Most pundits we see on Fox News or Newsmax these days, or whom we read in the conservative “blogosphere” are confidently predicting huge Republican gains in the November 2022 congressional elections. Based on various national and state polls showing the marked unfavorability of Biden and the Democratic Party, they exude a confidence in this outcome which approaches certainty. All we must do is wait, they assure us, and the scoundrels will be turned out of office.
Let’s suppose that this scenario somehow becomes reality and that Republicans appear to win a majority in the congressional elections this fall (and this despite the certain efforts to rig the vote by Democrats as they did in 2020). But then, following the election result, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her henchmen in the US House of Representatives solemnly declare that perhaps half of the new GOP congressmen were elected based of racist voting procedures and racially gerrymandered and ultra-partisan congressional districts in their respective states which violate the 14th Amendment and various laws and court decisions guaranteeing civil rights.
In other words, the Democratically-controlled House then refuses to seat the newly-elected GOP majority. They are illegitimate, their elections tainted as minority voters in their districts were somehow denied the “equal right to vote.”
So what you would have is the usurpation by a rump, lame-duck congress of power, the denial of the results of the election due to phony charges of "voter suppression,” “discriminatory partisanship," "racist gerrymandering" and the continuation and tightening of Democratic control—the virtual triumph of authoritarianism under the guise of “saving our democracy.”
Think it cannot happen? It can, and it already has occurred in American history, in the immediate congressional and presidential elections following the War Between the States. In the congressional elections of 1866 “most of the congressmen from the former Confederate states were either prevented from leaving the state or were arrested on the way to the capital. A Congress consisting of mostly Radical Republicans sat early in the Capitol and aside from the delegation from Tennessee who were allowed in, the few Southern Congressmen who arrived were not seated.” In that case the question was whether those congressmen-elect had engaged in “insurrection” and sedition. But the precedent was set for Congress to regulate and expel members which it felt in some way had violated the Constitution.
Already across the United States Democratic-front organizations, led by former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, have launched legal action, asserting that newly-drawn districts favoring Republicans violate the Constitution. In North Carolina the 4 to 3 Democratically-controlled Supreme Court just threw out (February 4) proposed congressional and legislative redistricting maps confected by a Republican-majority General Assembly, using the argument that they were overly partisan and also discriminated against Democrats (minorities) by unnecessarily splitting and diluting that vote into Republican districts. Of course, in other “red” states Republicans may prevail and dominate the election, but the legal basis for denying newly-elected GOP congressmen in those states as been established and could well be employed by a lame-duck congress to refuse to seat those representatives.
Of course, this assumes that the foolish GOP can actually win the November congressional elections without committing suicide, which is what they usually end up doing.
Perhaps then, following on the tendentiously ideological "findings" of the January 6 Commission which will surface conveniently prior to the election, the House decides to expel some members who are already in congress (e.g.. Rep Jim Jordan) who supposedly had "contact" with the "insurrectionists." This idea has been raised by general counsel to the Democratic National Committee (and former counsel to Hillary Clinton), Marc Elias, among others.
Indeed, Elias and Democrats have suggested that Congress could possibly expel sitting House Republicans for supporting or encouraging the Jan. 6 “insurrection.” Last year, several Democratic members called for penalizing dozens of current Republicans. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) demanded the disqualification of the 120 House Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif), for simply signing an “Friend of the Court” amicus brief in support of an election challenge from Texas.
And a Democrat-related group is challenging North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn's right to run for re-election, because he had "contact" and "encouraged" the "insurrectionists" of January 6. The NC Board of Elections (controlled by Democrats) may in fact disqualify him as a candidate.
All of this could possibly happen with a degree of impunity. Of course, there would be legal action by the Republicans, but that would also signal a constitutional crisis unlike anything since the 1860s. Would the crazed Democrats then enact legislation adding members to the high court? Would Biden, pushed by his even more extreme advisors, declare a national emergency and martial law, as Justin Trudeau has done in Canada? And how would “moderate” Republicans like Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney react?
I have mentioned this nightmare scenario to several friends who have held high government positions, and they tell me that such a play out is conceivable, given the dominance of extreme ideology in the Democratic Party.
I would add: does anyone believe that the Democrats and leftists who now control congress will give up power voluntarily? If they cannot manipulate the election (like they did in 2020), then what have they got to lose, especially against a spineless GOP?
This piece was previously published on MyCorner.com.
Recently a friend of mine asked me to list my ten favorite films about the South and the War Between the States, and to discuss the reasons I would choose them. I had written several columns in the past about cinema that favorably portrayed the Southland and had dealt fairly with the War Between the States, including, most recently, the delightful early color Bing Crosby vehicle about Dan Emmett and his composition of the unofficial Southern national anthem, “Dixie” (1943), and also about “Firetrail,” on Sherman’s march through the Carolinas. Before that I authored an essay about the classic 1946 title, “Song of the South,” and where to find good DVD copies here in the United States, and, back in 2014, a piece for the Abbeville Institute on “Classic Confederate Hollywood.”
Earlier (July/August 2013) I reviewed a Blu-Ray copy of one of director John Ford’s finest classics, “The Sun Shines Bright” (1953) in Confederate Veteran magazine.
In each of those review essays I cautioned readers to snatch up copies before our modern totalitarian censors got round to interdicting them and locking them up in some inaccessible vault, away from the eyes and ears of viewers. For in contemporary America “cancel culture” has stretched its long tentacles into almost everything that in any way affects us. In a real sense it is the advance phalanx of the Revolution that seeks to completely and radically change our society and simply destroy the very memory of our past. This is true not only in how we examine and study our history, what we read and esteem as great literature, but especially in what is permitted (and what is banned) in our cultural accoutrements—in music, sports, and film.
The controversies over such classic films as “Gone With the Wind” and Disney’s “Song of South” (1946) as racist and examples of “white supremacy” continue to generate discussion and fierce debate. But in many ways, the forces of progressive “wokism” have already been successful. Of course, “Gone With the Wind” is far too significant a film to ban outright, but cautionary messages now surround it, and when it is screened (now uniquely) on TCM, there is always an introduction to let viewers know of its supposedly explicit and contextual racism. For “Song of the South,” once a crown jewel in the Disney film library, it was last dusted off and re-released to theaters in 1986. Disney’s executive chairman and former CEO Bob Iger recently affirmed (2020) during a shareholders meeting that the film would not be released officially in the United States in any format, even with an "outdated cultural depictions" label. The film was, he declared, "not appropriate in today's world." “Song of the South,” he added was “antiquated” and “offensive.”
It is available in some foreign DVD transfers, but most of those in a non-American format. But as I wrote in my Abbeville piece (July 25, 2019) “Song of the South” still can be had here in the United States in a good transfer and in the American DVD format.
There are a number of other films which treat the historic South fairly, even favorably, and which our modern-day cultural totalitarians have either not gotten round to or perhaps don’t realize exist...yet. But they do exist, for the time being, in the DVD format.
To begin our chosen ten, any list of films specifically about the Southern War for Independence must include special mention of director Ronald Maxwell’s two blockbuster extravaganzas: “Gettysburg” (1993) and “Gods and Generals” (2003). Both run in excess of four hours, and both pay minute attention to historical detail, seamlessly weaving in personal vignettes and narratives that might well have occurred at the time. “Gettysburg” is based on Michael Shaara’s historical novel, The Killer Angels, and “Gods and Generals,” on his son Jeff Shaara’s novel of the same name. The younger Shaara’s novel The Last Full Measure was intended to be the basis for the third film in a trilogy, one leading to Appomattox, but never made it to the screen due to lack of funding and faltering interest from Ted Turner and Warner Brothers.
Both films attempt to portray well-known events with comparative fairness, with a degree of objectivity, even sympathy, for the various historical players and their actions. In particular, the character of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, played memorably by Stephen Lang, becomes the central personage in “Gods and Generals,” around which much of its action takes place. “Gettysburg,” despite its length, is a much tighter-knit film, the action and events leading up to the third day of that momentous battle; “Gods and Generals” is more episodic and was criticized for that very reason—it becomes almost a docu-drama in its treatment of the beginning years of the War. Yet, Robert Duvall’s General Lee (preferable to Martin Sheen in “Gettysburg”) and the moving scenes involving the death of “Stonewall” Jackson are not to be missed.
Both films are available singly on Warner DVDs, but my advice is to snatch up the beautiful commemorative box containing both, in director’s cut editions, expensive, yes, but a genuine keepsake.
I’ve always been a fan of the classic American Western film genre, basically from the beginning of the “talkie” era (around 1929) until the early 1970s (with a few exceptions since then). In fact I have written about the classic Western on various occasions, most recently for Chronicles magazine (December 2021) and for the Abbeville Institute, LewRockwell.com, and Reckonin.com.
Over the years I’ve discussed my passion for old Westerns and films about the South with my friend Dr. Clyde Wilson, who is, without doubt, the country’s leading expert on Southern and Confederate-themed films. Some time ago in our discussions of a “Southern canon of best films,” he made an observation that the classic Western in many ways was a “Southern,” in that so many Westerns from even before the advent of the sound era to more contemporary times essentially treat the War or post-War periods with a western twist. Former Confederates go west and fight new battles to open the plains and uplands to settlers and prospectors, fend off rustlers and crooked bank presidents, bring law and order to areas beset by disorder, and sometimes, as in the case of the numerous films about Jesse James and the Youngers, continue fighting the War as guerillas and Border Bushwhackers. Randolph Scott, Audie Murphy, Joel McCrea, and others made dozens of such “Southern Westerns.” And who can forget John Wayne in “The Searchers”?
So a list of good films treating the Confederacy will need to also consider the “Confederacy out West.” Indeed, some the finest movies on the War and its aftermath are set beyond the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, in Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, and even California.
Two of the finest are: “Jesse James,” in Technicolor, released in 1939 by 20th Century Fox, and starring some the most notable actors of the period: Tyrone Power as Jesse James, Henry Fonda as his brother Frank, Southerner Randolph Scott as Will Wright, John Carradine as Bob Ford, and the inimitable Henry Hull as Major Rufus Cobb, CSA. Very successful at the box office, 20th Century Fox followed it in 1940 with “The Return of Frank James,” with Fonda, Hull, and Carradine reprising their earlier roles, and directed by Fritz Lang. I must admit that I like “The Return of Frank James” even more than “Jesse James.” There is one scene—it takes place in a court room when Frank goes on trial—where War veteran Colonel Jackson is called to testify. Played by legendary actor, Edward McWade (1865-1943), the unreconstructed colonel humorously taunts the Yankee attorney.
Both “Jesse James” and “The Return of Jesse James” are on 20th Century Fox DVDs.
