In our society each time a vocally radical Leftist group or the media cry “racism” and demand that our public figures “jump,” those leaders respond, usually meekly and apologetically, hat-in-hand: “How high?”
Confronted by such accusations almost always they run for the tall grass (to quote Patrick Buchanan) hoping that endless self-effacing apologies and some form of reparation will lessen the indelible stain, that nearly unforgivable sin which screams to the heavens. No matter if that infraction was “committed” decades ago, maybe an innocent student prank, or simply being photographed holding a Confederate Battle Flag, for instance—since our society has “progressed” forward, we now know that such actions are symbols of deep-seated white supremacy and bigotry that must be extirpated and punished severely.
In America the charge of racism has become a magical talisman which, once made, is a virtual death knell for almost any public official or social figure, perhaps only exceeded in effect by the accusation of anti-semitism.
It makes little difference whether the charge is true or not. Once stated and picked up by an eager-to-oblige media, it could end a career, it could forever discredit a person, and it may effectively end any platform he might have to express his views to a large audience. In effect, he would become a virtual “non-person,” a lone voice speaking to small groups of other “non-persons,” and prevented from reaching any wider audience.
This is especially true of Republicans and the dominant conservative movement. In too many cases, it is the fearful conservative establishment that participates in this process: any faint or farfetched hint of “racism,” present or past, real or imagined, any deviance from the new Progressivist dogmatism that saturates our society, brings not just attacks from the Left, but obloquy and quarantine from our frightened conservative elites.
To protect their right flanks and for fear of being labeled “racist,” those elites erect speech barriers and will not in any way permit or enable non-conforming and Old Right conservatives to appear on their networks or in their journals. The examples abound: National Review, The Daily Caller, Frontpage Mag, Fox News (with the notable exception of Tucker Carlson)…the list is endless.
To invite the real Rightwing opposition into their forums would be an admission that these outlets are not, in fact, genuine, that they usually jump when the Left demands it, that they prefer their cocktail parties with their Inside-the-DC-Beltway Leftwing friends or Manhattan boardroom confidants…and it would only increase the innate fear they have of being labeled “racist” (or “sexist” or “homophobic,” as the case may be), as well.
Of course, they will be labeled “racist” no matter what they do or say. And more’s the pity and utter insanity of it, for in their praxis, in their obeisance to the Leftist template and their implicit acceptance of its standards for participation and debate, they facilitate the continued success of this tactic and eventual destruction of what remains of the old republic.
If they would stand up to the attacks, if they would reject the narrative and the ongoing template, if they would refuse its definitions and its accusations forcefully and intelligently, then the field of battle might be different, might be altered a bit. But that would require courage and a truthful examination of American history and culture, and in too many cases, a rejection of dearly held—and false—principles about equality and the American Founding that several decades ago invaded both the older conservative movement—Neoconservatism—and now dominate the Republican Party.
Consider what is going on currently in North Carolina. Two examples.
First: The University of North Carolina System Board of Governors has before it a decision to make concerning a monument erected a century ago to students who volunteered to fight for the Confederacy in the War Between the States. Last August 20 a mob of radical Marxist students, faculty, and others (including votaries of the Hillsborough Progressives Taking Action, ANTIFA NC, Black Lives Matter, etc.), tore down the monument on the Chapel Hill campus while university police were ordered by the school’s administration to “stand down.”
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Board of Trustees then proposed moving the monument to a museum (not yet built) on campus. This solution did not please either the Marxist mob or those who wished the monument to be put back on its pedestal.
Indeed, the North Carolina Monuments Protection Law of 2015 requires the monument to be put back in its original place within 90 days. The very strict legal exceptions to this—major road work, decay of the monument that would endanger the public—obviously do not apply in this case.
Given pressure from both sides, the Board of Governors for the entire university system, having direct purview, created a special committee to come up with an “agreeable solution” for all parties.
In the meantime, the head of the Chapel Hill institution, Chancellor Carol Folt, ordered the base of the monument removed as well (in the middle of the night), once again a clear violation of the 2015 law. As a result, her resignation was requested and accepted on January 31.
But neither the monument nor its base has been put back as the law requires. Indeed, all eyes now are on the Board of Governors meeting on March 15 when its special committee is supposed to report back with that “agreeable solution.”
Here then are the questions for the UNC Board of Governors: Will they also cave to small, noisy and extreme Leftist mobs of students and Marxist activists who demand the obliteration of symbols memorializing our veterans and the total transformation of our culture? Will the Board collaborate in the flagrant violation of state law by the administration of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill?
Every indication is that they will—that they will once again direct that the monument and its base (both now in storage) be placed in a museum. And in so doing they will violate specific clauses in the 2015 Monuments Law that expressly forbid such action.
Almost certainly lawsuits will follow.
But what is fascinating about this situation is that most of the members of the UNC Board of Governors are Republicans appointed by the GOP-controlled North Carolina General Assembly. Most of them are big donors to the party, major business types, for whom having choice front-row seats at UNC basketball games and attending glitzy alumni events are very important, and who wish at all costs to “avoid unsightly controversies” which might get them labeled as racists and adverse publicity in the local leftist media (e.g. Raleigh News & Observer, WRAL-TV, etc.). Standing up for the majority of North Carolina citizens and for respect of and obedience to the laws of the state are apparently far less important.
Like other Establishment Republicans and faux-conservatives, when the Left demands that they jump, they frantically look for a way out, and mutter beneath their breath, worriedly, “how high”?
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.