Artur Schnabel . . . once said of Beethoven’s sonatas that “this music is greater than it can ever be played.” . . . The stories of American history are better than they can ever be told.

        —from David Hackett Fischer, “Telling Stories in the New Age,” March 1997

In my childhood, most human creatures, as they set forth to work or play, dance or love, touched hallowed ground, a pond, an everlasting spring, an old elm, a farm that generations had known and lived on and by. Children know these special sympathies for places, where they can hide and pretend. There can be no greater delight in privacy than the tunnel made in bales of hay, leading to a fragrant, hollowed-out, and usually itching place in a barn loft, which most little girls instinctively suspected. This pretending is child’s best play, that ineluctable moment, just cast of Eden, when eyes are still shining from the afterglow of the Garden, just before sight dims in the light of the world, and pretending trembles upon quickening knowledge.

        —from Andrew Lytle, “Myth in a Garden,” June 1987

Unlike conscientious Englishmen or Northerners, when Celts and Southerners said the}’ were being lazy, they were not reproaching themselves, but merely describing their state of comfort. They suffered no guilt when they spent their time pleasantly hunting, fishing, dancing, drinking, gambling, fighting, or just loafing and talking.

These are not the characteristics that make great empires, and no Celtic society ever made one, but the Celtic Southern way has two redeeming virtues. First, when outsiders supply the discipline and constancy, Celts are capable of mighty achievements, as British history has shown. Even under the unimaginative rule of England, the Irish and the Welsh produced an almost endless number of poets and playwrights, actors and musicians; and the Scots, for more than two centuries, kept the United Kingdom supplied not only with its best fighting men but also with its most brilliant philosophers, physicians, scientists, and engineers. The Celtic contribution in America has been no less profound.

        —from Grady McWhiney, “Celtic Heritage of the Old South,” March 1989

Except in the sense that America was settled in new geographic territory, the United States is of course no younger than any other country in the Western world. Its roots stretch deep into the distant past. The Framers of the Constitution and the American people at large were imbued with classical and biblical prejudices and habits that helped shape the work at Philadelphia. From the point of view of what ensures American social and political order, the least significant part of the Constitution is the written document. Ear more important is the unwritten constitution, all of those religious, moral, intellectual, and aesthetic habits and attitudes that are implied in the written text. Without them the Constitution would not have been conceived as it was, and without them it could not have been successfully put into practice.

        —from Claes G. Ryn, “Cultural Diversity and Unity,” June 1995


One of the most pernicious legacies of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao is that any political leader responsible for less than, say, three or four million deaths is let off the hook. This hardly seems right, and it was not always so. In fact, there was a time when American conservatives took the lead in publicizing Allied, and especially American, atrocities against Germans. High-level journalists like William Henry Chamberlin, in America’s Second Crusade, and Freda Utley, in The High Cost of Vengeance, pilloried those who had committed what Utley called “our crimes against humanity”—the men who directed the terror-bombing of the German cities, conspired in the expulsion of some 15 million Germans from their ancestral lands in the east (in the course of which about two million died—see de Zayas’s Nemesis at Potsdam), and plotted the “final solution of the German question” through the Morgenthau plan. Utley even exposed the sham “Dachau trials” of German soldiers and civilians in the first years of the Allied occupation, detailing the use of methods “worthy of the CPU, the Gestapo, and the SS” to extort confessions. She insisted that the same ethical standards had to be applied to victors and vanquished alike. If not, then we were declaring that “Hitler was justified in his belief that ‘might makes right.'” Both books were brought out by the late Henry Regnery, the last of the Old Right greats, whose house was the bastion of post-World War II revisionism, publishing works like Charles Callan Tansill’s classic, Back Door to War.

        —from Ralph Raico, “Nazifying the Germans,” January 1997

[William E.] Borah’s Old Guard Republican enemies considered him a dangerous radical, but his credo was more accurateK’ described by Walter Lippmann in 1936 as “a lineal descendant from the earliest American liberals, an individualist who opposes all concentration of power, political or economic, who is against private privilege and private monopoly, against political bureaucracy and centralized government.” He kept a notebook of his favorite quotations, and one entry by Oliver Goldsmith seems to summarize his personality and politics: “Great minds are bravely eccentric; they scorn the beaten track.”

        —from Justin Raimondo, “The Lion of Idaho: William E. Borah and the Progressives,” November 1998

[Robert] Frost’s belief that we love the things we love for what they are, from our familiarity with them, made him highly critical of those Americans who ignored their local and national loyalties while seeking to embrace an abstract love for the whole world: “We think the word ‘provincial’ is a shameful word here in America. But . . . you can’t be universal without being provincial, can you? It’s like trying to embrace the wind.” Throughout his life, the poet remained profoundly skeptical that any meaningful or practical and effective love and loyalty could be practiced by any individual beyond nationalism, for mankind in the abstract. Sovereignty began in the conscience of each individual, and extended to his local community and finally to his country, but not to a remote and abstract humanity . . . Frost’s skepticism toward Wilson’s League of Nations was extended to the United Nations after World War II . . . . The independence of nations was primary to Frost; their interdependences were secondary, because nations, like individuals, needed to be free to pursue their own destiny.

In an interview with Frost in 1957, James Reston summarized his negative conservative social and political views: “He is against everything and everybody that want people to rely on somebody else. He is against the United Nations. He is against the welfare state. He is against conformity and easy slogans and Madison Avenue, and he hasn’t seen a President he liked since Grover Cleveland.” In 1959 Louis Untermeyer, Frost’s lifelong Marxist friend, also summarized what the poet most disliked, but added what he insisted upon:

He is still against One World, World Federation, Universal Brotherhood, Unity, the breaking down of barriers in the interest of Oneness; he is unalterably against One anything. You may quote him to the effect that “Something there is that does not love a wall,” but you can be sure that he much prefers the opposed quotation that “good fences make good neighbors.” He insists upon Nature’s divisions and differences; in art, as in nature, we want all the differences we can get. In society, too. We want people and nations to maintain their differences— even at the risk of trouble, even at the risk of fighting one another.

Frost did more than pay lip service to individual freedom; he loved personal freedom, for himself and other men and nations, with an intense and constant passion, and he refused to sacrifice any part of his independence and self-reliance for the promises of security by politicians or ideologues, whether national or international.

        —from Peter StanUs, “Robert Frost,” August 1992