Today, December 19, 2019, the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives will vote to approve Articles of Impeachment against President Donald Trump and agree to send them to the U. S. Senate. It will be only the third formal impeachment of a president in American history—the other two being that of President Andrew Johnson in the post-war 1860s and of President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s.
As everyone knows by now, the Senate will, after the formality of most likely a brief trial, vote down the two articles, and that will be that.
Or, will it?
Given that almost certain outcome, why, then, have the frenzied denizens of the Left proceeded in this manner, knowing the outcome?
The answers—there are various—have already been widely given, and the major ones are: 1) extreme pressure from the hysterical “social justice warrior” foot soldier base of the Democratic Party which continues to grow in strength and threaten incumbents who do not toe the line; 2) demands by the powerful Mainstream Media, whose ranks are now cluttered by zealously indoctrinated former journalism students whose thinking and outlook were formed in our universities by their teachers—I should say “polluted” by our post-Marxist academic oligarchs (AKA professors); and 3) the certain political use of the issue in the upcoming 2020 election.
Of course, the overarching rubric for all of this is an unrestrained and all-consuming hatred for Donald Trump (and his voters), and the concomitant desire, at all cost and by whatever means, to expel him from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. No measure, no tactic, no weapon is out of bounds, and that includes what in effect is the virtual destruction of what is left of the American Constitution, itself.
President Trump, for all his foibles and U-turns, despite some misfires in foreign policy, and despite his major mistake of placing in positions of power around him those—including Republican hacks and those whose loyalty is dubious at best—who wish him to fail and wish him harm…despite that, he has done an immense service to the creaky old American republic. He has pulled the mask off of the “Deep State” administrative and managerial bureaucratic Establishment which has basically governed this country as its own private fiefdom for decades, with utter disdain and condescension for the rest of us…for us “deplorables” and “irredeemables,” to use Hillary Clinton’s oft-quoted language.
In certain ways, President Trump is not the real target here. His role has been far more symbolic and emblematic of something going on, something far more fearful to the elites so accustomed to running this country. It is something that he may be only vaguely aware of; and it is happening not just in the weary old United States, but also in Europe, in Brazil, and elsewhere. It is the rise of a popular reaction—a populist conservatism which rejects both the dominant establishment Left and the “don’t-rock-the-boat” establishment conservative movement (and Republican Party). It is, to paraphrase Gilbert & Sullivan, the rejection of the “tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum” of our politics, and the realization, perhaps only vaguely, that the historic liberties and traditions, the historic moral codes of behavior, and the traditional beliefs upon which our civilization is based have been progressively perverted and decimated by a century of constant and ongoing revolution from the top, extended into every aspect of our lives.
Too many of our fellow citizens believe that all we have to do is tune into Fox News or vote for the GOP candidate to staunch and halt the Revolution. That is not sufficient; in fact, in some cases such devotion only abets and enables the forces of Revolution, as too many newscasters and pundits at Fox and too many Republican politicians are too deeply invested in the Neoconservative wing of the Deep State. Of course, there are exceptions, with Tucker Carlson, in some cases, as it were, getting “outside the box” and speaking truth to power. But even he must mind his “p’s and q’s.”
Thus, “the man with the orange hair” has to be stopped, not so much because of who he is, but because of the extreme danger he symbolizes and means for the future of what can only be called the increasingly totalitarian globalist template. And that template is a dystopian nightmare far more demonic than anything George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four) or Arthur Koestler (Darkness At Noon) ever contemplated in their literary works. Or, by Russian film director Nikita Mikhalkov in his chilling cinematic masterpiece about the insanity of Stalinism, Burnt by the Sun (1994).
At base, then, this is what this charade called an impeachment is all about. It is an effort not just against Donald Trump, but against any and everyone who voted for him, against all of those who dissent from the ongoing policies of and control by the Deep State, all those who have realized or begun to realize that what we stare in the face is not the corpulent mass of evil flesh that goes by the name of Jerry Nadler or the beady-eyed evil of an Adam Schiff, but a “rough beast” (to use William Butler Yeats’ term) of satanic proportions, intent on our extinction, and the enthronement of a new false god of Baal, what the late Dr. Sam Francis called the Leviathan—a totalitarian world government, more fierce than anything envisaged by Stalin or Mao, without liberties, without tradition, with morality…and without God.
Yesterday, President Trump sent a fierce, passionate letter regarding impeachment to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. In some respects it was one of the finest things he’s ever written (or said). It went beyond his own case, the present political sham, and touched upon issues which profoundly affect the very foundations of our republic. In reading it and re-reading it, it is possible to see the real constitutional and legal issues, the political chicanery, and, yes, the actual threats to what remains of our liberties vouchsafed to us by the Framers and assaulted massively in 1861-1865, and diminished even more since then.
This article was previously published at MyCorner on December 19, 2019.
Early this past summer the historic Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, near the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, closed its doors for good. The church, the second oldest in Mecklenburg County, having been founded in 1760—nearly 259 years ago—by hardy Scots settlers to the region, merged with another Presbyterian Church in the area, Pleasant Hill. The classic 1889 Gothic-revival style brick structure was abandoned, purchased by nearby expanding Charlotte Douglas International Airport.
As late as the early 1970s Steele Creek counted 1,000 members, but the encroaching airport and the constant deafening roar of supersonic jets every moment of the day speeding off to Munich, London, Latin America and all points in between, plus the precipitous decline in the Presbyterian Church USA, which has gone the way of all mainstream Protestant denominations and embraced the liberal social gospel, had brought the membership down to around 350, many of them adults who held on to the memory of a Presbyterianism that once boasted of a Reverend Robert Lewis Dabney…but now could only grasp for scraps from a barren progressivist table.
Next to the historic 1889 building is the Steele Creek Cemetery, one of the more historic burial grounds in Piedmont North Carolina, holding over 1,700 graves, the earliest from 1763, twelve years before the onset of the Revolutionary War [See: The History of Steele Creek Presbyterian Church, 1745-1978; Third Edition, Charlotte, 1978]
In that cemetery are laid veterans of every conflict and war that the American nation has engaged in: those who served during the Revolution when the then-tiny hamlet of Charlotte served as an unwelcoming “hornet’s nest” for General Lord Cornwallis; a few who went off later to fight in Mexico or against Britain again in the early Nineteenth Century; many more who joined Confederate ranks to defend the independence and rights of North Carolina in 1861-1865; then, others who fought in the great world wars and conflicts since then. But there are others, also: husbands and wives, and children, of those who had formed up until recently a close-knit, church-oriented farming community like many spread over the Tar Heel State and the South.
Since 1777 over sixty members of my father’s family have been buried in Steele Creek’s sacred ground. Six of them are direct ancestors, including my grandfather and grandmother Cathey, my War Between the States great-grandfather, Henry Cathey (of the 13th North Carolina Regiment), and my eight-greats grandmother, Jean, who was born in County Monaghan, Ulster, in 1692, a descendant of Scots who migrated there from Ayrshire in the early 1600s. As a young boy I recall vividly attending the funeral of my grandfather, Charlton Graham Cathey (1958), in the old sanctuary and the impressive minister Reverend John McAlpine who comforted my grandmother who would pass on four years later in 1962, aged nearly 98.
