Every living nation needs symbols. They tell us who we are as one people, in what we believe, and on what basis we organize our common life.
This fact seems to be very clear to the current leadership in Russia, particularly to President Vladimir Putin, in restoring and reunifying a country rent by three generations of Red and White enmity to achieve a national synthesis. With regard to things spiritual, this meant first of all the world-historic reunification of the Russian Orthodox Church, between the Moscow Patriarchate and the New York-based Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia. It also meant the rebuilding of the Cathedral of Christ the Savior dynamited by the communists 1931, not coincidentally the recent target for desecration by degenerates hailed by western “democracy” advocates.
Civic and military symbols matter as well. After 1991 there were those who wanted landmarks of the communist era to be ruthlessly expunged the way the Bolsheviks had themselves sought (in Solzhenitsyn’s description) to rub off the age-old face of Russia and to replace it with a new, ersatz Soviet image. Instead, wisdom prevailed. The national anthem adopted in 2001 retains the Soviet melody but with new lyrics (written by Sergey Mikhalkov, who with Gabriel El-Registan had penned the original lyrics in 1944!)—Lenin and Stalin are out, God is in. The old capital is again Saint Petersburg, but the surrounding district still bears the name Leningrad. The red star marks Russia’s military aircraft and vehicles, while the blue Saint Andrew’s cross flies over the fleet. The red stars likewise are still atop the Kremlin towers while the Smolensk icon of Christ once again graces the Savior Gate. The red banner that was hoisted triumphantly on the Reichstag in 1945 is carried on Victory Day. The remains of exiled White commanders like Anton Denikin and Vladimir Kappel were repatriated and reburied at home with honor.
I may be wrong, but I would like to think that perhaps Russia took a lesson from what until recently had been the American example. In his Second Inaugural Address in March 1865, as the “brothers’ war” was drawing to a close, Abraham Lincoln spoke of the need to “bind up the nation’s wounds.” In striving to do so, nothing was more important than our honoring the heroes of both the Blue and the Gray, perhaps most poignantly demonstrated decades later in the veterans’ reunions at Gettysburg. “Unconditional Surrender” Grant and “Marse Bobby” Lee, “Uncle Billy” Sherman and “Stonewall” Jackson, naval legends David “Damn the torpedoes” Farragut and Raphael “Nelson of the Confederacy” Semmes, cavalrymen “Fightin’ Phil” Sheridan and J.E.B. Stuart, and many, many others—these names belong to all of us. As Americans.
To say this is not to avoid the centrality of slavery in the southerners’ attempted secession or to address the constitutional question of whether they were legally entitled to do so. (Maybe California will have better luck heading for the exit. ¡Adios, amigos!) Nor does it sugarcoat white southerners’ perception of Reconstruction as a hostile, armed occupation or of the institution of Jim Crow racial segregation after federal troops were withdrawn and the Democratic Party assumed power. But the fact is that the mythos of North-South reconciliation in a reunited American nation was a foundation of our becoming an economic giant by the late 19th century, a world power at the beginning of the 20th (at the expense of the decrepit Spanish empire, with the celebrated military participation of former Confederates), and a dominant power after two victorious world wars.
That America may soon be gone with the wind. The violence at Charlottesville, the pulling down of a Confederate memorial by a mob in Durham, the removal of four monuments from Baltimore (which has one of America’s highest homicide rates) under the cowardly cloak of night, and calls for getting rid of many more are simultaneously the death throes of the old America built on one national concept and the birth pangs of a new, borderless, multiethnic, multilingual, multireligious, multisexual, ahistorical, fake “America” now aborning in violence and lawlessness.
He who says A must say B. When one accepts demonization of part of our history and placing those who defend it beyond the pale of legitimate discourse, one should hardly be surprised when the arrogant fury of the victors is unleashed. That takes two forms: the nihilist street thugs of “Antifa” and “Black Lives Matter,” and the authorities (both governmental and media, a/k/a the Swamp) who confer on them immunity for violent, criminal behavior. The former are the shock troops of the latter.
They’ve been at it for months, well before Charlottesville, across the country, with nary a peep from the party that supposedly has uniform control over the federal government. Our First Amendment rights as Americans end where a black-clad masked thug chooses to put his (or her or indeterminate “gender”) fist or club. To paraphrase U.S. Chief Justice Roger Taney in Dred Scott, loyalists of the old America have no rights which the partisans of the new one are bound to respect. Where’s the Justice Department probe of civil rights violations by this organized, directed brutality? (Or maybe there will be one, including looking into George Soros’s connection. If not, what’s the point of having RICO?)
To be sure, the spectacle of genuine racists on display in Charlottesville provided the perfect pretext for these people, but they’re not the cause. Far from forestalling the violent, revolutionary abolition of the historic America (definitively described by Pat Buchanan) by inciting some kind of white backlash—perhaps in the form of a race war as some of them despicably hope—the “Unite the Right” organizers at Charlottesville have accelerated the revolution. It’s a revolution that dovetails with the anti-constitutional “RussiaGate” coup in progress against President Trump, who is the last hope for preserving the historic American nation. If he is removed (is he the only one, even in his own Administration, fighting back?) and the nice respectable anti-Trump Republican party is restored, they’ll gladly join hands with their Democratic and media Swamp buddies in dragging what remains of America down.
If anyone is tempted to think that the new America will be more peaceful in world affairs, think again. It’s no coincidence that the same forces that want to bring Trump down and also redefine our country’s identity coincide almost entirely with those who want America aggressively to impose “our values”—meaning their values—on the globe. As I put it almost 20 years ago in Chronicles Magazine, in a somewhat different context, this fake “America” is the vanguard of Rainbow Fascism, at home and abroad.
No doubt the same terrible sense of foreboding, even worse, must have occurred to Russians in 1920, when they saw their country bloodily sacrificed on the altar of a crazed, internationalist ideology. Somehow, after paying an unimaginable price in war and repression, they emerged three quarters of a century later still remembering how (as the late General Aleksandr Lebed put it) “to feel like Russians again.”
If we fail to avoid the impending long night, will we Americans be so lucky?
Jim Jatras is a former U.S. diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership. He is the author of a major study, “How American Media Serves as a Transmission Belt for Wars of Choice.”