After their success with the James movies, Fox followed in 1941 with another major Technicolor adventure set in the border Missouri-Kansas region, “Belle Starr – The Bandit Queen.” Featuring Randolph Scott as guerilla leader Sam Starr, Dana Andrews as Yankee Major Thomas Crall, and with Gene Tierney as Belle Starr, it is perhaps the most unabashedly pro-Confederate film of the period. Of course, its depiction of contented slaves and evil carpetbaggers is not acceptable to our “woke” cultural censors these days. Copies can be had in non-USA DVD formats from Great Britain, Spain, and France, but these require a universal or PAL DVD player. But a good American format copy may be obtained from Vermont Movie Store; the DVD print is fine. If you desire a rousing good story, “Belle Starr” fits the bill. Criticized for romanticizing events and distorting history, in the movie’s defense I would reply as did the freedmen at the end of the film: Belle Starr may be largely mythic, but as they explain: “It’s what the white folks call a legend…[and] a legend is the best part of the truth.”
Two fine films are set in the east during the War, and are based on actual—and remarkable—events: “Alvarez Kelly” (1966), starring William Holden and Richard Widmark, and based on General Wade Hampton’s famous “Beefsteak Raid” in September 1864 around Union lines at Petersburg to capture some 2,000 cattle intended for eventual Yankee consumption. Completely successful, even Lincoln remarked that the feat was “the slickest piece of cattle-stealing” he had ever heard of. “Alvarez Kelly” is available on Sony DVDs.
“The Raid,” from 1954 and directed by Hugo Fregonese, is a largely underrated film, portraying the famous and incredibly daring Confederate raid on St. Albans, Vermont, in October 1864. With a solid cast headed by Van Heflin (as Confederate Major Neal Benton, the leader of the twenty-one raiders), Anne Bancroft, Richard Boone (as the hard-nosed and suspicious Yankee Captain Lionel Foster), and a wonderfully expansive Lee Marvin, whose character hates all Yankees but can’t keep silent when he has a few too many drinks, “The Raid” illustrates the nobility of Major Benton at the end, despite his orders to burn public buildings in the town. “The Raid” is available on a 20th Century Fox DVD.
In the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, reaction from the Federals was swift and merciless, and often involved overriding constitutional protections and flagrantly violating settled legal procedure. Such was the case with Mary Surratt. A devout Maryland Catholic and Southern sympathizer, Surratt was caught up in the frenzy to find and severely punish anyone even vaguely associated with the assassins. The story of her arrest, mockery of a trial and execution is told with unfolding intensity in “The Conspirator” (2010), starring Robin Wright (as Surratt), James McAvoy (as Surratt’s attorney, Captain Frederick Aiden), and the fine character actor, Tom Wilkinson, as Senator Reverdy Johnson, who advises Aiken. The Socialist journal, Jacobin, accused the film of promoting the “neo-Confederate Lost Cause.” Nevertheless, the vehemence of the film and its enveloping narrative held me spellbound when I first viewed it. It is available on a Lionsgate DVD.
My two favorite films about the War and the post-War South are both incredibly rich in storylines, plot and finely-etched acting. First, there is the John Ford classic, “The Sun Shines Bright” from 1953. In some ways it is a remake of Ford’s earlier classic, “Judge Priest” from 1934 (starring Will Rogers). Some critics prefer that earlier filmed version of the Irvin S. Cobb short story, but the later version with Charles Winninger’s inimitable portrayal as the judge for me is supreme.
Of all his great films—including “Stagecoach,” “Grapes of Wrath,” “My Darling Clementine,” “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon,” and “The Searchers”—Ford cited this one as his favorite. It combines all his classic traits—humor, pathos, well-developed characterization, an ensemble cast that worked effortlessly together, and something of Ford’s almost spiritual understanding of Americana, in this case the South after the War. The scene of the UCV veterans trooping past at the end is always memorable.
A marvelous, restored Blu-Ray version of “The Sun Shines Bright” was issued by Olive Films in 2013, and I would urge anyone interested in great-filmmaking and the post-War South to get this film.
And, lastly, an unheralded and unjustly neglected film in the Errol Flynn filmography: “Rocky Mountain,” from 1950. Of all the films I’ve cited, this one may be the most straightforward, major pro-Confederate cinematic release available. Set in the mountains of California in the waning days of the War, the story recounts the history and fate of a small eight-member band of Confederate soldiers sent west to raise Confederate supporters in that Pacific state. From the start it becomes a forlorn mission, supremely heroic but destined to fail. Starring Flynn (as CSA Captain Lafe Barstow) and Patrice Wymore (as Johanna Carter), the film also stars Slim Pickens, Guinn “Big Boy” Williams, and other actors from Warner Brothers’ stable. During the movie, each of the Confederates, who were specially chosen for this impossible task, relates his history and background. Young Dickie Jones’ story of serving a meal for General Lee and about his little dog Spot, who came with him from Virginia, steal the show. And at the end, those eight Confederates, beset by hundreds of Shoshone Indians make one final, death-defying charge…so impressive and so moving, that even the approaching Yankee detachment salutes their fallen sacrifice, as the swelling strains of “Dixie” echo. And Spot? At the very end that little canine literally has tears in his eyes!
The first time I saw it was with a friend, and we both had drunk a couple of shots of Tennessee Bourbon. I will admit that by the end of the movie we both had tears streaming down our faces.
“Rocky Mountain” (it’s in black and white) is available on Warner Archive DVD.
That’s actually eleven films, but there are many more out there, and many more that I could list. But for the moment, this will have to do. My hope is that good Southerners interested in their history and great cinema will purchase these and other such films. In our present age, there is no telling if they will be around tomorrow. Share them with your family and your friends, and by so doing keep our rich cultural heritage alive.
As is my custom, each year for the Federal holiday celebrating Martin Luther King (whose birth date in January 15), I send out a cautionary essay I first began researching back in 2018. What I was attempting to do was urgently remind readers, specifically so-called “conservatives,” that King and his holiday are emblematic of the ongoing radical transformation of the American republic: the mindless canonization and glorification of King, especially by the conservative movement, only advances this project. And the fact that most Republicans and “conservatives” now buy into it illustrates their puerility and abject surrender to a Leftist agenda. The resulting revolutionary destruction of the United States, our traditions, and our history cannot be overstated.
For in placing King and his legacy on a pedestal, alongside George Washington or Ronald Reagan, conservatives—whether they intend to or not—buy into that radical agenda. You simply cannot create a legitimate opposition to the madness that currently afflicts us by accepting the essential principles and foundation of our enemies.
King is now the salutary, untouchable, indeed, indisputably holy and magical American talisman—an Icon—whose legacy cannot and must not be questioned. To do so means you are by definition a “racist,” a “white supremacist,” probably a “fascist,” as well. And from the usual Progressivist voices to almost the entirety of the pundits on FOX (can you find an exception?) and in the Establishment conservative media, King is the newest Founding Father who confirms the imposed narrative that “America was founded on the ‘proposition’ of Equality’.” The problem, however, is that this historical template is false, undone by a serious and thorough examination of history and the documentation available. But it is used by both the Progressivists AND the “Movement Conservative” advocates to advance an agenda that in the end leads irreversibly Left…and the destruction of our Western civilization.
Once again on the third Monday of January, Federal and state offices and many businesses either close or go on limited schedules due to Martin Luther King Day. We are awash with public observances, parades, prayer breakfasts, stepped-up school projects for our unwary and intellectually-abused children, and gobs and gobs of over-the-top television “specials” and movies, all geared to tell us—to shout it in our faces, if we don’t pay strict attention—that King was some sort of superhuman, semi-divine civil rights leader who brought the promise of equality to millions of Americans, a kind of modern St. John the Baptist ushering in the Millennium. And that he stands just below Jesus Christ in the pantheon of revered and adored historical personages…and in some ways, perhaps above Jesus Christ in the minds of many of his present-day devotees and epigones.
It may seem to do no good to issue a demurrer to this veritable religious “cult of Dr. King.” There are, indeed, numerous “Christian” churches that now “celebrate” this day just as if it were a major feast in the Christian calendar. In short, Martin Luther King has received de facto canonization religiously and in the public mind as no other person in American history.
Mention the fact that King probably plagiarized as much as 40 % of his Boston University Ph.D. dissertation [cf. Theodore Pappas, Plagiarism and the Culture War: The Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Other Prominent Americans, 1998 and Martin Luther King Jr Plagiarism Story, 1994], or that he worked closely with known Communists throughout his life, or that he advocated American defeat in Vietnam while praising Ho Chi Minh, or that he implicitly countenanced violence and Marxism, especially later in his life [cf., Congressional Record, 129, no. 130 (October 3, 1983): S13452-S13461]—mention any of these accusations confirmed begrudgingly by his establishment biographers David Garrow and Taylor Branch, or mention his even-by-current-standards violent “rough sex” escapades which apparently involved even under-agers (cf., Cooper Sterling, VDare.com, January 13, 2018) and you immediately get labeled a “racist” and condemned by not just the zealous King flame-keepers on the Left, but by such “racially acceptable” Neoconservatives as Brian Kilmeade and Dinesh D’Souza who supposedly are on the Right.
Indeed, in some ways Establishment “conservatives” such as Kilmeade, Rich Lowry (National Review), D’Souza, Glenn Beck, the talking heads on Fox, and many others, not only eagerly buy into this narrative, they now have converted King into a full-fledged, card-carrying member of “Conservatism Inc.”—the (contemporary) “conservative movement”—a “plaster saint” iconized as literally no one else in our history.
Celebrating King becomes a means for these ersatz conservatives to demonstrate their “civil rights” and “egalitarian” bona fides. The Neoconservatives—who dominate modern conservatism—with their philosophical and ideological origins over on the Trotskyite Left of the 1930s and 1940s, when they made their pilgrimage towards conservatism in the 1960s and 1970s brought with them a fervent believe in a globalist New World Order egalitarianism that characterized Trotskyite Marxist ideology, and the determination to redefine and re-orient the traditional American Rightwing, and to re-write, as well, American history.
Thus, the purges of the old conservative movement in the 1980s and 1990s—there was no room for Southern conservatives like Mel Bradford, no room for traditionalist Catholics like Frederick Wilhelmsen or Brent Bozell Sr., no room for paleo-libertarians like Murray Rothbard, no room for Old Right anti-egalitarians like Paul Gottfried, and no room for “America Firsters” like Pat Buchanan…And those traditional conservatives who were too significant in the “pantheon of greats,” like a Russell Kirk, they attempted to simply whitewash and give them new, cleaned up images and identities (part and parcel of their “rewriting” of conservatism). Thus, Kirk’s opposition to the civil rights bills of the 1960s and 1970s, his staunch arguments against egalitarianism, his willingness to debate cognitive disparities between the races (publishing, for example, reviews of Dr. Audrey M. Shuey’s study, The Testing of Negro Intelligence, in his publication, The University Bookman--I know, as I was there in Mecosta, Michigan, working as his assistant when it happened) are all swept under the carpet or carefully ignored.
In this, in fact, the dominant Neocons have joined with their cousins on the “farther Left,” to the point that Bush consultant guru and Fox pundit, Karl Rove, could boast that hardcore Marxist/Communist anti-South historian Eric Foner (who lamented the collapse of Soviet Communism) was his favorite historian (when examining Reconstruction) (See Dr. Paul Gottfried’s incisive critique of Foner and those “conservatives” who have praised him, “Guilt Trip,” The American Conservative,” May 4, 2009, pp. 21-23). And now neo-Reconstruction historian Allen Guelzo is warmly welcomed in the pages of establishment mainstream “conservative” publications.