Those events remain engraved in my memory, even to the point of recalling the hymns sung at granddad’s funeral—“How Firm a Foundation” and “Blessed Assurance,” two of his favorites.
But most of all, I remember that remarkable church, its strong and impressive brick structure, that aura associated with and radiated by it, which deeply connected it to the history of old Mecklenburg County, to North Carolina, and to the land and families who settled nearby, and for which it was the center of their lives for generations.
The cemetery remains in church hands, despite the shrinking congregation having departed. It is too historic, so despite some earlier efforts by the airport authority to have the graves moved, it will remain where it is for the foreseeable future. But the old 1889 structure, its brick walls and interior now silent, is deserted, owned by the airport, serving only as a disappearing memory for those who care to recall what it once meant to so many.
If we compare modern million-person Charlotte and its international airport to the history-haunted walls and ancient graveyard of Steele Creek, we are reminded of what has been lost. For in the bustle of the metropolis and the incessant noise of the jets zooming off to Europe or perhaps to Cancun, there is little memory of who we were as a people, little connection to our rich historic culture. Our modern society is hypnotized by machines, including the most impersonal and inhuman technology, and it has little room for Steele Creek and what it represents.
In the late 1950s, Charlotte, “the Queen City” that I remember as a boy, was where older families yet predominated, where my father’s people were neighbors to the families of Billy Graham and Randolph Scott, where folks could recall the area’s history. Charlotte and Mecklenburg County were still linked strongly to their traditions. Now Charlotte rivals Atlanta as a mega-metropolis, and a soul-less anthill of business, banking and international commerce, with little room for heritage, except as a veneer to attract an occasional tourist not going to a Carolina Panthers game or to some big event at the coliseum.
I forget who said it—perhaps Faulkner, maybe Louis Rubin, I cannot remember—but that if he had known what Atlanta would become today, then he would wish that Sherman had torched it more thoroughly. Given what Charlotte has become, perhaps the same sentiment might be expressed?
The last major portions of farmland out near the Catawba River that had belonged to my dad’s family since 1750 are now sold to developers and strip malls. The pre-Revolutionary War house that my father was born in back in 1908 (the last of his family to do so) is now, thankfully, preserved at the Historic Latta Plantation. But the whole region has changed radically, altered and almost unrecognizable and discordant to my memories of sixty years ago. Hundreds of thousands of transplants (mainly from up North) now make Charlotte and its suburbs home and live—if you wish to call it that—the frenzied life of our tawdry, commercialized age.
I am put in mind of the great Southern Regionalist writer, Donald Davidson, in his epic poem, “The Tall Men”:
There are remnants of the old culture that survive, a few, but they are fast being overtaken by a triumphant “Yankee” culture which Robert Lewis Dabney warned about 140 years ago, the fear that we would, as he said, become like our conquerors of 1865. Dabney, the Old Light Presbyterian divine that he was, declared that his role was like that of Cassandra at Troy, to prophesy and speak truth, but not to be believed until too late.
My mentor Russell Kirk once told me while we were discussing the old South and the changes being inflicted on her from both without and within that “it is hard to love the gasoline station where the honeysuckle used to grow.”
Steele Creek Church and its cemetery remind us who we are and who we have been. Despite being passed by and deserted, those grave stones cry out to those who would listen and take heed.
Perhaps, then, for those who do, our watchword could be from Spanish philosopher, Miguel de Unamuno in his volume, The Tragic Sense of Life: “Our life is a hope which is continually converting itself into memory and memory in its turn begets hope.”
Is this not, then, our challenge, to keep both memory and hope alive?
Many present-day Southerners—indeed, many of those Americans who call themselves “conservatives”—find it difficult to envisage a time when Southern and Confederate traditions (not to mention noble Confederate veterans like “Stonewall” Jackson and Robert E. Lee) were acknowledged with honor and great respect. Today it would seem so-called “conservative media” (in particular Fox News and the radio talksters) and Republican politicians would rather praise “Father” Abraham Lincoln or the radical black Abolitionist, Frederick Douglass (whose extra-marital liaison with German-born socialist and feminist Ottilie Assing certainly influenced him and should raise eyebrows among contemporary conservatives, but seldom does). These and other revolutionary zealots have been incorporated into the pantheon of “great conservative minds,” dislodging such figures as Jefferson Davis, John C. Calhoun and John Randolph of Roanoke, all of whom possessed towering intellects and an acute understanding of the history and nature of the American republic which Lincoln, Douglass, and those like them lacked.
It is far too common in 2019 to witness the historical ignorance of a Dinesh D’Souza or the meandering narration of a Brian Kilmeade in the godawful Fox series, “Legends & Lies: The Civil War,” in which he accuses the South of “attempting to rewrite history by denying slavery was the root cause of the Civil War,” and parrots the far Left template on racism.
And what of distinguished Southern writers who defend the South like historians Drs. Clyde Wilson or Brion McClanahan? Or literary luminaries such as James E. Kibler? Or Emory University scholar Don Livingston? When was the last time you saw their byline in the current, Neoconservative-edited National Review, once the “conservative magazine of record” in the land? They are, to use a Stalinist metaphor, “non-persons” among establishment conservatives and the contemporary “conservative movement.” One must not, under any circumstance, mention their names among Neocon intelligentsia circles, lest suspicions of “racism” or “Neo-Confederate tendencies” be exposed.
Perhaps the worst event symbolizing this exile was the unceremonious expulsion—the political defenestration—of arguably the South’s greatest essayist and author of the last quarter of the Twentieth Century, the late Mel Bradford. Tapped originally in 1981 to be President Ronald’s chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Bradford was a staunch defender of the original American Constitution, an acerbic and powerful critic of Lincoln and his legacy—and a defender of the South. According to chronicler David Gordon: "Bradford rejected Lincoln because he saw him as a revolutionary, intent on replacing the American Republic established by the Constitution with a centralized and leveling despotism."
Although supported by such notable figures as Russell Kirk, Jeffrey Hart, Peter Stanlis, and Jesse Helms, Bradford was forced to experience an ugly, defamatory and underhanded campaign by the Neocons George Will, the Kristols pere et fils, and others to halt his nomination, in favor of Democrat Neocon, William Bennett. And, tasting blood, the new rulers of the conservative movement were successful.
Yet, it was not always so. A half-century ago Southern writers of distinction, defenders of our traditions and heritage, including of our revered historical figures and champions of the Confederacy, were welcomed in national conservative publications like National Review. And in Russell Kirk’s scholarly quarterly Modern Age, that acknowledged “father of the conservative revival” of the earlier 1950s, dedicated an entire issue to the South and a defense of its traditions, including its Confederate history. Kirk had authored what became in a sense the “Bible” of that revival, The Conservative Mind (1953), and his words carried tremendous weight. That he would publish a whole issue celebrating the history and essential role of the South in America [Modern Age, Fall 1958], right on the cusp of the radical “civil rights” movement of the 1960s, almost in defiance of it, was a measure of the importance older conservatives attached to the Southland and their embrace of Southern traditionalists.
