late.” Or, simply ignored, or worse, cast out, even silenced by the so-called “responsible” establishment Neoconservative gate-keepers of movement conservatism.
If there is ever to be a return to sanity, sensibility and rationality in this country, that template will have to be reversed and overthrown, and those gate-keepers displaced. Not an easy task, but one that must be attempted. Our future depends upon it.
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.