King Day has become, then, for the Conservative Movement an opportunity for it to beat its chest, brag about its commitment to civil rights and the American “dream,” the unrealized idea of equality (that is, to distort and re-write the history of the American Founding), and to protect its left flank against the ever increasing charges that it could be, just might be, maybe is—“racist” or “white supremacist.”
And for the “farther Left,” that catapulting cultural “woke” juggernaut that continues to move the societal and political goalposts to the Left, King Day becomes as a major ideological blitzkrieg, a weaponized cudgel used to strike down and silence anyone, anywhere, who might offer the slightest dissent to the latest barbarity and latest “advance” in civil rights, now expanded to include not just everything “racial,” but also same sex marriage, transgenderism and abortion on demand. Martin Luther King–that deeply and irredeemably flawed and fraudulent figure imposed upon us and our consciousness—has become an icon, a totem, who serves in martyred death the purposes of continuing Revolution.
The heavily-documented literature detailing the real Martin Luther King is abundant and remains uncontroverted and basically uncontested. During the debates over establishing a national “King Day” in the mid-1980s, Senators Jesse Helms and John East (both North Carolinians) led the opposition, supplying the Congress and the nation, and anyone with eyes to read, full accounts of the “King legacy,” from his close association and collaboration with the Communist Party USA to his advocacy of violence and support for the Communists in North Vietnam, to implicit support for Marxist revolution domestically. Ironically, it was Robert Woodson, a noted black Republican, who highlighted in a lecture given to honor the “conservative virtues” of King at the Heritage Foundation on November 5, 1993, the difficulties in getting black advocates of the older generation to respect King’s role as a Civil Rights leader. According to Woodson, as quoted in an excellent essay by Paul Gottfried,
“…when Dr. King tried to bring the Civil Rights movement together with the [Marxist] peace movement, it was Carl Rowan who characterized King as a Communist, not Ronald Reagan. I remember being on the dais of the NAACP banquet in Darby, Pennsylvania when Roy Wilkins soundly castigated King for this position.” [Paul Gottfried, “The Cult of St. Martin Luther King – A Loyalty Test for Careerist Conservatives?” January 16, 2012]
Indeed, as reported by The Washington Post, at a celebration of the life of W.E.B. Du Bois at Carnegie Hall in February 1968, King, while praising the co-founder of the NAACP who became a Communist in his later years, declared that America was possessed of an “irrational obsessive anti-communism.”
But not only that, behind the scenes there were voluminous secretly-made FBI recordings and accounts of King’s violent sexual escapades, often times with more than two or three others involved in such “rough sex” trysts; and of his near total hypocrisy when discussing civil rights and other prominent civil rights leaders. It is, to put it mildly, a sorry record, scandalous even by today’s standards…Indeed, King makes Harvey Weinstein look like a meek choirboy in comparison.
But you won’t hear any of that mentioned by the falling-all-over-itself Mainstream Media or the media mavens on Fox. In fact, such comments will get you exiled to the far reaches of the Gobi Desert and labeled a “racist,” quicker that my cocker spaniel gobbles down his kibble.
Rather than rehash and restate all the various accusations, backed up with substantial and overwhelming documentation, let me offer something of an annotated bibliography and history of MLK Day. Almost all the material is now available and accessible online, including material from the Congressional Record.
First, essential to understanding the background of just how we got King Day, the late Dr. Samuel Francis’s account is critical. Originally written to preface the publication of voluminous testimony and documentation placed in the Congressional Record by Senator Helms, Francis’s essay and the Helms’ dossier were eventually published in book form. A few years back Dr. Francis’s introduction and his detailed background essay and the lengthy Congressional Record material (which he prepared for Helms) were put online. For a complete understanding of King’s association and cooperation with American Communists and his endorsement of Vietnamese Communism, as well as his putative endorsement of Marxism here in the United States while condemning the free enterprise system, these two items are essential reading:
Dr. Samuel Francis, “The King Holiday and Its Meaning,” February 26, 2015.
Dr. Samuel Francis, “Remarks of Senator Jesse Helms. Congressional Quarterly,” February 26, 2005.
To fully understand the serious plagiarism charges leveled against King and the academic and politically-correct skullduggery that surrounded Boston University’s decision not to rescind his doctoral degree, Theodore Pappas’s two detailed studies, cited above, offer fascinating and scandalously revealing details. But other writers, also, upon cursory examination, have found numerous other instances of his plagiarism.
Remember the “I Have a Dream” speech? Well, as Jim Goad wrote in Takimag back in 2012:
“…the immortalized in MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech in the part where he beseeches God…to “Let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia.” King stole that passage about Stone Mountain from a 1952 oratory delivered by another black preacher at the Republican National Convention. He also allegedly plagiarized parts of the first public sermon he ever delivered back in 1947.” [Jim Goad, “I’m So Bored with MLK,” Takimag, January 16, 2012]
But, say the Neocon scribblers at National Review and the pundits on Fox, wasn’t King really a conservative at heart, an old-fashioned black Baptist who believed in the tenets of traditional Christianity? Shouldn’t we simply overlook these all-too-human foibles?
To answer that I should mention VDare editor Peter Brimelow’s superb essay which offers additional insight on the King Day holiday and which summarizes much of the information, ideological uses, and controversy surrounding him and his holiday. It was originally published in 2015, but he has republished it each year to coincide with this annual national paroxysm: “ ‘Time To Rethink Martin Luther King Day’–The 2017 Edition.”
Finally, I can think of no better summation of the real meaning of King Day and its bare-knuckled ideological use to deconstruct, dissolve and obliterate American traditions and heritage than to cite, again, Sam Francis:
“[T]he true meaning of the holiday is that it serves to legitimize the radical social and political agenda that King himself favored and to delegitimize traditional American social and cultural institutions—not simply those that supported racial segregation but also those that support a free market economy, an anti-communist foreign policy, and a constitutional system that restrains the power of the state rather than one that centralizes and expands power for the reconstruction of society and the redistribution of wealth. In this sense, the campaign to enact the legal public holiday in honor of Martin Luther King was a small first step on the long march to revolution, a charter by which that revolution is justified as the true and ultimate meaning of the American identity. In this sense, and also in King’s own sense, as he defined it in his speech at the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, the Declaration of Independence becomes a “promissory note” by which the state is authorized to pursue social and economic egalitarianism as its mission, and all institutions and values that fail to reflect the dominance of equality—racial, cultural, national, economic, political, and social—must be overcome and discarded.
“By placing King—and therefore his own radical ideology of social transformation and reconstruction—into the central pantheon of American history, the King holiday provides a green light by which the revolutionary process of transformation and reconstruction can charge full speed ahead. Moreover, by placing King at the center of the American national pantheon, the holiday also serves to undermine any argument against the revolutionary political agenda that it has come to symbolize. Having promoted or accepted the symbol of the new dogma as a defining—perhaps the defining—icon of the American political order, those who oppose the revolutionary agenda the symbol represents have little ground to resist that agenda.” [January 16, 2006]
I will not be celebrating this day; rather, it is for me a mournful reminder of what has happened and is happening to this country.
This post was previously published on MyCorner.
It seems that every day brings news of an additional collapse of our inherited institutions and culture—our politics give off the stench of gross amorality, our schools and universities have become the playground for evil indoctrination, our so-called entertainment drowns us in filth of the worst kind. Angry divorce, widespread abortion, “gender fluidity,” and every perversion imaginable wrack our society and infect our souls and the souls of our children. Our supposed guardians are rather become as minions of what can only be described as the rising globalist Antichrist which seeks to reverse two-thousand years of Christianity and the culture that it produced.
Yet, we recall the promises of Our Lord and the eternal Hope that He inspires within us. And that Hope which buttresses and supports our Faith will never leave us, if we cling to it manfully.
Thus, despite the woes around us, in our expectation of the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord, our hearts and minds are filled with anticipation and scarcely concealed joy as we await the memorialization and recreation of that ineffable Event—unimaginable in human terms—that forever changed human history.
The sin of Adam—Original Sin—affected all mankind and left descendants marked, indelibly stained by that original fault. Adam’s sin was a form of disobedience, but a disobedience so grave and monumental against God’s Creation, that only the Coming of the Messiah, the Second Person of the Trinity of the Godhead, could repair it. And the Son of God would be Incarnate in a woman who would be pure and herself immaculate, untouched by the inheritance of sinfulness (by the merits of her Son). Only such a pure womb would be fitting for the Incarnate God. And only the Incarnation into one of His creatures would serve the purpose of demonstrating that Our Blessed Saviour would come to us, not only as God, but also in the form of Man—this was fitting because it was to Mankind that He was sent.
For hundreds of years the People of Israel had awaited the coming of a Messiah to lead them, to liberate them and, if you will, to repair Adam’s Fall. But this vision—whether expressed in the revolts of the Maccabees or in later violent episodes like the revolt of Simon bar Kokhba against the Romans (132 A.D.)—implied not just satisfaction for sinful ways, but increasingly the establishment of an earthly and insular kingdom for and of the Hebrews.
And although Our Lord and Saviour indeed came first to the Jews, and offered them His reparative Grace and Salvation, it was by no means to be limited to them. Indeed, His message was universal (as it had been to Abraham). And those Hebrews who accepted the Messiah—and those gentiles who also joined them—became the Church, the “New” Israel, receptor of God’s Grace and holder of His Promises and carrier of His Light unto all the world.
While a majority of old Israel rejected Our Lord, demanding His Crucifixion before Pilate, those who followed Him and believed in Him entered the New Covenant, a New Testament. It is in this sense that the Christian church inherited the promises of Israel and the Old Testament, and fulfilled those prophesies. And that fulfillment continues.
St. Paul in his Epistle to Titus [2:11-15] summarizes both the dazzling and miraculous wonder of Our Saviour’s Grace amongst us and its inexhaustible power to transform us, as we await His final Coming in Glory: “The grace of God our Saviour hath appeared to all men, instructing us, that, denying ungodliness and worldly desires, we should live soberly and justly and godly in this world, looking for the blessed hope and coming of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and might cleanse to Himself a people acceptable, a pursuer of good works. These things speak and exhort: in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We—the Christian church, those chosen out of Grace who accept God’s gifts—are in a journey to that final day when Our Lord will return. We have been given for that journey the armament of Our Lord’s graces in the Sacraments, and through His love, our Faith and a Hope that whenever we are tempted to despair, pulls us back and redirects our vision.
Years ago when I was doing my doctoral work in Pamplona (Navarra), Spain, I had several dear friends. One of them, by name Teofilo Andueza, although he and wife lived in the city, kept his family’s ancestral home and farm up in the Pyrenees Mountains. On numerous Saturdays we would travel out there; the women would busy themselves in the kitchen to prepare roasted lamb chops, pork shoulder, “patatas fritas,” various “ensaladas mixtas,” all sorts of desserts (flan and pastries), and, of course, there would be plenty of Rioja wine and cognac. After eating—which usually continued off and on for most of the day—we men would sit and smoke some “puros” (Cuban cigars—well, I didn’t worry about THAT aspect of Cuban Communism back then!).