In the prefatory essay to that issue, “Norms, Conventions and the South,” Kirk authored, as only he could, a stirring and profound defense of the traditional South, its virtues, and its critical significance in the survival of the American confederation. In it he declares that the South represents “Permanence”—the “permanent things,” the norms and conventions handed down for generations which moor and have stabilized the American Republic, and without which the country would be adrift and subject to demagoguery, decay and dissolution.
But Kirk also—sixty-one years ago—had a warning and an admonition for Southerners:
How much longer the South will fulfill this function, I do not venture to predict here. I am aware of all those powerful influences, material and intellectual, which are changing the South today. It may be that the South, in the end, will be made homogeneous with all the rest of the nation, and that its peculiar role as conservator of norm and convention will be terminated. But if this comes to pass, the South will have ceased to exist: it will have lost its genius.
What would Kirk, “the Sage of Mecosta,” that superb word-smith and Olympian man-of-letters say today he if were to return to our Southland? What verdict would he cast on those guardians of our heritage and our inheritance…and the actions we and our fathers have taken, or not taken, during the past six decades? How would Kirk—who saw before he passed away in 1994 the poisonous infection of the Neoconservatives—evaluate the willingness of far too many Southern “conservatives” to forego serious investigation into and defense of their history and accept the “mess of stale porridge” offered up by a Brian Kilmeade, or a Dinesh D’Souza, or a Senator Lindsey Graham?
In his essay Kirk employs the great Virginian John Randolph of Roanoke to bring home his message:
…John Randolph is the most interesting man in American political history, his wisdom and eloquence curiously intertwined with vituperation, duels, brandy, agriculture, solitude, and tragedy. Through Calhoun, [Langdon] Cheves, and many others, Randolph’s opinions were stamped indelibly upon the South…. A fervent Christian, a champion of tradition, the principal American expounder of Burke’s conservative politics, Randolph of Roanoke abided by enduring standards in defiance of power, popularity, and the intellectual climate of opinion of his era.
In his oratory in the U.S. Congress and his eloquent speeches to his constituents in Southside Virginia, Kirk continues, Randolph explained that,
There are certain great principles…which we ignore only at our extreme peril; and if those principles are flouted long enough, private character and the social order sink beyond restoration. In this, as in much else, Randolph was the exemplar of the Southern society. For the South has long been the Permanence of the American nation. Strongly attached to Christian belief, bound up with the land and the agricultural interest, skeptical of the visions of Progress and human perfectibility, imbued with the tragic sense of life, the South has not been ashamed to defend convention and continuity in this great, swelling, confusing Republic: to abide by ancient norms of private and public life. The problem of the races informed Southerners that society’s tribulations are not susceptible of simple abstract remedy; the rural life kept the South aware of the vanity of human wishes, the existence of Providential purpose, and the immortal contract of eternal society; the political and literary traditions of the Southern states endured little altered by the nineteenth- and twentieth-century passion for innovation. Military valor, courtesy toward women, and the pieties of community, home, and family persisted in the South despite defeat and poverty and the intellectual ascendancy of the North. So it is that in our time of troubles the South has something to teach the modern world.
And this recognition extended throughout Southern culture, and most especially in the richness and profundity of Southern literature:
…Southern writers still recognize those enduring elements of human nature, including the splendor and tragedy of human existence that are the stuff of which great poetry and prose are made. Belief in normality, and defense of convention, have not lain like lead upon Southern thought and life; on the contrary, these have been the foundations of Southern achievement….In its taste for imaginative literature, similarly, the South has chosen for its favorite authors the champions of norm and convention…. [and] a spirit of courage, of chivalry, of loyalty, an expression of ancient truths, that was congenial to their instincts.
For those on the Left, for those Dr. Kirk calls “doctrinaire liberals, the zealots for Progress and Uniformity,” the South continues to represent all of the worst and most hated aspects in American history: racism, slavery, misogyny, white supremacy, religious fundamentalism and bigotry. But, as Kirk explains, that hostility is rooted in a deeper prejudice that “the South still stands resolute in defense of norms and conventions. To the ritualistic liberal, the South is what [George] Santayana called ‘the voice of a forlorn and dispossessed orthodoxy,’ rudely breaking in upon the equalitarian dreams and terrestrial-paradise schemes.” It is the Left’s own form of poorly concealed bigotry.
For the contemporary post-Marxist revolutionary Millennial, the fanatical indoctrinated student brandishing a “Black Lives Matter” placard, the loony feminist demanding an end to masculine oppression, and the LGBT zealot pushing transgenderism, the South and its traditions are major impediments to the realization of a dreamed of Utopia that is in reality a dystopian nightmare far worse than any vision ever entertained by Comrade Stalin or Chairman Mao.
The convictions and customs of the South perpetually irritate the radical reformer, who is impatient to sweep away every obstacle to the coming of his standardized, regulated, mechanized, unified world, purged of faith, variety, and ancient longings. Permanence he cannot abide; and the South is Permanence. He hungers after a state like a tapioca-pudding, composed of so many identical globules of other-directed men….he flail[s] against the champions of norm and convention, endeavoring in the heat of his assault to forget the disquieting voice of a forlorn and dispossessed orthodoxy that prophesies disaster for men who would be as gods.
And in one of those memorable passages for which Russell Kirk is remembered and celebrated, he closes his essay in striking form—a remarkable tribute to the traditional South, its heritage, and its pivotal role in the creation and sustaining of an America which seems to be passing away now before our eyes:
My argument is this. Without an apprehension of norms, there is no living in society or out of it. Without sound conventions, the civil social order dissolves. Without the South to act as its Permanence, the American Republic would be perilously out of joint. And the South need feel no shame for its defense of beliefs that were not concocted yesterday.
So, I repeat my question: What would that Northern champion of the South and its role of Permanence in our confederation say today? Can that South that Russell Kirk so lauded and defended survive, even in our dark times? And what is our obligation, our solemn obligation to our native land, to our ancestors, and to those who follow us?
In the midst of the present grotesque attempt by the Deep State managerial class to overthrow a president and negate the results of the 2016 elections, some writers and commentators have reached back into American history for precedents. Indeed, there have been instances when one branch of the American government attempted to overawe, subvert, and even displace another branch, and essentially to destroy the precarious balance of powers established in the Constitution.
But the present “silent coup,” with all its zealotry, its prevarication and madness, is unique and unparalleled in many ways. In particular, there is an incredible fanaticism in the present effort to unseat a duly elected president not seen in the United States for well over at least a century, to, as it were, “put the [Trump-inspired] genie that threatens the managerial elites back in the lamp.” Not even during the Clinton impeachment hearings, nor the Watergate crisis—not during the raucous debates over the Vietnam War nor the potential for revolution during the Great Depression—have we witnessed the specter of perhaps one-third, maybe more, of our population wallowing in the real, palpable and often violent lunacy that we see currently.
This state of affairs did not simply spring up like the Greek goddess Athena, from “Zeus’s head, full-grown and clothed in armor.” Those we behold today arrayed against us, those we confront who call themselves variously “progressivists,” “democratic socialists,” “anti-racists,” and so forth, have been carefully groomed and incubated over decades by a pervasively noxious environment. They are the products of an educational system which is rotten through-and-through (especially in higher education), they experience conditioning daily from large and constant doses of media and entertainment which are ideologically driven and geared to support the template, and they live in a poisonous society which confirms and ratifies the views and ideas that have been instilled in them.
At the base of this ongoing process is the triumphant “Idea of Progress” and the identification by the Progressivists with it. It is they, and in particular their academic minions and educators, who have made their causes synonymous with an inevitable and ineluctable “progress.” Anyone opposing their designs and programs is labeled anti-progressive, reactionary, bigoted, and worse. Thus, for the history of the United States (and even before its establishment) there has been a constant struggle between the “forces of reaction” (read here: “Southern slave-holders,” “anti-feminists,” “racists,” “white supremacists,” “male chauvinists,” “anti-gay Christians,” and so on) who have stood in the way of inevitable “Progress,” and those “on the [right] side of history” who represent enlightenment and freedom.
Recently (August 10), The New York Times began its expansive and ongoing 1619 Project to coincide with 400th anniversary of the introduction of slavery into the American colonies. With a long range goal of completely revising American history and the Founding, the Times and its stable of historians asserted that real American history must be reconfigured to date from the as yet unexpiated sin of slavery.
The cornerstone of this never-ending Progressivist movement is the magic talisman: egalitarianism. For that, Progressivists cry in loud voice and demand that the “oppressed” receive complete and full “equality.”
Far too many times so-called conservatives and Republicans, and certainly “Movement Conservatives,” buy into this template and join this narrative, and by accepting its fundamental premises and parameters they inevitably lose any debate, and remain, as the Seventeenth Century English essayist Sir Thomas Browne wrote, “prisoners of the errors to which they proclaim their opposition.”
This is particularly true of those denominated “Neoconservatives,” whose genealogy draws heavily from their intellectual history and foundations over on the progressivist Left. During the late 1950s, 1960s and into the 1980s the Neocons, largely but certainly not entirely consisting of socialist and Marxist Jewish intellectuals centered around New York and a few other large Eastern cities, began moving “right.” In part, it was an opposition to Stalinism and Soviet Communism (and the perceived persecution of Russian Jews) that steered important thinkers like former socialists Norman Podhoretz and Irving Kristol into the ranks of the Conservative movement—and their votaries into the Republican Party. But though they brought their fierce and at times acute critique of Communism with them, they did not relinquish their philosophical commitment to the same “Idea of Progress” which remained at the heart of their belief system and praxis.
Accordingly, American history had to be re-written and re-interpreted ex post facto to be consistent with the narrative of a struggle between the “reactionaries” and those epigones of always-expanding equality and democracy (including in foreign policy). In so doing, the Neocons implicitly accepted the terms of debate, in many cases the very same terminology, as their supposed opponents over on the further Left. And, like those Progressivists, they brought with them an implacable hostility to the Confederate South and its traditions which they considered irredeemably “racist” and bigoted.
Unlike many older conservative writers (e.g. the late Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver) now the Union cause, 1861-1865, and Abraham Lincoln were incorporated as Icons in the new Pantheon of (revised) American Conservatism. The Confederacy—John C. Calhoun and John Randolph of Roanoke (who had been featured in Kirk’s monumental Conservative Mind as a pivotal conservative thinkers)—the superb Southern Agrarian writers—and the brilliant Mel Bradford were exiled, expelled from the “movement.” Just as with the more extreme Left, the Neocons embraced the “Idea of Progress” template and an egalitarian narrative in which there was no room for dissent…even if the entire American founding had to be “re-interpreted” to somehow make it agree with their views.
Thus, Fox News’s Brian Kilmeade’s 2018 mini-series, “Legends & Lies: The Civil War,” in which he canonized “Saint” Abraham Lincoln, who “end[ed] the immoral institution of slavery in America,” while he condemned the “defeated South’s attempts to rewrite history by denying slavery was the root cause of the Civil War.”
Or, the specter of former George W. Bush adviser Karl Rove declaring that his favorite historian of the War Between the States and slavery is the Communist historian Eric Foner. Although they may disagree vociferously over how much change or what kind of change is needed, or who should be president or what laws should be enacted, their agreement historically, on the reading of American history, should be extremely troubling—and revealing—for conservatives.
Is it likely that such leaders of the current “Conservative Movement”—who share so much in common with their supposed enemies—can mount a vigorous defense of President Trump? Indeed, where are the Republican opponents of the current farce parading before us: secret Congressional “star chamber” hearings, brazen connivance by the media (including at times Fox News), faked stories, manipulated headlines, items taken out of context or suppressed….? Will they—can they—stand up to the enemies of the Constitution, the Inside-the-Beltway Establishment to which far too many of them belong?
That remains to be seen.
White Southerners, and Americans in general, are by now accustomed to hearing and seeing screeds issued by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), often quoted by the media as serious news, about how “racist” they are. Despite mounting evidence—now detailed in such journals as The New Yorker—that the SPLC is mostly a giant money-making con operation which uses accusations of “hate” as its vehicle for financial gain, it continues to enjoy an undeserved reputation for revealing “the dark underside of bigotry” that, according to them, appears to be rampant almost everywhere.
But right behind them in the quest to expose the evil souls of our fellow citizens is another professional “hate-monitoring” organization, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B’nai B’rith. And just recently, the ADL came out with its latest list of “35 hate” symbols and hand signs which must be banned from public use. Ostensibly founded as a “watch-dog” organization to surveil against anti-semitism and anti-semitic behavior, the ADL has become, like the SPLC, little more than a strident, far Left voice for suppression and limitation of free speech.
But even its latest list, rather what is included on that list, caught many observers off guard. In addition to the expected enumeration of pro-Nazi and white supremacist symbols, tattoos, and hand signs, the ADL includes the “okay” hand sign as racist and, thus, verboten.
That is, the traditional “okay” sign, usually made with the thumb and index finger, is dangerously racist, a diabolical signal by one racist to other racists expressing agreement and unity, possibly implying terrible violence against innocent minorities, specifically black folk, Hispanics, and perhaps Jews, as well. Oh, the horror of it all!
Think I’m unserious? The Washington Post (September 26) published a long article on the subject, with a straight journalistic face. And the seriousness of this latest advance of the fanatical left—the lunatic hysteria associated with its advancing agenda—is completely apparent. In addition, the ADL added what it called the “Dylann Roof bowl haircut” and “men with moon shaped heads” to its monitored list.
You see, according to the Post, the “okay” sign apparently is used by Trump supporters who “use the gesture primarily to ‘trigger’ liberals who believe the hand sign serves as a decoder ring to detect secret Nazis.” [I’m not making this up.]
“That was what the OK symbol was literally invented to do: Both serve as a white supremacist symbol and also one that is just ordinary-enough looking that when liberals expressed outrage, the white supremacist could play the victim of liberal hysteria,” Amanda Marcotte, a politics writer for Salon, wrote on Twitter in September 2018.
