Southern fiction has a new hero—Tom Ironsides makes his appearance in book form in Perrin Lovett’s work The Substitute (Shotwell Publishing, 2023). Sequels and prequels are in the offing.
Ironsides is a sort of James Bond, but a much better man. He is a master of his former craft as a CIA operative, although he has progressively developed a realisation that he had not really been defending his country but rather the worst people in it. Lovett describes his paramilitary adventures vividly and more realistically than Bond fantasies.
Ironsides has seen much of the world and has lived a good deal abroad, including as a college professor in Slovakia. Like Bond, he drinks and likes women (and additionally is a cigar connoisseur ). He is also a Christian, a genuine classical scholar, and feels deeply a duty toward his declining country and people. Ironsides was born and bred in the snows of New Hampshire, but is a happily adopted South Carolinian.
In his first book appearance Ironsides’s social conscience leads him in retirement to sign up as a substitute teacher for South Carolina schools in the Augusta, Georgia metropolitan area. He wants to know what is happening in education.
From here The Substitute is based on the first-hand experiences, blow by blow, of the author as a Substitute. These experiences are a cold shower (or an alarm bell if you prefer) for anyone who really wants to know what goes on in the public schools. And we all should want to know.
Ironsides’s encounters in elementary, middle, and high schools with dozens of administrators, teachers, and students–good, bad, and indifferent–are authentic. There are a number of good books about the perilous state of American education, but Lovett provides us with a nuts and bolts, every day portrayal that really strikes home.
There are some good and dedicated teachers–almost all demoralised and wanting to get out even if it means working for Walmart. The students are mostly good (although there is a violent minority who are never appropriately handled). But the young people are, as they vaguely understand, the victims of fearful, faddish, over-controlling bureaucrats who have never had any idea about what education should be.
The schools barely teach reading, writing and ‘rithmetic to some of the students. As for passing on Western Civilisation, which has been the successful goal of education for centuries, the intellectual and moral mediocrities who are in charge do not even know what you are talking about.
Ironsides entered the schools in an open-minded investigative attitude and in hope of contributing some improvement. He ends his year with the certainty that there is no hope of reform in the vast decaying educational empire. The preservers of civilisation must leave behind the mass public “education” and begin innovative work elsewhere.
For some reason stranger women experiencing trouble find me an easy target for accosting in public. Maybe they think I am a harmless old man easy for a touch.
Here are some things that have happened to me in the last two years or so.
I was checking out of a family restaurant when a middle-aged woman, very well dressed and respectable looking, asked me if she could have some food like I had just had. I gave her a $20 bill.
At a gas station I was approached by a young woman who said she had had car trouble on her way back to Charleston and needed to get to a car shop on Two Notch Road. Her information was vague---there are two Two Notch Roads in the Columbia metro area, both rather far from where we were. I spent two hours driving her around without finding the shop. Inquiry suggested that she did not have a credit card to use for a place to stay. It appears she was a Walmart employee and I finally left her at a big Walmart store where she thought she could get people to look after her.
I was strolling the neighbourhood when an older lady asked me if I could help her get her car started. She wanted to pour a little gas into the carburetor, which I advised was not a very good idea. I helped with all my inferior technical ability would allow, but we never did get the car started. Meanwhile, her male next-door neighbour looked at both of us with contempt.
At the inevitable Walmart an African American lady, middle-aged, approached me. She said she was broke and did not have money to get her clothes washed at a laundromat. I gave her another $20 bill.
Just the other day at the gas station, another lady pulled up beside me. She said she was trying to get to Charlotte to see her mother who was sick or dying and she did not have any money. I gave her all I had in my wallet, about $32 or so, in hope that she could get some food and fuel.
My experiences as a compassion magnet have made me realise how many Americans there are today who are living on the margin. I can remember when it was said that America was a good country for common people to better themselves with hard work.