I remember on one occasion Teofilo took me up to the crest of a nearby mountain; below we could see the city of Pamplona, as he related how in 1875 the city was occupied by “liberals” who supported the central and centralizing government in Madrid, but that elsewhere in all of Navarra, in every rural village and small hamlet, the people had risen up as one under the military banner of “God – Country – States’ Rights – and the Rightful King” (against the liberal king then installed in Madrid, the nation’s capital). In July 1936 Teofilo, his father, and his elderly grandfather (who as a young teen had joined the earlier Traditionalist rising sixty years earlier) all volunteered to fight under that same banner, the standard of the Traditionalist Carlist Communion against the secularist and socialist Spanish Republic (which is so loved by the establishment far Left and Neoconservatives these days).
Like his grandfather in 1875, Teofilo was barely 16 when he enlisted in 1936. And while his grandfather was too old to see active, front line combat in the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939 (serving in medical rear-guard duty), Teofilo saw combat in some of the fiercest battles against the Red Republic and marched in the Victory parade in Madrid in 1939.
But like my other Carlist Traditionalist friends—who were termed “Intransigentes” by more moderate (and compromising) partisans on the Right—Teofilo believed that Francisco Franco had not carried through with the actual re-establishment of a Christian kingdom as promised—too many foreign influences, too many compromises, and, lastly, opening the door in 1953 to all the worst aspects of American commercialism and cultural decay. The national reawakening promised in 1939 had not taken place, its fruits dispersed, and in exchange, Spanish society had increasingly accepted the worst features of American mass culture and secularist thinking.
At the top of that mountain crest, as we looked down at Pamplona, Teofilo became emotional. “My grandfather fought against that liberal contagion 100 years ago,” he exclaimed. “And in 1936 three generations of my family dropped everything and went to war against the communists and socialists, to a crusade for Christ the King—that He might reign in society.” And then, he turned to me, took me firmly by the shoulder, and said: “And now, if it were just you and me—and we were on God’s side—once again we would be victorious, for even if we are only two, nothing is impossible to men if they fight on God’s side!”
I have remembered that incident constantly over the years, especially when things appear dark or despairing. For not only did Grace and Salvation and the Healing for sin come into the world in a humble Cradle in Bethlehem a little over 2,000 years ago, but Hope came also. And it buoys us up, gives us balance and equilibrium, and acts as “Faith’s Sentry” to protect our Faith from harm and the threat of despair and apostasy.
In the year 312 A.D., facing an immense military challenge, the Roman Emperor Constantine prayed to the Christian God, asking what he should do. As related in Eusebius’ Ecclesiastical History, he had grave doubts about the traditional Roman gods. He prayed earnestly that the Christian God would “reveal to him who he is, and stretch forth his right hand to help him.” His prayer changed the course of human history. The answer came in a vision of a Cross emblazoned across the noonday sky, and upon it the inscription read: “In hoc signo vinces”—By this sign you shall be victorious. The emperor then ordered that his soldiers have the Christian cross inscribed on their shields.
Victorious at the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Constantine then issued orders that the Christian church was to be fully free in its mission and the exercise of its functions. Although he did not make Christianity the official religion of the empire, Constantine bestowed favors on it, built places of worship for Christians, and presided over the first general church council. He became the first emperor to embrace Christianity and was baptized on his death bed. In less than 300 years the faith of Christ born in humble surroundings in remote Judaea and persecuted mercilessly and ruthlessly, nourished by the blood or martyrs, now emerged from the catacombs, triumphant, a light unto the pagans, to continue its salvific mission.
Is this not the power of Faith supported by Hope? That even if we be in the catacombs, even if we see our civilization and culture coming apart at the seams, even if we see the Church subverted and false prophets in positions of immense authority preaching false doctrines—even in these circumstances, if we hold “fortes in Fide,” firm and militant in the faith, bolstered by the Virtue of Hope, Faith’s Sentry, Christ the King will be victorious.
So, then, as we approach the Holy Day of indescribable joy, we know with assurance that the ineffable Gift from God of salvation and forgiveness is ours, and that no one can take our Faith from us, buoyed, as it is, by the unbreakable assurance of Hope—which came to us that Christmas so long ago.
“Even if it were just you and me—and we were on God’s side—once again we would be victorious, for even if we are only two, nothing is impossible to men if they fight on God’s side!”
Saving Grace entered the world two millennia ago, and with it the Hope we possess. And there are broad smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts.
Merry and Blessed Christmas!
This post was published on My Corner on December 23, 2021.
Although Hollywood is now considered a monolithic bastion of leftist and “woke” political and cultural sentiment with almost no dissent tolerated, it was not always that way, at least not to the degree that exists today. Go back sixty years ago, and that progressivist uniformity was not as apparent.
Certainly, “Tinseltown” was never a haven for conservative and traditionalist cinema, actors, and screen writers, but back then to be on the Right and practicing a career in movies was not a rare oddity like it is in 2021. In particular, the sub-genre of Westerns, during its heyday on the big screen from the 1920s until the mid-1960s, was dominated by actors identifiably conservative.
Indeed, most of Hollywood’s leading Western and cowboy actors have been politically conservative, and quite a few have been Southerners. It is well known that John Wayne was a conservative, strongly supporting United States forces in Vietnam (recall his film, “The Green Berets”), and often supporting Republican candidates. But many other prominent Western actors were also on the right.
A short list would include: Joel McCrea (a Goldwater and Reagan supporter), Randolph Scott (a staunch conservative and Reagan supporter originally from Charlotte, N.C., who attended the 1964 Republican Convention as a Goldwater delegate), Audie Murphy (a Texan, life member of the NRA), Roy Rogers and Gene Autry (both conservative Christians), John Payne (a native Virginian and staunch Goldwater conservative), Alan Ladd (a Republican and native of Arkansas), Charlton Heston (a former president of the NRA), Ronald Reagan, Glenn Ford, Ward Bond, Jimmy Stewart (a regular contributor to the political campaigns of Senator Jesse Helms), Ben Johnson (who refused to act in Peter Bogdanovich’s “The Last Picture Show,” until nudity and bad language were removed), Gary Cooper (a convert to the Catholic Church, who supported Nixon in 1960), George “Gabby” Hayes (a John Bircher, the quintessential cowboy sidekick, whose famous full beard and tattered hat identified him for several generations of Western-watchers), Walter Brennan (thrice-winning Academy Award winner whose staunch conservatism led him to co-chair the California state campaign for George Wallace in 1968), and Chill Wills (the noted Western character actor who was the other California Wallace co-chair in 1968).
And there were others that we might recall from those days of yesteryear.
In more recent times, such noted actors as Clint Eastwood, Robert Duvall, Tom Selleck (another past president of the NRA), and Kevin Sorbo, have continued the rightward tendency among actors who act in oaters.
Various reasons have been adduced for the prevalence of conservatives in Westerns, in an industry that otherwise leans strongly to the left. The fact that many of them came from the traditional South or from rural areas may have had some influence. Few came from urban areas like New York, and if they came from California, it was an older California, one that was still capable of electing Ronald Reagan governor and right wingers like “Bomber Bob” Dornan or John Schmitz to Congress.
Most major studios from the 1930s to the 1950s maintained separate facilities—“ranches”—set away from major production centers, where Westerns were shot and produced. Western actors and, to some degree, their directors and producers, tended to be separated from other film-making. It was no accident that the great director John Ford (an early supporter of Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” who became a fervent Nixon and Goldwater supporter), when asked once what he did, responded, “I make Westerns.” Of course, Ford made movies in other genres, but he is most widely known for his superb Westerns. He had his own “stock company” of veterans and regulars who showed up in picture after picture that he directed. His genius was in securing the very best in ensemble acting carried to perfection over and over again. Those actors who appeared in Westerns generally made it a habit.
Some of the smaller studios, especially Republic and Monogram (later Allied Artists) concentrated on the genre, and turned out what are commonly termed “B Westerns”; they featured a recurring star (perhaps with a sidekick), were about an hour long, and normally appeared as the second half of a double bill. Too often film critics dismiss these B Westerns as “kiddie flicks,” but the truth is that many of these films were truly stylish, high level products. Thus, Allan “Rocky” Lane, Gene Autry, Wild Bill Elliott, and Roy Rogers made Republic a real player at the box-office.
Johnny Mack Brown, Whip Wilson, Hoot Gibson, Bob Steele, and Guy Madison did the same for Monogram/Allied Artists. Other studios, like Columbia and RKO, produced numerous B Western series until the early 1950s, showcasing actors like Charles Starrett (“The Durango Kid”) and Tim Holt. The end of the series Bs did not end the popularity of the genre. Both Columbia and Universal-International continued releasing higher quality, longer films, usually in color, in the 1950s, often spotlighting bigger-name stars such as Audie Murphy, Randolph Scott, or Joel McCrea. These studios used the Western as their bread-and-butter producer when major features failed to make money. In most cases, there was a virtual segregation between Westerns and other fare, a separation which may have affected the ambience in which they were made.
The very nature of the Western sub-genre has had a significant influence in attracting certain types of actors to it. Westerns traditionally expressed the purest form of “good vs. evil.” Even in the more conflicted, morally blurred years of the later 1960s and 1970s, the few Westerns that were made seemed to never lose sight of that essential conflict. Indeed, the paucity of films in the genre during the last thirty years is the clearest indication that the Western as a clear-sighted vehicle for representing society’s conception of itself and its frontier past has fallen on hard times. Too many heroes in white hats and too strong an identification with a triumphant—and white—country, subduing all before it, doesn’t offer the best medium for representing the morally conflicted and self-loathing America of the 21st century.
The late Southern historian, biographer, and political thinker, Mel Bradford, once explained, during a conference of former Richard Weaver fellows, that the 1948 Howard Hawks classic, “Red River,” starring John Wayne and Montgomery Clift, encapsulated the history of the West and of America as it expanded to the Pacific, its struggle to overcome both natural and human obstacles, its resilience, its quest to establish law and order in the wilderness, and its abiding faith in Providence.
And that men, in whatever station in life they find themselves, are obliged to assume and fulfill the duty which falls to them.
That put me in mind of a film I had seen many years ago with my father: Sam Peckinpah’s classic, “Ride the High Country.” It co-starred two legendary veteran cowpokes, Randolph Scott and Joel McCrea. It was the last film that Randy Scott would make. At the time, he refused additional roles, declaring that “the movies have become too filthy”—and that was in 1962! McCrea still had one major outing (“Mustang Country,” 1976) and a couple of cameos before laying down his spurs, but essentially, like Scott, this was his last major role.
In a real sense “Ride the High Country” symbolized what was happening to America, foreshadowing in a way, and warning of the cultural revolution of the late 1960s and the ravages on the horizon which would follow.