But it gets worse, as the Post relates:
Prominent figures and private citizens alike have made headlines for making the “okay” gesture in public. Critics accused Republican operative Zina Bash of making the symbol for white power last year when she made the ‘okay’ sign at Brett M. Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing. A spokesperson for the Senate Judiciary Committee said at the time that Bash was aiming the sign at a staffer who fulfilled a request for the judge — an explanation that aligned with video of the hearing in which Bash is visible.
Not too long ago in this country such accusations would have been seen as exactly what they are: sheer madness, lunacy on public parade. But, no longer; now they pass for solemn mainstream warnings, dire exclamations, very grave and serious charges hurled with furrowed brow against anyone who in any manner should stand in the way of the onrushing wild-eyed progressivist agenda.
And that agenda must not be opposed, for if you do, even in the slightest…and if you make the “okay” sign…why, then, you are positively evil, probably a Nazi, maybe just like Dylann Roof with the bowl haircut. You may call yourself a “conservative” and register Republican, but never fear, the ADL (and SPLC) and The Washington Post (and other mainstream media) have got you all figured out. Unless you recant and recant publicly and profusely like most public figures who forty years ago may have told a non-PC joke or uttered a non-PC word and then were “found out” by zealous Leftie fanatics who researched their high school Yearbooks or quizzed an old girlfriend they may have had back in 1970 for incriminating information—unless you do this, the media and the establishment will come down on you, shame you, cause you to lose your job, in short, expel you from what passes for “civilized society.”
And what is perhaps most egregious in all this is the radical perversion and degradation of our language, the devaluation of our words and phrases and how we communicate with each other…in the name of an agenda that uses accusations of “racism” and “hate” as weapons to gain total power over us.
Most establishment “conservatives” remain clueless when it comes to such issues and such accusations about race and racism. Most readily and fearfully accept the template and narrative put forward by the fanatics. Establishment “conservatives” are consistently on the defensive, always in a disadvantageous response mode to the ever-advancing post-Marxist Left, always beginning any conversation by first fully embracing the goalposts and talking points advanced by it. And that starting point can only lead to surrender and additional conquests by the Left and by the so-called “conservatives” normalizing and legitimizing that latest conquest.
One-hundred and thirty years ago the great Southern author, essayist and acute observer, Robert Lewis Dabney, saw clearly the fatal flaw in the kind of “conservatism” which has dominated in this country since the end of War for Southern Independence. In the debate over women’s suffrage (which Dabney ably and staunchly opposed), he penned words which I have cited previously, but which are entirely apposite in this context:
"It may be inferred again that the present movement for women's rights, will certainly prevail from the history of its only opponent, Northern conservatism. This is a party which never conserves anything. Its history has been that it demurs to each aggression of the progressive party, and aims to save its credit by a respectable amount of growling, but always acquiesces at last in the innovation. What was the resisted novelty of yesterday is to-day one of the accepted principles of conservatism; it is now conservative only in affecting to resist the next innovation, which will to-morrow be forced upon its timidity, and will be succeeded by some third revolution, to be denounced and then adopted in its turn.
Today’s “conservative movement” has learned nothing since Dabney wrote those words, has learned nothing from voices like those of the late Mel Bradford, Russell Kirk, Sam Francis, Patrick Buchanan, and Paul Gottfried. Too often, like Dabney, these men are as Cassandra at Troy, “destined to prophesy, but not to be believed until too late.” Or, simply ignored, or worse, cast out, even silenced by the so-called “responsible” establishment Neoconservative gate-keepers of movement conservatism.
If there is ever to be a return to sanity, sensibility and rationality in this country, that template will have to be reversed and overthrown, and those gate-keepers displaced. Not an easy task, but one that must be attempted. Our future depends upon it.
Earlier this month Boston-based, amateur historian Kevin M. Levin published a volume titled, Searching for Black Confederates: The Civil War’s Most Persistent Myth (University of North Carolina Press), in which, against substantial evidence both contemporary and modern, he maintains that it is simply a myth that Southern blacks, whether slave or free, fought for the Confederacy. In his screed Levin takes aim in particular at North Carolina Museum of History Curator Earl Ijames. Mr. Ijames, who is himself black, has done substantial research on “colored Confederates,” including the production of an acclaimed film on the topic, in which he documents black Confederate soldiers and their participation in Confederate ranks.
An article in The [Raleigh NC] News & Observer (September 12) describes Levin’s approach:
“The ‘black Confederate’ narrative is intended to fundamentally shift the history of the Confederacy,” Levin said in a phone interview with The News & Observer. “It’s an attempt to get the Confederacy right on race relations. That’s its goal. That’s what I was attempting to undercut with the book.” Of Ijames, Levin said, “He is operating under a fundamental misunderstanding of the Confederacy and of the Civil War in history. He has pushed this false narrative.”
Curator Ijames’ 75-minute documentary film, released in 2014, titled “Earl Ijames’ Colored Confederates and U.S. Colored Troops,” offers documentation that blacks aligned with both sides during the Civil War in the hopes of securing their freedom. “It’s just an inconvenient truth for some people” that blacks served as Confederate soldiers, Ijames has stated.
In the same news article, Frank Powell of the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans was quoted in support of Ijames:
“To call him [Levin] an historian is a misnomer. Most of his stuff is wrong. He’s more of an agenda-pusher. We have a real problem nowadays with these people who don’t want to just change our history, but to eradicate it. And not just Confederate, but all of Western history. They want to tear all of that down so they can remake it to their liking…The problem is that, unfortunately, they didn’t keep very good [troop] records. A lot of the records got destroyed at the end of the war. I’ve read accounts about numbers. Some say 50,000 and some say 500,000. You just don’t know because of the lack of records. Five hundred thousand is probably too many. But 50,000 may not be enough.”
Not content to engage in debate, since debate implicitly suggests at least two legitimate sides to an argument, zealous supporters of Levin's position go so far as to suggest that Earl Ijames should be perhaps even dismissed from his position. W. Fitzhugh Brundage, a William Umstead Distinguished Professor of History at the University of North Carolina who wrote an endorsement for the jacket of Searching for Black Confederates, has declared that “if the museum in any way allows its name to be associated with, or provide space for, an uncontested description or claim about substantial numbers of black Confederates, I think it’s doing a disservice to North Carolina citizens.”
What emerges with indelible transparency in this debate is that the fanatical Progressivist Left is pushing an agenda, an ideological template. And in that template there is no room for dissent or disagreement. In our present cultural context race and racism have become weaponized, talismanic cudgels for totalitarian Progressivists with which to beat historically-dominant European civilization and “white supremacy” over the head, poisoned arrows in the quiver of the post-Marxist social justice warriors employed to advance their agenda. Jarring and glaring exceptions that interrupt or undermine this narrative must be rejected and condemned at all costs: that blacks, whether slave or free, would have fought for the Confederacy simply cannot be true because it does not serve the ultimate goals of the revolutionary race zealots.
In other words, if history doesn’t confirm my ideology and my bias, well then, just go back and rewrite that history to make it so! And this methodology dominates the craft of the vast majority of current historians and the history tomes that they obediently churn out—ideologically tendentious and shaped to further an agenda.
