A Battle for Western Civilization and the South

On Monday night, August 20, 2018, approximately 200 to 250 raucous demonstrators gathered in a mob on the campus of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and proceeded to tear down the century-old statue, “Silent Sam,” a monument memorializing the over 250 university students who fought and died during the War Between the States. University police, whose primary goal is to protect university property from vandals and destruction, stood down and did nothing to protect the monument, apparently acting on orders from university administrators.

All across the nation—and not just in the states below the Mason-Dixon Line—there is an insistent effort to take down, remove, and, at times, destroy the monuments that represent our history and heritage. Certainly, it has been the statues honoring Robert E. Lee, P. G. T. de Beauregard, Jefferson Davis, and Confederate veterans that have been highlighted most specifically as targets by this movement and featured in the Mainstream Media. Indeed, very likely a majority of American citizens not that familiar with this advancing campaign probably believe that it is only those Confederate symbols which are the object of this frenzied attack, and that once those monuments are disposed of, further demands for “cultural cleansing” can be blunted and contained, or will just go away.

In many ways, this temporizing approach appears to be the view of much of the establishment “conservative movement,” and as well, of many leaders of the Republican Party.

It is an approach that leads to cultural suicide.

An excellent example of this pusillanimous position came recently in an article by John Hood, chairman of the board of the conservative John Locke Foundation, in Raleigh, North Carolina. In his essay on the status of the three Confederate monuments now standing on Capitol Square in Raleigh currently being challenged by the administration of Democratic Governor Roy Cooper, Hood demonstrated obvious discomfort at having to defend symbols admittedly of his own Tar Heel heritage, declaring:

Why not erect more monuments and public art to commemorate a broader range of individuals, movements, and events? That’s a noble enterprise that could unify North Carolinians across the political spectrum…. There has to be a better way.

Hood was a vigorous and very vocal Never Trumper (and continues to be), whose positions on most issues mirror standard establishment Republican boilerplate. And like them he answers accusations of racism, bigotry, and white supremacy from the Farther Left, as a dog answers the dog whistle of his owner…and like how most Neoconservatives respond in fearful fright to their Farther Left critics.

What actually bothers him are not the ideologically-motivated attacks on the monuments as symbols of Southern heritage and history, but, as he makes clear, the physical attacks on them. And to prove his bona fides to the Farther Left, he adds his own exculpatory mea culpas for his state’s and region’s “history of hate,” and points proudly to his own record of reparations (of the financial kind) for slavery, racism, and white supremacy:

Although my love of state history is broad and deep, it does not extend to the Confederacy itself, the founding principles of which I view with contempt. Not only do I celebrate the abolition of slavery, the destruction of Jim Crow, and the expansion of freedom, but I also believe these events deserve far more official commemoration than North Carolina has yet erected…. I admire the planned North Carolina Freedom Park, for example. To be constructed in Raleigh on land between the General Assembly complex and the Executive Mansion, the park would “celebrate the enduring contributions of African Americans in North Carolina who struggled to gain freedom and enjoy full citizenship.” Similarly, the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation has just announced its Inclusive Public Arts Initiative, which will fund up to 10 new projects across the state with grants of up to $50,000 each. The intent is to “share stories of diversity, equality, inclusion and equity as they relate to the people and places of North Carolina, especially those whose stories have not been or are often untold,” the Foundation stated….. Indeed, the grant maker for which I serve as president, the John William Pope Foundation, helped pay for a mural painted several years ago at North Carolina Central University’s law school.

Hood, like the other epigones of the establishment “conservative movement”—the “Big Con” as my friend Dr. Jack Kerwick terms them—is unwilling to engage in the intellectual battle required because, essentially, he agrees with the Farther Left historically and philosophically, and he is willing to temporize: just don’t damage the monuments physically, and, somehow we can all do a “Rodney King” and get along—“There has to be a better way.”

This defeatist approach—which is that of Neoconservatives generally in the cultural war we find ourselves in—puts me in mind of a quote I first heard used by my mentor Russell Kirk; it is from Hilaire Belloc’s This and That and the Other (1912) (p. 282):

“[T]he Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this that he cannot make; that he can befog or destroy, but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilisation exactly that has been true.  We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us: we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile.”

Is this not the very essence of modern Neoconservatism’s—and of John Hood’s–craven compliance in what is, in fact, an ignominious retreat, an insouciant giving way to the enemies of our civilization?

The standard template employed by those self-denominated “social justice warriors” is that the monuments to the Confederate dead represent “racism,” “a defense of slavery,” and “white supremacy.”  Yet, as is apparent from reports from across the nation (and from Canada and Western Europe),   Confederate monuments are only a first step. After them—indeed, now concurrently with the attacks on them—come assaults on symbols memorializing Christopher Columbus, Franciscan Fr. Junipero Serra (who founded so many of the early Spanish missions in California), Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, George Washington, the politically-incorrect names of cities, towns, streets, and even colleges—any visible marker of our Western Christian civilization. The list is enlarged almost daily.

What John Hood and his Neoconservative associates do not understand…or, refuse to understand…is that their praxis leads to the imminent peril that Belloc wrote about in 1912, and to the triumphant return of the “rough beast” determined to destroy and replace Western Christian civilization that poet William Butler Yeats foresaw at the cataclysmic end of the World War I in his poem “The Second Coming” (1919): that “rough beast” held at bay for twenty centuries “vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle” in Bethlehem,  who now “slouches” as the Demon Serpent of the Old Testament to be (re)born.