Two old-timers, retired lawmen played by Scott and McCrea, undertake one last, one final task: to travel up in the Sierras and bring down a shipment of freshly-mined gold. Various, sometimes amusing sub-plots ensue involving a young Mariette Hartley, James Drury (later of “The Virginian”), Edgar Buchanan, R. G. Armstrong, and Warren Oates. All along Scott’s character, Gil Westrum, is planning to take the gold for himself, and on the return journey down the mountains he tries to convince his partner, Steve Judd (McCrea), to join him. For Judd, this assignment, this duty, has helped restore his self-respect. When Westrum asks him if he doesn’t desire more, he responds: “All I want to do is enter my house justified.” Let me do my duty before God and man, let me be faithful to my charge this one last time.
And in the end when Steve Judd is jumped by robbers, Westrum, who had gone on the lam, returns to assist his mortally wounded partner. When Gil pledges to take care of everything just like he would have, Judd says, "Hell, I know that. I always did. You just forgot it for a while, that's all." Judd casts a final look back towards the magnificent high country of the Sierras, as if to look back at a better America, and then dies.
It was 1962, and one month before “Ride he High Country’s” release in theaters General Douglas McArthur had delivered his famous “Duty, Honor, Country” speech to the cadets at West Point: “…those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying point to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn....”
Now, fifty-nine years later, duty has been replaced by the never-ending clamor and incessant demand for “rights”; honor has become an outmoded concept; and the country we once loved has been riven and violently split apart by fanatics who dominate our politics, our schools and colleges, and our entertainment.
The Western as a vehicle of our explaining to ourselves who we were—and “remembering who we are,” to use Bradford’s expression—no longer occupies the didactic role it once did. Boys no longer wish to grow up modeled on a straight-arrow Gene Autry or Hopalong Cassidy; they don’t even know who Autry and Hopalong were. A hero-inspired “code of behavior”? Not in the age of “The Bachelorette” or the barely R-rated movies and TV programs that too many parents allow their children to view these days.
In 1974 the country/Western vocal group, the Statler Brothers, released their single, “Whatever happened to Randolph Scott?” Through its lyrics and music, they expressed the feelings of many Americans:
“Everybody knows when you go to the show
You can't take the kids along
You've gotta read the paper and know the code
Of G, PG and R and X
You gotta know what the movie's about
Before you even go
Tex Ritter's gone and Disney's dead
The screen is filled with sex.
“Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
Ridin' the range alone
Whatever happened to Gene and Tex
And Roy and Rex, the Durango Kid
Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
His horse, plain as can be
Whatever happened to Randolph Scott
Has happened to the best of me.
“Whatever happened to all of these
Has happened to the best of me.”
More recently director Quentin Tarantino, not known for engaging in cinematic nostalgia, examines the virtual disappearance of the classic Western as a theme for his 2019 film, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” which becomes a vehicle to illustrate what was going on in American filmmaking (and in America at large) in the chaotic 1960s. Set in 1969 Hollywood it follows the fading career of once-popular Western star Rick Dalton and his best friend, Cliff Booth, his stunt-double, both of whom are forced to look for lesser roles in an industry that seemed now to shun the kind of good vs. evil oaters that a Randolph Scott or Joel McCrea made between 1930 and 1962. In a real sense the Dalton and Booth characters must navigate a transition period which saw the country itself change radically. Throughout Tarantino employs bits of period nostalgia, from music to iconography, memories of what was being lost.
Yet, the Western has never completely disappeared from the big screen. “Silverado,” “Wyatt Earp,” “Tombstone,” and “Open Range” have illustrated that point. The success of TV’s “Lonesome Dove” proved that there is still life yet in the genre, and the Encore Westerns channel continues to be one of the more popular cable and satellite channels.
Perhaps it is the desire for clear-cut moral choices, the desire to recover some of the certainty that has departed from our culture, which attracts new generations of viewers. Perhaps it is the need to rediscover an American past that, after all, may be partly mythic, but mythic in the very best and most honorable sense of that word. Indeed, did not John Ford in “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” have his newspaper editor tell Jimmy Stewart: “This is the West, Sir; when legend becomes fact, print the legend”?
Perhaps it is the Western’s celebration of American tradition, with its mixture of both truth and myth, which may beckon to a future generation of converts. Despite “cancel culture” and its terrifying destructiveness, those who dare to take a look back at some of the great cinematic works of our past will see a rich artistic patrimony worthy of emulation, with actors who largely believed in the principles their films convey.
And then, like Steve Judd, may it be said of us by those in a saner age: “Hell…You just forgot it for a while, that's all."
[A shorter and slightly edited version of this essay appears in the December 2021 issue of Chronicles magazine, along with other essays on conservatism in the movies.]
One-hundred and three years ago, this day, the Great War—the “War to End All Wars”—World War I—came to a conclusion. An Armistice was signed, but an armistice that in many ways eventually made many of the deaths and sacrifices of millions of young men and their families seem in vain. Most of those valiant “dough boys” did not know it at the time; they fought for country, for patriotism, defending their nation against perceived evils and threats—this was their duty and what they believed.
Many of their political leaders had ulterior, secretive plans to remake Europe and reshape the world—and without doubt, the leaders France, Italy and Britain and the draconian peace they exacted and imposed on the defeated Central Powers helped propel the world headlong towards an even more horrible and momentous conflict two decades later. Yet, in those heady days of November 1918 in Allied capitals there was celebration. In the United States people filled the streets. Contemporary photographs and silent film record the joy and relief: the American nation had been in its first major foreign war—excluding the Spanish American War—since 1848, and it had not only been victorious, but had, arguably, been the deciding factor in that victory.
Ever since that day, November 11, Veterans’ Day—known first as “Armistice Day”—has been a day to honor our veterans and to recall their service. And, in many ways, it is a very personal day for many of us, a day to remember and honor members of our families who went to war, who left wives and children behind, who answered the call—and some who paid the ultimate sacrifice.
No matter whether the war could be “justified” by politicians or if it were for the right reasons, in the end the individual soldier did his duty. He knew that his nation had called, and that as a citizen he must answer that call. When the country demanded his service, he went and he did his very best. He may not have understood all the particular geopolitical ramifications or all the long-range effects of his actions, but he did understand that he was there—wherever “there” was—with his band of brothers, engaged in extreme combat, and that some of his fellow servicemen, perhaps even himself, would not “make it back.” He was serving his country, just as his ancestors for generations had done…and just as those poor Germans, those Russians, those Brits were doing.
Like many of you, I have ancestors who fought in all America’s wars, from the Revolution (with a five greats grandfather, a captain in the Continental Line, who died on a prisoner ship in Charleston harbor in 1780), several who served during the War for Southern Independence (including a great-granddad who survived Gettysburg), a great uncle who was in the US Navy during World War I, and my father who served in the 101st Cavalry and was seriously wounded in the Saar region of Germany in early 1945.
More recently, I honor today a beloved cousin, James Lowell Brake, who served honorably in both Korea and Vietnam. “Jim” married my cousin, and in so many ways, despite their eventual retirement in Newport News, Virginia, three hours distant, they became very dear and close to me. Cousin Jim passed away in 2008, and his wife of fifty-four years, two years ago.
Cousin Jim was one of those soft-spoken veterans who did not boast or talk that much about his service, yet his life and his career were remarkable in so many ways. Originally from the Rocky Mount, North Carolina, area, he remains for me an unsung hero. Here is a portion of his obituary from The Rocky Mount Telegram (February 18, 2008):
“Jim attended Rocky Mount High School and matriculated at North Carolina State University. Upon graduation, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force in June of 1953. One week later, he married the former Barbara Perry of Raleigh, N.C. In September of that same year, Jim was called to active duty. He went on to graduate from Air Command and Staff College in 1965 and Armed Forces Staff College in 1968. He served in Korea and flew during the Vietnam War, where he was a forward air controller and logged 529 combat missions marking targets for the fighters. Jim worked at the Pentagon on the Air Staff for 4 years from 1968-1972. In 1975 he went to Japan as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning and Programming for the Air Forces in North East Asia. He also served on the Japanese Joint Committee. His last assignment was Commander of Pope Air Force Base at Fort Bragg, N.C., where he retired a Colonel. During his long career he received 13 different medals, including the Legion of Merit with one bronze leaf oak cluster and the Air Medal with four silver leaf clusters.”
But this account only begins to tell of a full life well lived. Cousin Jim, after his retirement from the Air Force, served as a substitute math and science teacher and worked at the Virginia State Department of Environmental Health. And for many years he and his loving wife were very active in the local St. John’s Episcopal Church.
When I think of Jim, when I think of my late father and the long list of soldiers on both sides of my family, I wonder what they would think, what they would say, if they were able to return for a fleeting moment and view the American nation of 2021. We honor them today, but we should also ask ourselves how we have received and treated the precious heritage and the legacy they passed on to us.
As boy I remember my grandfather on my mother’s side recounting to me, as if it were yesterday, about Jefferson Davis’s funeral procession down Fayetteville Street in 1893 in Raleigh (on his way to final burial in Richmond); granddad was just sixteen when that happened. And I recall my grandmother on my father’s side, who was born in 1865 (and died in 1962), telling me that as a small girl she remembered a centenarian neighbor who, when he was a boy, had seen George Washington in Charlotte on his great Southern Tour in 1791!
Relative to the history of most European countries or to ancient Rome and Greece, the American republic’s history, our past, is short. It has been 245 years since the Declaration of Independence was signed, and 234 years since the US Constitution became the governing document for thirteen former British colonies. The country established by the Framers incorporated the insights of English law and custom, and was founded on a belief in a just and munificent God who offered both hope and direction to the new commonwealth.
The Framers were both adamant and deeply concerned: for future generations they established what they understood to be a fragile constitutional confederated republic, and, accordingly, they created safeguards and implanted established balances against the growth of an unchecked executive power (or abuse by other branches). Under the 9th and 10th Amendments the respective states and citizens were recognized as depositories of original God-given rights—rights not conceded by the Federal executive, but held directly through tradition and from the Creator.
Our fathers and ancestors fought for that country, for that reality of families and the land they had cleared and planted—for “blood and soil,” and for the local and regional liberties that they had inherited from their ancestors, and for the faith they had received, and, in sum, for the Western and Christian civilization they brought with them to the New World.
When my ancestor Phillip Perry landed in Virginia in 1646 and when my ancestor James Cathey came to Philadelphia in 1717, they brought their families with them, they brought their traditions and customs, their faith. They came for new and fresh lands, to raise their families, not for some nebulous “idea” of “making the world safe for democracy” or for “human rights in South Sudan.” Yes, their offspring would help create a new nation here on this continent, but in many ways what they created was an extension of that European and Christian culture—a culture they did not leave behind when they crossed the Atlantic.
The “American experience” gave that cultural inheritance a tint, certain characteristics, particular American aspects that distinguished us from the countries of old Europe. But from the beginning—from the debates in Philadelphia, from the writings of the Founders and Framers—we were also aware of that historic European legacy and those traditions that so shaped us, even if we progressively transformed them in our own peculiar ways.
