A review of The Age of Entitlement: America Since the Sixties (Simon and Schuster, 2020) by Christopher Caldwell

In his recently (2020) published book The Age of Entitlement, Christopher Caldwell, a northeast “intellectual” boldly proclaimed something that few Southerners would dare to say. He declares that the Civil Rights Act of 1964 created, “a rival constitution, with which the original one was frequently incompatible—and the incompatibility would worsen as the civil rights regime was built out.”[1] Mr. Caldwell is associated with numerous opinion-molders in America’s northeast corridor of the elites—such as the Claremont Review of Books, the New York Times, the Weekly Standard, and the Financial Times. He supports his penetrating analysis with clear logic and indisputable data that will warm the hearts of the average conservative—although few will dare to agree publicly. The Age of Entitlement will win him few friends among America’s politically correct ruling elites. A Southerner making such statements would be branded immediately as a closet Klansman sending coded racist messages to his fellow evil Southern racists seeking to restore racial segregation or possibly even African American slavery!

According to Mr. Caldwell, during the years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, America’s entire history as a nation was re-branded as a series of evil efforts to discriminate and exploit racial minorities.[2] As the expanding federal bureaucratic state grew in power, it established a new system of judging and punishing all forms of discrimination.  Gradually the federal bureaucracy moved from race to feminism, gay rights, immigrant rights, and transgender rights. The “prohibition” against any form of discrimination against the federal government’s protected classes meant the death of private property rights, and the death of the First Amendment’s right of freedom of association.[3] He points out that the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and its evolution via leftwing activists, aided by a left-leaning activist federal judiciary, was “a legislative repeal of the First Amendment’s implied right to freedom of association.”[4] Caldwell views the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act as the “legal” mechanism that allowed leftwing activists to do what the Constitution would not allow.[5]

The Age of Entitlement describes, as “Revolutions,” the political, judicial, and federal regulatory establishments arising from the Civil Rights legislation of the 1960s. It was a revolution that destroyed the protections enshrined in the Constitution and replaced it with the dictates of the ever-changing ideology of political correctness. Under the guise of Civil Rights, a new American constitution was foisted upon America. It is a new constitution that endorses the principle of governmentally enforced censorship—an America in which one must be very careful about off-hand comments or jokes that might be viewed as producing a hostile and discriminatory environment.[6] Others refer to this form of censorship as “soft censorship,” because it is mainly indirectly enforced by the government. The government uses the threat of judicial or regulatory actions to compel private businesses, organizations, and local governments to self-censor.[7] Under America’s Civil Rights constitution freedom of speech and freedom of association is verboten if it violates America’s new ideology of political correctness.

Under the Civil Rights constitution, all aspects of American life, public as well as private, are now subject to federal control. Minorities that were never considered when the Civil Rights Act was passed now have access to its protection.[8] Illegal immigrants benefited from this new Civil Rights constitution.  Federal unfunded mandates requiring bilingual education arose under the Civil Rights constitution.[9] The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 (IRCA) was foisted upon the American public as a onetime amnesty for illegal immigrants in exchange for severe control measures to prevent future illegal immigration. The Civil Rights Constitution prevented the enforcement of the “Control” measures while allowing amnesty.[10] Under the Civil Rights constitution, a federal judge in California was empowered to nullify the democratic will of the people as expressed in a 1994 ballot initiative, Proposition 187. The proposition required the denial of welfare to illegals; it passed by an eighteen-point landslide.[11] Under America’s Civil Rights constitution, democracy is permitted only if it endorses America’s politically correct ideology.

This is a book that deserves our attention. The author dares to call to attention the failures of the so-called civil rights movement. But three significant faults run throughout the book. They are faults common to virtually all national conservatives such as Hannity, Limbaugh, or Levine.

The first fault is that the author implies that racism in America is primarily due to the evil attitudes and actions of Southerners. He asserts that the Civil Rights Act was necessary to uproot the “sham democracies” in Southern states[12] and to “humiliate” those evil “bigots” down South.[13] By now Southerners should be well aware that our place in modern American life is to serve as the nation’s scapegoat for slavery and racism. The primary purpose of current and unborn generations of pacified Southerners is to remain “upon the stools of everlasting repentance.”[14] The history of Yankee racism is long but effectively censored from the public.[15] National conservatives who dutifully worship Lincoln carefully avoid acknowledging Lincoln’s stated intentions to preserve the new western territories for “white men” and to use it “as an outlet for free white people.”[16]

The second fault is that the author assumes the position that the current Constitution is a legitimate constitution—the natural outgrowth and maturing of the democratic will of the American people. He sees no fundamental difference in the functioning of the current federal government and the one that was established by the Sovereign States in 1787-8 when they ratified the original Constitution. The author is not alone—all national conservatives work from this same false premise. They assume the current supreme federal government is the final judge as to the extent of its own powers under the Constitution. But a supreme federal government—like the one we are ruled by today—was specifically rejected by the Founding Fathers who drafted the original Constitution! What the Founding Fathers presented to the Sovereign States and what the Sovereign States eventually ratified was a Constitutionally limited federal government within a Republic of Sovereign States.[17] If America’s Founding Fathers and the once sovereign states did not create the current supreme federal government, then where did the current supreme federal government come from?

