We shouldn't let the month of January slip by without paying our respects to one of finest men our country has produced; Robert E. Lee. January 19, is the 215th anniversary of the birthday of Robert E. Lee; a very special day, not only for Southerners but for all Americans who admire true heroes.
Unlike media created heroes, Lee doesn't have a hint of scandal that has to be covered up. The facts of his life may be recounted without modification. Theodore Roosevelt characterized Lee this way: "the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking peoples have brought forth." Lee is also venerated in Europe as evidenced by this tribute by Winston Churchill: "one of the noblest Americans who ever lived."
In 1998, a Midwestern college decided to publish a book about the persons they considered to be six authentic heroes of our nation. They selected George Washington, Daniel Boone, Louisa May Alcott, George Washington Carver, Robert E. Lee, and Andrew Carnegie. Excellent choices; a group of outstanding people and a selection made without kowtowing to current political trends.
Robert E. Lee's father was a Revolutionary War hero, a three-time governor of Virginia and a congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives. Two members of the Lee family risked their lives by signing the Declaration of Independence. Lee married Mary Custis, great-granddaughter of George Washington and she inherited Arlington House, Washington's antebellum estate in Virginia that eventually became home to Lee, Mary, and their seven children, before being confiscated by Lincoln. He turned it into a Union cemetary with an eye to making a return to its owners impossible.
After graduating from West Point, Lee became a member of the U.S. Army and began a long and remarkable military career. He distinguished himself in the Mexican War earning three honorary field promotions. His accomplishments were many including Assistant to the Chief of the Engineer Corps and Superintendent of West Point. In later years he was appointed president of a college in Lexington, Virginia that was later renamed Washington and Lee University in honor of his outstanding years of service.
Interestingly, when the Civil War started, Robert E. Lee was offered the command of the Union forces, but after his home state, Virginia, seceded, he resigned from the U.S. Army and joined with the Confederates. Many people wonder why Lee would turn down the command of the Union forces and support the Confederacy. But loyalty was one of Lee's bedrock traits and he couldn't wage war against Virginia and the South. Also, recent historians are presenting a more balanced view of the long festering and complex events leading to the Civil War. (An example being inequitable tariffs – the South paid 87% of the nation's total tariffs in 1860 alone.) The new research contained in these books puts a new light on Lee's decision to fight for the South.
I suspect that another reason Lee decided to support the South was President Lincoln's refusal to meet with Southern representatives to try to reach a compromise to avoid war. Although members of Lincoln's own cabinet as well as newspapers in America and Europe encouraged the President to attempt a negotiated settlement, he remained adamant. Lincoln rejected all requests for discussions that might have led to a peaceful resolution.
Robert E. Lee vigorously opposed slavery and as early as 1856 made this statement: "There are few, I believe, in this enlightened age, who will not acknowledge that slavery as an institution is a moral and political evil." Lee also knew that the use of slaves was coming to an end. Cyrus McCormick's 1831 invention of the mule-drawn mechanical reaper sounded the death knell for the use of slave labor. Before the Civil War began, 250,000 slaves had already been freed.
Robert E. Lee did not own slaves, but many Union generals did. When his father-in-law died, Lee took over the management of the plantation his wife had inherited and immediately began freeing the slaves. By the time Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, every slave in Lee's charge had been freed. Notably, some Union generals didn't free their slaves until the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment in 1868.
During the Civil War, Union commanders pillaged the South, abusing civilians in unspeakable ways, destroying railroads and factories, and burning private homes, public buildings, schools and libraries. Union forces also slaughtered livestock and decimated crops, after they took what they wanted.
Periodic reports detailing their carnage were sent to General Halleck in Washington who shared them with President Lincoln. In a typical report issued on September 17, 1863, Union General Sherman added this comment; "We will remove every obstacle-if need be, take every life, every acre of land, every particle of property, everything that to us seems proper." Halleck showed this report to Lincoln, who enjoyed it so much that he demanded that it be published.
When Robert E. Lee invaded Pennsylvania, many Southerners hoped that he would give the Yankees a taste of their own medicine. But Lee was a man of integrity. Not only did he prohibit "wanton injury to private property," he also ordered his soldiers to pay for any supplies taken from civilians.
Most histories have treated General Lee kindly, even those written shortly after the Civil War. This respect accorded to Lee infuriates those who want to tarnish his reputation, and they have even managed to force textbook writers to reword their references to Lee and, in many cases, delete any mention of him.
