What 2020 Means for Southerners

During the past couple of months, from shortly after the presidential election until now, seven installments in the MY CORNER series have been picked up and (re)published, and while most of these dealt specifically with the election, an emphasis on the South and the vicious attacks upon it were never far from my thoughts.

To forthrightly and openly defend Southern, especially Confederate heritage these days marks one as a highly visible target in our “woke” society. Already I have been doxxed, once very seriously. The Daily Tar Heel, over at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, has attacked me for my writings defending Southern traditions and symbols. The old, discredited canards put out by Morris Dees and his Southern Poverty Law Center (e.g., that I am a racist, Neo-Confederate, etc.) continue to pop up from time-to-time. I am now more or less used to the “hate calls” and anonymous messages (many of which have come from Chapel Hill/Carrboro or “the Peoples Socialist Republic of Durham, NC”) which occasionally show up on my answering machine.

My reason for offering what I write has always been to share my thoughts and ideas with others, if they should be interested.  And that certainly applies to the overwhelming assault on Southern heritage and its symbols. For what transpired during 2020 was a kind of Communist Revolution in our American saga, a true pivotal point in which the powerful forces of our managerial elites, those elements—both Democrat and Republican—of what we term “the Deep State,” used the George Floyd incident, the myth of police brutality toward minorities, and more broadly historically untenable accusations of  prevalent (white) racism, as an excuse to eradicate any public (and increasingly private) memorialization not just of the Confederacy, but of all American history. According to this template, the entirety of that history is corrupted and tainted by brutal white racism and must therefore be purged to its core.

This campaign of cultural cleansing and extinction has counted upon the complaisance, even the active collaboration of politicians and leaders who had previously claimed to be defenders of this country’s traditions and heritage, indeed, who were entrusted in their elected offices by voters who believed them to represent a reasoned and conservative opposition to the rampant madness that possesses the nation currently.

Here in North Carolina, a leading Republican conservative in Sampson County turned tail and led the charge to remove the monument to Confederate veterans in that rural county. The same thing occurred in Franklin County, where a Republican attorney who 0nce defended prominently Confederate monuments was the deciding vote by the Louisburg Town Council to remove the monument that had graced the center of the community for over a century.   Such examples of abject cowardice and the collapse of supposedly-principled elected leaders abound with increasing frequency. With disgusting “fear and trembling” establishment Republicans, go along to get along. The traditions and heritage we have received from our ancestors be damned. Perhaps, maybe probably, they were never really with us all along?

In a recent conversation with a Republican “conservative” who sits on the town board of a nearby community, I was informed that I was wasting my time defending our symbols—the contemporary age had no room for them, and we just needed to let them go. And that if we didn’t, then the media would destroy us, crucify us, we would lose our jobs, we would be harassed and “cancelled”—and, as my friend declared: “we can’t stand that.”

As he spoke those words I reflected back to my ancestors—those who took up arms in defense of North Carolina and the rights of its citizens. I recalled an ancestor in the Continental Line (John Cathey) who died on a British prisoner ship in Charleston harbor in 1781, and of another (Hill E. King), barely 17 when he enlisted in Confederate service, who was wounded at Bentonville, and who walked 100 miles home to Onslow County.

They were white, and thus in the new American “woke” society they carry indelible guilt, the ineradicable sin of historic white supremacy, for which there is no redemption. For the old American republic seems now more to resemble an incubus which is aborning as in the eerie classic film of 1968, “Rosemary’s Baby.” Like the Gadarene Swine, possessed, we careen off the cliffs of the Sea of Galilee to our doom below. Our nation that once touted itself as “the world’s greatest democracy,” has become no better that an Eastern European Soviet satellite state, circa 1950, and probably worse.

In the words of Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, after the horrible destruction and revolutions following World War I:    

    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Not a comforting thought is it that the country created by the Framers in 1787 with what they hoped would be sufficient safeguards against the inherent corruption of “democracy” towards tyranny, would nevertheless throw off those safeguards and embrace the inevitable totalitarianism that “egalitarian democracy” produces, the domination of the “money power” that Jefferson warned about, and a managerial elite that cajoles and buys off the supposed opposition.

Since the conclusion of the War Between the States in 1865, with almost all the various constitutional amendments enacted since then, and with the defecation of so-called “civil rights” legislation and accompanying court decisions, the country has been on a downward spiral, increasing inertially as we descend with apparent insouciance into what English writer John Milton called “the slough of Despond.”

There were only five Republicans (Senators Cotton, Cruz, Hawley, Kennedy, and Paul) representing Southern states in the Senate who voted recently against the National Defense Authorization Act which will strip the names from all military bases named after Confederate leaders [S.4049, Title III, subtitle E, sec. 377]. Eighteen voted in favor. On the motion to override President Trump’s veto of that noxious legislation, just the same five supported the president’s veto. The great majority of Southern GOP senators, thus, fell into line with the demand of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and turned their collective backs on their history and their ancestors.

Like the “democratic” deputies of the interim Russian republic sitting helplessly in the Russian parliament, the Duma, in November 1917 (old style October 1917), waiting for Lenin and the Communist to assume power, they dutifully accept their subservience and their eventual abolition.

There is a superb post-Communist Russian film, “Burnt by the Sun” (1994), which in many ways is emblematic of this. Directed by brilliant cineaste Nikita Mikhalkov (a monarchist and anti-Communist), the film tells the story of Comrade Sergei Kotov, a loyal Soviet officer, who is accused of crimes he did not commit, but due to his loyalty to the Party, he makes his confession. He has already accepted the Communist framework and template, he has, as it were, already “drunk the cool aid,” and after that, there really is no option left to him.

Most of our Republican political class protest ever-so-loudly and insincerely that they “are with us,” that they “oppose the Revolution.” But they have drunk the cool aid. Like the frog in a pot of water on a stove that slowly has the fire turned up under it, at first the water is just fine, but slowly the frog is boiled alive.  Thus it is for them. Either they must actually stand against the Revolution, or they must finally accede to it and become a part it, and like the frog or Comrade Kotov embrace their fate. 

But, for us, we must go forth, like Colonel Mosby’s raiders—the “Gray Ghost”—to harass and bedevil the Enemy, with all the hardships that means, with conviction and commitment, knowing that our hope is in God. 

In the end evil must fall.

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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