“A monarchy that’s tempered with republican equality.”
Who would have thought, 100 years ago, that by the end of the American Century the great burning public issue would be the Confederate flag? Back in 1900, Americans were eager to put their quarrels behind them. Rebs and Yanks had fought side by side in Cuba, and writers like Owen Wister were calling for reconciliation between the good people North and South and solidarity against the “Yellow Rich” who were even then destroying the Old Republic.
Even 40 to 50 years ago, Southern symbols were not subject to controversy. I well remember the hordes of Midwestern tourists who came to Charleston to celebrate the centennial of the firing on Fort Sumter. It was during those centennial years, in fact, that the Confederate flag was revived, and I do not recall hearing of protests from the NAACP or any other race-baiting organization. The most popular film in those days, North and South, was still Gone with the Wind.
That spirit of tolerance and national unity has disappeared, gone with the wind indeed, and the attacks on all Southern symbols have reached the proportions of a national campaign. Monuments to Southern leaders are defaced, flags that include the Confederate St. Andrew’s Cross are banned from hotel chains and corporate headquarters, streets and schools bearing witness to the Confederate past are renamed. Up here in Illinois, talk-radio programs are plagued by crank callers who think it is their duty to tell the people of South Carolina what flag to fly—as if the revived Ku Klux Klan of the 20th century had not been strongest in Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin; as if African-Americans were not moving South to escape the hell that Midwesterners have made of their cities.
The Northern liberal attack on Southern conservative traditions has been a great boon for organizations like the League of the South, but many patriotic Southerners who do not fully understand what the struggle is about persist in giving history lessons to their opponents. The flag controversy is not an argument over logic or history, but a struggle for power. In trying to prove their good faith, Southern apologists make much of the fact that their flag is not a symbol of racism, but a Christian emblem of a brave and honorable people who believed they were defending their homes and civilization itself. That is just the point. It is precisely bravery and honor, civilization and Christianity which the flag’s detractors are out to destroy, not only in the South or within the United States but everywhere.
The rewriting of history, the renaming of streets, the replacement of old symbols by new, the redesign of the calendar—these are the hallmarks of ideological revolution, whether Jacobin, Bolshevik, Nazi, or Democratist. And if the U.S. government has not yet sponsored a Festival of Reason on the Washington Mall, U.S. legislators and judges have done much worse in promoting an official ideology that is opposed to every decent thing Americans once believed in, from the Holy Trinity to a normal man’s love for the woman who will bear his children; and in marginalizing and demonizing the last few American men who love women, acknowledge Christ, or maintain the customs and traditions of their ancestors, the regime that beams its big-toothed benevolent grin to the entire world reveals its true colors.
Gone with the Wind was a dominant political myth from the 30’s to the 60’s, but in the years between David O. Selznik’s 1939 screen homage to Margaret Mitchell and the decision made by Selznik’s spiritual heirs, four decades later, to preface the cinematic travesty with an ideological warning against the film’s presentation of historical events and racial stereotypes, a new regime was taking shape. In the anti-Southern/anti-American world in which we find ourselves, the memorable performances of Hattie McDaniel and Butterfly McQueen would constitute hate speech, and Selznik, Victor Fleming, Margaret Mitchell, and Clark Gable would very likely stand trial for perpetrating a thought crime.
A visitor from 1960 might think he had lost his mind if someone told him that here in America a citizen could be fined and imprisoned for expressing a prejudice, that a misdemeanor could be promoted to a felony if the criminal could be shown to have been motivated by racial, religious, or sexual bigotry. Even New Republic/Weekly Standard liberals—and God knows these are people who have spent their entire lives injecting novocaine into their frontal lobes—even liberals are uncomfortable with the overcriminalization of thought and expression.
Overcriminalization and excessive punishment for certain classes of crimes are a clue to understanding this and every type of regime. In the Middle Ages, for example, particularly in areas where the Church exercised strong political influence, heresy and dissent could be treated as very serious, even capital crimes—a fact which would have astonished Greek and Roman pagans. Although the “crimes” of the Inquisition have been grotesquely exaggerated by the anti-Catholic propaganda we call history, medieval Christians were serious about their religion, regarding it as the foundation of their moral and social life and punishing deviations from it much as honeybees sting to death the defective member of the hive who improves upon the bee dance.
Religion—and I include even the false anti-religion of Marx—is not the only ideological basis for a regime. In Florence, where class warfare was the dominating principle, an aristocrat who slapped (even justifiably) a commoner could incur fines that exceeded his entire estate, and the liability for payment extended to his cousins and uncles. If the Florentines really wanted to punish someone, they simply declared him noble, much as Walter Williams and Clarence Thomas, for their opposition to this race-based regime, seem to have been declared virtual whites.