Also, some cities have removed portraits and other Lee memorabilia as a result of pressure from politicos who haven't taken the time to learn the facts about this famous Southern gentleman. Portraits and plaques honoring Lee have been slashed and burned, and statues of the General have been spray-painted with obscenities.
Never the less, current biographies continue to enhance Robert E. Lee's well-earned reputation. One journalist, after reviewing many of these new histories made this comment. "The South may have succumbed to overwhelming military force, but it triumphed in at least one sense. It produced perhaps the greatest symbol to come out of America's most disastrous conflict, someone who combined combat and moral excellence and who, once defeated, worked to heal the wounds of war. It is a record that deserves to be retold constantly."
Years after the war, Lee still commanded respect in both the North and the South. On one occasion he was approached by a group of businessmen concerning a questionable commercial venture. After offering the General $50,000, they told him; "You will have to do nothing. All we want is the use of your name." Robert E. Lee's response was what we would have expected;
"Sirs, my name is the heritage of my parents. It is all I have, and it is not for sale."
If I had to pick one American to represent the best values of our nation, I would choose Robert E. Lee. He stands taller than anyone else. We must continue to honor him every January on the anniversary of his birth because;
"Men of such magnitude are rare in history. They come but once in a century."
This piece was previously published on LewRockwell.com.
Most White Americans are relieved and thankful that the year 2021 is ending. It was one of the worst years for White Americans. Whites were made the scapegoat for racism in America, the social villains of 2021. The White racism ploy was used to justify eliminating White heritage: monuments and memorials were demolished; traditions and customs denigrated, and moral values scrapped.
During 2021, we rarely heard “Proud to be an American.” but we often heard “America is a racist country.” We also heard a lot about diversity, the current panacea for society’s ills. The term ‘diversity’ has diverse meanings, ranging from preferential treatment of minorities to the devaluing of Whites.
America’s White European heritage remained largely intact as the immigration of other races altered our demographics. White and non-White groups coexisted and often commingled without altering our heritage. But, over time, anti-White agendas emerged, putting our heritage at risk.
Our heritage was seriously threatened in that era known as the ‘Sixties’, that restless period from roughly the mid-1960s to the early 1980s. During that chaotic era, the counterculture implemented various changes to our society without considering their long-range consequences.
Essentially, the Sixties were a symbolic cut-off point between a pragmatic way of life and idealistic social activism. This era was characterized by efforts to eliminate disparities between the races and minimize acts of racism. The electronic media that emerged around that time strongly encouraged the anti-racism fervor. But the repeated racism complaints began to sound scripted, giving rise to the sardonic phrase ‘race grievance industry.’
It was assumed that sub-groups, including Blacks, would assimilate into the existing White culture . And for most of our history that has happened. But during the last few decades, a resentful contingent of Blacks has emerged, clinging to Black culture and refusing to assimilate. Some members of this aggrieved assemblage occupy pivotal media positions from which they castigate White America.
One of the most virulent of these embittered media journalists is Joy Reid, who hosts a cable program on MSNBC. Reid was one of the first Black woman anchors of a cable news show. The format of her show is political conversations with news makers. These conversations are supposed to cover a variety of issues but Reid’s favorite topic is White racism . Attacks on Whiteness have so characterized Joy Reid that she has been called the ‘race lady’ and even a ‘racist sociopath.’
Joy Reid is the epitome of race-baiting Black journalists who hyperbolize the adverse effects of White racism. But she has also expressed abusive opinions on other issues, which offended minoritized groups. After previously denying these opinions, Reid reluctantly apologized for them. Not surprisingly, it is rumored that MSNBC is considering canceling the Joy Reid show.
White racism dominated both news media and social activism during 2021. Also, critical race theory and similar ideologies were essentially engaged in a culture war against Whites. They depicted racism solely as a White phenomenon. Some of their assertions were: White racism permeates our entire society; White Americans are socialized to be racists, Whites are unconsciously biased without knowing it, White supremacy is indigenous to our way of life, and Whites oppress Blacks and other minorities.
During 2021, eliminating White supremacy and White privilege evolved into abolishing Whiteness . The elimination of Whiteness has become the cause du jour of many non-White groups. And their efforts are intensifying. Even White elites are part of the anti-White crusade. Many naively believe that without Whites, a more tolerant and bias-free society can be created.
But eliminating the oldest and largest race, the White race, will seriously impair our society and our heritage. So we should hope a significant backlash against the purging of Whiteness will develop in 2022.