Our fathers and forefathers served and fought for those beliefs and those traditions, for that legacy handed down to them, and which they handed down to us. The fetid cultural and political decay we behold around us in 2021 is not what they sacrificed for. They may have given their all and their lives for our right to act stupidly, but that doesn’t mean that they wanted us to act stupidly. They did not fight for “global democracy,” much less for the universal right of same sex marriage or gender fluidity. They went to war for home and state, for family and loved ones, for duty to the country.
That inheritance and our traditions are under attack domestically as never before (save perhaps by the Federal government back in 1861-1865). As we honor our veterans—as I honor my father, my Cousin Jim and my ancestors who are buried in the Carolina soil they cleared, planted, and held so dear, and where they raised their families—we should re-dedicate ourselves and our families not only to their memory, but to their beliefs and to the Old Republic they so loved.
This was previously published on My Corner on Nov 11, 2021.
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all it was completely logical, the inevitable result of the insane “woke” political correctness that has been building and raging, largely unabated, in the United States now for years. Indeed, in my regular columns and essays I have been writing that this insanity, spread and imposed like a highly contagious and fatal infection—far worse than COVID—would not and could not be stemmed by the pitiful half measures of spineless Republicans and of despicably cowardly “conservatives.”
Yet, the news that the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) in Washington, D.C., had begun to re-label the nation’s founding documents, characterizing them as reflecting “racist, sexist, ableist, misogynistic/misogynoir, and xenophobic opinions and attitudes” and being “discriminatory towards or exclud[ing] diverse views on sexuality, gender, religion, and more, ” still caught me off guard.
We are not talking about secondary copies of the US Constitution, Declaration of Independence, or Bill of Rights, those reproductions that you hang on the wall in a school classroom. No, NARA is the official repository of the original documents themselves, of the original copies signed by the Founders and the Framers. It is those priceless and irreplaceable items held by it in trust that the National Archives has decided to label as “outdated, biased, offensive, and possibly violent [in] views and opinions.”
Accordingly, that agency of the federal government has begun to “re-contextualize” its more than 100 million documents based on a report issued by its Task Force on Racism and issued April 20, 2021. That report declared that NARA and its unique collections are shot through with “structural racism,” including “a Rotunda in our flagship building that lauds wealthy White men in the nation’s founding while marginalizing BIPOC [black, indigenous, people of color], women, and other communities.” Additional examples of structural racism at the National Archives include “legacy descriptions that use racial slurs and harmful language to describe BIPOC communities.” The National Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero accepted the commission’s report and recommendations, and immediately began the work “to transform its exhibits, archival information and descriptions, and policies.”
NARA’s catalogue and labeling are being rewritten—“re-imagined” is the currently popular term to describe the historical legerdemain. Everything now, including our founding national documents and symbols, must reflect the new consensus, the new revisionist interpretation of American history and all that which will follow: “equity,” reparations, and the eventual and practical disenfranchisement and replacement of “white America.”
You may have thought the “1619 Project” just an outrageous outlier, a radical and intellectually dishonest attempt to redo and refashion American history to fit an extreme progressivist “woke” reinterpretation of our past. But that project, lauded and praised by the loudest voices in academia and heralded by the media (including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and most broadcast outlets) already possesses and dominates by and large our educational system, our entertainment industry, and, yes, our political discourse. And it was inevitable that it would reach the National Archives and its precious holdings.
The re-imagining of the nation’s foundational documents, then, is entirely logical. It is consistent with “1619,” and reflects the powerful influence such thinking has and exerts over our governing and corporate classes.
But what is truly scandalous, and appalling, about what is occurring is that opposition to this outrage has been largely muted, with very little news of it in the media.
You would think, would you not, after all the hullabaloo about the “1619 Project” and the disgustingly weak and embarrassingly contradictory actions of the University of North Carolina Board of Trustees (majority Republican) regarding the hiring of (and tenure for) the Project’s main author, Nikole Hannah-Jones, as Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism in the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media, that this latest assault on the nation’s historical past and identity would have been met by fierce opposition and an outcry from conservatives?
Yet only forty-four Republican members (no Democrats) in the US House of Representatives sent a protest to National Archivist Ferreiro, as reported by The Federalist. Those lawmakers called on NARA to remove the warnings on this nation’s original documents and cease politicizing them.
Their communication continued:
“We are deeply concerned by the National Archives Record Administration’s ‘harmful content’ warning displayed on the Archives’ cataloged website, including on seminal documents such as the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the U.S. Constitution…”
But where are the other 168 GOP House members? Where is the voice of the Senate Republican Caucus? Of Mitch McConnell? And others?
Certainly, if polled I’m sure they would declare their formal opposition—they may have already done so. But where is their concerted action, other than a few easily forgotten words or fatuous protests?
Over the last few years I have written that the efforts to take down Confederate monuments, most egregiously perhaps the recent disgraceful removal of the Lee Monument in Richmond, were just a first step in a major process of fanatical hatred for and redefinition of American history. It is not only the physical monuments themselves, but what they symbolize, that has to be destroyed and extinguished. And the hysterical campaign to erase those monuments honoring the Confederate dead is just the first part of this effort.
There is a recent documentary, “How the Monuments Came Down,” produced by the Virginia Film Office and widely distributed by PBS which makes this goal crystal clear. Removal of the monuments is only the easiest, hanging fruit, as it were. There is much more to come until, as one of the commentators declares, “we have rooted out entirely white supremacy and systemic racism.”
In their national campaign to erase anything that offends them, the “woke” lunatics have counted upon the benevolence of the establishment Republican Party and very prominent members of what is laughably termed “the conservative movement.” Either by studied inaction or active encouragement, the Rich Lowry types (editor of National Review) and the near-unanimity of the apparatchik pundits on Fox News have cheered on the destruction of Confederate monuments, while simultaneously praising Martin Luther King Jr. as a “true conservative,” despite his embrace of Marxism and a genuinely Communist praxis on various occasions (for example, his address honoring Communist W. E. B. DuBois, February 23, 1968). Their response to the madness griping the nation is to apologize to the Left and whine with a form of virtue signaling: “Look at me! I condemn those Confederate symbols, just like you! Please don’t call me a racist…oh, will you still invite me to one of your swank cocktail parties on New York’s Upper East Side? Please!”
Back on June 16, 2020, I compared the pusillanimous response of our established conservative movement, what my friend Dr. Paul Gottfried calls “Con Inc.,” to a scene in the classic film, “Waterloo” (1970):
“The response of those supposed ‘conservative’ defenders of American traditions to the fanatical tsunami of violent revolutionary lunacy reminds me of the scene in the film “Waterloo” (1970), when an illiterate private in the Duke of Wellington’s army who has engaged in plunder and stolen a young pig, cautions the pig not to squeal, not to alert those around him of his plunder (a capital offense under military rules). ‘Be quiet,’ he tells the pig, ‘and I’ll only eat half of you!’ ”
Whether the craven response by Congress and national conservative leaders, or, more locally, the action of a Republican Gerald Kivett in Sampson County, North Carolina, member of the county commissioners, who made the successful motion to remove the Confederate monument in that largely rural county, it amounts to the same thing: cowardice, the fear of being labeled a racist and perhaps being “cancelled,” hoping to stave off something worse, but at base a lack of conviction and faith.
All the apologies and virtue-signaling of the GOP and ConInc. will not save them or those other symbols of traditional American history. The three-piece suit enablers only encourage the madness, embolden it, and in the end their response, or failure to respond, will not spare them. After Lee, it must be Washington, Jefferson, perhaps changing the name of the US capital? The list of culpables is endless.
The Revolution is not mollified by weakness and groveling. Offering up half a pig will kill the pig, as it will kill what is left of this country.
The Internet and television news are awash in stories about our debacle in Afghanistan. Just yesterday I counted upwards of forty news accounts and reports in my inbox, and they are only the ones I noticed. Among the so-called “conservative” commentariat, Fox News continues to beat the drum of how “America has been unnecessarily defeated and shamed,” and, indeed, somehow if we had just stayed and finished the goal of “nation-building” (militarily and socially), we might have avoided this humiliating and embarrassing disaster.
In other words, despite the past twenty years with boots on the ground and several thousand American lives lost, and over one trillion dollars in American (taxpayer) funding—and nothing accomplished, if only we would have stayed a little longer, everything would have come out right. Thus, a full-fledged liberal democracy, complete with the full panoply of women’s rights, abortion, protection of LGBTX rights and social advancement, same sex marriage for all, immense welfare programs, diversity and equity programs in those to-be-built Afghani schools, the fruits of American television programs like “The Bachelorette” –all that and more, plus the wonders of American-style elections (a model of probity and honesty!), would have transformed that woebegotten country.
How foolish, how fatal!
Our foreign policy elites, the State Department, the Pentagon, and most of our national political class apparently have learned nothing. Not with Vietnam, not with Bosnia, not with Somalia, nor with Iraq, Syria, and now Afghanistan. With each disaster it is simply on to the next involvement, the next venture which puts Americans on the ground, dying in some remote desert or forlorn oasis, with the major corporate suppliers of military hardware and weaponry continuing to amass fortunes, while our boys perish, lose limbs, and suffer conditions that will mark them—and their families—for life. And all in the name of “democracy” and “human rights.”
Since the end of World War II our foreign policy has been dominated by a resolve globally to deter perceived enemies. At first there was some real urgency and rationale for that: we were facing an insatiable and dangerous enemy, Soviet communism. And at times it looked like we might succumb. But after 1991 and the ignominious fall of the Soviets and the advent of a new Russian government intent on recovering its pre-revolutionary traditions and religious heritage, that threat disappeared.
Yet our foreign policy elites, now emboldened by the rise and influence of the Neoconservatives, those former Marxist internationalists who had made the long pilgrimage to the conservative Right, continued to look for ways to assert American hegemony in the world. With a fervor inherited from their days militating as Trotskyites (as many of them had been in the 1930s and ‘40s), the Neocons deployed the linguistic template and ideas associated with “American exceptionalism” to signify the universal superiority of their conception of the American experience over all other cultures. A Neoconservative-favored political thinker Allan Bloom summed this view up succinctly in his The Closing of the American Mind: “And when we Americans speak seriously about politics we mean that our principles of freedom and equality and the rights based on them are rational and everywhere applicable.” Americans must engage in “an educational experiment undertaken to force those who do not accept these principles to do so.”
Thus, each time we fail in a foreign venture, as we have done consistently over the past fifty years, our foreign policy wonks and Neocon experts and publicists push forward: there must be some other backward country that needs American guidance and just maybe some troops on the ground, and millions of dollars of American aid and military equipment?
But the real issues related to Afghanistan, Islam and various remote locations on the map of the world get lost, essentially ignored by Foggy Bottom. And there are indeed major issues and questions that we should examine, especially pertaining to Afghanistan and particularly to the Middle East.