How does this differ from the intellectual environment of the old Soviet Union, except perhaps that it is more insidious and more pervasive?
From late 1983 until its fitful demise in the early 2000s, I served as a contributing editor, adviser, or just simply a contributor to the old Southern Partisan magazine. Although a last issue came out in 2009, the quarterly had pretty much ceased regular publication a few years before that, largely due to internecine South Carolina politics and personalities. The valiant efforts of former Sons of Confederate Veterans Commander-in-Chief Chris Sullivan, as editor, to keep it alive were, alas, to no avail.
Yet during its nearly three decades of existence the Southern Partisan published some of the finest writing about the South, Southern history, and Southern culture since the Agrarians of Nashville back prior to World War II. Begun originally in 1979 under the aegis of Thomas Fleming and Clyde Wilson, it featured in its pages essays by such luminaries as Mel Bradford, Cleanth Brooks, Eugene Genovese (not a Southerner, but an internationally-recognized historian who developed a sympathetic fascination about the South), Tom Landess, Russell Kirk, Reid Buckley (brother of William), Andrew Lytle, Don Livingston, and many others.
I was privileged and very fortunate to be associated with those giants in a small way; over the years I had around fifteen essays and reviews published by the Partisan on subjects that have continued to interest and fascinate me: historical Southern figures such as Nathaniel Macon and Robert Lewis Dabney, several reviews of books by the late Dr. Russell Kirk (for whom I had served as assistant back in the early 1970s), an appreciation of the Southern-born actor and star of Westerns Randolph Scott, and lastly, reviews of books of Patrick Buchanan (a larger-than-life political figure with deep roots in the Old South and with a rambunctious mixture of Confederate and Irish Catholic ancestry!).
There’s an old maxim that states “you’re known by the enemies you have”; and the Partisan had its share…and for many of us associated with it, that indicated we were having some effect. For much of its existence, it was a veritable bete noire for Morris Dees and his radical Leftist Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). In addition to seeing Klansmen under the bed of every “conservative” Southern politician and ferreting out every stench of Southern “racism,” the SPLC simply went apoplectic when the topic of the Partisan came up. They termed it “arguably the most important neo-Confederate periodical”, and thus the most dangerous to their fanatical totalitarian Marxist social justice agenda. The views it reflected were reactionary and anchored in a hateful past, not worthy of serious consideration in modern America.
But the Southern Partisan could not be dismissed so cavalierly. Even The New York Times, the national journalistic flagship for frenzied and inflamed Progressivism, while denouncing the magazine “as one of region’s most right-wing magazines,” also begrudgingly admitted that "Many of [its] articles, however, are more high-minded historical reviews in the tradition of the Southern agrarian movement, which glorified the South's slow-paced traditions of farms and small towns."
Although the Southern Partisan ceased to exist a decade ago, other voices have arisen to fill that void, most notably The Abbeville Institute, its superb summer schools and seminars, and its online review and blog. Clyde Wilson’s daughter Anne has also established a fine site, Reckonin.com, and it offers excellent commentary and reviews. And there are other venues where good writing and essays from a traditional Southern viewpoint appear.
In 1985 I had the opportunity to interview the late historian Eugene Genovese for the Partisan (Fall 1985, volume V, no. 4), and it was the beginning of a close friendship that lasted until his untimely death in 2012. And it was a friendship that forever influenced me and my conception of Southern history and culture. For, beginning as a Vietcong supporter back in the 1960s, through a long and at times difficult evolution into the 1980s, Genovese had subjected the history of the South, the issue of slavery, and the “Southern mind” to the most severe and close examination. And, after it all, he became a stouthearted and brilliant defender of the South and its traditions (his friendship with the late Mel Bradford had undoubtedly assisted in that process).
For Genovese the key to Southern history had been and was its firm foundation in traditional Christianity. It was a form of mostly Calvinist Protestantism, but also in a wider sense which warmly incorporated Catholics and Jews in its midst, but united in an broad consensus on the idea of a Christian society, which he found best expressed in the writings of the brilliant South Carolina Presbyterian theologian, James Henley Thornwell (d. 1862).
Here he is in a passage on the South Carolinian, demonstrating a view that found resonance throughout the South:
Shortly before his death Thornwell…in a “Sermon on National Sins,” preached on the eve of the War, and boldly in a remarkable paper on “Relation of the State to Christ,” prepared for the Presbyterian Church as a memorial to be sent to the Confederate Congress, he called upon the South to dedicate itself to Christ. He criticized the American Founding Fathers for having forgotten God and for having opened the Republic to the will of the majority. “A foundation was thus laid for the worst of all possible forms of government—a democratic absolutism.” To the extent that the state is a moral person, he insisted, “it must needs be under moral obligation, and moral obligation without reference to a superior will is a flat contradiction in terms.” Thornwell demanded that the new Constitution be amended to declare the Confederacy in submission to Jesus, for “to Jesus Christ all power in heaven and earth is committed.” Vague recognition of God would not do. The state must recognize the God of the Bible—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
After the war—after Southern military defeat and the destruction of much of Southern society and eventually its culture—Thornwell’s clarion calls were picked up by another Presbyterian divine, Robert Lewis Dabney, who turned his Biblical ire and critical (and prophetic) intellect to the developing “Yankee empire,” religious indifferentism, and to the triumph of globalist capitalism and an imperialist and plutocratic “democratic despotism” (something that the Northern writer Henry Adams, scion of the Adams of New England, also recognized).
In his magnum opus, The Mind of the Master Class (2005), co-authored with his wife Professor Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, Eugene Genovese offered the finest and fullest—certainly the most documented—account and evaluation of a “Southern mind and intellect” that had conserved and illuminated the original, but oh-so-fragile vision of the Framers of the Constitution. Despite, or perhaps because of his earlier interest in Marxist theory, Genovese came to understand well, better than almost all his contemporaries, the extreme dangers inherent in post-War Between the States America.
And that was why my interview with him nearly thirty-five years ago was so eye-opening. (The full lengthy interview published in the Southern Partisan is now reprinted in my recently published book, The Land We Love: The South and Its Heritage , chapter 29: “A Partisan Conversation: Interview with Eugene Genovese.”)
I quote below some extensive passages from that interview. Eugene Genovese and the Southern Partisan were incredibly productive and profound in their contribution to the defense, survival, and, even just maybe the reflorescence of Southern heritage. In our perilous times, when our traditions and heritage often seem hanging on by a mere thread, we can do no better than refer to their sturdy intellectual armament.
Here is Genovese from 1985:
This piece was previously published on My Corner on September 8, 2019.
Back in my junior year in high school in Garner, North Carolina, there was not one—not one—school shooting in the entire United States that year, and not one act of what is now called “domestic terrorism.” In fact, in our schools other than some minor and normally harmless fist-fights (mostly to settle private disputes between rambunctious teenage boys, often over a girl), the extreme violence as we see and experience in our day was basically non-existent.