Some think the 1960s improved our society but I believe the events of that era did more harm than good. Street protesters along with news media, academia, and entertainment, hyped and magnified the effects of racism and social injustice. They hoped to make the public think these issues were America’s most serious problems. And, for a while, they succeeded.
During Barack Obama’s presidency it was claimed that we lived in a post-racial society. But that post-racial opinion was quickly squashed by race hustlers who feared losing their livelihood. Racism complaints, mostly uncorroborated, had been too successful to abandon. However, new justifications had to be found. So equality of opportunities was updated to equality of outcomes.
Various strategies have been used over the years to end racism and social injustice. But, despite the accomplishments achieved, activists continued to claim that more societal changes were needed. Finally it was realized that correcting individual cases of racism was too slow. Wokeism’s claim that Whiteness prevented social justice was accepted. The elimination of Whiteness became the new goal.
Wokeism has become a powerful self-righteous phenomenon similar to a Puritanical religious revival. Its proselytizing has propagandized a significant segment of the population. The following example illustrates how thoroughly Wokeism has indoctrinated this generation.
The college town of Basingstoke, England held an enthusiastic celebration of Black Lives Matter. An outpouring of residents took part in honoring Black Lives Matter and BLM was eulogized in the local newspaper. Some time later, signs were posted in Basingstoke bearing the inscription: “It’s okay to be white.” Woke residents were offended by these signs and angrily tore them down. The local newspaper characterized them as “hate crimes” and demanded a police investigation into the postings of the signs.
The “It’s okay to be white” signs were originally part of a social experiment. They were posted on university campuses to test the reactions of professors and their students. As expected, gullible students thought the signs were posted by White supremacists. This experiment indicates how hyper-vigilant campuses around the country have become over the issue of White racism.
In prior generations, the innocuous phrase “It’s okay to be white” would not have been interpreted negatively and certainly not considered a hate crime. But since the 1960s, news media has created a lopsided narrative world that magnifies racial and social injustice. And media blames White supremacy for social injustices.
Wokeism politicizes language and currently the word Black is valued while the word White is disdained. Consequently, the statement ‘Black lives matter’ is esteemed whereas ‘all lives matter’ is denigrated because it would include Whites.
This anti-White trend is growing and there doesn’t seem to be any significant resistance to it.
One of the reasons why anti-Whiteness is thriving is because many White elites are using their influence to sustain it. An example is the support of White Rutgers professors for a White-hating Black professor.
Dr. Brittney Cooper is a Rutgers University associate professor for “Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Africana Studies. Responding to White parents objections to Critical Race Theory, Cooper stated: “Critical Race Theory is just the proper teaching of American history.” That was a fairly mild response but most of Cooper’s anti-White reprimands are intemperate and often include foul language. A couple of examples: “White people are committed to being villains in the aggregate,” “Whiteness is largely an inconvenient interruption," and ‘We got to take these mf***ers out”
Although there have been demands for Cooper’s resignation, many White Rutgers professors have defended her. Their defense included this sentence: “We wish to express our unequivocal solidarity with Dr. Cooper, to affirm our support of her academic freedom, and to decry the harassment and intimidation she now faces.”
The Associated Press and most major newspapers capitalize Black while printing White in lower case. The New York Times tried to justify printing White in lower case with this strange explanation “White doesn’t represent a shared culture and history in the way Black does.”
This is a contemporary media judgment rather than an historical one. Media tends to portray Blacks and Whites as concepts rather than as actual persons. The truth is the cultures that White European colonizers shared were more similar than the various tribal cultures of African Blacks.
During the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement instituted comprehensive societal changes to minimize the effects of racism. The Civil Rights Movement was not without flaws but it did create opportunities for minorities and instigate ongoing anti-discrimination endeavors. However, in 2021, after fifty years of sweeping anti-racism efforts, we are still experiencing complaints. A primary source of complaints are adherents to Critical Race Theory. They not only complain about racism but demand the elimination of Whiteness.
Unlike the Civil Rights Movement, Critical Race Theory is doing great harm to our society. CRT maintains that only Whites can be racist and describes them collectively as White Supremacists. CRT blames Whites for racial injustice and dismisses dissenters as racists.
CRT holds that racism is more than individual acts of bigotry. It is a systemic problem that has infected our country since its beginning. CRT also maintains that race is not a biological fact but a culturally induced phenomenon. So races do not exist, but racism does. According to CRT, racism infects our entire society and divides our country into two major groups; White oppressors and oppressed Blacks.