England went through a scries of phases. In the Middle Ages, the shrine of Thomas of Canterbury was the chief destination of Christian pilgrims. In Tudor England, when a series of thug monarchs were consolidating their power over the church and the economy, the principles of praemunire and lèse majesté were invoked to eliminate—literally—anyone unwise enough to consult the pope on theology or criticize the king (or queen), and the shrine of St. Thomas, which had been the visible symbol of the church’s power to limit tyranny, was broken up. Bv the 18th century, however, when capitalism had replaced the divine right of kings, there were hundreds of capital crimes in England, most of them having to do with property.
Why belabor the point? In each ease, the power base of the regime is virtually defined by the overcriminalization of acts (and thoughts) which would be punished lightly, if at all, in another society. Defenders of Henry VIII or Robert Walpole or N. Lenin will always find other reasons for admiring their regimes—the dignity of the Anglican prayer book, a booming economy, the enfranchisement of the poor—but the core of the regime is whatever it overprotects.
The Third Reich is a case in point. Nearly every month, I receive two or three hysterical cards from American brownshirts, insisting that the Führer was simply a patriotic German who did not really persecute the Jews. It goes without saying that many good Germans found plausible reasons for supporting the Nazis against the communists, but what sort of patriotic regime deprives its own citizens of liberty, property, and life on the basis of a race-theory?
Nazi apologists argue that Hitler was responding to excessive Jewish influence over German institutions. If that were really their concern, the Nazis might have followed the example of earlier antisemitic rulers who persecuted or expelled practicing Jews, along with any converts they suspected of duplicity. Some half-Jews, it is true, did remain in Germany; some, even, were found within the ranks of the Nazi Party. However, the Nazis were not interested in Judaism as a religion but as a race, and they punished even quarter-Jews whose parents and grandparents had converted, often sincerely, to Christianity.
No, the Nazi regime was defined by its obsession with race and nation, and Slavs no less than Jews had to be eliminated, except as a source for slave labor. To describe the Third Reich as merely “antisemitic” is a slur on antisemites.
Hitler’s regime in Germany was at least as evil as the Bolshevik regime under Lenin and Stalin, but such an equation sounds mildly subversive in a country where one component of the reigning ideology is the holocaust, transformed from history into a myth which has displaced the reality of millions of Jews, Poles, Gypsies, and Catholic priests murdered by the Nazis and which, for many American Jews, has also displaced (as Jacob Neusner has observed) the authentic religion of Judaism. It is a myth, not because the Nazis did not kill a great many people, but because the meaning of those terrible years has been twisted and distorted into a weapon to destroy every real and good thing in the traditions of European and American Christendom.
This point was driven home to me when I was serving on a Department of Education panel that reviews curriculum projects to determine their suitability for the USDOE seal of approval. One of the projects given to my panel was a holocaust education unit with the title (as I recall), “Facing History and Ourselves.” Even more than the enormous errors of historical fact and interpretation that were being fed to middle-school students, what really appalled me was the assessment of blame. After reviewing the materials, I got the impression that the real guilty parties were the German people, Martin Luther, the pope, and, ultimately, Jesus Christ, who founded the religion of antisemitism. The National Socialists got off comparatively unscathed—perhaps because they were, after all, socialists.
The significance was clear to me. The propagators of the new religion of the holocaust are not actually interested in the sufferings of the Jews but in the destruction of every good thing that can be tarred with the Nazi brush: Lutheran and Catholic Christianity, patriotism and the affection for one’s own people and traditions, conventional morality, traditional art and literature.
Leo Strauss called it the reductio ad Hitlerum. If Hitler liked neoclassical art, that means that classicism in every form is Nazi; if Hitler wanted to strengthen the German family, that makes the traditional family (and its defenders) Nazi; if Hitler spoke of the “nation” or the “folk,” then any invocation of nationality, ethnicity, or even folkishness is Nazi; and although some leftist Jews who exploited the holocaust tried to exempt their own religion and traditions from the rules they were setting up for the rest of us, by the 196(l’s there were gentile (and some Jewish) leftists who attacked Zionism and even Judaism itself Noam Chomsky may be an honest intellectual, according to his lights; as a leftist, however, he makes a bad Jew.
In Germany, France, and Canada, any criticism of the dark myth of the holocaust—valid or not—is subject to penalties. I do not defend the work of, for example, Robert Faurisson or even David Irving, but the abuse which they and their colleagues have received is out of all proportion to their sins. I share the general distaste—moral and aesthetic—for holocaust revisionists whose arguments seem to come down to the contradictory propositions that Hitler killed no Jews, and that it is too bad he let so many of them get away. But even if all critiques of holocaust propaganda were of this type—and they are not—how would that make Ernst Zundel any different from Marxist professors who spent so many years defending Stalin or Mao or, for that matter, from all the sycophantic historians who have defended Sherman’s March, the Dresden firebombings, and the two atomic bombs dropped on Japanese civilians?
