A recent article in Hillsdale College’s newsletter “Imprimis” compared Lebron James and Colin Kaepernick to Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson in wanting to “divide the country.” 

On a lessor point, it was in a figurative reference to the battle of Gettysburg, which Jackson wasn’t even present at, of course, being dead by then. The article was taken from an online lecture. 

This is disappointing, if not all that surprising.

I know some of you reading this attended or have donated to Hillsdale, and it is not my desire to offend you. Hillsdale is widely known as a conservative alternative to the Marxist indoctrination centers posing as colleges and universities in American academia. Oftentimes I find myself nodding in agreement over the pieces that appear in “Imprimis.”

I like a lot of what Hillsdale does. I appreciate their American heritage courses and other online lectures that are oftentimes free to the public. On the other hand, I also know Hillsdale president Larry Arnn was a disciple of Harry Jaffa, who battled our Southern literary champion Mel Bradford over the memory of Saint Abraham. 

I can accept that there are various schools of even paleo-conservatism or Jeffersonianism, and I’m being generous in classifying Hillsdale as coming to within sniffing range to either, because it really has rather more of a neo-conservative nationalist smell, if you ask me. 

I can also sometimes accept the old adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend. However, what I cannot accept is the sheer level of shallow stupidity in comparing Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson to Lebron James and Colin Kaepernick.

It’s a shame, too. The article was about how the radical Left is destroying professional sports – or the enjoyment thereof – in this country. I can get on board with that. Right on! Amen! Preach it! 

But then the writer had to go and say something so idiotic it tainted the entire piece. He was running on a great argument. Then he went and insulted a big portion of his cheering section, including me. 

Modern-day conservative Southerners ought to be used to that by now, of course – this shallow dismissiveness by other conservatives who routinely insult our heroes without much of a thought. The problem is beyond that, though. What turns my stomach is the incredibly shallow ignorance of the past by people who ought to know better – who ought to naturally be on our side, if they had enough gray matter to study and comprehend true history. 

I felt the same revulsion after reading the incredibly dumb comments by Republican Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw – usually a conservative hero – in which he called State statues to Southern heroes in the U.S. Capitol Building “Democrat statues” along with a lot of other juvenile-minded rubbish, before voting with the Democrats to remove them. 

How does one get elected to Congress and yet be so ignorant? 

Someone defended him and told me “well, except for that ONE thing, he’s spot on.”  Even if that were true, and it isn’t because Dan Crenshaw misses the basis of Jeffersonian conservatism by a country mile, I say that ONE thing is my EVERYTHING. It is the essence of my being. My soul. It is my culture, created with the help of the blood that still runs hot in my veins. To tear it down is to tear ME down. Every bit of destruction to that culture is like destroying a small piece of ME. 

It’s somehow worse when the destroyers seemingly haven’t the faintest clue of the beauty in truth they are helping destroy with their false and moronic statements. It’s worse when the destructiveness comes from people who if they were truly “conservative” in the traditional way, as opposed to whatever THIS is in 2020, would be fighting tooth and nail for the same principles that motivated men like Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. If they had an nth of the education and brain power of those two great men they would know better than to insult their memory with ludicrous statements and comparisons. 

Shallow neo-conservatives demand our support while insisting we repudiate our kin who sacrificed everything for community, home, hearth, family, and true Jeffersonian principles of self-government. But what else is new? I’m enough of a pragmatist not to wish them defeat at the hands of the literal Communists, whatever their walk of life. But I’m also enough of an idealist that I choose to support better people – better publications, better blogs, better politicians. 

Normally, by now I would have discussed WHY the aforementioned statements are wrong and unjust. However, society is so polarized now it would be a waste of ink. If you don’t already know, you haven’t read many pieces in the Abbeville Institute. And if you have, and still don’t know, I’m not sure what else I could possibly add. 

It is pointless to argue with most of these misguided people. Many aren’t deep enough, or know enough, to begin to comprehend what you’re conveying anyway. You’ll get a dumb cow look for your efforts. One Republican legislator simply walked away from me when he asked me what’s wrong with Lincoln and I told him. Some are intellectually lazy. They don’t have a desire to learn anything different from what they think they already know. Some actually do know better. They are opportunistic sellouts who have chosen their path. 

It is the latter people I have in mind as I close with an old proverb: “You can’t wake somebody who is pretending to be asleep.” 

Wes Franklin

Wes Franklin is an independent historian born, raised, and still living in the Missouri Ozarks.

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