CRT invective also discredits our monocultural society because it is too associated with White culture. This is unfortunate because countries with a single culture fare better that those with multiple cultures. For years sub groups assimilated into our monocultural society and the American way of life flourished. But we are witnessing attempts to subvert our monocultural society and replace it with multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism has been described with terms like “diversity, inclusion, and equity”, typical social equality jargon. This language implies that non-White socio/economic groups are far better than a largely White society. Whiteness was once a positive attribute but for CRT it represents only racism, our perennial and ever-expanding societal flaw. CRT thinks that downsizing or eliminating the White population would end racism.
Its hard to keep up with the different forms of racism; Systemic Racism, Ideological Racism, Structural Racism, Discursive Racism, Institutional Racism and others. I will only mention one of the others, “Silent Racism.” Silent racism concerns persons who haven’t committed a discriminatory act or uttered a bigoted word. But they may furtively harbor racist thoughts and be unwilling to make the concessions necessary for a racism-free society.
For some time, Whites were generally perceived as privileged by non-Whites who viewed themselves as victims. But in recent decades, being a victim enhanced one’s standing in society. Victimhood was rewarded with additional privileges whereas White privilege was being diminished. Consequently, many non-Whites now deliberately portray themselves as victims.
Those who are perceived as victims of racism have become a significant vocal element of society. Victim groups first demanded “equality” but as they gained power and establishment support , they sought “equity.” Equity means equal outcomes which requires the imposition of governmental “racial preferences.” The less offensive phrase “affirmative action” is often used in place of “racial preferences.”
Universities support the claims of these victim groups and even offer ethnic studies focusing on their alleged inequities. Although racism is the most prominent inequality, numerous others are being discovered; gender identity, sexism, social class, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and others. One prominent university offers a program entitled “Race, Ethnicity, and Social Justice.”
Universities are also producing clever spokespersons for victim groups that claim Whiteness is encumbering their advancement. One such spokesperson even suggested that Whiteness is protected by the government in the same way that property ownership is protected. Another used the term “intersectionality” to describe how injustices are compounded and overlap (intersect) making denigrated minorities victims of several injustices simultaneously.
A final comment on racism and I promise I’m not making this up. It has been recommended that Congress pass an anti-racist amendment to the Constitution. This amendment would create a Department of Anti-racism (DOA). The DOA would have the power to approve or reject public policies that it decides might produce racial inequities. It could also discipline public officials who will not change policies that the DOA categorizes as racist.
White supremacy, that ambiguous term, is the voguish justification for the elimination of heritage. Wokes maintain that White supremacy dominated the entire 245 years of America’s existence. They also insist that our Founding Fathers should not be respected but remembered only as White supremacists and slaveholders. Wokes and their ilk exaggerate the effects White supremacy has had on our heritage.
The state of Virginia, a treasure trove of traditions, is currently being subjected to extensive heritage eliminations. Originally one of our most important colonies, Virginia was the home of many of our founding fathers, early presidents and famous families, such as the Lee family. Consequently its heritage should be preserved as much as practical. But Virginia’s monuments and other tributes are being removed by aggrieved busybodies. Loyal citizens did try to prevent the removal of century-old monuments in certain Virginia cities. But removals of monuments, mostly Confederate, continues and more removals are being threatened.
Of the removal of the Robert E. Lee monument in Richmond, state senator Jennifer McClellan said: “ Now, the statue is gone — but our work remains to address the systemic results of White supremacy.” For Wokes and Leftist Democrats like McClellan, “White supremacy” is a broad inclusive phrase encompassing whatever they believe to be detrimental to society. McClellan and her ilk think they should be allowed to decide what is offensive and what should be eliminated. Although McClellan is a well-known state political figure, she lost her 2020 bid to become Virginia’s first Black female governor,
The latest in the line of Richmond’s Black mayors, Levar Stoney described the city’s Confederate monuments with these words: "...the greatest example of nostalgia masquerading as history." But Stoney’s selection of a company to remove Confederate monuments could also be called a masquerade. Bypassing city procurement procedures, Stoney used a shell company to hire a friend and campaign donor to take down the monuments. His friend’s company was paid $1.8 million dollars - $180,000 per day. A local contractor maintained that other companies could have removed the Confederate monuments for as little as $10,000 per day. Stoney’s exorbitant monument removal contract is under investigation.
As Confederate monuments are being removed, monuments honoring victims of slavery are being erected. The Emancipation and Freedom Monument is a 12 foot bronze memorial recently unveiled in Richmond. It commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and depicts two recently freed Black slaves. A female carries an infant and holds aloft a replica of a document inscribed January 1, 1863, the date of Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. A shirtless male is breaking free from shackles and exhibits a back scarred with marks left from whippings.