These days your government is bailing out billionaires and taking on trillions in debt for useless, immoral, failed wars that have nothing to do with defending our country. The economic status of the middle and working classes is declining. The tiny minority of super rich have more than all the rest of us “deplorables” put together. The foreigners and rich people who own the U.S. government debt have a risk-free investment and their interest profits are tax fee.
This ought to encourage us to think again about Lincoln’s famous lie that his war was to preserve government of, by, and for the people.
From South Carolina to Florida, Southerners are familiar with the Palmetto bug, a large crafty creature that is nearly impossible to control. A relative of the more modest roach.
Some are as big as a small mouse although flatter. If encountered they have more moves than a running back. They are swift and dodge in unexpected ways. When you think they are dead they suddenly run again. They apparently thrive on anything and operate freely in the dark. If you annihilate a batch there is another battalion pressing forward in just a few days.
I have a horrible feeling that the idiot Joe Biden and his evil handlers are going to stumble into a nuclear war that will wipe out most of the living. I imagine that the tough Palmetto Bug will survive and flourish. I suppose that could mean that the South finally has won the war, though not in a satisfactory way.
Of course, none of this will happen, even if it would make the Republicans wildly popular. Congresspersons collaborate with the federal bureaucracy and party leadership more than they do with their own constituents. And Republican Congressmen tend to be ignorant, egoist empty suits.
The most difficult tasks for a new conservative administration will be correcting errors of the past.
If there is any interest in a true reform platform, we have a lot more suggestions. Alas, the first instinct of Republicans is to avoid all ideas and issues that might label them as not being respectable and moderate. They avoid anything controversial that might deprive them of their power, profit, and perks.
The Republicans are now using Trump’s troubles as a money-raising gimmick. They will do as they always do. Use Trump’s troubles to raise money, and then do nothing for him but give it to his enemies in the party. And there are still enough affluent stupid Midwesterners (and I fear some Southerners) who will fall for the con game.
Again, More of the Way We Are Now
White privilege is just another term for Western civilisation.
When I graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1963 all the graduates were given Bibles. Women had their own dormitories and had to sign out and in. I reckon the times have changed.
I saw a documentary about the horrific battle of Peleliu in World War II. Four Marine veterans of the battle were interviewed. Three of them had Deep South accents. Let’s tear down the monuments to their grandfathers.
It seems that some people are justifying the jihad against Confederate symbols by saying that Confederates “killed American soldiers.” Of course, Confederates were American soldiers too and more “American” than their enemies. The “American soldiers” Confederates killed (a fourth of them foreigners) were engaged in a brutal war of conquest against other Americans, including women, children, and black people. Such childish views of the history of “American soldiers” seem to prevail even at the highest level.
Our Secretary of State recently justified the U.S. regime’s Ukrainian policy by remarking that Americans don’t like big bullies who pick on smaller countries. Really? Narcissists and psychopaths never blame themselves for anything.
Thanks to all the illegal immigrants in recent decades, California and Texas have about the same demographic profile of foreigners. However, stats show the Texas is considerably less corrupt and violent than California, and Texas is still Red. Why is this? Because Texas still has some remnants of Southern civilisation while California never had any civilisation.
Lynn Cheney recently stated that secession had been decided by the “Civil War” and nobody should talk about. This is the shallow poseur “intellectual” who the Republican Party chose to hand out millions of dollars in grants at the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Donald Trump very much wants to be President again. Does he understand how to prevent his election being stolen by the Democrats who will be aided by the Republican leadership?
George Bush 1 was the last President to have any actual military service, 80 years ago.
America is now a post-Christian society. That is a rather significant fact. Think about it.
Donald Trump is making some good noises about immigration and war. But does he really understand the Deep State and how to find and marshal the people to beat it? And it is a moral failing that he has not done more for his supporters who are still political prisoners after Jan. 6.
There are millions of us hoping for DeSantis but fearing he is just another Republican posing as a conservative.
There used to be a saying, “There will always be an England.” Tell that to the Muslim “grooming” gangs and the Asian Mayor of the now Third-World city London.