Some day, alien scholars will find the contradictions amusing, how the same people can defend the First Amendment rights of Larry Flynt but try to silence David Irving; how they could speak, last summer, of bombing for peace and, in the memorable words of our man in Prague, of the first war fought for humanitarian principles; how democracy can mean, for example, that the elected Slobodan Milosevic is by definition a dictator while the unelected king of Saudi Arabia, who persecutes Christians for merely displaying the cross, is a legitimate ruler and an ally of this great democracy.
In February, Madeleine Albright went into one of her typical seizures of enraged kakolalia when some portion of the Austrian people voted for Jörg Haider’s Freedom Party. That Marxists and ex-Marxists and quasi-Marxists are in charge of half the governments of the world does not disturb Pani Albright, and she has no problem in working for an anti-American leftist who, as a student, organized demonstrations in support of the murdering communists.
This is not hypocrisy: The point of all the leftist arguments is not democracy or free speech or human rights. They are interested solely in the defense and expansion of their regimes, which are all based on historical lies: the greatness of Franklin Roosevelt; the popular front alliance against fascism; the moral, intellectual, and political virtues of “Dr.” Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here is a short course in the evolution of the American regime. In Hie beginning, we revered the great Washington as the prototypical American, the farmer who left his plow to defend the people’s liberty. Later on, most Americans (especially Democrats) added Jefferson and Jackson to the pantheon, as a corrective to the austerely aristocratic Father of Our Country. Mer the war that destroyed the union, Lincoln was turned into the martyr for equality.
By 1945, the year of my birth, Washington was on the dollar bill, Lincoln on the five-spot and the penny, and FDR on the dime. Under this benevolent national socialist empire within the form of a republic, two of our four national political holidays were the birthdays of the Father of the Republic, George Washington, and of Abraham Lincoln, the stepfather who turned the republic into an empire. Democrats continued to celebrate Jefferson and Andrew Jackson, and Northerners indulged the Southerners in their adoration of Lee and Stonewall Jackson.
Like most regimes, the United States of mv childhood was based on a series of constructive myths, and just as most conservatives were content to accept FDR as the hero who saved us from socialism, most Southerners accepted Lincoln as a tragic leader who may have plunged the country into war but would have prevented the violence of Reconstruction. In the short run, such positive myths were useful—even necessary—components of a national ideology that glued the diverse races, classes, and sections together. The only important question-apart from truth, which is never a political question—was whether or not the revolution inaugurated by Lincoln and expanded under the New Deal could be contained.
In fact, the early years of the Cold War succeeded in containing more than Soviet expansion. In the Eisenhower decade, leftist revolution was stuck in the mud, making progress something like Mark Clark’s advance through Sicily. Then came the evil Kennedys, their betrayal of our conservative allies everywhere, (particularly in Vietnam where they arranged the murder of President Diem), and their embrace of a leftist demagogue who turned an honorable movement for civil rights into a social and political revolution that betrayed his own people while undermining all that was best in the old bourgeois order.
In his dissolute private life, in his Marxist anti-American principles, in the social destruction he inflicted upon both black and white communities, Martin Luther King, Jr., is the perfect symbol of the new American regime that makes slaves of all of us, and it is fitting that we no longer have days to honor Washington and Lincoln, only a generic Presidents Day that lumps Millard Fillmore, Warren Harding, and U.S. Grant together with Washington and Lincoln. Today, the first political holiday of the year honors the man who, while accomplishing nothing, still stands as a symbol representing the destruction of our Constitution, the nationalization of our schools, and the extinction of our political liberty.
If I had a career, the previous paragraph would have damaged whatever my observations on the holocaust myth and President-for-Life Roosevelt had failed to destroy. We do not live in a free country, if by “free” we mean a place where people may speak their minds without being punished. Nearly every spokesman for the conservative “opposition” is careful to interlard his speeches with references to his admiration for FDR, his reverence for the legacy of Martin Luther King, his determination to fight for the rights of women and “gays,” and his sensitivity to the feelings of blacks, Mexicans, Jews, and Indians—oops, Jewish and Native Americans.
The regime, as most intelligent Americans have come to realize, is based on race—or rather, racism. Those who dissent from the racist myths of white devils, patriarchal males, bigoted Southerners, anti-semitic Christians—to say nothing of Uncle Toms, Orcos, and self-hating Jews—will find themselves the focus of a regime-sponsored hate campaign that will cost them their reputations and their careers. In Canada, they may even be fined or jailed for repeating biblical injunctions against sodomy, and the Canadians are only one chapter ahead of us other Americans in the book of racist tyranny.
Other elite classes have used class resentments—or brute force—to bolster their power; ours employs the time-honored technique summed up by the deified Julius in his formula Divide et impera, divide and rule, and they are willing to silence, fine, imprison, and persecute any dissident who says that, underneath the new clothes he is not wearing, the emperor has tattooed his sacred person all over with swastikas.