The year before this emancipation monument was erected, a similar emancipation monument was removed. The eliminated monument, in Boston, was a replica of the original - “The Freedman’s Memorial” – located in Washington,DC. It depicts a seated President Lincoln holding a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation. Kneeling before President Lincoln is a nude freed Black slave with his shackles being broken. Black Lives Matter and others object to this monument, claiming it gives too much credit to Whites for emancipation and downplays emancipation efforts put forth by Blacks.
The Richmond Emancipation and Freedom Monument was unveiled in a park not far from the site of the recently removed Robert E. Lee statue. At the unveiling ceremony, Mayor Stoney said: “The enslaved built this city with their hands. We will rebuild this city with our hearts.” State Senator McClellan’s statement implied more removals: “We have made progress in dismantling the systemic legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in our state, but there’s still so much more work to do.”
Phrases similar to “...there’s still so much more work to do” are often heard after each capitulation to a monument removal or a name change. “More work to do” means that heritage eliminations will continue as long as a complacent public offers no resistance. White docility must end before America loses too much of its heritage.
Although it sounds extreme and unattainable, the elimination of Whiteness must be taken seriously. Western Civilization, a creation of Whiteness, is losing its influence on society. White heroes of past generations are being eradicated by a process known as “presentism.”
The term “presentism” means judging persons and events of the past using today’s standards. It is often used to disparage heroes of past generations whose values are no longer compatible with contemporary attitudes. Our heritage is currently being maligned by non-White groups who have altered the composition of our society. After only two decades into the 21st century, important aspects of our culture have been lost to heritage cleansing.
A prominent victim of heritage cleansing is Robert E. Lee, one of our most celebrated heroes and a member of one of our most distinguished families - the Lee family of Virginia. Although originally a Confederate hero, Lee has been honored in all sections of our country. During the century and a half since his death, there have been monuments, street names, school names and other tributes to Lee.
On the wall of his office, President Eisenhower had pictures of his four most famous Americans. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Robert E. Lee. Theodore Roosevelt characterized Lee as “the very greatest of all the great captains that the English-speaking peoples have brought forth.” Franklin Roosevelt praised Robert E. Lee as “one of our greatest American Christians and one of our greatest American gentlemen.”
President Truman gave his mother a gift of a portrait of General Lee. In Great Britain, Winston Churchill wrote that Lee was “one of the noblest Americans who ever lived, and one of the greatest captains in the annals of war.”
Unfortunately, what many Americans of this generation know about Robert E. Lee comes from surfing online websites. These websites tend to report history selectively and avoid complex issues. Some sites assert that Robert E. Lee committed treason against his nation. But in 1860 there were only 33 states, the majority located east of the Mississippi River. People rarely relocated to other states and loyalty to one’s state took precedence over loyalty to the regime in Washington. This was the socio/political environment that shaped Robert E. Lee and should be used to evaluate him.
Each generation thinks it has the final answers to society’s problems but its solutions are often altered in succeeding generations. In this Woke generation, we have a coterie of ideologues and malcontents who are eliminating aspects of our heritage because they feel it is outdated. Robert E. Lee is dismissed as a product of 19th century values that are out-of-step with 21st century values. The Woke generation approves of the removal of Lee monuments because they offend minorities.
Virginia’s racially tainted Governor Ralph Northam removed the renowned equestrian statue honoring General Robert E. Lee on Richmond’s famous Monument Avenue. Removal of this 130 year old, 12 ton, 60 foot tall General Lee monument, the largest in the South, clears Monument Avenue of all of its Confederate memorials. Demagogic Governor Northam ignored an opinion poll indicating that Virginia was evenly divided on the question of removing Confederate memorials. Instead, he relied on the hyped, overworked term ‘racial justice’ to rationalize his eradication of the celebrated Lee statue.
The Lee monument had been a target of cancel culture for some time. Lee supporters hoped that a push-back would develop and save the monument. That push-back has never developed. But, despite the censure of Wokes and elites, the monument remained resilient. Interestingly, what finally brought it down were protests following the death of Black shoplifter George Floyd, who died while being restrained by White police in Minnesota.
The phenomenon of Robert E. Lee is unparalleled in history. Although his side lost the War, his military prowess was praised. Curiously he was celebrated by both the losing side and the wining side. After the War, even though he led a quiet, unpretentious life, Lee became an American icon. Robert E. Lee’s monuments were unharmed until 21st century rage mobs began eliminating White culture.
