It seems clear to many of us that there are two rising tides in American life these days. One has been called by many names: Political Correctness, “Wokeism”, Cultural Marxism, Theoretical Revisionism, Radical Socialism, and any number of other sobriquets that are all a product of that absurd neediness of powerless “intellectuals” to assert their imagined sense of superiority.
What I call it should not be printed here, for it reflects the most primitive anger I can generate toward our fellow citizens, especially those who have co-opted American education in the cause of elitist European Socialism. Simply put, the radical Far Left of the 1960’s and 70’s is now in charge of American education and information.
The counter rising tide is the grass roots reaction to this sudden shift by the extreme left. It is the genuine outrage felt by millions of good hearted Americans who are now realizing that the threat of a socialist takeover of the United States is not hyperbole or hysteria, but is indeed the “facts on the ground” of our daily life. The fire bell is again ringing in the night, and the nation is roughly divided in half. As always, moderation and circumspection are the first casualties of such a schism as this Cultural Revolution. And nowhere are the forces of intolerance busier than they are in what they believe to be our insufficiently unrepentant Southern States. They believe correctly. We are indeed unrepentant. We have nothing for which to repent. In fact, we hear the call to battle.
Our challenge is greatly exacerbated by the cold hard facts. Our opponents have lesser numbers but an almost total control of the “mainstream media, i.e., the major television networks, the major American newspapers and publishing houses, and the gigantic film and entertainment corporations. The School Boards of the ever expanding “woke” are almost entirely committed to their personal need for our mandated re-education.
Of course, Yankee statues aren’t being destroyed and their buildings aren’t being renamed; with the exception of those which are named for prominent Southerners like Washington and Jefferson and Madison. Without those men we would have no American Revolution, no Declaration of Independence, no Bill of Rights, and no Louisiana Purchase. In other words, no America. And we would be bereft of the almost endless list of Southern contributions without which our nation would likely not have grown past the Jamestown Settlement.
The creed of the Democratic Party of Jefferson and Jackson is now “South Bad, South Racist, South Needs More Punishment”.
It is remarkable that those of us on the receiving end of this torrential social and political onslaught have not retreated. We have not given one inch in this war for the soul of our nation. This refusal to yield, this stand we are now taking, is the one great thing that gives hope for the future. For it would be easier for us to just “go along to get along” quietly and obsequiously.
But that is not in the Southern nature. There are many millions of us who love this place, who understand its bonds of blood and toil, who truly love its rhythms and its pulse, its sounds and its smells and the honest sweat of its work, who love its weather and its music, the music of its nature and the music of its people. Southerners of all races and backgrounds value these natural blessings in a way that those who don’t have the fortune of Southern birth simply cannot understand. And so we are standing our ground, the same ground of independent thought that generations have found to be our greatest birthright.
To betray and disparage our heritage, our culture, and our families would require a cowardice reserved for the great turncoats of history. For we Southerners are trying to defend the most basic American principles of freedom. No region of our nation has given more of her sons and daughters in protecting those freedoms, best articulated during our Revolution by the eloquence of Jefferson. When Patrick Henry of Virginia said, “Give me Liberty or give me Death,” he meant every word of it.
And we know that we must mean it, too. For if we don’t stand up for the rights that Southerners have fought and died for in all of America’s defenses of freedom, we will have lost everything that is important.
The strident anarchists who have us in their sights insist that we are somehow guilty of centuries of sins against their core, their essence, their humanity. It seems that when a person has bought into the ideology of victimhood, there are suddenly victimizers all around.
But I have paid my proud Southern dues for 80 years now, and I have never been guilty of any racial sin against anyone of any hue. I grew up in a railroad shack without running water or electricity, and all of our neighbors were African Americans. I fought for Civil Rights “back in the day” and I would do the same thing tomorrow. I am descended from an 18th century Virginia slave and a score of Tar Heel Rebels, one of whom was killed at Frayser’s Farm on the last day of McClellan’s failed Richmond campaign, as his younger brother fell wounded beside him.
It is my firm belief that there is only one way to treat other human beings, and that is same way that you would like for them to treat you. That old Golden Rule seems to be forgotten in these days of Antifa and Black Lives Matter.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was a genuine Christian, flawed but faithful, like all the rest of us. And when he said, “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slaveowners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood, his vision became a reality almost immediately.
That dream came true and we descendants have been dining together for over a half-century now. But the far-left proponents of Critical Race Theory and Black Lives Matter are doing their level best to divide Americans as “white victimizers” and “black victims”. And they are succeeding. The progress achieved by Dr. King’s great movement is being reversed by the “woke new Left”.
King was a Southerner and he was proud of that fact. And he knew that the angry white folks whom many in the “Movement” feared were the people most like the poorest and least powerful class of black folks. We were all in the same economic boat.
After the passage of the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1965, I saw the people of the South come naturally together as neighborly Americans with a deeply shared culture of language and weather and food and music and sports.
But Jim Crow wasn’t born in America in 1619. This inculcated racism has been a part of “man’s inhumanity to man’ since prehistoric tribes first began encountering each other on their hunts. I’ve travelled extensively in my life, including forays through Africa. I met Nelson Mandela in Capetown. In Johannesburg during the Apartheid crisis, I shared the progress we Southerners had made by putting our Southerness ahead of our skin color.
But now has come the tsunami of self-righteous intolerance sponsored by American academia. “Wokeness”, that living oxymoron, has now infected every facet of American life from the Boy Scouts to the Pentagon and from the Board Rooms to the Rest Rooms. It is a national hysteria. The only way to stop this is by any peaceful means necessary. We must fight this cancer every day, all day long. For at its core, what is happening now is perhaps the most Un-American trend since the end of Jim Crow.
Simply put, as an American, I have the right to believe what I have come to believe through a lifetime of study, observations, and research. I have worked in factories, on farms, on the railroad, on movie sets in Hollywood and I served a couple of terms in the United States Congress. I believe that a truly just society must respect differences of opinion, especially differences of opinion about our shared American journey.
My opinion might not be your opinion, but if you expect me to respect your opinion and your right to hold it, then I must expect and demand the same from you.
I never really thought that this common sense tradition of American freedom of thought andnexpression would become so endangered, especially by those whom we trust to teach each generation. The old Red Left is laughing it up in Hell right now. That freedom of expression is not only endangered, it may be in critical condition.
The only people who can stop this movement is us, We the People. That’s you and me and everyone we love and trust, “standing up and talking back” just like Tom Paine and Patrick Henry and every other rebel that had to live with their consciences. In our nation’s new crisis, we must all volunteer to do what we can, all day long.
In one of England’s darkest hours during World War Two, Winston Churchill, a great admirer of Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson stirred his nation with a piece of poetry he had memorized as a child. I believe it speaks to all of us Southrons in these dark days:
“Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the Gate:
To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds,
For the ashes of his fathers,
And the temples of his gods”