Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina comes across as a nice man, well-mannered, calm, the kind of man you would want as a neighbor and, yes, as a friend. He seems unthreatening in how he speaks, always with a very slight but perceptible eastern North Carolina accent. In short, he radiates a down home “you can trust me” charm.
Except for one thing: it’s all a façade, false, a mask hiding a far darker side of his character. His likable demeanor disguises an individual—North Carolina’s chief executive officer—who has been largely responsible for giving the green light to looting, mob violence, and the blatant destruction of symbols and artifacts of our history.
His praxis is not one of openly or vocally inciting the riots and violence; no, that would be too obvious and likely to produce a backlash. Rather, through his actions—and failure to act—he has purposefully enabled those riots and that violence. He has used the initially ostensibly peaceful demonstrations as means to achieve his purposes, purposes which he has had all along.
Whether he acts (or fails to act) out of conviction, or through the advice of his small extremist “woke” social justice warrior constituency, the result is the same. North Carolina’s elected chief defender and protector of our laws and Constitution has become its chief violator, if only in a remote sense and without his guilty fingerprints.
Over the past week or so a mob of rioters and looters rampaged through Raleigh, North Carolina’s capital city. Stores were looted, graffiti were sprayed on monuments, and lawlessness reigned. But you see Raleigh has a “woke” leftist mayor Mary Ann Baldwin, and like so many other mayors in leftist-controlled cities across the nation, her response was to let the mob do its business under the theory: “let them destroy property, that’s acceptable, but we don’t want to ‘hurt’ the rioters physically.” In other words, the capital police stood down as the rioters rampaged through the city…and millions of dollars of private property were destroyed, an outrage against the very raison d’etre of our law enforcement, the reason they exist, which is not only to protect individuals but also private and public property. And is it not legitimate to say, like other leftist mayors, that Baldwin has a certain real sympathy for the goals and objectives of the rioters?
But even worse came over the long weekend from Friday, June 19 to Sunday, June 21, 2020. The mob had taken aim at the historical monuments on Capitol Square. They had already defaced them, but now their object—clearly stated on Twitter and Instagram for anyone to read, including our elected leaders and law enforcement, both state and municipal—was to topple them and to begin with the three iconic Confederate monuments on the Capitol grounds: the statue of Pvt. Henry Wyatt—the first Confederate soldier killed in the War Between the States, the monument honoring the women and children of the Confederacy, and lastly, the giant and artistically distinctive Confederate obelisk facing Hillsborough Street.
At first on Friday night they managed to bring down two lesser statues perched aside the tall Confederate monument. The police did nothing, in fact, stood down with the complicity of Mayor Baldwin and the governor. Then came the Wyatt and Women of the Confederacy monuments. At first state capital police resisted…but then, they too were told to stand down.
And at that point Governor Cooper, in one of those moments that assuredly required some pre-planning on his part, intervened and issued an order: all Confederate monuments, he decreed, would be taken down because they were “dangers to public safety.” It was a logical succession, something that could be presented to the public as the culmination of a rational process, to “protect” the raging rioters who might somehow “hurt” themselves if they continued to attempt to destroy state property! (After all when the mob felled a monument recently in Portsmouth, Virginia, it actually landed on one of the rioters. We can’t have that happening!)
But in so doing, in enabling the rioters to ultimately succeed in their rampaging fury, Cooper flagrantly violated the laws of the state of North Carolina. He invited the mob to destroy public property without the slightest hindrance, he encouraged them. And thus he fulfilled their deepest desires.
And he did so in spite of—in open violation of—the Heritage Protection Act [Monuments Protection Act] of 2015 [G.S. § 100-2.1] which specifically enjoined and forbade the removal of North Carolina’s historic monuments by any level of government authority. Indeed, Cooper through his Department of Administration had attempted previously, in the summer of 2018, to have those three Confederate monuments at the State Capitol removed, under the very narrow exceptions allowed by the Monuments Law. As required by that statute, he had gone before the North Carolina Historical Commission (empowered in law to rule on such cases) using the very same reasoning that he was to use about “public safety” on June 19-21, 2020.
But back on August 22, 2018, the Historical Commission, composed of noted attorneys and historians, several named by Cooper himself, had denied his appeal by a vote of 9 to 2, in effect declaring that the law’s use of the term “public safety” as an exception had nothing to do at all with supposed danger to demonstrators (as Cooper claimed), but meant internal and structural weaknesses or decay within the monuments themselves. External threats to the monuments and whatever harm that might come from those threats were not included as a reason or exception for removing a monument. Those threats to public safety must be dealt with by law enforcement—by the required protection of public property by our constituted constabulary.
Thus, what Cooper did was not only a violation of the Monuments Protection Law, but also a violation of the specific and exact legal ruling of his own North Carolina Historical Commission. Denied his request in August 2018, he manipulated and used the current riots on the State Capitol Square—telling the police to stand down so that violence could occur—to achieve his ultimate goal: removal of the monuments in the most underhanded manner, while indicating to everyone (in particular, to his most fanatical and “woke” followers) that he was taking this action for the sake of “public safety” and “against racism” that those monuments to once-living and breathing men, women and children—citizens of North Carolina—supposedly represent.
Confirmation of this underhanded praxis comes from various high-placed sources, both in law enforcement and in government. And not only that, for Cooper has essentially informed smaller municipalities around the state that should riots occur in their communities, should the mob visit them, he will not allow the North Carolina National Guard to assist them to protect their communities or their history…if a noisy bunch of Antifa/Black Lives Matter thugs try to take down YOUR monuments, basically the governor is telling the citizens of the Tar Heel State: “You are on your own. My tiny radical extremist constituency rules, and I will allow—permit—even encourage—them to destroy artifacts of our history and culture.” Public opinion, which in every poll is two-thirds against removing those monuments, be damned.
Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, who will oppose Cooper is this falls’ election, has spoken out in condemnation of what is happening and what Cooper is enabling (June 20, 2020):
"North Carolinians should be shocked by the utter lawlessness that occurred in downtown Raleigh once again last night, this time on the State Capitol grounds. While Gov. Cooper shifted blame when our cities were looted and buildings were damaged, he has no excuses this time. Last night’s destruction occurred on state property, right next to his office. It is clear that Gov. Cooper is either incapable of upholding law and order, or worse, encouraging this behavior. The essence of a free society is the rule of law. When our elected leaders turn a blind eye to chaos, destruction, and disorder, society begins to unravel."
It is important that Forest get this message out, via his campaign appearances and via media (TV ads). It is a winning message if he will use it, and he must be strongly encouraged to do so.