Lincoln and his Republican Party are the founding fathers of America’s current, illegitimate, supreme federal government.[18] Under Lincoln’s Constitution, the federal government exercises ultimate authority as to the limits—if any—of its authority under the Constitution. State’s Rights, as so clearly outlined by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, no longer exists! State’s Rights was replaced by Lincoln et al, with state’s privileges—privileges exercised only if they do not violate the ruling elite’s politically correct federalism.

Mr. Caldwell is incorrect. The Civil Rights Acts of the 1960s did not establish a “rival constitution.” The expansion of federal powers subsequent to the 1960s Acts was impossible under America’s original Constitutionally limited federal Republic of Sovereign States. But after Lincoln, the founding father of the current supreme federal government, such expansion was merely the natural evolution of Lincoln’s supreme federal government—a government run by Northern elites for the benefit of Northern political, social, commercial, and financial elites. Under Lincoln’s supreme federal government, crony capitalism became an art-form—something Senator John C. Calhoun (SC) termed “the spoils system” and warned America about in the 1840s.[19] Calhoun also noted that no part of the Constitution is self-enforcing.[20] Absent real State’s Rights—the Constitution means whatever the supreme federal government says it means. What Mr. Caldwell and other conservatives fail to recognize is that under Lincoln’s supreme federal government, there are no enforceable limits to federal powers.

The third failure in The Age of Entitlement is that while it makes an excellent case against the current, uncontrollable federal government, it offers no solution to the problems the book so efficiently outlines. In several places, the author admits that even when conservatives win elections—they still lose the ongoing cultural war. Contemporary conservatives have a well-documented legacy of not wining even when they win elections.[21] The primary reason is that conservatives meekly accept, and worship, Lincoln’s supreme federal government. Even Mr. Conservative, Ronald Reagan, never produced a fundamental change in the unlimited power of the federal government. Only a fundamental change in the current supreme federal government will prevent the evils Mr. Caldwell outlines—a return to a Constitutionally limited Republic of Sovereign States.

Mr. Caldwell did a brave work—he deserves our respect for being willing to subject himself to the attack of the PC Gestapo. I urge all traditional Southern conservatives to give The Age of Entitlement a thorough and careful read.

[1] Caldwell, Christopher, The Age of Entitlement (Simon & Schuster, New York: 2020), 6.

[2] Caldwell, 10.

[3] Caldwell, 15, 18.

[4] Caldwell, 278.

[5] Caldwell, 34.

[6] Caldwell, 156.

[7] Kennedy & Kennedy, Yankee Empire: Aggressive Abroad and Despotic at Home (Shotwell Publishing, Columbia, SC: 2018), 293-4.

[8] Caldwell, 168.

[9] Caldwell, 171.

[10] Caldwell, 118.

[11] Caldwell, 119.

[12] Caldwell, 12.

[13] Caldwell, 159-60.

[14] Owsley, Frank Lawrence, The irrepressible conflict, in, I’ll Take My Stand (1930, LSU Press, Baton Rouge, LA: 1983), 63.

[15] Kennedy & Kennedy, Punished With Poverty-the Suffering South (Shotwell Publishing, Columbia, SC: 2017), 43-4, 73-4.

[16] Kennedy & Kennedy, Punished With Poverty, 96 footnote 299.

[17] Kennedy & Kennedy, Yankee Empire: Aggressive Abroad and Despotic at Home, 201-13.

[18] Kennedy & Kennedy, Yankee Empire: Aggressive Abroad and Despotic at Home, 273-9.

[19] Calhoun, John C., On the Constitution and Government, in The Works of John C. Calhoun, Vol I, (Appleton & Co., New York, 1851), 347.

[20] Calhoun, 54.

[21] Kennedy, James Ronald, Dixie Rising-Rules for Rebels (Shotwell Publishing, Columbia, SC: 2017), xi-xv.

James Ronald Kennedy

Ron and his twin brother Don are the authors of Punished by Poverty, The South Was Right!, Why Not Freedom!, Was Jefferson Davis Right?, and Nullify Tyranny; Ron is the author of Reclaiming Liberty, Nullification: Why and How, and Uncle Seth Fought the Yankees. Ron is past Commander of the Louisiana Division of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and is a life member of the Louisiana Division and the National Sons of Confederate Veterans. Ron is a frequent speaker at SCV, Southern Heritage and other pro-Liberty groups. Ron received a Masters in Health Administration (MHA) from Tulane University in New Orleans, a Master of Jurisprudence in Healthcare Law (MJ) from Loyola University Chicago, a Bachelor’s degree from Northeast Louisiana University, a certificate in Paralegal Studies from Louisiana State University and holds numerous professional designations in healthcare and insurance Risk Management.

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