During the last five years over 100 monuments have been removed. Protesting crowds tried but couldn’t prevent those removals. A growing sense of loss over the removal of Lee memorials could precipitate some kind of recovery effort. I’m hopeful, but not optimistic.
For roughly the last half-century, history reporting has been seriously politicized. Politicized historians make no attempt to be impartial and they interpret the past in the way that best accommodates the present. Also they don’t view America favorably and tend to make racism our most significant problem. And, of course, they claim slavery was the sole cause of the Civil War.
It might be informative to scrutinize a typical politicized historian. A classic example is media favorite Karen Cox, professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her trendy, partisan versions of history and culture are exactly what the establishment wants to read. The establishment’s villains and heroes are also hers. Cox’s primary villain is the antebellum South which she excoriates for its use of slaves.
Cox holds the South alone responsible for American slavery and insists that Southern heritage shouldn’t be celebrated. For her, Confederate memorials are simply reminders of the Jim Crow era and lynchings. She states; “People do not want to see the connection between the Jim Crow period and these monuments,” But, Cox claims, an increase in Confederate monuments parallels an increase in lynchings. Yes, you read that correctly. Confederate memorials do not honor heroes but inspire lynchings.
Actually, Karen Cox’s histories are little more than propaganda. She compares Donald Trump with Robert E. Lee, maintaining that both failed and both did more harm than good. Furthermore, Cox claims that Trump, like Lee, pursued a “lost cause”, undermining the Constitution as Lee tried to undermine the Union.
Generally, ‘lost cause’ implies an immoral South rationalizing its capitulation to a righteous Northeast in a War fought solely to end slavery. But professor Cox and her ilk use the worn-out pejorative term ‘lost cause’ rather loosely.
War was declared to prevent Southern secession and “save the Union” not to end Southern slavery. Funds provided by slave-grown cotton and Southern tariffs were a needed source of revenue for Lincoln’s government. Lincoln didn’t want large plantations in the territories because they would compete with small farming families relocating from the industrializing Northeast. This was an economic reason rather than a moral one. Ending Southern slavery didn’t become a cause of the War until Lincoln feared Great Britain and other European countries might assist the Confederate War effort.
Karen Cox’s histories avoid complex issues, focusing instead on what sustains contemporary social concerns. She makes little or no mention of the Northeast’s involvement in the slave trade nor its financing of plantations in the largely agricultural South. Also, she doesn’t mention how slave-grown cotton created the North’s economy or how the majority of profits from slave-grown cotton ended up in Northern pockets.
As a Feminist, Cox claims: “Some of the best historians working today are women and people of color.” Although she claims that Blacks and women are the best historians, she doesn’t include women members of the United Daughters of the Confederacy. The UDC’s versions of history don’t fit her narrative. Ranking women and people of color as better historians than White males is fairly typical of Woke culture.
In past decades, when Americans got their information from print media rather than electronic media, Karen Cox couldn’t have become a historian. Actually, she is more a media celebrity than a historian and its her support of contemporary political opinions that is favored, not her scholarship. I, like many others, have reservations about the veracity of her histories and I resent her over-simplified, disparaging depictions of the antebellum South. Her histories are little more than proselytizing and will probably not stand the test of time.
We used to say “over time things get better” but that hasn’t been true for decades. Things have gotten much worse in the 21st century. Two of the more offensive phenomena are historic memorial removals and imprudent attempts to create equality. Removal of monuments and other historic tributes began as a result of complaints from aggrieved malcontents. But ruling class elites are also eliminating traditions, especially Southern heritage in order to create social justice.
Who are these ruling class elites ? This cabal of smug , self-important prodigies who have usurped Constitutional powers and make decisions for we uninformed denizens of middle America. Because of their wealth, power, and position, they are essentially the upper echelon of society. But even though some might have expertise in certain fields, they aren’t necessarily capable of determining what constitutes social justice or what heritage is acceptable.
Social justice hasn’t been clearly defined but it is basically equality of groups including equal wealth and opportunities. Ruling class elites prefer the term ‘equity’ over ‘equality’. Equity means equal outcomes whereas equality means only equal opportunities. Of course, ruling class elites decide who is treated unfairly and who should get wealth and opportunities. Elites also chide the celebration of Southern heritage because it may project hurtful images of White supremacy.
In the previous century, we had common sense rather than social justice. There was also a general agreement that success resulted from individual skills, work ethics, intelligence, and stamina. These attributes were largely innate and individuals were mostly independent and resilient. Although essentially self-sufficient, similar individuals formed together into groups.
But self-reliance essentially ended when ruling class elites decided that wealth and opportunities should be divided equally among groups. Elites apparently saw no conflict between making groups equal while telling us that ‘diversity is our strength’. But redistributions of wealth and opportunities will not satisfy disgruntled groups. And social justice is more a placebo than a panacea; not an actual condition but only contrived language.
Ruling class elites felt encouraged in the early 21st century. In 2007, Nancy Pelosi became the first female Speaker of the House and the following year, Barack Obama became the first Black President. Media fawned over Pelosi and Obama, portraying them as successful even before they had spent any significant time in office. But actual performances didn’t match media reports. Pelosi’s Speakership and Obama’s Presidency were more symbolism than substance.
The election of the first Black president set off impulsive nationwide tributes to Barack Obama. Schools, libraries, government buildings, streets, highways, and even animals were renamed after the new president. Many of the bloated tributes to Obama occurred before he had spent enough time in office for his performance to be evaluated. And this renaming epidemic provided an opportunity for elites to eliminate tributes to famous Confederates, a trend that had been under way for some time.
A case in point was the J.E.B. Stuart Elementary School in Richmond, Virginia. This former Confederate General’s name was removed and the facility was renamed Barack Obama Elementary School. Students preferred to change the name to Northside Elementary and many residents recommended using the name of some important local Black person. But the school board rejected all other recommendations and held firm to the Obama designation. The irony of a Black named school in the former capital of the Confederacy was not lost on the media.
Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi often uses the manipulative language of social justice to justify actions that go against the public’s wishes. For example: the majority doesn’t approve of the removal of statues or tributes honoring famous Confederate heroes. But in her first term as House Speaker, Pelosi removed a Robert E. Lee statue from a place of honor in National Statuary Hall and replaced it with a statue of Rosa Parks. She also pushed through legislation that eliminated all capitol statuary venerating famous Confederates. Pelosi justified her capitol cleansing with this language: “There is no room for celebrating the bigotry of the Confederacy in the Capitol or any other place of honor in our country.”
Speaker Pelosi also arrogantly ignored the majority opinion by encouraging the passing of a bill to rename all military bases honoring famous Confederates. Pelosi’s justification: “These names are white supremacists that said terrible things about our country,” Media never questions or censures Pelosi’s overblown verbal harangues. Getting media attention is more important to her than addressing public concerns.
The needs of the public are also not a concern of ruling class elites although their politicized language makes it appear otherwise. Elites generally engage in symbolic, trendy behaviors rather than substantive ones. Denigrating Southern heritage is typical and currently fashionable with elites. But the majority of Americans aren’t fooled and have no problem with Southerners celebrating their heritage.
Many of you are tempted to stop reading an article when you see the word “racism.” I understand that reaction. Hardly a day goes by that we don’t read about one of our White heroes being accused of racism. There are even revised histories portraying America’s Founders as a racist slaveholders, justifying the removal of monuments honoring them. We’ve been force fed racism claims for decades but most of those claims are media-created rather than authentic.
Media reports on the 1960s racial turmoil depict Southern States as hotbeds of racism and bigotry while exempting States in other areas from racial accusations. But this involves turning a blind eye to racial unrest outside of the South. A classic example is the violent attack on Martin Luther King by a White Chicago mob during King’s civil rights protest. Of this Chicago attack by White racists, Dr. King said: “I’ve never seen so much hostility in a demonstration before, and I’ve been all over the South.”
Not only have racist accusations mushroomed but the term “racism” is being continually redefined to include any unpleasant interaction between a White and a Black. A seemingly unfriendly facial expression, a less than enthusiastic greeting, a turning away, or any other routine mannerism can be construed as racist. Blacks have been so conditioned to expect racism, that they even perceive it in innocuous interactions with Whites.
Racism is a round-the-clock subject of print news, cable media, entertainment venues, political and social organizations, interviews with celebrities, and so forth. Any racial group defect, whether it be income, wealth, achievement, or whatever is deemed to be caused by White racism. Based on today’s media, you would think racism was the core of America’s creation. Today’s Woke Movement maintains that the American way of life is based on White racism that has oppressed and is oppressing non-Whites.
It is ironic that after decades of Anti-discrimination legislation and innumerable societal measures to eliminate racism, we are told that the phenomenon has actually worsened. Indeed, the Wokery maintains that racism is systemic and controls our society. One of the tenets of systemic racism is that White folks are racists even if they haven’t knowingly committed a racist act. The Pledge of Allegiance, the National Anthem, and the American Flag have all been characterized as racist symbols of hate.