All the while the revolution advances—in Oregon and California it is George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Francis Scott Key, their monuments toppled. Columbus is now down in various cities. Even the slightest verbal demurrer online is banned as “racist.” You cannot dissent from the new narrative and agenda. And too many of those on our side run for the tall grass, fearful of being called racist.
When the mob comes for the statues of George Washington on North Carolina’s State Capitol grounds—when the effort is to topple monuments to Charles B. Aycock and Zebulon Vance, or to displace North Carolina’s monument to its three presidents (Jackson, Polk, and Johnson), what will Cooper do? By his own irrepressible logic he must give in; there is no other course now that he has implicitly (if not explicitly) thrown his lot in with the new Taliban fanatical destroyers. They desire the total and complete erasing of our heritage and culture. Cooper has invited them in, encouraged them, and thinks he used them. But in fact they have used him, and they will bring him down into the very feculent sewer of anarchic devastation that they create and zealously push.
He deserves nothing better.
“Lies! And damn Lies!” That’s what we have been drenched with for the past week or two: lie after lie, bald-faced lies, insane and patently false assertions put forth by almost the entirety of the media, assented to and propounded by nearly all our politicians (including most deer-in-the headlight “I-don’t-want-to-be-called-racist” Republicans and establishment conservatives), and now taken as dogmatic, undeniable truth that makes the claims of Infallibility by the Supreme Pontiff look like idle speculation.
“Never let a crisis go to waste,” once famously said former mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emmanuel. And certainly not this one which can be trotted out to accomplish a whole host of things—advance the radical left/social justice revolution (that increasingly dominates the Democratic Party) while furthering the template of the ineradicable “first sin” of America: “systemic racism.” And, more, that can be employed to maybe, just maybe, bring down President Trump, and more importantly, bring down what he supposedly represents.
Now everyone from most of the talking heads over on Fox News, the Martha MacCallums, the Brian Kilmeades, the Marc Thiessens (who recently said that the riots in DC were preventing his daughter from demonstrating peacefully against racism!), to the more exalted types on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, and in The New York Time and Washington Post, has been herded onto the reservation and you can’t get off of it without being labelled and formally damned ex cathedra as a racist or defending “white privilege.” And the list of “racist” offenses—even the most innocent and rational comments which would have never drawn the slightest demurrer two weeks ago—has grown and continues to grow exponentially, day by day, it seems.
Following the Dylann Roof episode in 2105, recall it was those offending Confederate monuments: symbols of slavery and racism, squawked the social justice warriors that had to come down in the name of “equality and justice.” And their cry was echoed by the “conservative establishment” in the pages of the once-conservative National Review (e.g., Rich Lowry) and on Fox News (e.g., Victor Davis Hanson and Brian Kilmeade). Just get rid of those “monuments to slavery” and everything would be okay, we were told.
We warned that destroying the symbols of our heritage was only one more step in a concerted program to disavow and dismantle our Western civilization. Removing the symbols had far more profound meaning.
We were right. Now it’s the fierce frontal attacks on police and law enforcement, one more step in the ongoing revolution.
Oppose defunding or abolishing police forces? Why, you’re obviously a bigot and a racist. Just consider the president of the Minneapolis, Minnesota, city council, Lisa Bender. When asked what would happen if there were no police force and someone called 9-1-1 to report an emergency and violence, she responded that asking such a question most likely implied white privilege. After all, she reiterated, fumbling with her answer, “…community trust in this existing [police] department is so low that there is an urgent need for change now…we need to dismantle this department.”
Or consider what happened in upscale Cary, North Carolina, filled with rich transplanted Yankees who’ve come South to escape the high taxes and mess they made up North. They brought that mess and mentality with them. Facing fierce demonstrations in that city of 80,000, the police knelt down in obeisance bowing to the mob and proceeded in ritual fashion to wash the feet of twelve of them, a Holy Thursday mockery if there ever was one.
But, then, with no backing from authority, with utter cowardice from the city fathers—who fear in their bones being called “racist”—is it any wonder that law enforcement reflects that same pusillanimous behavior?
While what happened to George Floyd in Minneapolis was a tragic occurrence, what has ensued has been a virtual canonization of a man who, by all accounts, was an habitual criminal, something of a drug addict, with a long record of criminal charges.
But in the frenzy to proclaim Floyd’s sainthood—the untouchable “new martyr” of a radical civil rights movement mired and based in falsehood and lies about equality—just about everyone has signed on to a fake narrative: a simple case of perhaps an excessive police action (although there has been no trial and the evidence and motivations are in dispute), but no one is allowed to dissent or raise questions, even very reasonable ones. Thus Texas Governor Greg Abbott—a “conservative” Republican—who joined the disgraceful huckster Reverend Al Sharpton in Floyd’s funeral exequies, spent time with Floyd’s family declaring that they would hopefully be a “centerpiece of helping America bridge our racial divide & ensure equality, justice & fairness in America….”
But, if you read the response to Abbott’s Twitter message you will also see a response from someone who knows George Floyd’s criminal record: “[Governor Abbott] did you spend any time with the family of the pregnant woman he [Floyd] held a gun to for drugs and money?”
And it took a black woman, Candace Owens, on June 4, 2020, to blow the whistle on Floyd and his dark and seamy criminal past, and to do it fearlessly while almost all white conservatives and Republicans shivered in fear in the tall grass or hoped to somehow convince the farther Left social justice mob that they, too, were fighting even more strenuously against racism in memory of the sainted George Floyd. Owen’s eighteen minute podcast was still up on Youtube the last I looked, including the account of how Floyd pointed a gun at a woman’s unborn fetus and threatened to kill them both. Here is the access link. It’s a riveting commentary. But who knows if the zealous and fanatical “woke” censors won’t take it down and ban it? (It had over six million views as of June 13, 2020.)
Notice, also, in particular her precise and correct use of statistics, official government stats which even appeared in The Washington Post, which give the lie—another big one—to the rampant view that somehow the police have engaged in a “war” against blacks, in particular black males. That charge, propagated in every news outlet, from CNN to my local leftwing garbage dispenser, WRAL-TV, is now established truth: you cannot question it, you can only accept it and accede to the new religious cult that makes the frenzied Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre seem like child’s play. But there is very little evidence to support the assertion of never-ending racist attacks by police on innocent blacks—just ten cases documented for 2019.
On June 5, Dr. Heather MacDonald, author of the book The War on Cops, appeared on Fox to discuss the narrative that there is a huge wave of police murdering unarmed black people, stating: “The irony is it is The Washington Post's own database [which] collects the statistics…[that documents] a police officer is 18 and a half times more likely to be murdered by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be murdered by a cop, or killed by a cop.”