You think America is not in trouble? The free movie streaming services are now advertising HIV medicine and showing happy, loving sodomite couples. And, don’t forget, we now have a trans-sexual 4-star Admiral. How can someone concerned with changing their sex possibly have shown such superior merit as to be promoted to such a position?
George Floyd’s death occurred in Minnesota. What does that have to do with Confederate memorials? Most Americans can’t remember beyond yesterday, but I remember when lily white Minnesota led the campaign to impose “Civil Rights” on the South. Things have changed greatly but they still blame us.
It was once said, and sometimes still is, that American higher education is the best in the world. It was never true, just Yankee boasting, except where European scholars had been captured. When it is claimed now, one does not know whether to roll in the floor with a laughing fit and bang your head against a wall.
The U.S. Navy has censored the name of its ship Chancellorsville because it was a Confederate battle victory. The battle has been studied by military experts in the U.S. and around the world for well over a century. It was a battle won by Americans.
We used to celebrate the birthday of George Washington, a great soldier and statesman and the Father of His Country. Now we have Presidents Day. What is that to celebrate? Praise to any corrupt or incompetent politician who managed to make it to the White House? Honour U.S. Grant, James A. Garfield, Warren G. Harding, Gerald Ford, two Bushes, or Joe Biden? This is merely evidence of the ongoing deterioration of American intelligence and spirit.
The abominable opportunist Nikki Haley seems to be relying on her status as a minority to reach high office. It is true her parents immigrated from India. But put her in a group of white people and she does not stand out---unlike Barack Obama or Somalia Harris. She is not black or Chinese. It seems likely that like her Sikh ancestors she is Caucasian or mostly so. Under present conditions she can get a lot of credit for being an immigrant without any connection to historic America, but not for being nonwhite.
Have you noticed that our Southern Republican leaders seem to be more devoted to making stupid war on Russia than to protecting our noble heritage against evil attacks?
Donald Trump seems to have damaged himself beyond hope for reelection. He can still be a very useful gadfly, as went he was when he went to the disaster in Ohio.
There is little doubt that our ruling class is declining into ignorant and arrogant folly. One of the saddest developments in recent history is that when the Soviet Union collapsed the U.S. leadership continued to this very day the Cold War against Russia. What a great great opportunity for peace our leaders threw away.
I have always been in favour of capital punishment. There are just some people who need to be eliminated for the benefit of us all. And not all of them are politicians.
I just ran across the bit of reconciliation verse from the late 1800s by a Yankee poet,
FOLD THE BANNERS
Fold up the banners! Smelt the guns!
Love rules. Her gentle purpose runs.
A mighty mother turns in tears
The pages of her battle years,
Lamenting all her fallen sons.
Russell Kirk wrote that acquisitiveness, the desire to get and keep wealth, is often mistaken for conservatism. Vividly exhibited every day by the Republican Party.
The “conservatives” at National Review are advocating a Presidential ticket of Tim Scott and Nicki Haley. They are too ignorant of history and the Constitution to know that Electors can’t vote for two people from the same State.
At the Fredericksburg battlefield there is a moving monument by a famous sculptor to the “Angel of Marye’s Heights.” The Angel is the South Carolina Confederate soldier Richard Kirkland, who risked his life to give aid to the wounded Yankees left on the battlefield. I wonder if the federal government terrorists have destroyed this already or have targeted it for elimination.
Some time back I stumbled onto a movie in which Confederate soldiers rode into a town, shot women and children in the back, and burned people in a church. I have heard a hint that there is a new TV drama about federal agents tracking down Confederate criminals after the war. It seems established that our people were evil sinners against the righteous.
This stuff is a gigantic preposterous lie. Given the intensity of the war, Southern behaviour was in a large measure honourable and Christian. Lincoln’s massive invasions of the South were most certainly a War Crime by any known definition. Its intent was to conquer a people and deprive them of their self-government.
And tens of thousands, maybe more, Union soldiers were war criminals, deliberately stealing the property, burning the houses, and destroying the food of women and children, not to mention destroying churches and schools. And they were just as hard, maybe harder on the black population of the South as the white. The record of federal crimes against civilians can fill a dozen books. And the criminals were often promoted and enjoyed substantial lifetime pensions.