There is a fascinating movie, "Day of the Siege: September 11, 1683," which portrays in some detail the Muslim siege of Vienna in 1683, specifically making reference to the final climactic battle on September 11 (!), when the Polish Lancers of the Christian hero, King Jan Sobieski defeated the forces of Islam. But there is the prophecy of the Muslim Grand Vizier, Kara Mustapha, that even if the Muslims did not take Vienna then, that a future generation would "water their horses in the Tiber River" and "convert Notre Dame Cathedral into a mosque." Is that not happening now? There is a DVD of the movie (also a much longer version). Apparently it is out of print but can be obtained in decent used copies.
I think the essential point here is that unlike the Crusaders and the Christian defenders of Christendom at the Battle of Lepanto or at the two sieges of Vienna, we now face the Islamic threat for the wrong reasons. We seek to impose "liberal democracy" and (secular) "human rights" on essentially primitive countries that are far more in tune with the orthodoxy of Islam than to LGBT rights and women’s "liberation" (which is about all I hear being spouted by the likes of vicious anti-Confederate Brian Kilmeade on Fox).
Instead of crusades for our historic faith and Western Christian civilization, we offer the venomous infection of "American exceptionalism," which is now an olio of the secularist globalist virus which is destroying us here at home.
Thus what we have seen in Kabul, or in Iraq, or in Somalia, or in Bosnia, or in Syria, when our nation has attempted to impose a secularist framework, and is opposed by a concerted and fanatical religious opposition which has popular support.
In effect, we have become an agent of modernist destruction. Oftentimes we may indeed be opposing an evil, but for the wrong reasons, and thus opposing one evil with one, in some ways, even more evil and fearsome.
After World War II we imposed the very worst features of "liberal democracy" on what was left of traditional Europe via the Marshall Plan. Anything that smacked of "traditional" was either disauthorized or discredited (as "fascist" or pro-Nazi). We sent our agents to infiltrate and control new, liberal democratic political parties...and very soon they controlled and dominated Europe. And, yes, we see what the result of that has been. Now we wish to do that in Hungary and Russia.
Cardinal Pedro Segura in Spain, back in 1953, sternly warned General Franco NOT to open the door to "the panoply of novel and noxious American secularist culture"--that Spain would absorb it and eventually "lose its soul." That indeed happened, as I observed first hand while completing my doctoral dissertation in Pamplona (1972-1975). The tawdry worst of America was injected into Spanish society, and eventually it destroyed much of historic Spanish tradition, like a virulent cancer.
And we continue to seek that in regard to Hungary and Russia. Why? Because they limit and prohibit LGBT "human rights" and favor the traditional family over what now prevails here in the USA, that they formally oppose "Coca-Cola Culture." Most establishment conservatives now accept--even defend--same sex marriage and transgenderism (did you see Turning Point USA's Charlie Kirk dancing with a "conservative" drag queen? Fox touts its openly gay and same sex married pundits, such as Guy Benson and Tammy Bruce).
Our conservative and Republican leadership takes pains and great effort to protest how much they love Martin Luther King (and his radical views), the Civil Rights revolution, Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and how much they loathe the “traitors” Robert E. Lee, John C. Calhoun and Nathan Bedford Forrest. Oh, yes, they call a halt when it comes to maybe Washington or Lincoln, but only because they can use them ideologically in their own form of "conservative" progressivism.
So, I am happy we are getting out of Afghanistan; we shouldn't have been there, just like my cousin-by-marriage wondered why we were in Bosnia fighting Christian Serbs, and allied to Muslim extremists in Kosovo. We are either in such places for the wrong reasons, or we are in the wrong places to begin with. Period.
The one thing that is tragic is, of course, the bungling by the Biden administration getting us and our citizens out. That is worthy of sharp criticism. That should make us re-examine our wrongheaded foreign policy of the past 50 or 75 years. But I doubt strongly that it will...as we are no longer a truly Christian nation and our leaders are in no way like King Jan Sobieski or Don Juan of Austria at Lepanto....far from it. How in the hell can we compare a witless Joe Biden or the empty-suit Kamala Harris to them?
Until we have leaders leading a nation committed to our traditional and Christian principles, what happened in Afghanistan will continue to happen.
More likely, what we behold is a continuation of the sputtering end of the "American empire," and, in the long run, maybe that is a good thing?
Growing up in mostly-rural North Carolina, most of my friends and especially their parents could go on a bit about their family backgrounds, about their familial histories. Most of my friends—like me—had great-grandfathers or great-great-grandfathers who had served in Confederate ranks back in 1861-1865. Pride in family and in our ancestors was taken for granted, a devout appreciation we all shared.
Especially during the centennial commemorations of the early 1960s, most of us youngsters took an intense interest in all the various events, the re-enactments on a large scale and the ceremonies attending the anniversary. Our imaginations were filled with stories of heroism, sacrifice, honor, tragic defeat and attendant suffering, unrealized dreams, and legends and traditions passed down to us. Public schools back then actually encouraged this fascination and interest in history and the characters and personalities in it who seemed, almost like magic, to come alive once again.
Indeed, it had been scarcely a decade since the last Confederate veteran had passed away in 1959! Many of us could recall that. And our parents? They had grown up surrounded by the ever-decreasing ranks of those valiant veterans, listening to first-hand accounts of the great and heartbreaking epic that was the War for Southern Independence.
My grandfather on my mother’s side was Henry Johnson Perry. Granddad Perry was born in Raleigh in 1877 and lived until 1962. As a young boy I remember well him recounting to me standing hatless on old Fayetteville Street in North Carolina’s capital on May 30, 1893, a sixteen year old apprentice, dressed all in black, with thousands of other citizens reverently paying tribute to President Jefferson Davis, whose remains were carried by horse-drawn caisson from the railroad station to lie in state under the rotunda of the historic North Carolina State Capitol, en route to his final resting place in Richmond.
Granddad’s father, Josiah Hunter Perry, an official with the old Raleigh & Gaston Railroad, had been forced in April 1865 by General Sherman to conduct him and his staff by rail over to Bennitt Station (now Durham) to receive the surrender of General Joseph Johnston. Waiting for the surrender to occur, he sat under a cherry tree and carved a “peace pipe,” a relic I still have and which continues to remind me of my history and my ancestor.
Granddad’s grand-father, Robert, had served many years in the North Carolina legislature in the 1820s and had married the grand-daughter of Isaac Hunter, the founder of Raleigh. All that family—all that history—danced through my imagination sixty years ago; I could visualize it, I could see it in my mind’s eye. It was real, it was present…and despite the many years that have elapsed, it still is.
Pride in one’s ancestry…pride in what the late Southern writer and historian Mel Bradford termed “remembering who we are”…was integral to defining what we valued and held dear in life. We were intimately related to our ancestors, they were part of us. Their blood coursed through our veins. Their memory was not that far removed. Their examples stood before us as models to emulate, a challenge for us to uphold their honor and their noble efforts to defend home, family, and the rights vouchsafed to them by their fathers and ancestors…who had cobbled together the older American confederation.
In any nation, in any people or civilization worthy of the name, such an appreciation is natural, part of the national and cultural psyche. It is indeed quite normal for a people to recall its past, to celebrate its successes and heroes, to lament its defeats and hardships. These are part and parcel of what define and make us, as Bradford states, “who we are.” Deprive a people of its history, of its traditions, of its inherited culture, and you deprive it of essential ingredients of its very existence. It becomes a mass of rootless individuals, of automatons, subject to the latest whim or the most persistent and enticing siren voice of some powerful ideology or, in modern times, of George Orwell’s Big Brother and its extensive tentacles in and incestuous partnership with the communications industry, education, and the media.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky has one of the three brothers in his novel The Brothers Karamazov declare, “If God does not exist, everything is permitted.” Stripping people of their faith, and then denuding them of the essential characteristics which define them is and has always been the work of Revolutions, whether of the Cromwellian attempt in the 17th century, the fanaticism of a Robespierre in France in the late 18th, or the genocide of the Marxists in Russia and China in the 20th. As now, in our day the lunatics who run our schools and colleges, dominate our entertainment, spout our daily news, and control our politics, whether it be the Democrats or the Republicans, do the same with unalloyed frenzy. They make the spectre of “Big Brother” look like a Sunday school teacher.
My dissertation topic years back at the University of Navarra in Spain, Juan Vazquez de Mella, stated it this way:
“Who has ever seen ‘the individual,’ if not defined by his family, his region, his profession, his language, his inheritance, his faith? Removed from these defining characteristics the individual is an abstraction, and a political system based on an abstraction must either end in despotism or revolution.”
Since the 1980s and ‘90s, we have seen the almost unrestrained and rapacious growth of an eventually fatal cancer within our body politic. Denominated variously as “progressivism,” “neo-“ or “post-Marxism,” and more recently as “anti-racism” or “the movement for equity,” it draws its force intellectually from the concept of the Idea of Progress, that is, that history unfolds irresistibly in one direction—the “progressive” direction—which encompasses the ineluctable advance and triumph of essentially secular and globalist ideas. At base it is egalitarian, and even though it may profess respect for or even belief in God, its cumulative effects are to pervert, weaken and, finally, destroy the natural linkage between man and his Creator. For the progressivist, religion, particularly the Christian religion, becomes just one more obstacle to be tamed, neutralized, and lastly, employed in the advance to a universal secular utopia.
It was not that traditional society was opposed to advances in science or economics; it was not. But such innovations were seen as a natural part of the flourishing of God’s Creation, not opposed to it or superseding it.
The great stratagem of Marx and Lenin and their votaries was to expropriate “progress” and weaponize it: the proletariat, united, under the leadership of the self-anointed heads of the Revolution would lead the “oppressed” to victory, to that utopia where there was no want, no poverty, no sadness, where everyone was equal and happy.
Throughout history different revolutions have shared these characteristics, have made these promises, and each time the result has been a terrible dystopian nightmare.
The full attack in recent years on Southern traditions, identity, and iconography is but a symptom, an element of an all-out assault on Western Christian civilization, its culture, and belief. Prominent members of the official opposition “conservative movement”—a Rich Lowry at National Review, a Brian Kilmeade at Fox News, or a Ben Shapiro, and any number of others—attempt to compartmentalize the ongoing “culture war” by accepting, even applauding the eradication of any visible sign of Confederate and Southern history. But like temporizers in any revolution they fail to understand the futility of their positions, which only abet the appetite of the radicals.
Whether a Kerensky and the Social Revolutionaries who helped usher in Lenin’s rise to power in Russia, or the Girondins who believed they could somehow harness the revolutionary fury in late 18th century France, moderation and attempts to placate the madness and hysteria of revolutionary zealots are doomed to disaster. Half-measures never work.
There is a whimsical episode in the superb historical film, “Waterloo” (1970), which illustrates exactly the position of Establishment Conservatives and their “opposition” to the fanatical tsunami of violent revolution: an illiterate private in the Welsh Guards who has engaged in plunder and stolen a young pig, cautions the pig not to squeal, not to alert those around him of his plunder (a capital offense under military rules). “Be quiet,” he tells the pig, “and I’ll only eat half of you!” Confronted by shrill and seemingly overwhelming demands by a noisy nucleus of woke leftists, authorized conservatives and Republicans respond to the revolutionaries in the same manner: “Only kill us half-way, but please, oh please, don’t call us racists!”