The John Hoods of this world wish to have it both ways: unwilling to antagonize the dominant and vociferous voices on the Farther Left, while giving the illusory appearance of opposition to the Barbarians.

Such allies in the civilizational war in which we find ourselves are no allies at all: like the chicken in the middle of the road, they will be ground down by the cultural Marxist “semi” that comes hurtling down the highway.

And who are those who have largely inspired and motivated this multifaceted campaign of cultural destruction? And who have injected fear and fright into the hearts of not just the leadership of the Democratic Party, but increasingly have neutered real opposition from “conservatives” such as John Hood? Who are they—the proverbial tails that wag the establishment dog?

There are two groups that have played primary and critical roles in this ongoing effort and in the destruction of the Confederate veterans’ memorial in Durham back in August 2017, and, more recently, in the tearing down of the “Silent Sam” monument on the grounds of the University of North Carolina:

(1) The Democratic Socialists of America, who have been at the forefront of rowdy demonstrations, petitions, and other actions aimed at removing the “Silent Sam” monument from the Chapel Hill campus. In addition to these activities, their Web site (May 7, 2018) declares full support for student Maya Little and her vandalism of the monument.

(2) The Communist Workers World Party, whose members led and actively participated in the destruction of the Confederate veterans’ monument in Durham, North Carolina, and who advocate “mass struggle” and “revolutionary solutions,” including: “Abolish Capitalism – Disarm the Police & ICE Agents – Fight for Socialist Revolution – Defend Black Lives Matter.” The Workers World activists have turned Durham into a center of revolutionary Communist ferment. A detailed description of their actions may be found on their Web site.

These radical groups have spearheaded the efforts and mob actions, and they hold both the state Democratic Party and many Republicans in subinfeudated bondage to their rhetoric and demands. They set a linguistic narrative and policy template which have captured not just major portions of our politics, but are fawned over by the near totality of our media and are taught as unchallenged truth by our educational system and in our colleges. To dissent is to risk an organized and violent demonstration, demands for censorship, and, at a minimum, the smearing of one’s reputation by the press.

Unlike John Hood and those like him, these groups and individuals fully know what they are doing and what the results would be should they succeed. They respond only to our uncompromising, intelligent, and fierce opposition.

Back in 1951 English-Cornish poet Jack Clemo (1916-1994) foresaw the age in which we now find ourselves:

“The darkness comes as you foretold.
You hear the fretful moan,
The alien winds that rave
As bitterly the grey truth breaks
On disillusioned Church and frantic world.
You see what form the judgment takes,
What harvest faithless generations reap:
The folds half empty, no clean pasture for the sheep;
Soil sterile where the liberal waters swirled
Which now have hardened into mud
Of festering ethic, fruitless hands grown chill
With their starved, pallid blood;
And the sky freezing still.”  [from Jack Clemo, “The Broad Winter”]

And the poet’s answer, as must be our answer:

“When I saw this I chose to dwell
With torturing symbols of the Citadel.”

We must stand for—we must dwell within—our Citadel, our inheritance and culture, our very identity and being as a people representing 2,000 years of Western Christian heritage, or we shall disappear into the abyss of history.

Postcript: On Wednesday, August 22, 2018, the North Carolina Historical Commission met to take action on a proposal by Governor Roy Cooper (D) to move the three Confederate monuments (i.e., the Henry Wyatt Monument, the Monument to North Carolina Women of the Confederacy, and the Confederate Veterans’ Monument) on Capitol Square in Raleigh, North Carolina, to the Bentonville Battlefield. The Commission had appointed a subcommittee at its meeting of September 22, 2017, to research the legality and advisability of such an action. The governor made his proposal purportedly based on his interpretation of the North Carolina Monuments Protection Law of 2015. But after due examination the subcommittee reported that they could find no way around the conditions set down in the Monuments law, that they were, thus, unable to approve the governor’s proposal. The final vote of the full Historical Commission was 9-2, against relocation, with two members demanding that the Commission simply ignore state law.

But what the Commissioners did do was attempt to placate the Farther Left by strongly condemning racism, white supremacy, and the principles which, they declared, motivated the Confederacy—recommending that signage be erected near the existent Confederate monuments to put them into historical “context.” And that the state executive should proceed with proposing additional monuments to celebrate the state’s “diversity and minorities.”

It is thus obvious that the “John Hood syndrome”—and the historical and ideological narrative that sends the political and cultural establishment into paroxysms of fear, not wishing to be labeled a “racist,” “white supremacist,” or “fascist”—played a primary role in their considerations. Although the law prevented them from relocating the monuments, with alacrity and haste they proposed a way around those reminders of North Carolina’s heritage, and it will be fascinating to witness how this latest stage in our culture war develops.

One thing, however, is certain: if it had not been for those staunch defenders of our heritage and history—mainly North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans, who were unwilling to compromise or give way in 2015—the North Carolina Monuments Protection Law would never have been enacted. And without that unalterable resistance, that willingness to hold high the principles and honor of our Confederate ancestors, the results of the August 22 meeting would have been entirely different.

This war—this time—is not a time for compromise or for leaving the battlefield. The battles have just begun. Either our enemies win, or we do. The options are that simple…and that stark. Our civilization and culture are at stake.

John Hood, take note.

About Boyd Cathey

Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations. More from Boyd Cathey

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