Does the American government need such falsehood to try to prove its righteousness? It is a BAD CAUSE that must be defended by lies.
The United States is showing every sign of being governed by a decadent ruling class. In the Ukraine business they are still living in a mental universe of 50 years ago. They are too self-centered, shallow, and in love with their own power to realise that the situation has changed and needs a new approach. To continue the Cold War under changed conditions is very stupid and dangerous. But our leaders can’t think of anything other than to pose and play with the immense military that was built up by a previous generation and are incapable of understanding a changed world. The U.S. leadership continuing the Cold War after Communism had collapsed will be seen in future as one of the great mistakes of history.
The Lee monument destroyed by the official hooligans in Richmond had only one word: “LEE.” That was all that was needed in a ciivilised country and time.
A Letter to Readers
To Our Valued Reckonin’ Contributors and Readers,
My brilliant daughter Anne created the Reckonin' site as a place for Southern opinions. Reckoning means calling to account the many enemies of our Southern people for their lies and malice.
We have posted a lot of good stuff and gathered a few dozen writers. Other responsibilities have at times kept us from giving as much attention to the website as we would like, but we intend to keep at it at a better pace.
Notice our two great new writers, Perrin Lovett and Robert Peters. And remember our faithful, principled and talented regulars like Gail Jarvis, Mark Atkins, Walt Garlington, Bo Traywick, and Carolina Contrarian. Not to mention Yours Truly, who intends to contribute more in the future. For some inexplicable reason, people seem to like my scribblings.
Cordially, Clyde Wilson
In another column I confessed my admiration for the Russian leader Putin. This is based partly on reading his speeches. These show him to have a broad vision, to be a spokesman for Western Civilisation, and to have an understanding of the enemies of that civilisation who dominate America and Europe during our time. He speaks as a statesman, in reference to reality and longtime consequences, in sharp contrast to the vague blather about “democracy” practiced by Joseph Biden.
Putin earned his spurs in a hard school, rising to popularity and power in the chaos of the disintegrating Soviet Empire, and gaining the recognition of his people as a true patriot and leader.
Compare Biden, a museum quality specimen of a hack politician, representing a rotten borough for years. Follow his career and you will never see any evidence of an idea or a principle, nor any consistency. He has always taken the position that seemed most popular at the moment. Just as he is doing now, in defiance of his previous reputation for being somewhat moderate.
And all the time he kept his snout in the public trough, getting rich for himself and his kin. (At least Trump earned some of his riches in the private sector.) And all along acting with a churlish groping of women.
In fact, nobody would ever have thought of Biden as Presidential material if Obama had not chosen him as Vice President. One is tempted to suspect that Obama picked the weakest white man he could find.
Putin is an anti-communist. He knows what Communism is. Biden, on the other hand, supports Critical Race Theory, a Communist doctrine, and the leftist street mobs that suppress law and order and rightwing dissent, a Communist tactic.
Putin has fostered the return of Christianity where there was once a militantly atheist regime. Biden, claiming Christian membership, celebrates abortion and perversion in defiance of the doctrine of his own faith.
Putin has made mistakes, but he has shown that he genuinely loves his country and people and strives to do what is best for them. His border war is designed to protect his own people. His conflict with the criminal, fascist state of the Ukraine is not an assault on democracy. Meanwhile, Biden is engaged in replacing his own people with hordes of illegal immigrants, supported by his government, who outnumber the people of several States.
Putin has in fact acted moderately, always ready for negotiations and refraining from dangerous escalation of the present conflict despite Western provocations. While Biden has declared total hostility to Russia. Not to mention that his handlers tell him to rattle the saber at the great powers of China and Iran, which shows a reckless ignorance and arrogance. The only excuse being that it is necessary to defend “democracy,” whatever he thinks it is. And at the same time weakening our armed forces by the destruction of ideologically imagined Diversity.
Take your pick.
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews