All you need to know about “American democracy”: Money gets power. Power gets money. But we live in a country where many people still believe that politicians want to do good.
Students at U.S. colleges and universities: Most should not be there. Especially Chinese studying science.
Professors at U.S. colleges and universities: Most should not be there. They are not teaching anything worthwhile.
Thousands of “administrators” with six-figure salaries at U.S. colleges and universities: Almost none of them should be there. Many should be in prison.
The latest $70 billion dollar “defense” budget: Only a small fraction actually defends the American people. Many essential actions for defending the American people are not carried out. Many of the overseas expenditures are ill-advised and invite blowback. We live in a country in which many people believe that dropping deadly drones on civilians in Afghanistan is “defending America.”
Current censorship efforts on social media and of independent thinkers: Speech is not censored because it is false---it is censored because it is true. The Powers-that-be have no interest in suppressing what is false, which indeed they often propagate themselves. Their censorship is of truths they don’t want known.
Multiculturalism at the movies: The film 12 Strong, concerns the U.S. Special Forces Team that was the first into Afghanistan after 9/11 and made a successful raid on the Taliban. The movie version of the event includes among the 12 a black and a Mexican, both of whom are given more screen time and personality development than all but two of the soldiers. There were no such persons in the all-white combat unit. We have seen the minority pandering often in the media. What is the cost of distorting history? Dr. Johnson observed that those who distort the record are enemies of humanity.
Looking again at 9/11: A government which spent $3 billion per annum on “intelligence” was not able to prevent this attack. In fact, a group of low IQ foreigners with plastic knives were able to blow up part of the headquarters of the “greatest military on earth.” The malefactors were mostly Saudi Arabians who should not even have been in the country, and were financed by Saudi Arabians. President Bush responded by protecting his Saudi Arabian friends, urging Americans to go shopping, and launching an illegal and catastrophic war of choice against Iraq, which had nothing to do with the matter. He and his honoured advisers justified this with LIES. When later called to account for the lies which cost much in American lives and treasure and in permanent disruption of peace and permanent danger to Americans, they shrugged. Bush’s actions were the clearest act of treason in American history. Nobody has been called to account and almost no attention has been paid to the actual facts of this major event. The Founding Fathers accepted it as vital that rulers be held accountable for their deeds.
The “war on terror”: The U.S. government has militarily supported terrorists in Syria against a legitimate government which keeps stability and tolerates Christians. Some of these terrorists are associated with those who have attacked the U.S. Why? How can this possibly be in the interest of the American people? Donald Trump was wrong when he claimed “we defeated ISIS.” The Syrians and Russians defeated ISIS despite all the U.S. could do to prevent it under the discredited neocon delusion of “regime change.”
Fall of the Soviet Union: The end of expansive Communism with the fall of the Soviet Union offered one of the greatest hopes ever seen for lasting world peace. The U.S. government destroyed this hope by continuing to taunt Russia and interfere with matters on its immediate borders. This cannot possibly be in the interest of peace or the welfare of the American people. Why is a President who promised not to do this now enthusiastically doing it? Inquiring adults want to know.
Charlottesville: A false history of this event has been institutionalised in the news media, public discussion, and even in documentary films. According to this tissue of lies, a riot of “white supremacists” and “neo-Nazis” was justly suppressed. The truth: The organisers and participants in “United the Right” had a legal meeting permit to hear speeches. Instead, they were attacked by busloads of “antifas,” some with phony Nazi uniforms and many with deadly weapons—pistols, flame-throwers, etc. Any violence by the “alt-right” was defensive. The city government and police force stood by while the antifa worked their violence and then used that as an excuse to suppress the legal gathering. The few leftists arrested for violence were not prosecuted. The event participants were. And one poor fellow has been sentenced to 400 years in prison for what was at worst involuntary manslaughter. What are we to think of a regime that rests upon enforced lies?
LBJ declared war on poverty. Nixon declared war on cancer. Nancy Reagan declared war on drugs. Bush declared war on terrorists. Trump declared war on illegal immigration. How are the wars going, folks?
Newspapers are dying, and not a moment too soon. You can smell the decay even before they reach the garbage bin. For the same and other reasons the corporate television “news” monopolies are at a low rating of public trust and are being replaced by independent reporters.
I enjoyed a few of the last good years of newspapering as a reporter, cutting my teeth on the police beat, on the old Richmond News Leader , which of course no longer exists. In the early 60s we had original writing by James J. Kilpatrick and original cartoons by Jeff McNelly on the editorial page. People actually bought the paper for the editorials!
Local news was broadly and vigourously covered by tough experienced reporters, some of whom had not even gone to college but who really cared about getting the truth and were skeptical of power holders. Reporting was poorly paid and lacking in prestige, but it was fun.
The paper had been locally owned for two generations by the same family and was truly independent. But independent papers were already being amassed into corporate chains, the content of which is centrally generated boiler-plate, utterly predictable. There are hardly any local papers anymore. There is little in any that anybody should want to read. There are livelier, more immediate sources of the “news,” for sports and business. Who follows the comic strips any more? I can remember a time when lots of people got their daily chuckle out of them. Economically the papers only keep up circulation by chain store coupons and puff pieces on local minorities, athletes, and entertainment, and are giving them away free.
But there are more than economic forces responsible for the decline of newspapers (and the same is true of electronic media). When I moved on to a different field, new reporters and sub-editors were already disdaining the pursuit of facts in favour of “social relevance.” Reporters were now being hired who had been to prestige colleges and, as an old newsroom crony used to say, “educated beyond their intelligence.” They had an exaggerated sense of their importance as participants in public affairs rather than as honest neutral observers.
Now it is generally understood everywhere that “Media” students are the lowest IQs on campus, having outraced Education majors to the bottom some years back. They are all Social Justice Warriors now with dreams of glamourous anchorship. Years ago, when I became somewhat notorious as a “secessionist,” I dealt with quite a few reporters, active and some still students. There was not a single one who could recognise a real story if it knocked them down, and they were primed from the start to “get me” with predesigned negative labels. They quite were quite literally ignorant, lacking any knowledge relevant to reporting public affairs, had no impulse to look for truth or even what was new and interesting, and were cowardly conformists.
Nobody with any intelligence and experience of the real world has ever trusted the electronic news media, television being the best-designed instrument for lies ever invented by man. It is able to lie not only in words but in seemingly true pictures. But remember, television news has always been not an information enterprise, but an entertainment business designed to generate advertising revenue.
I remember over 50 years ago hearing the pompous Walter Cronkite (“the most trusted man in America”) declare several times that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated by “right-wing extremists in Dallas.” There is nothing new about Fake News.
Fortunately public trust in the media has fallen since they have become part of the official opposition to President Trump. A Washington Post columnist that nobody ever heard of recently wrote that the media should de-platform the President. A CNN official chimed in that “broadcasting him live unfiltered has been a bad idea.” Another CNN executive wrote that they should never broadcast him live “because the President often uses the opportunity to deceive viewers by peddling misinformation and falsehoods.”
Who exactly installed the corporate media as an unelected branch of government, to stand between the people and elected officials and determine what the people should and should not know in this “democracy”? In fact, the media have for a long time governed the country by determining what should and should not be brought to public attention. So much for freedom of the press: freedom for nobody except for SJWs and their corporate masters, also unelected and practically unknown. Who are these people? What are their credentials for exercising such power?
Not what the Founding Fathers intended. Freedom meant that you are I can publish what we like in criticism on public affairs. They did not include the pornography and blasphemy that has been legalized by the Supreme Court, which at the same time has rendered laws against false defamation by the media inoperable. Reporting and publishing rightly have no sacred special status and authority, certainly not exceeding that of elected officials. The media have only the same right as you and I: to observe what is in public and comment on it. Anything else is astonishing presumptuousness that amounts to what the Founders would have understood as a treasonable usurpation of power.
Infanticide. Could it be any more plain and stark? Crowds joyfully celebrating their “right” to kill their children. The preponderant power of American society is now post-Christian and post-Western. We Deplorables (Hillary Clinton) who hold on to our Bibles and guns (Obama) are a remnant, unorganised, leaderless, excluded from power, and expected to go quietly into the night.
In our country Satan is well-armed and aggressive and can call on millions to serve him. He is on a roll. Do not expect him to stop. He always goes on until he has reaped the maximum destruction. We are already well accustomed to the unthinkable becoming normal. What is next? Perhaps the courts will find that baby-killing has “disparate impact” and the government will be required to enforce equality in this as in all else. The plausible possibilities of euthanasia in the name of progress and humanity are numerous.
The murder of the innocent that is now celebrated is the ultimate in individual selfishness. Its devotees think of themselves as a superior priestly class, empowered to do as they please. The god of Enlightenment that they worship is quite as unreal as Ba’al and equally one of Satan’s snares. Their understanding of human life is childishly self-centered and short-sighted. The health of society and future consequences of their acts do not come within their sight.
Killing is habit-forming for those who do the killing. A regime that is bloodthirsty at home delights in war abroad, especially when the rulers are not threatened with personal responsibilities and consequences. Times of moral breakdown are always times of war. Do not think that the U.S.’s deadly filibusters in the Middle East are unrelated to our policy of baby-killing. Supporters of both are found in the same camp.
The U.S. has now launched three wars against unthreatening Middle Eastern regimes, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent non-terrorists. In the name of bringing a “democracy” (including infanticide?) that is as imaginary as Ba’al. And in alliance with and for the benefit of the two most bloodthirsty regimes of the region. Our rulers enjoy this power and our people are callously indifferent. The morally bankrupt are also often stupid. Our interventions in the Middle East, where we should not even be except to buy the oil which they need to sell, have wrecked human society over a large area of the world and created blowback that will threaten our grandchildren. At horrific cost and zero positive benefit.
The Carthaginians happily tossed their children into the fire to please their god, and the Aztecs celebrated human sacrifice on a large scale for the same reason. Until they were destroyed themselves. The Romans, a tough people with a grasp of reality and a capacity for courage and self-sacrifice put an end to Carthage. As did the Christian Spanish conquistadores to the Aztecs.
Nobody can know the future, but we are tempted to suspect a fearsome Providential pattern.
At 77 I am remembering things that used to be commonplace but that my children and grandchildren have never seen.
If you were really sick the doctor would come to your house for $10.
A boy who went to school without a pocket knife was lacking in status. Displaying a new knife was an occasion.
Push mowers, which required real effort but no gasoline or constant adjustment.
Tex Ritter and Gene Autry (but not Roy Rogers who was from Iowa and not a real cowboy).
Sleeping on a pallet on the floor with cousins when families visited
Ironing boards and the smell of freshly ironed stuff
Ice cream that you had to crank a handle for
Kids allowed to ride the fire trucks on holidays
German lugers and Jap bayonets brought back by veterans
Atomic bomb drills in school. We did not realise how stupid they were.
10 cent bus fare
Honour system newspaper racks
Polio patients and iron lungs. We engaged in massive battles of fly-swatting on the theory that flies had something to do with the epidemic.
A real barber shop instead of a unisex beauty parlor.
The sweet singing from a country Southern Methodist church.
When there was only one family of immigrants in town and they were refugees from Communism, pleasant and interesting, and thankful to be here.
Like it or not, movies are the art form of our age, incomparably important in shaping our view of the world. In the 20th century they performed the same role as Homer and Virgil in the classical time, the Scriptures in the Middle Ages, and great novelists and poets in the 19th century. Whether this will be true for the 21st century, with all its new forms of communication, remains to be seen. We may be entering the age of the Tweet.
No one can possibly master the immense body of film that has been produced. The writers of Reckonin.com will provide in this series some guidance by describing the movies that have been most important to them in the course of a lifetime of viewing.
Myself, I am the most moved by what may be called “poetic realism,” films that do not avoid the raw tragic reality of our existence but that also convey a sense of the triumphant human spirit---the eternal verities described in Faulkner’s Nobel Address. In Southern literature, beautiful examples of “poetic realism” can be found in the works of Elizabeth Madox Roberts and George Garrett.
In my view, the French are the greatest filmmakers, the Germans, who cannot entirely escape the nihilism of their national character, are the worst. The French make movies for grown-ups, the Germans for disturbed adolescents. I cannot share in the current hysterical hatred of Russia and Iran when I remember the beautiful films that they have produced. The Brits were great, at least until recent times. Little Norway and Korea have produced some gems and Italy, Japan, and China in their best films show they have real cultures.
My dozen best:
1. A Sunday in the Country (French, Un dimanche a` la champagne, 1984). This quiet masterpiece recounts the joys and sorrows of everyday life, the most important things in our human experience, and the centrality of family to that experience. (I cannot find a U.S. playable DVD of this film, only a VHS and an absurdly over-priced Blu-Ray. It may be downloadable, however.)
2. Pathfinder (Norwegian, Veiviseren, 1987, not to be confused with a number of other movies with the same title in English). The heroic resistance of the Sami people to a brutal Viking invasion. (As with A Sunday in the Country, I can find no U.S. playable DVD.)
3. The Winter War (Finnish, Talvisoto, 1989). As a Southerner I cannot help being sympathetic to the struggle of small countries against foreign conquest. This portrays soldiers in little Finland’s heroic stand against the Soviet Union in 1939-1940.
4. Ballad of a Soldier (Russian, 1959). The tragic human experience of war and Communism, softened by young love.
5. Heartland (U.S., 1979 ). A calmly realistic portrayal of the hardships of American pioneers in Wyoming in the late 19th century and a “feminist” classic in the true sense of that term.
6. Zulu (British, 1964). Dramatisation of the true story of a company of British (mostly Welsh) soldiers who defeated a massive Zulu attack at Rorke’s Drift in South Africa in 1879. Zulu Dawn is a prequel.
7. La Scorta (Italian, 1993). An honest judge and his bodyguard attempt to fight the Mafia despite the interference of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats. (Politicians and bureaucrats seldom avoid corruption in all times and places.)
8. For Whom the Bell Tolls (U.S., 1943). Hemingway’s moving story of people caught in the Spanish Civil War. Gary Cooper and Ingrid Bergman were never better.
9. 55 Days at Peking (U.S./British, 1963). Europeans defend themselves against the murderous Boxer Rebellion in China in 1900, a heroic chapter in the white man’s burden that brought civilisation to half a planet. Charlton Heston as the U.S. Marine colonel, David Niven as the British ambassador, and Ava Gardner as Russian nobility turned angel of mercy are perfection.
10. The Way Home (Korean, 2002). What happens when a surly city-bred boy is left with his rural grandmother.
11. The Cruel Sea (British, 1953). Perhaps the best of a number of British films which portray the devastating naval warfare in the North Atlantic in WW II. I can hardly decide between The Cruel Sea and other examples: Sink the Bismarck!, In Which We Serve, and The Sea Shall Not Have Them. The greatness of these films is that they realistically show serious men at war without the technicolour explosions and wisecracking sailors from Brooklyn that Hollywood requires.
12. Apocalypto (U.S., 2006). Among the numerous movies directed and produced by Mel Gibson, this amazing one seems to have been overlooked. A family of remote peaceful Indians resist death at the hands of the barbarous Mayan “civilisation.” Truly stunning and uplifting in regard to those eternal verities.
I have dealt with individual movies. However, there are Television series that have meant a lot to me: Danger UXB: British soldiers charged with dismantling unexploded bombs in WW II; The Flame Trees of Thicka: British settlers in Kenya in the early 20th century; Tenko: British and Dutch women in Japanese prison camps; Sharpe: Napoleonic War adventures; and A Year in Provence: an English couple copes with life in Southern France. I would also add A French Village: French lives during the Nazi occupation.
If one is to judge by literary production, Dixie is still very much alive and kicking. Just within recent weeks four important new books have been published in celebration and defense of our homeland.
Yankee Empire: Aggressive Abroad and Despotic at Home by James Ronald Kennedy and Walter Donald Kennedy (Shotwell Publishing: 377 pp., paperback and Kindle). In 1866, the year after the War for Southern Independence, General Robert E. Lee reflected on the results of the war. Responding to a British historian, he wrote that he feared that the U.S. would now follow the path of all consolidated governments---it would become “aggressive abroad and despotic at home.” “Unfortunately, for the people of the South and the world,” write the authors in this latest book, “General Lee’s prediction has become our reality.” The Kennedy brothers, famous for The South Was Right! and other classic works, have added a new dimension to the Southern story. They expose in historical depth the greed, violence, and pseudo-morality of U.S. imperialism, a Yankee-generated thing. The South was its first victim but it is now grown to a global danger. They alert us to the folly and fallacy of Southerners who believe they are part of (and thus support) the Yankee Empire, when we are and always have been its victims. This work, a unique view of American history, is not only for Southerners but for every American and European who is uncomfortable with today’s U.S. global empire---a sad condition for the federal union that our forefathers bequeathed us. Yankee Empire joins the Kennedy work earlier this year, Punished With Poverty, as a strong presentation of Southern history as it should be told. With that history, we can see clearly the justice of Southerners being conscious of our identity as a separate people.
The CSA Trilogy, by Howard Ray White. (Paperback and Kindle.) Its subtitle describes this extraordinary work: “An Alternate History/Historical Novel about Our Vast and Beautiful Confederate States of America: A Happy Story in Three Parts of What Might Have Been, 1861—2011.” What would the world look like today if our forefathers had won their gallant battle for independence? Howard White, author of the massive and highly original War Between the States history Bloodstains, imagines it for us. The world would be one of confederate self-government, flourishing free enterprise, and genuine and healthy “diversity,” without the ravages of Yankee empire. There is nothing else quite like this amazing and inspiring work. It is a treasure for all who cherish the good things about Dixie.
Snowflake Buddies ABC: Leftism for Kids by Lewis Liberman (Shotwell Publishing, paperback and Kindle.) A full-colour, creatively illustrated, memorably rhyming alphabet primer for children (and everyone else also.) From “Antifa Al,” to “Lester the Lincoln Lover,” and beyond, all the current leftist types and their strange and usually malevolent or stupid behavior are portrayed. There is a lot more in the way of bonus material. Why hasn’t somebody thought of this before?
The Land We Love: The South and Its Heritage by Boyd D. Cathey. (Scuppernong Press, hardback.) History is not a science, it is a story. A story has to be somebody’s story, the remembered past. Otherwise it is just abstract speculation, useless and potentially destructive. We Southerners are blessed to have a rich story that is still powerful among us and also far beyond our borders. That history is envied and hated by postmodern Americans who have no story of their own and work to destroy the memory of ours. Defending our story is not backward and provincial but is a part of the defense of civilisation as we have known it. Seldom has this defense been made by writers as eloquent and as vastly and broadly knowledgeable in history and theology as Dr. Boyd Cathey. The collected essays are learned but also have a down-home touch which never loses sight of the South as a living and valuable thing.
It seems that out in California an impressively large number of people are petitioning for a referendum on secession. While I don’t think much of their motive, I say more power to them.
The motivation is, of course, fear by California leftists and foreigners that the 2016 federal election has deprived them of the excessive influence they have exercised over American domestic policies at least since a movie actor was elected President in 1980. The secession move amounts to an adolescent tantrum at not getting their way. This reflects a widespread defect of the Yankee national character---a tendency to reduce public matters to self-centered personal emotions.
However, there is a principle involved here. The basic principle of the Declaration of Independence that Americans claim to admire (though seldom exercising it): just governments must derive their being from “the consent of the governed.” If a majority of the real citizens of California want to be independent of the U.S., they should be and have every right to decide so. Frankly, I would be delighted to be rid of them---far happier, I suspect, than they would be in getting rid of me. I do not need them at all. They need me to boss around and feel superior to.
We are in a new millennium. The ruling classes in the U.S. and Europe have clearly lost their grip---they are ever more selfish, clueless, and incompetent. They cannot think of anything except to keep on doing what they have been doing, no matter how disastrous the results. The 2016 election and other signs indicate that good people everywhere are ready for a new, more democratic and more responsible way of governing.
It is time to think the unthinkable. To rise really to the new challenges of a changing world that politicians are always gassing on about.
These California secessionists are our “discontented fellow citizens,” to use the label that Lincoln placed on Southerners who solemnly and democratically voted to get out from under his rule. Let us hope that if it comes to a real act of secession today, the U.S. government will act more rationally and humanely than it did in 1861. Then the ruling capitalist interests of the Northern States knew that an independent free trade South would critically reduce their profits and deprive them of captive markets and resources. Rivers of blood were preferable. There was a lot of noise about the “glorious eternal Union,” that is, forcible imposition of the false idea that Americans all belong under one government. And a lot of insincere babble about “slavery.”
Doubtless, if Southerners were talking about secession today, the Special Forces and tactical nukes would already be deployed. But Californians are not Southerners and cannot be treated that way. I can’t see that the U.S. has anything to lose and much to gain.
Another unfortunate national defect is to look at nuts and bolts and lose sight of the whole machine. There will be wails about the impracticability of separation of California from the other States. In 1861 there was good faith on only one side--- the South was willing to settle all issues of separation responsibly. Where there is good faith on both sides, all issues can be negotiated to a satisfactory settlement. For instance, the U.S. could keep a 99-year lease on its naval bases. Californians entitled to Social Security retirement benefits could keep them, although not all the other welfare from the federal treasury that has made half the people wealthier than the rest of us.
California, as they are saying, is certainly “a country,” as viable in separate nationhood as any other Latin American state. I realize that there are many good Americans in California who do not want to be part of a declining Third World country. The great sums that will be saved from supporting the bottomless welfare state of California can be used to resettle those good people in America if they wish. These folks will be a boon to the U.S. economy and culture.
Imagine the change for the better in reason and patriotism if there were 53 fewer members of the U.S. House of Representatives. (Many of them are loyalists to other countries anyway.) I would recommend putting heavy taxes on importation of Hollywood productions that have destroyed the moral tone of what used to be a reasonably decent people. We might even be able to build a truly American cinema of high quality.
One widespread characteristic defect of the Yankee national character I have mentioned---a tendency to reduce public matters to self-centered personal emotions. There is a socialist side to this that has become glaringly evident of late in California and elsewhere. There is also a fascist side---people who react violently to any notion of breaking up the good ole U.S. of A., “the greatest nation on earth.” This is what happens to people who have no culture and no religion and can only gain identity from their feeling of belonging to a powerful government. Such people are unable to tell the difference between government-worship and real patriotism---the love of one’s land and people. And they are out there, believe me. Every time I write a little something in defense of the Confederacy I receive denunciations as a traitor who will soon meet my just demise.
California independence can bring with it some real problems. For instance, as it collapses ever further into debt-ridden poverty, the government may try to prevent good Americans from leaving, as is the case now with white people in Southern Africa. Parasites need their hosts. Another genuine concern is that the vacuum will bring in dangerous Chinese influence. Response will have to be made to such situations when they arise. Decisions will be much easier without California distorting the national debate.
Some years ago I had a debate with a couple of libertarians who said that they were all for secession where people wanted it, but, of course, it could not apply to the South because the South had immoral reasons for secession and because it was “holding hostages,” the slaves. They displayed the usual ignorant distortion of that portion of American history. After the first wave of secession there were still more slaves in the U.S. than in the seceded States. There were also more free black people in the South than in the North and they were in better condition. To assume that the black people were “hostages” presumes that the North was somehow being deprived of them or concerned about them. That assumption is a grievous lie. If there was one thing that all Northerners agreed upon it was that they did not want the black people, free or slave.
Besides the historical ignorance, there is a more fundamental flaw in their self-righteous philosophizing. If I have a right to secession, then that right cannot be subject to the interference of some force that claims to reject my right on his own self-determined moral considerations. That is simply to say that there is no right and there cannot be and never can be any right. Its exercise will always be countered by some outside evaluation of its bad motives. The South declared honestly that it seceded to be free of exploitation and interference. Its independence could not be justly challenged by an opponent’s propaganda slogan that it was motivated by the evil motive of keeping slavery. In fact, the North had never challenged slavery, only opposed its “extension” to new territory.
I have to confess that my strongest feeling in favour of California secession is the precedent it can set. I dream that some day my own brave and beautiful little country of South Carolina can be independent again, as we have been twice before in our history. We have everything that we need and, from our imprisonment in the Union, a lot that we don’t need. Independence would remove the totally evil influence of the national Republican Party from our polity, and perhaps prompt the flight of a lot of discontented carpetbaggers. (This latter may not work out. I notice that while Yankees always put the South down, they all want to live here if they can.)
A beautiful little warm, coastal Switzerland we could be! Something truly valuable that I can leave my descendants. There may be those who can love New York or Detroit or Las Vegas. I cannot, but I am willing to live and let live if they will. I certainly cannot love the politicians who govern us all. South Carolina is quite enough for all the genuine patriotism anyone could want.
I am 77 and I recently started to remember things that used to be commonplace but that my children and grandchildren have never seen:
Snuff sticks and spittoons
Mule wagons in town
Greasy hair tonic for men and boys on Sundays.
When soft drinks came only in real glass bottles and you had to reach down in delightfully cold water to get one
Cotton fields everywhere and up to the edge of the road. Cotton presses in every town of any size that was on the railroad.
When newspapers were independent local voices
Real Southern orators with white coats and hats
When I saw my first foreign car (a Volkswagen)
When I had my first pizza (I was 18)
When the county courthouse was free to everyone and not a government fortress
When rolled down white socks were fashionable for girls
When college girls had to sign out and in
When college students lived without cars, apartments, and electronics.
Bib overalls worn by working men and boys, and in summer without shirts
Going barefoot most of the time in the summer
Tin roofs (delightfully restful in the rain)
Most roads were dirt except main ones.
Boys played with BB guns and lighter fluid
Boys spent all day unsupervised in the woods with rifles
Boys played sports, mowed lawns, and rode bicycles without helmets (and often without shoes)
When gas was 35 cents a gallon and no woman would be seen near a gas pump.
Everybody who lived in the country had multiple dogs that mainly slept under the house.
There was no television, no computers and only party-line telephones with the speaker you had to stand up to.
Nobody you knew had ever sent or received a long-distance call. Too expensive. We had “air mail” for important communications.
Nobody you knew had ever ridden on an airplane, unless in the military.
When a cup of coffee was a nickel or dime depending on how upscale you wanted to go.
When the weekly wash had to be “put through the ringer” and hung outdoors to dry.
Trolley cars powered by overhead wires.
Door deliveries by the milkman, the ice man (for non-electric ice boxes), the coal truck, and the telegraph boy.
Grammaw making biscuits every day from scratch.
Wagons taking cured tobacco to the auction house.
When hot dogs were 10 cents and milkshakes a quarter, along with 10 cent comic books. So, including bus fare you could have a great day downtown Saturday for one 50 cent piece and a nickel. Sometimes Grampa gave you an extra dime for another comic book, saving you from the tough decision between “Smilin’ Jack” and “Terry and the Pirates.” (Nobody, white or black) ever imagined a child alone downtown would be harmed.)
The presidential election of 2016 gave promise to be a watershed in American politics. Donald Trump appeared, a non-politician and rich enough to support his own campaign without selling himself to the usual special interests. He collected all the right enemies. He deflated a whole platoon of Republican celebrities down to their actual pigmy size. He vanquished them by something so simple you wonder why it is not used more often---by speaking to the people about real issues rather than spouting the near-identical and meaningless advertising slogans of his opponents. Something not done in presidential politics since George Wallace a half century ago. Amazing how far just a little bit of truth can go when inserted into the hullabaloo of lies and evasions that is American public discourse.
Most importantly, Trump inspired a despondent American people, nearly resigned to the vanishing of democracy, with hope that the system might develop some responsiveness to their beliefs and interests. Much of the people’s enthusiasm remains. The question is---is it any longer justifiable?
At the time of the election I published a little book called Annals of the Stupid Party: Republicans Before Trump. This book acknowledged the potential for bringing to power a populist revolt should Trump be elected. But the burden of the book was the lesson that Trump’s greatest obstacle to meaningful change would be the Republican Party itself. As I cataloged historically, the party is not a political party but an election machine. Aside from protecting and enhancing great wealth it has no ideas, values, or principles. It exists to provide power and perks to those who participate in the higher levels of its machinery. Its stock-in-trade, long successful, is to position itself as the decent middle-class alternative to Democratic radicalism. That stock is not selling so well anymore, because the customers are being squashed into the proletariat by the policies of the Democrat/Republican party, the leaders of which disagree on nothing important.
With such an institutional nature, it is no puzzle why the Republican party has no real interest in and has never put up any serious opposition to any leftist revolutionary initiative in American society. It is simply the “me-too” side of the one party Duopoly that governs---a.k.a. The Deep State and The Swamp. The election of Trump was only a beginning, as I and every other serious supporter believed. Ilana Mercer, in her book The Trump Revolution, wrote that the hope was not so much in Trump as in a process which he had begun.
I predicted several years before 2016 that a bold independent candidate might appear, one who could reach the people over the jamming of the media. The first requirement for such a person was to find and appoint people who shared the populist vision rather than the usual Republican hacks lined up for office. Trump failed in this first requirement and that has come near to destroying him from the get-go. No cadre of dedicated helpers was found. They were there, but they were never identified or promoted. I take no pleasure in having anticipated this. I see now that it was nearly inevitable.
We are now well into the first Trump administration and the government is still full of Republican hacks and Democratic holdovers. Federal district attorneys are doing little or nothing to curb illegal immigration or to prosecute the crimes of Hillary Clinton, other leading Democrats, and antifa mobs, not to mention the reported millions of illegal alien voters. (If Republicans had done a fraction of such evil deeds, they would all be in court in handcuffs right now.) People high up in the bureaucracy are sabotaging the elected President. Goldman Sachs clusters in the administration as in every previous one. Republicans get their corporate tax break but not the repeal of Obamacare, the issue that all the Republican grassroots was agreed upon.
The Swamp has not been drained. It is a massive and daunting job that is still to be done. The appointment of a couple of preppie Bush Republicans to the Supreme Court means little. That trick has been played so many times it is laughable. The misbehavior and radicalisation of the Left in recent months has led to predictions of increased Republican power after the November 2018 elections. Perhaps; but this will mean nothing unless the right kind of Republicans are elected. It is argued that the Kavanaugh affair has destroyed Never-Trumpism in the party. It remains to be seen who has conquered who.
The two magisterial planks of Trump’s platform were fixing the immigration catastrophe and toning down American global imperialism, especially the deranged hatred of Russia that serves no American purpose. On the immigration issue, although he has accomplished some change of focus, what has actually been done amounts to a drop in the bucket.
On the tempering of “democratic” imperialism nobody can really know what is up. Trump has made some truly statesmanlike moves, such as the opening to North Korea, and has perhaps avoided war by allowing the vicious neocons who he has appointed to the highest posts in his administration to enjoy useless saber-rattling. The danger here is that Trump, like Nixon and Reagan, will forget the domestic base that elected them and become absorbed in the game of foreign policy. That game means that the American people are no longer of any importance except as a base for an international contest that has nothing to do with their wishes or welfare. It is a great temptation for a President---a role of worldwide leadership instead of the strife and drudgery of internal reform. War is always a ready tool in the arsenal of a threatened Establishment.
Trump is thought of as a fighter, but he has not fought where it counts. I am not impressed by Tweets (although people more politically knowledgeable than me tell me it is his great strength). But tweets concern political party battles, not vital long term issues They do not substitute for frank confrontation of his enemies before the people. A revolutionary disintegration of American society is being carried out by the Deep State. Deals do not substitute for fighting for a real agenda. We hoped for a statesman and got a salesman. Of course, in justice we must admit that Trump more than any other President has faced an unprecedentedly hostile and dishonest media, not to mention a population with so many people with a childishly self-referential idea of politics. But so far he has reproached the media (and the Deep State) only as unscrupulous oppositionists. He must confront them as a revolutionary movement that is destroying the American fabric, which is its intention.
Earlier, it seemed entirely possible that by not fighting his real enemies Trump might be ejected from office on a technicality, with the collaboration of his own party leaders, as was Nixon. He seems to have succeeded at least for a time and in some respects in getting the support of the Republican Establishment. The populist appetite for reform has been thrown a few crumbs, but its hunger is intense enough that it may yet break out in a form more forceful.
Anyone who has been paying attention has heard many times the assertion that the flag of the Southern Confederacy is equivalent to the banner of the Nazi German Reich. That this idea should gain any credit at all is a sign of how debased American public discourse has become by ignorance, deceit, and hatred.
To make an obvious point: The Confederacy fought a defensive war against invasion. It had no design to rule others or exploit their resources---only wished to be let alone. Nazi Germany was a militarist state, dedicated to a boastful, bullying, brutal conquest of other peoples. Rather like the U.S. Army in 1861—1865.
Another obvious point. Nazi Germany was a regimented totalitarian state. On the other hand, a number of observers have suggested that the Southern people were too loosely governed and individualistic to accept the strong central authority that was needed to win their war against a larger aggressive state organized for conquest. In this respect the Confederacy was the last Jeffersonian regime in America.
The Nazi analogy rests on the idea that both the Confederacy and Germany were “racist” states. The term “racist” has become so elastic and pejorative that it is no longer used by honest writers. History and ordinary observation indicate a vast variety and gradation of the “racist” ideas that the various races of mankind have had about each other, many of them involving notions of significant differences and superiority/inferiority.
If “racist” means in this connection that the Confederacy generally assumed an attitude of “white supremacy,” it is true. This tells us very little. In the sense intended the overwhelming majority of white Europeans and Americans were white supremacists from the first contacts with Africa in the 16th century until well into the 20th century. Abraham Lincoln expressed this idea several times. Many of his supporters did so frequently and firmly.
By the time of the War Between the States, the South had been a biracial society with more than two centuries of adjustment to that situation. Certainly by that time, the widespread attitude of the South toward the blacks was paternalistic. It was an attitude assumed in everyday living. Unlike Yankees and Germans, Southerners did not make “racist” ideologies. Healthy black children proliferated in the South at a time when half the white children of New York City died before the age of five.
It is well to remember that until World War I, when factory labour was needed, the number of African American people who lived outside the South was very small---and moving North was discouraged. Undoubtedly one of the North’s motives in the War Between the States was to keep the black people in the South and out of the North. In the midst of the war the Radical Republican abolitionist governors of Massachusetts and Illinois fiercely protested the admission of a small number of freed slaves into their states. Governor Andrew of Massachusetts was certain that black people would not be happy there and would be better off in the South.
Yet another bootlegged assumption in support of the Confederate “racist” theory is that the war was being fought to emancipate the slaves and therefore was against “racism.” This is obviously untrue. Emancipation (partial) became a goal as a war measure after the conflict had assumed titanic proportions and seemed to Lincoln unwinnable. A number of the scrawlers of graffiti on Confederate monuments have declared them to be offensive as symbols against “racial equality.” Emancipation, tainted as it was, was not driven by desire for racial equality. In a sense it was a support to “racism,” indicating a lack of interest in the black people except as tools of conquest.
Emancipation of millions presented a tremendous problem for American society and particularly for African Americans who faced a daunting change of conditions and a catastrophic decline of everyday living standards that had compared favourably to those of Northern and European workers. It is evident that the emancipators had little interest in racial equality until after the war when they discovered the usefulness of Republican-voting black men in the South. When asked what was to become of the emancipated people, the saintly Lincoln replied, “Root, hog, or die.” The abolitionists’ foremost guru, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said that the black people were unfit for modern civilization and would become extinct.
Preserving slave property and “white supremacy” was not a primary incentive for those who fought under the Confederate banner, whether they were slaveholders or not. The incentive was repelling invasion. They did not so much defend slavery as resent interference in their society by an outside force that preached hatred against them and never had any constructive solutions for a difficult situation. Those the Confederates fought against were quite as “racist” as themselves. Although they lost, they put up a spectacular fight which has long been admired around the world. Confederate monuments, often erected by the financial sacrifices of ordinary people, are memorials of that fight and what it cost in blood.
Were the evils of Nazi Germany perpetrated in the name of the “white supremacy” that governed American belief for so long? I don’t think so. While the Nazis had a policy about “Aryan supremacy,” they in fact made wars of conquest entirely against other white people and countries, and in alliance with Japanese and Muslims. And were defeated by other white people, many or most of whom were “white supremacists.” I once saw a documentary about survivors of the great Battle of Stalingrad. The Russians were tall and fair “Aryans” and the German soldiers were mostly short and “Slavic” looking. Nazism was not driven by “white supremacy” but by German nationalism of a particularly grandiose and vicious sort. It caused the deaths of more white people than anything else in history.
It is worth mentioning in this connection that in the period before World War II there were strong manifestations of isolationism and pro-German sentiment in the North. A large pro-Nazi rally was held at Madison Square Garden. Such stuff hardly existed in the South. Public opinion surveys showed overwhelming pro-Allies sentiment among Southerners.
It is also worth pointing to the strong connections that German statists had with Lincoln and the Northern war of conquest. Early German settles in what became the U.S. were mostly peaceful farmers. After the failed European revolutions of 1848, many militant, aggressive Germans immigrated to the U.S., especially the Midwest. These were revolutionaries experienced in conflict, dedicated to social revolution by violence, and ignorant or contemptuous of American constitutionalism. Lincoln courted these people assiduously. It has been shown that Lincoln’s election as President was a product of the influx of Germans into the Midwest, outvoting the traditional Democratic majority there. Some of the Germans were also ignorant peasants who could be made to believe the cynical Republican lie that Southerners intended to enslave them.
These immigrant “Union” enthusiasts were proto-fascists or proto-communists. It amounts to the same thing. A number of Germans were generals in the Northern army, which also had several entire divisions composed of German immigrants. European Communists boasted that these people had played a big role in the federal government’s winning the war. This is not true---their battle record was quite poor. But it was certainly known that these German immigrants were the most brutal of Union troops in their treatment of American civilians in the South.
The Christian philosopher Gerhart Niemeyer recorded an experience when he was studying in Spain just before World War II. At the next table were two Germans, discussing what a fine country Spain was and what a valuable conquest it would make for the Reich.
Here is a Massachusetts colonel of the Union army writing to his sympathetic governor in the midst of the war:
“The thing we seek is permanent dominion: and what instance is there of permanent dominion without changing, revolutionizing and absorbing the institutions, life and manners of the conquered peoples? They think we mean to take their slaves. Bah! We must take their ports, their mines, their water power, the very soil they plow.”
This is a far more typical expression of what the Confederate soldier was against than pleas for “racial equality.” Who are the best candidates for the Nazi label in the War Between the States?
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