The recent attacks on Southern monuments and symbols, which are essentially an assault on Southern identity, cannot be dissociated from a broader offensive by our modern “progressivists” on Western civilization. To think otherwise is worse than wrongheaded, it is fatal.
In the contemporary South the great success of the revolutionaries has been to atomize much of society, deprive large portions of it, especially the young, of those inherited traditions, those customs, those beliefs—those memories—which have given it substance and continuity, which have served as its shield and buckler. Instead of what Southern writer Richard Weaver called a communitarian “social bond individualism,” life centered around family and church, and indelibly defined by region and custom, progressivism breaks and severs those bonds, isolates individuals, and renders them subject to the social decay and dislocation which an omnipotent managerial state, in league with woke capitalism, utilizes to advance its vision of a future society.
In the past I have urged the termination of the public school system—privatizing education and putting it back in the hands of the parents where it belongs. I have authored several pieces on the possibilities for secession, or, rather, the separation of various American states and counties (perhaps the best and most peaceful means to resolve the irreducible differences within the American citizenry, if it were possible). But more importantly, I have advocated a return, a rededication to those principles and that belief which once motivated and annealed our ancestors. That spirit, that wisdom, that inspiration is there, it is still there for those who seek it. Scraping away the ugly dross of political correctness and “wokeness” we can recover those memories, rekindle them, and draw from them strength.
In his work, Requiem for A Nun (1951), Southern novelist William Faulkner says of his fellow Southerners that for them, “The past is never dead. It's not even past."
One of the most remarkable poems of the 20th century is by the incomparable Southern Agrarian Donald Davidson. Titled “Lee in the Mountains,” it summons us once more to the battle lines and to eventual victory, if we have faith and an unshakeable commitment to our cause. For, in the end, God will not forsake us. We must be like Gideon’s small army and General Forrest’s “critter company.”
Sense the confidence that springs from our Christian faith and which Davidson reminds us of:
Young men, the God of your fathers is a just
And merciful God Who in this blood once shed
On your green altars measures out all days,
And measures out the grace
Whereby alone we live;
And in His might He waits,
Brooding within the certitude of time,
To bring this lost forsaken valor
And the fierce faith undying
And the love quenchless
To flower among the hills to which we cleave,
To fruit upon the mountains whither we flee,
Never forsaking, never denying
His children and His children’s children forever
Unto all generations of the faithful heart.
This piece was previously published on MyCorner on August 13, 2021.
I have a good friend who continually asks me what I think are the prospects for sensible, conservative—that is, normal—folks in these parlous times, what I think will happen to these United States, and particularly, what will happen to the South.
In response to his questioning, I can’t give a satisfactory answer, at least one nicely tied-up and tidy like my friend wants. But one thing on which my friend and I agree: this weary and gravely ailing country we call the United States seems with accelerating velocity and intensity to be hurtling into some form of ignominious and painful expiration. The unbridgeable differences, the divisions, between segments of our population are now far too stark, far too bitter, far too advanced to be papered over by “the next election”—or, by the pipe-dreams that I hear some Republicans and Fox News pundits exude with enthusiasm: “We’ll win back Congress in 2022! And then things will get right again.”
My response to that line of thinking is to remind such optimists that Republicans had control of Congress—and the presidency—for several years, and essentially, despite some line cracks in the Deep State behemoth due to Donald Trump, things continued to get worse, the Managerial government continued to grow in power, and did its best (with many Republicans in tow), eventually successfully, to eject the Trumpster from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. The Administrative elites control education, control immigration policy (with GOP collaboration), control our media and entertainment, and dominate most of the levels of our government; and their reach and control expand by the day.
I believe that assertion is self-evident, but let me offer a few very recent headlines at random to buttress what I’m saying:
Research Journal Publishes Article Calling ‘Whiteness’ a ‘Parasitic-Like Condition’ (June 10, 2021)
White House ‘Domestic Extremism’ Report Puts Target on Democrats’ Political Opponents (June 17, 2021)
The FBI’s Mafia-Style Justice: To Fight Crime, the FBI Sponsors 15 Crimes a Day (June 18, 2021)
What this Professor just Called Proper Grammar is Absolutely Absurd (June 30, 2021)
Yale Professor Wants Your Kid to See Sex at Pride Parades so they’re not ‘Homophobes’ (July 14, 2021)
Med Schools Are Now Denying Biological Sex (July 27, 2021)
‘Complicit’: Meet the 18 Republicans Who Sold Out on Radical Democrat ‘Infrastructure’ Plan Without Reading Bill (July 28, 2021)
Biden Department of Justice Threatens to Sue to Lock In 2020 Election Chaos (July 29, 2021)
And these stories and accounts can be multiplied by the hundreds, by the thousands, at every level of society. Tune in to “Tucker Carlson Tonight” almost any day (the only program I consistently watch on Fox News), and you’ll see what I mean.
They are examples of a pervasive sickness which afflicts large portions of our culture. They are emblematic of profound problems and radically irreconcilable divisions among our population. We all may live in the same geographical entity, but we don’t speak the same language, we don’t share the same beliefs, we don’t think in the same way; one half of us wish to “cancel,” even suppress the other half of us, and to achieve that by any means possible, including violence. Is that any different from the few months in Eastern European countries right after World War II as Communist apparatchiks infiltrated and seized absolute control and authority?
And all the while the official voices of opposition to this madness…the official conservative opposition and most national Republicans…seem like deer caught in the headlights. Irish poet William Butler Yeats’ words resound in my ears:
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst/
Are full of passionate intensity.” (“The Second Coming,” 1919)
In the past when a Southern writer would suggest that some form of secession or separation was desirable, he would be met with ridicule: “The South will rise again? You’ve got to be kidding!”
Now, 160 years after the War Between the States began, such talk of separation is no longer considered the domain of nostalgics or of the Unreconstructed. In recent years we have seen the Calexit movement advocating that left-leaning California leave the American union and assert its independence. A number of conservative counties in eastern Oregon and northern California have officially petitioned to leave those radicalized states and either join Idaho or perhaps form a new state. Academically, Professor Frank H. Buckley (George Mason University) has written a cautionary study on what he calls the “looming threat” of secession.
Over the past few years I have written about some possible scenarios, situations that might actually come to pass. I’ve speculated about secession, or perhaps better expressed, some form of separation of portions of the country—and not just states—into more philosophically and culturally homogeneous entities.
I’ve written about this several times, most notably in The Abbeville Institute (August 2, 2019, “Is It Time for America to Break Apart?” and also on August 19, 2019, “Is Political Separation in Our Future?”). Indeed, I also tackled the topic in The Unz Review (July 26, 2019), with the essay picked up by the widely-read LewRockwell.com site (July 29, 2019).
I have suggested that some form of separation, including possibly large amounts of autonomy for counties within certain states might be the least painful, the least violent means of resolving our unsolvable divisions. Yet, does anyone believe that our centralized and centralizing federal government in Washington, with its tentacles now extending dictatorially into every aspect of our lives, would let this occur peacefully? Would not federal troops be dispatched by Washington that would make Abraham Lincoln’s suppression of the constitutional right to habeas corpus or Eisenhower’s intervention in Little Rock, Arkansas, look like child’s play?
In the past one-hundred years, when civil society and its institutions around the world have broken down or Marxist revolutionaries have threatened to take control, it has been the armed forces that have traditionally stepped in to restore order and some semblance of (anti-Marxist) normalcy. Thus, General Augusto Pinochet led the Chilean army in a 1973 coup to topple the impending Communist take-over by President Salvador Allende and restore order in that country. And in July 1936 General Francisco Franco led a coalition of traditionalist Carlists, conservatives, and the Church to overthrow the violently anticlerical and Marxist Spanish republic (unfortunately, he did not follow through to establish a traditional monarchy after his coup).
But in America today our armed forces, since at least the Obama years, have been coopted by the political left. Army top brass now echo the “woke-speak” of Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer. General Mark Milley, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, accuses former President Trump of fomenting a “Reichstag moment” and compares him to Adolf Hitler, while assisting to implement mandatory Critical Race Theory programs in the armed forces. And Milley is far from being alone, as author Lt. Colonel Matthew Lohmeir has recently documented in his study, Irresistible Revolution: Marxism’s Goal of Conquest & the Unmaking of the American Military. In any major civil conflict, very probably the armed forces would be an instrument of the Deep State.
Where does that leave us? Are we indeed destined to live under a post- or neo-Marxist authoritarian dictatorship that would make the older Soviet Communists envious?
My friend and internationally-recognized political theorist and historian, Paul Gottfried (editor of Chronicles magazine) has speculated on one possible scenario, one possibility that could occur. Revolutionary regimes that come to power often “devour their children,” that is, the various elements that seem to triumph have a falling out and begin to fight among themselves over direction and the spoils. Thus, it was in Republican Spain during the Civil War when the Communists suppressed the large Anarchist component (the FAI) in their revolutionary coalition, imprisoning and executing thousands of them. And who can forget the purges unleashed by Lenin and then by Stalin in the Soviet Union on those dissidents who had earlier supported the Revolution?
Within the dominant Democratic Party and its supporters definable factions exist. Joe Biden attempts to placate them. But the question should be asked: How far will the Establishment Managerial Elite be prepared to go before it must deal with its more recalcitrant elements…or will those elements become dominant and force “woke” corporate America to fully give way and accept in reality as well as in theory their nostrums? Will there be violence on a large scale?
And, following Dr. Gottfried’s model, would there be enough of us to pick up the pieces in such a conflict…and would we be prepared?
When I studied in Spain my doctoral subject was the Spanish traditionalist Carlist philosopher and political leader, Juan Vazquez de Mella. During his lifetime in the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth, the traditionalist movement he represented and defended both in his writings and verbally in the Spanish parliament (the Cortes) had been essentially sidelined, defeated earlier in three brutal civil wars, wracked by internal division, and reduced to its strongholds in Navarra, parts of Aragon and Catalonia. Surveying the political landscape circa 1920 hardly anyone expressed optimism, practically-speaking, for its rebirth or revitalization.
But Mella viewed events and history in a different manner. Over his long career he developed a theory of “catastrophism,” which, briefly, suggested that the liberal revolution of the late eighteenth century in thinking and the capitalist revolution of the nineteenth century in economics, would inevitably destroy the older, natural social order. These revolutions would lead inexorably to socialist and Marxist revolutions: to cataclysm, war, and human destruction on a vast and previously unknown scale. After which, those–the remnant—who had continued faithful, who had continued to maintain the Virtue of Hope and a belief in Providence, throughout, would finally triumph. Had it not been so with the early Christians, secreted away in catacombs and at times subject to fierce persecution? Yet, with perseverance and faith they had triumphed.
I am put in mind of Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s poem, “Ulysses,” when Odysseus summons his followers and exhorts them:
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
This was President Jefferson Davis’ confidence and hope, as it must assuredly be ours in this modern vale of despair: “Truth crushed to earth is truth still and like a seed will rise again.”
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.