All of this, of course, is not really important to pro-demonstrators Mitt Romney, George W. Bush, Colin Powell, and General “Mad Dog” Mattis…or to ambitious anti-Southern Nikki Haley (AKA, Nimrata Randhawa), who would just love to replace Donald Trump at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue supported by a “delivered” GOP, saved from all those uncouth “deplorables” and once more back in the manicured, secure hands of the Republican/conservatives elites. So, they harshly condemn “systemic racism” or march like Romney with the “peaceful rioters” in Washington DC.
Like all compromisers and cowards historically, the Romneys and others of his ilk think they can temporize and “engage” with the radicals. But the radicals have sheer and unbounded conviction on their side, while Romney is little more than a cipher for intellectual and moral decrepitude and cowardice, an embarrassing example of those who will—as all others of such praxis in history—perish just the same at the hands of the revolutionaries, despite their craven surrender.
The words of Irish poet William Butler Yeats (in his poem, “The Second Coming”) come once more to mind, words written shortly after the end of the Great War, the horribly destructive conflagration of 1914-1918:
I am not at all sanguine about our prospects, about the future of the American republic. There can be NO compromise with pure evil, with the forces which openly deny Natural and Divine Positive Law, which destroy our civilization and now parade fiercely in the streets in opposition to everything held dear in Christian and Western tradition.
Our prospects look grim. Yet, we hold fast to our God-given and inherited convictions. As President Jefferson Davis said eight years after the end of the War for Southern Independence: “Truth crushed to earth is truth still and like a seed will rise again.”
Increasingly, I try to avoid news-binging, watching assiduously all the compiled, feculent bilge that passes for news reporting these days, those authorized “stories” fed to us like tasteless, industrial-strength pablum to non-rational infants, or more, to non compos mentis inmates of the giant asylum which is what our country is quickly becoming.
Viewing just a few minutes of Fox’s coverage of the reaction to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this past week, I was struck by the essential sameness of what could have been seen—and was, in fact, seen—over on MSNBC or even CNN. First, the cries and jeremiads about “racism”: Will we ever overcome that “problem” which seems to be endemic in our history, in our character, the broadcasters exclaimed in virtual unison? Then, the hand-wringing about the destruction of property, the “wrong way to express revulsion at Floyd’s death,” again said by almost all the pundits, although a few of the more exalted social justice types at CNN expressed degrees of sympathy for the rioters (after all they were just exhibiting their “justified rage”).
Just as for CNN and MSNBC, Fox has its own agenda, which goes like this: “racism” exists; it violates the “Ideal of America” and the American Founding wherein to quote the Declaration of Independence (and they fatally misunderstand its meaning), “all men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”; the Democrats have historically opposed “equality” and “equal rights” for minorities (cf. the ignorant musings of Dinesh D’Souza); and, so, only Republicans and “conservatives” can actually realize that Ideal of Equality.
Yet, that whole conversation is tragically misconceived, based on an almost complete misunderstanding of human nature, American history, and the very founding of the old American republic. Our Founders and Framers loathed egalitarianism. They knew—and foresaw—the ravages and destruction it would cause if ever imposed or enacted into laws of the republic. Equality does not exist in nature, does not exist under Natural Law, and attempts to legislate it are bound not only to fail, but cause tremendous and perhaps fatal consequences to the society where it is imposed.
It has been the objective of restless revolutionaries for centuries to get people to reject Nature and to reject the God-given order that must exist if a stable and moral society exist. Simply because my neighbor has more property and possessions than I, does not mean that I have the “right” to go seize them at my pleasure. I have only the “right,” indeed, the obligation to work hard and use my intelligence, and, as St. Matthew tells us in the Parable of the Talents, to achieve to the fullest what pertains to me (and not to anyone else but me). In so doing, I accomplish what God has allowed me in this life, and which should not and must not be compared invidiously to the achievements of anyone else.
The great accomplishment of the history of revolutionary madness, whether of the Cromwellian variety, of the French Revolution, of the Soviets, or, indeed, of our modern social justice “insaniacs,” has been to convince vast numbers of our population that orders in society, the inherent natural inequality is somehow wrong, or as we hear now on all networks and from almost all pundits, “racist.” Yet, that natural inequality in no way inhibits a man’s essential and real, God-given dignity (again, re-read the Parable of the Talents).
What happened in the streets of Minneapolis (and elsewhere) after a single (and rare) example of one policeman’s use of excessive force was not a sign of the reaction against “institutional racism” lurking just beneath the surface, but of an intellectually corrupted population, infected by generations of egalitarian venom, being told constantly by our cultural and political elites that they are victims. And, also, in a very real sense an invitation to rebel against the laws of Nature and of God.
Can any society, any social order survive in this template? Is civil life and comity possible when large portions of that society reject its very bases and foundations? Ilana Mercer in her excellent nationally-syndicated column of May 28, 2020, writes “…courtesy of its globalist elites, America is no longer a society, much less a serious one…And America, it's fair to say, is no longer a people in any meaningful way; it is a Walmart with missiles, where [we direct] fusillades at one another.”
I have written previously about the potential, even probable break-up of the creaky old American nation. What has happened on the streets of major American cities in recent days has far less to do with an imagined “institutional racism” than with the fact that there is no longer anything, other than perhaps geography, that binds us all together. A (decreasing) portion of our citizenry still believes in the old traditions and standards, and in that Natural Law that produced our fragile experiment in constitutional republicanism; but a large (and growing) portion rejects that inheritance and has joined in the immemorial rebellion against God and Nature. Between the two there can be no peace. In such a conflict one side must win, the other lose…either that, or they must separate. No nation can continue this way for long, no nation can avoid the essential questions and the ironclad laws of Nature itself.
Ironic, isn't it? Abe Lincoln pushed the United States into a war to suppress the South in the name of Union, but what he really did was set into motion the conditions for the massive disturbances and disunion—now spiraling out of control—which cannot be stopped.
It came in the form of a letter; I could read from the return address who it was from. But the handwriting, so distinctive, was not his, and immediately I thought, was this news sad news, maybe of his death? After all I knew he was well into his 80s.
And when I opened the long envelope, there was the program for the memorial service and a short personal note from his wife, Barbara: my dear friend, former history professor, and actual first “mentor,” Eugene Earnhardt had passed away on February 4 of this year after battles with several insuperable illnesses, a few days shy of his 86th birthday.
Shocked—although I suppose I shouldn’t have been—I immediately telephoned Barbara who lives in a retirement cluster near Asheville. And we had a moving, emotional conversation that lasted for about an hour.
You see Gene Earnhardt was my first history professor in my freshman year for undergraduate studies at Pfeiffer University, and he was pivotal in how I would lead the rest of my life and the choices I would make. Not just that but he was an incredibly talented writer and writing stylist, for whom the written word was special: he could not abide what he called “purple prose,” pomposity, or literary laziness…or silly political correctness.
I recall the first paper I wrote for him—I still have it somewhere stored away. It was a discussion of the old conservative movement of the 1950s, including writers and thinkers like Russell Kirk, Clinton Rossiter, and a few others. When I got my paper back, I got an A-, but the whole thing was marked up, bloodied in red, with comments like: “too many words to say what you mean,” “poorly phrased,” and “this paragraph should come later.” In conferences with Gene, he painstakingly gave me pointers on how better to express myself in writing, how better to make things flow and make better sense.
All that was really fundamental for a young 18 year old college freshman, and I like to think that it was his dedication to his art, to teaching and instruction, that was responsible. But I know now, after fifty years of friendship after those undergrad days, that it was also because he saw something in me worth cultivating and alimenting and assisting…and because of a natural bond of friendship and respect that began back then and continued on for five more decades.
But Gene was pivotal in another way, even more important and critical for me.
For back in my senior year of high school I had become acquainted with the works of conservative scholar, Dr. Russell Kirk, and for Christmas 1965 I asked my parents for a selection of books by him, including his seminal, The Conservative Mind. I was enthralled and much taken by “the Sage of Mecosta” Michigan (as he was known), by his elaborate detailing and defense of a usable Anglo-American past, of our Anglo-American heritage and constitutional traditions, which he termed “conservative.” Not only that, he seemed to comprehend and express eloquently the thinking of that tradition and its major figures, beginning with Edmund Burke and continuing on through men such as John Randolph, John C. Calhoun, Benjamin Disraeli, Robert H. Taft, and T. S. Eliot, among others.
So when I got to Pfeiffer and in one of my first meetings with Gene Earnhardt, I mentioned Kirk. And, amazingly, he replied: “A few years ago I sailed across the Atlantic to England, and he was on board, and we became friends.” Then, he suggested to abet my enthusiasm that I should write Kirk directly, which is exactly what I did that Fall in a long and rambling letter.
I then more or less forget that…that is, until I received a response, postmarked Mecosta, Michigan, and from Dr. Kirk. I recall a phrase from that letter to this day. He wrote that Richard Nixon had requested to see him, and that “he has never listened much to what I have to say, and I doubt he will this time, either.”
You can imagine my sensation. That letter began a conversation—a correspondence—that lasted almost until Russell Kirk’s death in April 1994. But not just by mail: my senior year at Pfeiffer I was in charge of the visiting speakers program (can anyone imagine that now!?), and I was able to bring him down to the college for several days, including a speech and a round-table. Later, he invited me to be his personal assistant during the year 1971-1972, opening up undreamed of opportunities and introducing me to individuals who would exercise additional and significant influence in my formation and life.
After Pfeiffer I was off to the University of Virginia, awarded a Thomas Jefferson Fellowship to study under the late Jefferson biographer, Merrill Peterson. And, again, it was Gene Earnhardt who assisted me critically in preparing for that step. I took his American intellectual history course and a course in historiography, both of which were important as I went from a small college to a large university. Without his guidance, his advice, and his friendship, I doubt I would have done that or made those career changes.
And after grad school our friendship continued. Occasionally, I would stop by the little town of New London where Gene and Barbara lived and spend a night and rekindle our discussions and profound friendship. Sometimes when Gene and Barbara would come to the Raleigh area to visit Gene’s brother, we would have lunch together. In every meeting, it was like old and good friends joining together once again. But I was always the student, and he always the teacher.
Finally, about four or five months ago I telephoned Gene to see how he was doing. By then he and Barbara had settled into a retirement community. He had, I knew, some health issues. But I simply wanted to express to him, again, my continuous and unceasing appreciation and thanks for all he had done for me, the direction he had imparted, the patient and sage advice, and, perhaps now most of all, the deep and abiding friendship, the kind of bond and love that comes from God Himself and in which we also learn the best parts of our humanity.
I tried to express this, these thoughts, to Barbara when we talked; I am not sure that I was able…words are not always easily found in these situations. But somehow I think she knows. And my dear friend and first “mentor,” Eugene Earnhardt, now at rest and at peace in the fellowship of Our Lord, knows.
Old friend, teacher, exemplar, guide—thank you! Rest in peace.
Over the past six years I have written several essays and in-depth articles about Russia, about its president Vladimir Putin, and about the incredibly long-lived charade—the Russia Hoax—which has been foisted off on the American public, including on millions of those who call themselves “conservatives” and support Donald Trump.
It’s a constant narrative that we are spoon fed nightly, and not just by the Mainstream Media (e.g., CNN, NBC, The New York Times, etc.), but vociferously by most pundits on Fox (with the exception of Tucker Carlson) and by much of the establishment “conservative” print media.
As I have noted and attempted to dissect, it is almost as if the fall of Soviet Communism in August 1991 never took place and the old Soviet Union somehow continued to exist and threaten our very lives and future with “mutually-assured-destruction” (remember that term from our Cold War vocabulary?).
Despite the nugatory results of the heavily Democratically-weighted Mueller Commission and the continued hysterical squawks of Congressmen Adam Schiff and Jerry Nadler—what does it tell us about our American political system that such men get elected?-- the success of that template in our popular culture is clearly evident.
But more than this resilient deep-seated impression, there is something far more sinister afoot.
The late Senator John McCain—notoriously—and Senators Lindsey Graham and Ben Sasse, James Kirchick, Jonah Goldberg, and other Neoconservatives—those who form the veritable “conservative establishment” in our day—have attacked and criticized Russia and its president for “violations of human rights,” for discrimination against lesbians and homosexuals, for imposing a “religious orthodoxy” on Russia, and for “not being democratic” enough.
In other words, those Russkies should be more like us and our model democracy, right?
That is, a system here in the United States where elections are bought and sold by major corporate and international billionaires, a system where George Soros can pour in millions of dollars to a targeted local race and convince (via ads and TV) voters to elect his chosen candidate (e.g., in Virginia, Pennsylvania, etc.), a system where the liberal-dominated courts refuse to countenance even the most minor voter ID conditions, a system where two giant incestuous power groups (Democrats and Republicans) literally control the real choices we have…that model democracy.
We officiously want the Russians to install that? We demand—in the name of “democracy” and “human rights”—that our corrupt model be their model. And in so demanding we follow along exactly the pathway of the George Soros’s of this world and the other anxious globalists for whom any real sign of independence, of attachment to national and native traditions, of true religious belief, and of adherence to moral law is anathema and verboten in the New World Order.
There is a reason why the Neoconservative/Conservative “establishment” and the Progressivists are joined at the hip when it comes to post-Communist Russia: and it is that what has occurred and is occurring there is an embarrassment and a reminder of what we once aspired to—a reminder of what Western Christian civilization once held to be fundamental—a reminder of what our historic culture was actually based on and in. What Russia has been doing and achieving cannot be allowed to stand, and certainly it cannot be described in any fair or faithful manner by Mainstream Media, lest the veil and scales on our eyes by removed.
For Russia has become, ironically, a veritable “sign of contradiction,” a sign that should shame us and shame this American nation, the proclaimed “home of freedom and liberty” founded on immutable principles based in a belief in God and His Providence…and look what has happened to us now.
My friend Al Benson has recently authored a series of short but critical essays chronicling what has happened and is happening in the Old Dominion State after the radicalized “woke” social justice warriors—flush with campaign cash from George Soros and Michael Bloomberg—now have taken control of that state’s government. Several columns have addressed the incremental attempts by the new Democratically-dominated Virginia House of Deputies and Senate to place onerous restrictions on gun ownership—attempts which produced a major opposition rally of more than 22,000 citizens against those actions on January 20.
One of his columns, “The French Revolution Comes To The Old Dominion” (February 2, 2020), compares what is happening there to the French Revolution and the revolutionaries who instigated it. Opposition to their designs and actions was swept away by violence and the guillotine. “By the time the Illuminists got through with their reign of terror in France, the country was ready for a Napoleon and it got one…. [Governor] Red Ralph Northam and his socialist cohorts in Richmond want to give the Old Dominion an encore.”
Despite the groundswell of rejection, the Virginia legislature is proceeding with an agenda which not only encompasses the first steps in what may prove to be comprehensive gun control, but also a panoply of progressivist measures that range from releasing violent criminals from prison (just as New York state has done, with very bad consequences), to essentially abortion on demand, to placing restrictions on free speech (or, euphemistically, “banning hate speech,” as they call it). And there is more assuredly which will come.
If this sounds like something imported from California, you would be correct. As Benson details, not only Bloomberg and Soros, but California leftist hedge fund billionaire Tom Steyer has pumped millions into Virginia politics, even as far back as 2017 (“Red Ralph? Then There Are the Gun Nuts,” January 10, 2020). Steyer, of course, is running for president, a long-shot in the upcoming Democratic primaries. An elitist, archetypical Deep State corporate capitalist insider, Steyer has been using his hedge fund lucre to propagate his vision of a utopian socialist America—and the Old Dominion State is just his latest target.
But among other targets—traditionally “red” states and constituencies—Virginia is not alone. Arizona, Texas, Colorado, and, yes, North Carolina all figure in this effort by Leftist billionaires at employing millions of dollars (ill-gotten or otherwise) to sway an unobservant and pliant electorate. Such is, to paraphrase the brilliant essayist Henry Adams a later-day scion of the Adams family, “the degradation of democratic dogma,” the final absurdity of “democracy” reduced to its ultimate lowest common denominator. Or, as Southern Regionalist writer Donald Davidson described it: “Democracy, a fuddled wench/Is bought from tousled bed to bed./Bass voices in white vests defile/The echoes of great voices dead.” (Davidson, “The Tall Men”)
Consider North Carolina: Already initiatives are underway to do in the Tar Heel State what is occurring in neighboring Virginia. Benson recounts (“The Sleeping Giant Is Waking Up In North Carolina,” January 13, 2020) that gun-rights activists have begun to recognize this and organize in some counties and municipalities.
Also, in recent months, several progressivist counties in the state (i.e., Mecklenburg, Wake, Buncombe, Orange, Durham, and Forsyth) have declared themselves to be “sanctuary counties” when it comes to ICE enforcement, and several Democratic sheriffs (notably in Wake and Mecklenburg counties) refuse to recognize Federal illegal immigration detainers.
And just within the past week Judicial Watch documented that “the Guilford and Mecklenburg county boards of elections are in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA)”: both counties—both of which are liberal bastions—have far more registered voters than voting-age citizens:
As of January 4, Mecklenburg County had 736,168 voter registrations while Guilford had 358,960. The problem is that the Census Bureau estimates that Mecklenburg County only has about 693,740 voting-age citizens while Guilford County only has about 371,190. In other words, Mecklenburg County has more registered voters than they have voting-age citizens and Guilford County has an improbably high voter registration rate of 97 percent.
North Carolina’s General Assembly currently has a Republican majority in both the House of Representatives and Senate, but repeated activist court decisions regarding voter ID and redistricting, not just on the congressional level but also for state legislative seats, in all likelihood put that in jeopardy in the November 2020 elections. (See, Ray Nothstine, “Judicial activism strikes again over voter ID law, NC Capitol Connection, January 2020, vol. 12, no. 1).
The import of all this clearly is that the frenzied left continues its unceasing and vigorous efforts to use and mold “democracy” and the democratic system in ways that, in effect, destroy it…or demonstrate what in its American manifestation it has in reality become. For the full, desired “democracy” of our social justice warriors is incompatible with true liberty, and as Russell Kirk writes in The Conservative Mind, leads to dictatorship.
Al Benson’s description, “The French Revolution Comes To The Old Dominion”--and to the rest of America--is entirely apposite.
I’m not a “conspiracy nut,” and by that I mean I don’t usually view opponents as gathering clandestinely in a heavily-guarded smoke-filled room in some secluded mountain aerie (a la James Bond) to plot secretly the take-over of the world, or at least not of North Carolina, and, good Heavens, not of Raleigh. I think such supposed summits, whether of “the Elders of Zion,” or maybe of the Bilderbergers, are a bit overblown and now discredited historically.
But palpably there has been and is something going on in the United States and in Europe which, if not a kind of traditional “conspiracy against God and Man,” certainly combines the more salient aspects of such activity, an activity which is more programmed and instinctive, and more general and diffused among its votaries. There is a sharing and commonality of thought and perception, a common use of the same language and the same memes, such that almost every newscaster in every media outlet—and every Democrat (and many a Republican) pol—uses the same expressions and descriptions, distinguishes the same enemies, supports the same “Deep State” administrative policies and positions, and makes certain that “friends” are protected. It is as if thoughts and positions on a multitude of issues are telegraphed telepathically, and every minion of the Progressivist Left somehow “gets it” and understands what to think and say and then do…and the Established Opposition, “conservatism inc.” goes along with the general lineaments and parameters, lest its proponents be thought “extremist.”
And thus a daunting unanimity of view and purpose, an iron phalanx, is born and revealed. You dissent from at it at your own peril.
Let me ask: after dozens of states voted against same sex marriage several years ago by overwhelming majorities (here in North Carolina, for example, the citizens voted against it by a 61% to 39% margin back in 2012), but then the Supreme Court decided to legitimize it nationally by a 5 to 4 vote in its Obergefell v. Hodges decision (June 26, 2014), how many so-called “conservatives” came forth and demanded a constitutional amendment which at a minimum would have returned such decisions to the respective states? Indeed, how many Republicans and Establishment conservatives take seriously the effort to reverse Roe v. Wade (1973), which legalized infant murder in the womb (and maybe outside it, as well, as we now know).
Oh, sure, there are voices demanding the amelioration of its effects and the limitation of abortion in certain cases. But who amongst our supposed political elites stands forthrightly for overturning Roe v. Wade…while for the past half century our news media, our political class, and most egregiously, Hollywood, have done their damnedest to inculcate into us and our children that “abortion is a woman’s right” and that it is completely “natural”? Where are the salient Republican and conservative voices not only demanding reversal but doing something about it?
Prayer in the schools? Remember that issue and the 1962 decision of the Supreme Court, Engel v. Vitale, where the court opined by an 8 to 1 margin essentially decreeing that organized prayer “is largely banned from public elementary, middle and high schools.” I recall when I was working with Dr. Russell Kirk in Michigan (1971-1972) that he wrote about the issue and worked closely with a zealous Catholic priest (whose name I forget) to have the issue put forward in a constitutional amendment allowing it at least on the state level.
It got nowhere, and the supposed voices of opposition to the court’s destruction of constant practice and American tradition—those self-same “conservatives” and Republicans (and a few Democrats)—were soon stilled, retreating on to other questions.
And now the latest issue which confronts us, and bids well to soon become established policy, considered undebatable and beyond legitimate discussion: you know, one of those new foundations of “conservatism inc.”: the rightness and complete acceptance of transgenderism. And thus everywhere, in the workplace, in the armed services, in our churches, and, most ominously, in our schools and colleges, the new transgender dogmatism finds fertile ground. Elementary children are now instructed on the finer points of same sex titillation and “gender fluidity.” After all, say the experts, we should let our children “choose what sex they wish to be.” Natural law be damned.
The sanctity of transgenderism has become the newest “undeniable tenet” not only of Progressivism but also of the Established conservatives. Consider “conservative” youth leader Charlie Kirk embracing prominent transgenders and their cause—fully accepting the latest and most recent Progressivist conquest. With defenders like that, we are lost.
Robert Lewis Dabney, the brilliant post-War Between the States Southern philosopher and essayist, one hundred and forty years ago described this brand of “conservative opposition” to Progressivism:
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.
What will be the next stage of this “long march” through the fabric of millennia-old Divine Positive Law and Natural Law by the diabolical Progressivists and their bedfellows (no pun actually intended) in the conservative movement? What will be their next assault on Western Christian civilization, indeed, the only civilization we have? You name the most bizarre and extreme project, the most radical idea, and assuredly it has been thought of and is, either now or soon to be, advanced by the well-organized and powerful forces that occupy the positions of authority—and control—in this country and in Western Europe.
And the opposition to this advance? As Dabney declares, Establishment conservatism is nearly worthless, or, to quote a great uncle of mine, about as valuable as “tits on a boar hog.”
In short, Establishment Conservatism—“conservativism inc.”—must be undone and overthrown. It is no real opposition to this attack of the Insaniacs. Donald Trump, whether he intended to or not, opened the door—cracked it open just a wee bit. And now in such fine journals as Chronicles magazine, or via such Web presences as Lew Rockwell, The Agonist, Takimag, Intellectual Takeout, The New English Review, VDare.com, The Dissident Mama, and (for Southerners especially) The Abbeville Institute and Reckonin.com, and other venues, there is real opposition to the Progressivist panzers.
This year 2020, with its impeachment charade and looming national election this coming November, will decide our fate: whether we slide into the morass and slavery of total subjugation by the Progressivist contagion, or whether we in some way continue to fight back. Either way—let me say that again, either way there will be tremendous upheaval and probable violence of one sort or another. And thus our opposition must be forthright and genuine: the faux right which still dominates the “conservative movement” must be displaced.
Our very future is at stake. Keep your powder dry and your guns at the ready.
This piece was previously published at My Corner on January 18, 2020.
As 2020 commences it is perhaps appropriate that we take stock—that we take a look globally at just where we are, politically, culturally, religiously.
All our basic and fundamental social institutions are under tremendous stress, if not outright attack, not just legally and politically, but far more insidiously, in how they are defined and how they affect us. Our very language is altered to reflect this radical transformation: words and phrases are banned, old words are recast and redefined, implicit (and often explicit) speech codes have more effect than anything that the older “less free” society of our grandfathers experienced. And this linguistic terrorism—for that is what it is—is inculcated into our young from the very beginning, in the primary grades, via television and Hollywood, by unthinking parents, by friends.
And the family? Has not our society redefined that also? Any two people who “love” each other for a while and who cohabitate (shack up) for a time, with or without children? No matter what sex, or any “intermediate” sexual orientation. No permanency, and certainly nothing sacred or sacramental. Very little sense of responsibility: if a fetus happens because the necessary birth control didn’t work, very simply abort it. No problem; nothing must stand in the way of the pleasure, the sexually stimulated moment. How many tens of millions of lives has our society, in its lust for pleasure, snuffed out since 1972?
All the nations of Western Europe protest proudly how “democratic” they are. In the United States we never cease talking about how precious “our democracy” is (just witness the ceaseless verbiage spewed forth during the recent impeachment hearings). In the rest of the world no country ever boasts of being an authoritarian state: when was the last time we heard a nation’s leaders waxing eloquent about how totalitarian they were? Even the most autocratic Islamic state now declares itself “democratic.”
Has not that word lost its savor and meaning altogether?
Democracy—the rule by the populace, as defined by the ancient philosophers—does not exist anywhere, save perhaps still in a few Swiss cantons, or on the lowest levels of governance in some faraway communities in Wyoming or Idaho. The rest is fraudulent, bought and paid for by major financial interests and lobbies, and on a supra-national level by the likes of globalists such as George Soros, whose Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) now reach into nearly American city and county of any size, handsomely funding candidates who will do his bidding. Just ask the voters of Virginia.
The established church—at least in America and Western Europe—seems to have surrendered to the most diabolical and anti-Christian forces: the major Protestant denominations have all joined in the mad rush to become more “woke” and more revolutionary, adopting the slogans and platforms of the Progressivists who seek nothing less than the abolition of historic Christianity and the civilization which is based on it.
In large part, the visible Catholic Church—once the stalwart opponent and beacon of Christian counter-revolution against demonic Progressivism—has followed the leftist course mapped out at the Second Vatican Council, with its present supposed head acting as a cheer-leader for revolutionary change on every level. Opposition to his lunacy is rising, but the formal elements of power are now in the hands of Progressivists.
Perhaps only in Eastern Europe and in Russia do we see a coherent resistance, religiously and politically, to the madness that afflicts us. Ironically, it was the separation from America and from Western Europe—the Iron Curtain—that in a way saved those countries from the poisonous infections coming from our nation which was dominated in large part by the victors of 1861-1865, and which had become the “Typhoid Mary” of Progressivism.
For the defeat of the Southern Confederacy on the field of battle was not just a military reverse; it signaled the defeat of a major outpost of Western civilization and its vision of society which was distinctly connected to and annealed by 1,500 years of traditional Christianity. This was the realization of thousands of European volunteers to the Confederate cause—from Naples, from Spain, and from other countries of the old continent. What they saw in the Confederate crusade was a continuation of the struggle against liberalism which raged throughout the nineteenth century. The Southern cause was the cause of legitimacy, of tradition, of the old established order, of the survival of a Christian inheritance vouchsafed to those warriors at Manassas and Gettysburg.
And now, after more than 150 years of subjugation and indoctrination by the scions of the Yankee victors, there is perhaps “a light coming from the East,” a message of resistance telegraphed to the descendants of the heroes of Chancellorsville. Hope exists always as long as there are men standing forthrightly for it, willing to go to battle, willing to teach others, willing to pass it on. As the Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno once wrote: “our life is a hope which is continually converting itself into memory and memory in turn begets hope.”
Thus, when the yoke of Communism was lifted in Eastern Europe, it was to the wellsprings of national identity, to national heritage, to pre-Communist religious faith, that many of these nations turned. They had largely escaped the forty-five years of “Americanism”—in the worst cultural sense—that Germany, France, and Italy had experienced.
Yet, it is this same narrative, this same globalist “Americanism” that today’s conservative movement—Neoconservativism—continues to push on the rest of the world, just like their uncomfortable bedfellows a bit further to the Left. Both the Establishment conservatives AND the open Left share the same postulates and objectives, differing only in degree and expression.
As Southerners the lessons we glean, then, may come from Eastern Europe and from Russia, and they remind us of who we were as a people, of the inheritance which in so many cases we have discarded. Those former Eastern Bloc nations, in particular Russia and Hungary, stand as “signs of contradiction,” and offer to us lessons, if we would only examine them.
Despite the Swamp and the Deep State—despite the future technological tyranny which stares at us in the face—despite the assaults in every aspect of our lives—despite it all there is Hope and the vague but very real awareness that we are human, creatures made by God, and that our role is to stay the course, remain true to the faith and to our inheritance.
My favorite Psalm is number 26, in particular these words (vs.3): “Si consistant adversum me castra, non timebit cor meum. Si exurgat adversum me praelium, in hoc sperabo”: Even if entrenched armies were to stand against me, my heart would not fear. If a battle would rise against me, I would have hope….
A very happy and blessed New Year in the Hope that never dies!
Today, December 19, 2019, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives will vote to approve Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump and agree to send them to the U. S. Senate. It will be only the third formal impeachment of a president in American history—the other two being that of President Andrew Johnson in the post-war 1860s and of President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.
As everyone knows by now, the Senate will, after the formality of most likely a brief trial, vote down the two articles, and that will be that.
Or, will it?
Given that almost certain outcome, why, then, have the frenzied denizens of the Left proceeded in this manner, knowing the outcome?
The answers—there are various—have already been widely given, and the major ones are: 1) extreme pressure from the hysterical “social justice warrior” foot soldier base of the Democratic Party which continues to grow in strength and threaten incumbents who do not toe the line; 2) demands by the powerful Mainstream Media, whose ranks are now cluttered by zealously indoctrinated former journalism students whose thinking and outlook were formed in our universities by their teachers—I should say “polluted” by our post-Marxist academic oligarchs (AKA professors); and 3) the certain political use of the issue in the upcoming 2020 election.
Of course, the overarching rubric for all of this is an unrestrained and all-consuming hatred for Donald Trump (and his voters), and the concomitant desire, at all cost and by whatever means, to expel him from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. No measure, no tactic, no weapon is out of bounds, and that includes what in effect is the virtual destruction of what is left of the American Constitution, itself.
President Trump, for all his foibles and U-turns, despite some misfires in foreign policy, and despite his major mistake of placing in positions of power around him those—including Republican hacks and those whose loyalty is dubious at best—who wish him to fail and wish him harm…despite that, he has done an immense service to the creaky old American republic. He has pulled the mask off of the “Deep State” administrative and managerial bureaucratic Establishment which has basically governed this country as its own private fiefdom for decades, with utter disdain and condescension for the rest of us…for us “deplorables” and “irredeemables,” to use Hillary Clinton’s oft-quoted language.
In certain ways, President Trump is not the real target here. His role has been far more symbolic and emblematic of something going on, something far more fearful to the elites so accustomed to running this country. It is something that he may be only vaguely aware of; and it is happening not just in the weary old United States, but also in Europe, in Brazil, and elsewhere. It is the rise of a popular reaction—a populist conservatism which rejects both the dominant establishment Left and the “don’t-rock-the-boat” establishment conservative movement (and Republican Party). It is, to paraphrase Gilbert & Sullivan, the rejection of the “tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum” of our politics, and the realization, perhaps only vaguely, that the historic liberties and traditions, the historic moral codes of behavior, and the traditional beliefs upon which our civilization is based have been progressively perverted and decimated by a century of constant and ongoing revolution from the top, extended into every aspect of our lives.
Too many of our fellow citizens believe that all we have to do is tune into Fox News or vote for the GOP candidate to staunch and halt the Revolution. That is not sufficient; in fact, in some cases such devotion only abets and enables the forces of Revolution, as too many newscasters and pundits at Fox and too many Republican politicians are too deeply invested in the Neoconservative wing of the Deep State. Of course, there are exceptions, with Tucker Carlson, in some cases, as it were, getting “outside the box” and speaking truth to power. But even he must mind his “p’s and q’s.”
Thus, “the man with the orange hair” has to be stopped, not so much because of who he is, but because of the extreme danger he symbolizes and means for the future of what can only be called the increasingly totalitarian globalist template. And that template is a dystopian nightmare far more demonic than anything George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four) or Arthur Koestler (Darkness At Noon) ever contemplated in their literary works. Or, by Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov in his chilling cinematic masterpiece about the insanity of Stalinism, Burnt by the Sun (1994).
At base, then, this is what this charade called an impeachment is all about. It is an effort not just against Donald Trump, but against any and everyone who voted for him, against all of those who dissent from the ongoing policies of and control by the Deep State, all those who have realized or begun to realize that what we stare in the face is not the corpulent mass of evil flesh that goes by the name of Jerry Nadler or the beady-eyed evil of an Adam Schiff, but a “rough beast” (to use William Butler Yeats’ term) of satanic proportions, intent on our extinction, and the enthronement of a new false god of Baal, what the late Dr. Sam Francis called the Leviathan—a totalitarian world government, more fierce than anything envisaged by Stalin or Mao, without liberties, without tradition, with morality…and without God.
Yesterday, President Trump sent a fierce, passionate letter regarding impeachment to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. In some respects it was one of the finest things he’s ever written (or said). It went beyond his own case, the present political sham, and touched upon issues which profoundly affect the very foundations of our republic. In reading it and re-reading it, it is possible to see the real constitutional and legal issues, the political chicanery, and, yes, the actual threats to what remains of our liberties vouchsafed to us by the Framers and assaulted massively in 1861-1865, and diminished even more since then.
This article was previously published at MyCorner on December 19, 2019.
Early this past summer the historic Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, near the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, closed its doors for good. The church, the second oldest in Mecklenburg County, having been founded in 1760—nearly 259 years ago—by hardy Scots settlers to the region, merged with another Presbyterian Church in the area, Pleasant Hill. The classic 1889 Gothic-revival style brick structure was abandoned, purchased by nearby expanding Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
As late as the early 1970s Steele Creek counted 1,000 members, but the encroaching airport and the constant deafening roar of supersonic jets every moment of the day speeding off to Munich, London, Latin America and all points in between, plus the precipitous decline in the Presbyterian Church USA, which has gone the way of all mainstream Protestant denominations and embraced the liberal social gospel, had brought the membership down to around 350, many of them adults who held on to the memory of a Presbyterianism that once boasted of a Reverend Robert Lewis Dabney…but now could only grasp for scraps from a barren progressivist table.
Next to the historic 1889 building is the Steele Creek Cemetery, one of the more historic burial grounds in Piedmont North Carolina, holding over 1,700 graves, the earliest from 1763, twelve years before the onset of the Revolutionary War [See: The History of Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, 1745-1978; Third Edition, Charlotte, 1978]
In that cemetery are laid veterans of every conflict and war that the American nation has engaged in: those who served during the Revolution when the then-tiny hamlet of Charlotte served as an unwelcoming “hornet’s nest” for General Lord Cornwallis; a few who went off later to fight in Mexico or against Britain again in the early Nineteenth Century; many more who joined Confederate ranks to defend the independence and rights of North Carolina in 1861-1865; then, others who fought in the great world wars and conflicts since then. But there are others, also: husbands and wives, and children, of those who had formed up until recently a close-knit, church-oriented farming community like many spread over the Tar Heel State and the South.
Since 1777 over sixty members of my father’s family have been buried in Steele Creek’s sacred ground. Six of them are direct ancestors, including my grandfather and grandmother Cathey, my War Between the States great-grandfather, Henry Cathey (of the 13th North Carolina Regiment), and my eight-greats grandmother, Jean, who was born in County Monaghan, Ulster, in 1692, a descendant of Scots who migrated there from Ayrshire in the early 1600s. As a young boy I recall vividly attending the funeral of my grandfather, Charlton Graham Cathey (1958), in the old sanctuary and the impressive minister Reverend John McAlpine who comforted my grandmother who would pass on four years later in 1962, aged nearly 98.
Those events remain engraved in my memory, even to the point of recalling the hymns sung at granddad’s funeral—“How Firm a Foundation” and “Blessed Assurance,” two of his favorites.
But most of all, I remember that remarkable church, its strong and impressive brick structure, that aura associated with and radiated by it, which deeply connected it to the history of old Mecklenburg County, to North Carolina, and to the land and families who settled nearby, and for which it was the center of their lives for generations.
The cemetery remains in church hands, despite the shrinking congregation having departed. It is too historic, so despite some earlier efforts by the airport authority to have the graves moved, it will remain where it is for the foreseeable future. But the old 1889 structure, its brick walls and interior now silent, is deserted, owned by the airport, serving only as a disappearing memory for those who care to recall what it once meant to so many.
If we compare modern million-person Charlotte and its international airport to the history-haunted walls and ancient graveyard of Steele Creek, we are reminded of what has been lost. For in the bustle of the metropolis and the incessant noise of the jets zooming off to Europe or perhaps to Cancun, there is little memory of who we were as a people, little connection to our rich historic culture. Our modern society is hypnotized by machines, including the most impersonal and inhuman technology, and it has little room for Steele Creek and what it represents.
In the late 1950s, Charlotte, “the Queen City” that I remember as a boy, was where older families yet predominated, where my father’s people were neighbors to the families of Billy Graham and Randolph Scott, where folks could recall the area’s history. Charlotte and Mecklenburg County were still linked strongly to their traditions. Now Charlotte rivals Atlanta as a mega-metropolis, and a soul-less anthill of business, banking and international commerce, with little room for heritage, except as a veneer to attract an occasional tourist not going to a Carolina Panthers game or to some big event at the coliseum.
I forget who said it—perhaps Faulkner, maybe Louis Rubin, I cannot remember—but that if he had known what Atlanta would become today, then he would wish that Sherman had torched it more thoroughly. Given what Charlotte has become, perhaps the same sentiment might be expressed?
The last major portions of farmland out near the Catawba River that had belonged to my dad’s family since 1750 are now sold to developers and strip malls. The pre-Revolutionary War house that my father was born in back in 1908 (the last of his family to do so) is now, thankfully, preserved at the Historic Latta Plantation. But the whole region has changed radically, altered and almost unrecognizable and discordant to my memories of sixty years ago. Hundreds of thousands of transplants (mainly from up North) now make Charlotte and its suburbs home and live—if you wish to call it that—the frenzied life of our tawdry, commercialized age.
I am put in mind of the great Southern Regionalist writer, Donald Davidson, in his epic poem, “The Tall Men”:
There are remnants of the old culture that survive, a few, but they are fast being overtaken by a triumphant “Yankee” culture which Robert Lewis Dabney warned about 140 years ago, the fear that we would, as he said, become like our conquerors of 1865. Dabney, the Old Light Presbyterian divine that he was, declared that his role was like that of Cassandra at Troy, to prophesy and speak truth, but not to be believed until too late.
My mentor Russell Kirk once told me while we were discussing the old South and the changes being inflicted on her from both without and within that “it is hard to love the gasoline station where the honeysuckle used to grow.”
Steele Creek Church and its cemetery remind us who we are and who we have been. Despite being passed by and deserted, those grave stones cry out to those who would listen and take heed.
Perhaps, then, for those who do, our watchword could be from Spanish philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno in his volume, The Tragic Sense of Life: “Our life is a hope which is continually converting itself into memory and memory in its turn begets hope.”
Is this not, then, our challenge, to keep both memory and hope alive?
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.