Although highly publicized, most racist incidents will not hold up under scrutiny. They turn out to be either greatly exaggerated or outright hoaxes. But the Wokery continues to insist that Systemic Racism is at the root of our society, restraining achievements of minority groups. Woke militants also hold that traditional White culture impedes the elimination of racism.
But society-altering endeavors cannot continue indefinitely. They usually cross a line where their activities become unacceptable and a grass roots revolt develops. Ill-advised anti-racism objectives of Woke militants are causing great harm and they are actually considering the elimination of White culture. Hopefully White folks will strongly resist Woke militants.
The majority of Americans were born long after Leftist politics took control of news media and academia. Classrooms and cable TV influence children’s thinking very early. By the time they reached their teens, most view America with disdain, convinced that White racism keeps non-Whites locked into a slave-like existence. Also, most accept the establishment’s concept of ‘systemic racism’ as well as the claim that our existing society must be eliminated.
And that is the goal of Critical Race Theory (CRT): to eliminate (they prefer the term ‘dismantle’) existing society. Dismantling society essentially means eliminating Whiteness because CRT blames White culture for racism. CRT is the most pernicious of society-altering trends being promoted by militant groups, primarily Cultural Marxists.
The ease in getting the Juneteenth Holiday approval rushed through Congress encourages efforts to get CRT mandated as part of America’s academia curricula. CRT maintains that systemic racism characterizes our society with Whites being the oppressors and Blacks being the Oppressed. With CRT, all Whites are racists, even those who have never committed an act of discrimination or uttered a slur that could be perceived as racist.
The Woke generation , rooted in aspects of CRT, uses the characterization ‘White Supremacy’ for the murals in the Capitol Rotunda. Of course, the famous figures depicted are predominantly White – Christopher Columbus, George Washington, William Penn, Orville and Wilbur Wright, etc. But these are our Founders and heroes and should be honored regardless of skin pigmentation. The Rotunda does include a bust of Martin Luther King Jr. but that lone effigy isn’t sufficient to prevent the Rotunda from being labeled “structural racism.”
CRT militants are demanding that Capitol Rotunda murals represent today’s diversity. Using that excuse, various monuments and other tributes to historical figures have already been demolished. But Rotunda mural removals will only accomplish one of CRT’s goals – eliminating Whiteness. And it will leave blank walls. CRT activists don’t consider these murals works of art but rather examples of ‘ White supremacy.’ So we should be concerned that non-White figures, even contemporary ones, will be added to these age-old murals to make them ‘diverse.’
Myself and others who oppose society-dismantling trends are dismissed as right-wingers, arch-conservatives, reactionaries, and deplorables. I object to most of these labels but I don’t object to being called a deplorable. I even use that term to describe myself. Deplorable was originally, and still is for some, a term of derision. But it also has a polar opposite meaning; a traditionalist who ‘deplores’ insipid Leftist attacks on existing society and White Americans.
In previous eras, our country was characterized by the phrase “The American Dream” and it was assumed that Blacks, roughly 13% of the population, would assimilate into America's White culture. Indeed, for decades Blacks did assimilate into White culture while retaining crucial aspects of their own culture. Until recently, Black culture and White culture coexisted peacefully. But the mindset of the Woke generation is ending peaceful coexistence.
Can America’s entire history be reduced to merely ‘slavery and racism’? Can esteemed figures of the past be denigrated as simply oppressors of non-Whites ? CRT is the Woke generation’s most fashionable cause and its primary goal is the elimination of racism which requires ending White supremacy, i.e. White culture.
Woke militants are so convinced of the rightness of their cause that they will go to extremes to implement it, hence their attacks on White culture.
In the decades since the 1960s, there have been countless attempts to transform aspects of society. These endeavors had varying degrees of success but most lost their vitality before too much harm was done, so existing society could be redeemed. But the goal of Critical Race Theory (CRT) goes far beyond simply altering society. It demands nothing less than the dismantling of of White culture. This dismantling has already begun and is supported by Democrats, academia, and establishment Elites.
Gail Jarvis is a Georgia-based free-lance writer. He attended the University of Alabama and has a degree from Birmingham Southern College. His writing is influenced by years of witnessing how versions of news and history were distorted for political reasons. Mr. Jarvis is a member of the Society of Independent Southern Historians and his articles have appeared on various websites, magazines, and publications for several organizations. He lives in Coastal Georgia.