Cancel Culture Comes South

These violent times in which we live are in some ways unparalleled. For Southerners we have seen monuments memorializing and honoring our past heroes and history—monuments and symbols which have stood for a century—torn down and smashed by frenzied mobs, unrestrained in too many cases by a compliant or spineless government.

Various writers and commentators have attempted to describe the reasons and motivations behind this uprising in the streets and near madness in the media and among our political class. In many cases, these authors reach back into history for analogies or comparisons. But ongoing history never offers the same event repeated exactly.

Of course, the riots of 1968, ostensibly over the Vietnam War, figure in these historical comparisons. On a literary level, we recall the works of George Orwell on the growth and results of totalitarian Communism and collectivism (Nineteen-Eighty-Four and Animal Farm) or the late Jean Raspail on the very real peril of mass immigration which would overwhelm our civilization (The Camp of the Saints, 1975 and 1995). And there are other examples which come to mind, especially on the infiltration and perversion of academia and of our entertainment industry.

But none of these literary classics or historical analogies can measure or describe fully what we are witnessing today. It is unique.

A film that I own came to mind recently, and in so many ways I think it encapsulates as no other artistic or literary work has the period we are passing through. No, I am not thinking of the destruction of monuments or the riots and the looting: they are, I would suggest, a derivative, a by-product of the mentality that reigns today nearly everywhere, in our politics, in our media, in entertainment, and most particularly in that most critical element of society (and its continuance), education. There are reasons behind those frenzied and unhinged “mostly peaceful” demonstrations, and those reasons are not just the financial largesse of a George Soros or of Hollywood and Silicon Valley mega-millionaire elites.

That movie is a Russian opus, Burnt by the Sun (1994), directed by the Russian anti-Communist (and monarchist) Nikita Mikhalkov. It is set in 1936 more or less at the height of the Stalinist purges, and its main character is Comrade Sergei Kotov, a devout Communist, a hero of the Russian Civil War, an “Old Bolshevik.” But Kotov commits one small sin: as Soviet tanks on maneuver are about to trample the wheat fields that belong to the local village collective, with his senior status in the Party he orders them to halt. A family friend, Mitya, arrives; Mitya is working with the Soviet secret police, the NKVD, and because of Sergei’s action he denounces him based on a trumped up charge of treason. A black car with NKVD agents arrives and whisks him away. Sergei is forced—indeed, does so willingly in the name of the party and the ideals of Communism—to confess to his “crime” and is executed.

Comrade Kotov’s mental attitude is indeed very much like that of our modern-day revolutionaries. What the party, what the movement commands must be obeyed willingly, even joyfully, even if the target is some symbol previously praised by the party or…oneself.

If the monuments to Robert E. Lee or Stonewall Jackson were originally the targets—the “low hanging fruit,” as it were—of the radicals, more easily attacked, they were only a first step in the revolutionary project. Now, ironically, if the movement defines monuments to Frederick Douglass and the Abolitionists as “racist,” then they must go also, they must be brought down. If a textbook says faintly favorable things about John C. Calhoun, then it must be purged or “corrected.” Then on to the next level, to Christopher Columbus, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington, and to every facet of our culture. Thus, the film Gone with the Wind henceforth will be shown with disclaimers about slavery and racism (after being pulled temporarily by WarnerMedia), and perhaps any number of John Wayne movies need to be contextualized as well.

The sweep of this destructive vision is immense. It shapes and determines the mindset of millions, bending them to its will, even for those who are entrusted ostensibly with the very defense of our civilization. Those defenders cower in silence or fear, if not going along with the Revolution.

This vision, as Mikhalkov underlines in Burnt by the Sun, is motivated essentially by a type of religious fanaticism, a kind of Anti-Christianity, with its own emblematic symbols, sacred teachings, parables, saints (and sinners), a confessional (and repentance) system, and accompanying manufactured history.  In that sense, it mirrors in a very dark and evil way the traditional faith which for two millennia has informed and annealed our civilization. It is that civilization—Western and Christian—which is the target, and no manner of half-measures on the part of our supposed conservative opposition can stem or defeat it.

That civilization has had its most persistent defenders in the South.

In previous essays I have called those who now rampage not just in the streets but intellectually and culturally, “Insaniacs,” that is, those possessed—and that indeed is the proper word—of an outlook and vision that is antithetical to the traditions and heritage of our civilization, the opposite of “normal.” They are to quote G. K. Chesterton, “insane,” in the sense that they reject the living reality and foundations of our history. They are indeed outside reality, and, thus, they feverishly attempt to create a new “reality” which is disconnected from the laws of Nature and the past, and owes almost nothing to two-thousand years of Christian tradition. They are driven by an all-consuming madness—it is impossible to reason with them, it is impossible to compromise with them. No act, immoral or vicious as it may be, is beyond their use in their quest to destroy. Everyone, including their own adepts, must bend to the will of the Insanity. For it is a new paradigm, a new religion far more insistent, demanding and dogmatic than any church of the past.

Just like Sergei Kotov, very recently a major left wing political activist (devoted to rooting out racist “imperialism and colonialism”), Jessica Krug, a professor of African-American Studies at The George Washington University (Washington, DC), came clean. For years she had claimed that she was black, but now blubbering, she has admitted her “sin”—Krug confessed that it was all a lie: she is actually white and Jewish. She had been prevaricating for years: “I am not a culture vulture. I am a culture leech,” Krug wrote tearfully. “I have thought about ending these lies many times over many years, but my cowardice was always more powerful than my ethics.” She continues: “You should absolutely cancel me, and I absolutely cancel myself.”

At first it was her zealous desire for this new form of “salvation” (and possible advancement)—she would become black or a minority, which in the new religion is equivalent to a kind of reserved sainthood, a special and elevated place of predilection for the Elect. But now, recognizing her immense “sin” against the new faith, comes her abject “confession” and public announcement about engaging in multiple lies, her guilt, which like Kotov and any number of those Bolsheviks shot in 1936-1937, she accepts with the same zeal as those victims of Stalin’s purges exhibited as faithful and dutiful party members.

“You should absolutely cancel me, and I absolutely cancel myself,” she cries, perhaps seeking some form of expiation. But unlike in traditional Christianity, with its loving and forgiving God, Krug may not get forgiveness from her progressivist allies.

She illustrates in a certain very disturbing manner what we face: it is not just the destruction of monuments to heroic Confederates—it is not just the unchained violence and looting in the streets—it is not just an unhinged anti-Trumpism politically in the media or in academia. In a way Krug is emblematic of the age-old spiritual war between the Children of Faith, the inheritors of our civilization and culture entrusted to them by their ancestors, and those programmed minions, those dark demiurges out of Hell itself who answer not to God but to the Evil One.

This, then, is the conflict we find ourselves in, and just like our Crusader ancestors and the Heroes of 1861 we must answer the Call. Failing that, we shall perish and future generations will curse our names.

Continue reading about Jessica Krug and Cancel Culture here.

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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