In fact, all through my grammar school and then high school years the schools were open, like most all educational institutions in the Tar Heel State. Just like all our stores and places of commerce, almost anyone could just walk in freely, although normally for schools they went to the administration office if something was desired. I can remember when my mother came to pick me up when Hurricane Hazel was on the way, or when news came that one of my grandfathers had passed away near Charlotte, and we needed to prepare to make the sad trip there for the funeral: she didn’t have to go through a metal detector and be searched for a concealed weapon. That was unthinkable. People weren’t like that then, certainly not in our state.
There was no need to have all the doors locked, or to hire security and police staff…or for that matter, to have employed babbling psychologists, sociologists, and “grief counselors” ready to assist students who suffered “mental problems.” Indeed, it was considered the height of intellectual folly and ridiculousness to even think about having “staff psychologists” or “grief counselors” lurking about to handle personal issues—mental illness—when the real solution to any potential problem was strong two-parent families (which then accounted for around 90% of domestic situations) at home, and solid discipline at school, plus the fact that the vast majority of families (and their children) were churchgoing and, at least publicly, professed some sort of faith in God, and thus in His Commandments.
The administrators of our schools and proprietors of our places of business weren’t afraid of some deranged gunman coming in and shooting up the place. That just did not happen.
Since then and with the triumph of modern progressivism, we have been informed that those older modes of behavior and belief, that way of life and conducting ourselves, was bad, that it restrained our freedom, that it limited us, that it was certainly “sexist” and probably also “racist.” We have been instructed that the older credo about marriage and the family is passe’ and in our contemporary culture just no longer applies. Marriage as a sacred institution, and for many of us a sacrament, has been in so many words downgraded to “if it feels good, just do it,” or, “shack up for a while and see if it works, and if not, then just split.” Too bad about any children born in this situation; they’ll just have to live with the less bad parent, usually the mother (but what happens if both are bad?).
No need here to cite statistics: you already know or have an idea what they reveal. Even in two-parent families, modern theories of child-raising dominate in far too many cases. Older, traditional ideas are relics of a bygone and, we are told, “not very enlightened age.”
And the schools? From the earliest primary grades to high school and then our colleges, “progressive” modern educational theories now undergird and inform instruction, certainly in public institutions of so-called “learning.” There has been a long-march, a continuous and largely effective campaign to implant an ideology, inculcate it in the unformed minds of our youth. How else to explain, in large part, the indoctrinated, zombie-like graduates of our schools and colleges, who simply mouth the ideological slogans and post-Marxist pablum instilled into them through twelve years of schooling and then another four of college? The University of the South-Sewanee, “Ole Miss,” UVa…what have they become in our day?
And our entertainment industry and sports?
I was struck one recent morning as I forced myself to watch a few brief minutes of “Fox & Friends” on the television, and beheld the woefully dumb blond Ainsley Earhardt rhapsodize about the 1990 film, “Home Alone,” one of the most inane and insipid movies of the past thirty years, as one of her favorite motion pictures. Just an example, but an example that says quite a bit about not just the twice-divorced Earhardt, but about what has happened to American society and the standards of taste now regnant and dominant in our decaying culture…and which now wash over my beloved North Carolina.
When was the last time you viewed a film without a plethora of four-letter words—and lots of them—or bedroom scenes which bare almost everything, punctuated by grunts, groans, and grimaces? Take a look at HBO, Showtime, Cinemax, and regular weeknight television, almost any program.
I recall Groucho Marx on his early 1950s TV quiz program, “You Bet Your Life,” when he intimated in a very humorous way, sexual relations between a married couple. Everyone in the audience laughed (after gasping), but everyone also knew back then that such relationships were very special and should be within matrimony. There were limits to what should be said, not because of prudery, but because such intimate acts were very unique expressions of the sanctified marital bond. Of course, such relations also existed outside that bond—and that was also talked about and illustrated within our culture—but everyone, or almost everyone, knew that that was NOT normative, NOT the way things should be, NOT if families and their offspring were to succeed, and NOT if our society was to survive.
So, in recent days we have the specter of a dozen or so Democratic candidates blaming the shootings in El Paso and Dayton on Donald Trump—he is, according to that sorry excuse for a political leader, Beto O’Rourke, the reincarnation of Adolf Hitler! He’s a racist and the white-nationalist-in-chief who is directly responsible for ALL the violence we’ve seen, whether in a Walmart in El Paso or a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Yet the real culprits, those really responsible for the condition of our country and for the situation we find ourselves in are those like Beto O’Rourke, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, and Julian Castro, and their intellectual associates and immediate forebears, who have inflicted—and continue to inflict—on us the insane policies and nostrums, the ideology that is at the very root of our situation in and the breakup of this country.
No, Beto: it is people like you and those who taught and instructed you who produced the crisis we see around us, the dislocation, the despair, the heartache, the fatherless boys, the broken families, the rage and misdirected anger…and the violence. Look in the mirror and SEE the culprit, and then go take a thirty day Ignatian Retreat in silence and pray God that He will forgive your Evil.
After watching a portion--but only a portion--of the Democratic "debate" last night (after twenty minutes, I had to go retch!), I discovered when listening to Elizabeth Warren that I was suffering from—Intestinal (Food) Racism! At last I KNOW what it is that is causing me such systemic problems in my stomach and lower tract! You see, now I know that historically the lighter colored food that I eat and attempt to digest has dominated and oppressed the darker hued food. Thus, those pieces of white bread and mashed potatoes have systemically oppressed those poor chocolate eclairs and that yummy chocolate pudding! The intestinal problems I have had and continue to have are clearly due to that white food supremacy! And, thus, all my intestinal discomfort and digestive issues can be resolved simply by an immense government program of restorative reparations!
Thus, I must now go on a strict regimen of drinking only black coffee and eating black beans, imposing alimentary affirmative action on my eating process. And, more, since this intestinal racism is apparently endemic and a product of historic European colonialism, I must begin to restrict and even penalize the lighter and white-colored foods I consume, in the name of equality and alimentary social justice.
And, of course, the major culprit in all of this racism is, you guessed it: milk, which of course is lily white. And the question must then be asked: is not lily white milk an inheritance of Neo-Confederate white supremacy and systemic racism and bigotry? Didn’t Morris Dees at the Southern Poverty Law Center write something about this years ago?
Oh Oh! what then must be the remedy? Well, for one, white milk must be subject to a new and heavily enforced civil rights bill which would require, as part of a new program of affirmative action, that 50 % of all white milk must now be colored by dark syrup. And to secure this goal chocolate syrup is not enough to solve the issue; no, it must be very black licorice syrup, carefully legislated by law.
And, of course, as all of this...these prescriptions...will require proper and ironclad implementation, a whole new agency of the Federal government must be created: the US Department of Alimentary Equality and Justice. And, certainly, there must be a new $500 million Federal building erected in Washington, plus new offices in all fifty states. And, to accomplish this necessary program--which is just as critical to our national well-being as our battle against climate change--my estimate is that it will take over 100,000 new very "woke" and socially-conscious government workers who all have graduated from our premiere universities with degrees in food science or social work, taught by suitably progressive professors.
