The polls show that 33 per cent of the public still gives Dubya Bush a favourable approval rating.  Who could these people be? Some of them, no doubt, are well-meaning dupes in the early stages of Alzheimers. But there is a hard core of latent fascism out there. Though they deviously misuse the idea to slander opposition, leftists are not entirely wrong to point out the dangers of authoritarian super-patriotism. Every country has them: people who believe that “My country right or wrong” is equivalent to “The Leader right or wrong”; who regard questioning the government as treason worthy of the direst punishment. Sometimes the type reaches a critical mass in society, as in Germany in the 1930s.

I have learned this from email hate letters, usually anonymous. Like anyone idiotic enough to broadcast his fulminations on the web and elsewhere, I am accustomed to such. Interestingly, I have received very little hate mail from leftists, a great deal from super-patriots. It seems to be the same people who object to my criticising Dubya Bush and to my saying anything favourable about Southern traditions.

I recently had the misfortune to get on a wire service report of an occasion in which I dared to speak ill of the ongoing campaign to suppress the Confederate flag. Of many who were deeply offended, none had the initiative shown some time back by the anonymous Union Leaguer from Maine who mailed me a chamber pot which he had labeled “Robert E. Lee’s Soup Tureen.”  (And they say Southerners can’t forget the war.) In the more temperate comments, usually anonymous, I was referred to as “creepy” and as an anti-American suffering from a “defiant, stubborn, and ignorant attitude.” But here is the best:

You are a perfect moral argument for abortion. If you were black, you’d be the perfect moral argument for lynching, and if you were Jewish, you’d be the perfect moral argument for Auschwitz.

These are not liberals worrying that I do not have the right attitude toward black folks. They are super-patriots. They invariably point out that the war happened long ago and that we lost and should have been hanged for our treason. They don’t seem to have enough historical understanding to envision that the Confederates who had fought four time their numbers to a standstill and often made the invader run, would hardly have sat still waiting to be hanged. Or to consider what kind of country the United States would have been after all that hanging. If it all happened so long ago and they won, why are they so hot and bothered that they have to denounce as treason every effort to discuss the merits of the historical question? People who at this late date are not willing to see that the issues of the war were a little more complicated than “treason,” seem to be the same government worshippers that I have described above who regard distrust of Dubya as a repudiation of patriotism.

Lincoln gave them the original excuse, of course, when, after being elected by 39 per cent of the people, he justified massive military invasion by describing the actions of fourteen democratic and constitutional state governments as “combinations of lawbreakers” too numerous to be suppressed by his marshals. The war for the Union passed into mainstream American consciousness as a noble crusade, in Lincoln’s pretty phrase, to prevent government of, by, and for the people from perishing—in addition to the selflessly benevolent mission (which never really had that character) of freeing the slaves. Actually, the rhetoric that pervasively represented the Union cause at the time was not like that at all. It was about enforcing obedience to government, punishing resistance to the order and authority of those who ruled. That is, it contained a good deal of latent fascism like that of my correspondents. This rhetoric combined the power impulses of New England Puritans and the authoritarian Germans who had immigrated to the U.S. after 1848.

One would think that fellow citizens, even we misguided Southerners, would be cut a little slack, but in fact we are always the first people that the power worshippers want to kill. I will have to think about why that is so. A few of us still remember the neckless U.S. Marshals from Cleveland and Detroit beating up Ole Miss students in 1963 (whether they had done anything or not). Do you think the unindicted government murderers would have carried out their massacre if the Branch Davidians had been in Ohio or New Jersey rather than Texas?

A few final random thoughts on the way we are now (and I promise to shut up):

Always, if you possibly can, avoid singing the praises of people who

—launch aggressive wars unrelated to national defense and in callous disregard of the suffering of innocents: Attila the Hun, the first French emperor, the chancellor of the German Third Reich,  U.S. Presidents Lincoln, McKinley, Wilson, Clinton, Bush II, etc.

—spend profligately and burden future generations with immense debts: the U.S. Congress.

—deliberately misuse and undermine the vital foundational principles and texts of a society: the Supreme Soviet, the U.S. Supreme Court, televangelists, the Hague Tribunal, etc.

—systematically distort and misrepresent public events and persons with malice aforethought:
Joseph Goebels. Pravda, U.S. television news, multicultural historians, etc.

—glorify selfish, immoral, vulgar, and decadent behaviour: U.S. entertainment media and professional sports industry.

The rulers of America are real optimists. They think they can continue to enjoy a First World economy and military with a Third World population.

SOURCE: From www.chroniclesmagazine.org.

Clyde Wilson

Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina where he was the editor of the multivolume The Papers of John C. Calhoun. He is the M.E. Bradford Distinguished Chair at the Abbeville Institute. He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews and is co-publisher of www.shotwellpublishing.com, a source  for unreconstructed Southern books.

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