In at least seven articles published in The Atlantic since 2015, we are given abundant reasons for “sanitizing” Southern urban spaces of Confederate plaques and flags. We also learn from this politically correct publication why Charleston has benefited from being redecorated with statues celebrating black slave revolts. The Atlantic bestows special commendation on a statue commemorating Denmark Vesey, the firebrand who incited a slave insurrection in the 1820s. But one feature article in 2015 finds an overriding reason that The Atlantic’s fans might want to hold back from pulling down all Confederate monuments just yet: “If we do away with monuments like the Calhoun statue, we risk erasing how these memorials reinforced racial inequality in the past. This would constitute a distortion of history, of memory, in its own right. We also risk losing sight of the insidious legacies of these monuments today. “
This then is the justification for keeping those evil statues around, to remind us of exactly how evil the old order was before present leftist elites began changing everything—presumably for the better. Friends tell me that the PC Taliban squads are eager to deface or pull down anything in Charleston pertaining to William Gilmore Simms, one of the most famous American novelists and historians of the antebellum period. The literary figure who was referred to as “the James Fenimore Cooper of the South” but who, unlike Cooper, was also a distinguished American historian, became a plantation owner in the 1840s and lent his support to the War for Southern Independence. Those may be more than enough grounds to trash his memory and to defile anything that is associated with Simm’s life. Or so one might infer from the way The Atlantic treats the ongoing defilement of the Southern past, as a perfectly natural and justified reaction against pure wickedness.
The worst way to approach this defacing and destruction of monuments, plaques and graves is to pretend that they will eventually stop if we just don’t notice. Since these outrages have been accelerating and gaining endorsement from the MSM and, quite predictably, from Republican networks, it is ridiculous to believe they will cease to happen on their own. The “sanitizing” under discussion brings back memories of the razing of the statues of Jewish composers and writers by the Third Reich. Not surprisingly, that outrage also received endorsement from a sympathetic press, represented by the Nazi daily Der Völkische Beobachter. And seeing the constabulary benignly looking on while this destruction goes on as an everyday event reminded me that pro-Nazi or just cowardly police and judges did nothing to punish zealous vandals in interwar Germany. I believe that we too are living through a seizure of cultural and political power by a determined totalitarian enemy of our freedom; and this enemy seems to hate Southern whites with an obsessive passion. Needless to say, those who have monopolized the emotions aroused by Nazi crimes, don’t care a wrap about those who are now behaving like Nazi vandals. After all, these thugs now call themselves “antifascists” and claim that they’re also opposing the “Nazi” in the White House.
As a Northerner, I am appalled by the very limited opposition to this government-sponsored vandalism that has come from Southern whites, many of whose ancestors were involved in the struggle for Southern independence. When I watched the events in Charlottesville unfold last year, I kept asking myself why millions of Southerners had not descended on the Confederate war monument located in the city center to protest its removal, before those with a different agenda took advantage of the protest for their own use. In a commentary, I contrasted the generally weak Southern response to the ongoing extirpation and blackening of their ancestral history to the way Italians in New York City responded to the efforts of the local Taliban to pull down statues of Columbus. The question I addressed is why Italian Americans cared more about Columbus, an Italian who sailed to the New World under a Spanish flag five hundred years ago, than Southerners cared about honoring the memory of a great American hero who was one of their own.
What complicates this matter for me is that the vicious attack on the Southern past is part of something that goes well beyond the states that formed the onetime Confederacy. It is the opening round of what is likely to become a violent struggle for a total Cultural Marxist transformation of this country. Those who engage in politics as usual have tried to dislodge this concern from our minds. But the reconstruction continues to take place, and the defacing and ripping down of Confederate monuments is symptomatic of something much bigger and more ominous. For those who haven’t noticed: our media and educational institutions are inciting this transformation; and our established conservative movement is doing zilch to prevent it from happening.
Paul Gottfried is the president of the H.L. Mencken Club, a prolific author and social critic, and emeritus professor of humanities at Elizabethtown College