Budgetarily, I estimate, based on a recent study completed by the Al Sharpton Studies in Historic Obesity and Lingering Emaciation [ASSHOLE] Institute, that a mere $100 trillion would provide for the first ten years of this program.
Obviously, given the pusillanimous, cowardly position of the Republicans, I do not anticipate strong opposition from the GOP, but rather they will on Fox and in Congress do what they usually do, appropriate this idea and soon make it their own, and thus normalize it as American as Lemon meringue pie....Oops! I mean CHOCOLATE PIE.
This piece was previously published at My Corner on July 31, 2019.
Those familiar with the over 300 installments in the MY CORNER series (and before that, with CONSERVATIVE CRACK-UP) will know that one of my primary objectives has been to distinguish historic and traditional “conservatism,” a conservativism that traces its roots back to the Founding and the intent of the Framers, from what is generally termed “Neoconservatism.”
Over the past several years, through excellent essays by various historians and authors such as Drs. Paul Gottfried, Clyde Wilson, and Jack Kerwick, and columnists such as Patrick J. Buchanan, Christopher DeGroot, Ilana Mercer, and "The Dissident Mama," I have attempted to examine the very real and stark differences both ideologically and historically between Neoconservatism and traditional conservatism. And going further back, I have cited commentary by the late Russell Kirk and Mel Bradford, plus detailed studies by scholars like Gary Dorrien (The Neoconservative Mind, 1993), and Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke (America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order,2004).
And of the Neoconservatives, I have taken a highly critical look at some of their leading propagandists, including Ben Shapiro, Jonah Goldberg, Victor Davis Hanson, Dinesh D’Souza, and Rich Lowry, and what these gentlemen propound.
One of the central differences between traditional conservatives—henceforth, I call them “traditionalists”—and the Neocons, is how they view the South, in particular, how they view the Confederacy and its important figures…how they view the public monuments to Confederate veterans…and what they think should happen to them in the face of the unrelenting and unhinged campaign by the lunatic social justice warriors of the left to topple them.
Monuments, flags, and markers are inanimate symbols, but they represent something far more palpable and real: who we honor in our history, how we do it, and the importance of remembering who we are as a people. And on these questions the Neocons have essentially been on the side of the frenzied Neo-Marxist iconoclasts, or, at least, silent in the face of the fierce campaign to erase and deconstruct a critical part of our history.
And that is very significant.
Of course, a major reason for this has been the Neocon genealogy which can be traced to a universalist mid-twentieth century Marxism and their embrace of the Lincolnian idea of the nature of the American union (for them unitary and expansive), and their ahistorical positing of the idea of equality as fundamental in and to the American Founding, that is, an “equality” of individuals basically across the board. And, of course, that egalitarianism is carried forward not just in their domestic propositions, but also in their intense desire to “make the world safe for democracy” and “impose equality” on the rest of the globe.
During the 1970s into the 1990s the Neoconservatives displaced the once more significant voice of the traditionalists in “conservative” media and foundations. Journals that once featured the writings of Southerner Mel Bradford and traditionalist Russell Kirk, magazines and foundations that once heralded the participation of Paul Gottfried and Joseph Sobran and Sam Francis, now withdrew the welcome mat. And to replace these writers and academics came the likes of Goldberg, Lowry, Shapiro, and others of their ilk.
The differences were startling, for not only did the entire focus of the old “conservative movement” become altered, but the quality of writing declined perceptibly. And the heritage and traditions of the Southland and the profound appreciation for the heroes of the Confederacy—a sure characteristic of the traditionalists of the Older Right—were met with, at best, silence and ignored, or more commonly with the Neocons joining in with the hysterical progressivists and decrying the “racism” and “white supremacy” of the South.
Thus, the shameful praxis of a Ben Shapiro during the Virginia gubernatorial race in 2018, or the outright condemnations of Confederate heritage byNational Review editors and writers Rich Lowry andVictor Davis Hanson. And these are just a few examples of the stridently anti-Confederate, anti-Southern bias of leading Neoconservatives. Watch Fox News most any day to see this on full display….
It is quite ironic to see the fatuous and historically ignorant (the best that can be said of him) Dinesh D’Souza pontificate on Fox News about American history, and in particular, about how today’s current Democratic Party is essentially the same as the old Democratic Party of the post-War Between the States period, or how—somehow—the current crop of Democratic presidential wannabees are just like, in the same mold as the old “segregationist” (AKA states’ rights) Democrats like Senators Richard Russell of Georgia or John Stennis of Mississippi. (Witness the recent hullabaloo over Joe Biden’s reference to Stennis and the late Senator Herman Talmadge of Georgia.)
In other words, for D’Souza the Democratic Party is the “racist” party, while the GOP represents the enlightened, egalitarian and anti-racist heritage of the post-War Republican Party. And thus, the Republican Party, representing as it does “equality” for all, expansive “democracy” and “true anti-racism,” stands at counter-purposes to Democratic Party…. You know, which opposed the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Bills of the 1960s and objected to the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision (1954): legislation and a legal decision that fatally weakened what remained of the constitutionally-enshrined rights of the states over education, accommodations, and voting.
This, we are told by the Necons, is what “conservatism” is all about; and since we are the “exceptional nation,” chosen by God to spread this egalitarian notion all around the globe, then it is our “moral” duty to do so.
But the so-called “conservatism” heralded, propagated and defended by these individuals is nothing more than a warmed-over, slightly less toxic mix of the same venom served up by those further to their left. Indeed, given their own Trotskyite origins and genealogy, this is only logical. And in so many ways it helps normalize the leftward trajectory that this nation has been on for the past 150 years.
Perhaps even more significantly, this intellectual fervor among the Neocons has had significant repercussions and effects politically. For Neoconservatism in practice is the dominant narrative of most “conservative” Republican politicians in 2019, in contradistinction to, say, the views of the late Republican Senator Robert Taft, or the first couple of terms of the late Senator Jesse Helms, whose understanding of America was in accord with the older traditional vision.
And that brings me to the latest emanation of what I would call the Neoconservative “Neo-Reconstructionism” regarding the South and Southern tradition. And it brings me to that “conservative voice,” Senator Ted Cruz of Texas.
A number of my friends supported Cruz in the GOP primaries in 2016; he was, we were informed, a “true conservative” and not a rabble-rousing, bull-in-the-china shop like Donald Trump. And many of those friends were good Southern men who love our Southern and Confederate heritage. And Ted Cruz, certainly, good conservative that he was, would not oppose it, would he?
Cruz is just like the other timorous, historically inept politicians infected with the intellectually poisonous Neocon virus which manifests both its ignorance of and disdain for Southern heritage and the symbols of that heritage, which are, in effect, the symbols of the older America and its Founding.
Cruz considers General Nathan Bedford Forrest a horrible racist; his statues should come down, and under no circumstances should he be memorialized by the State of Tennessee. Rather, Cruz celebrates zealous Abolitionist and supporter of women’s suffrage, Frederick Douglass, whose extra-marital relationship with German Marxist revolutionary,Ottilie Assing, may have shaped his thinking.
This piece was originally published on My Corner on July 13, 2019.
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.