Nathan Bedford Forrest | Abbeville Institute

https://americangallery.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/general-nathan-bedford-forrest.jpg?w=505&h=610

Source: Nathan Bedford Forrest | Abbeville Institute

While Nathan Bedford Forrest, the “Wizard of the Saddle,” is fascinating in his own right [*], this essay is even more important for what it says about our own time. Following are a few of the more prescient words:

“So in a very literal sense the Civil War was the first World War. It not only created a powerful nation of organized resources and potential military might, but the greater world wars took their pattern from the American one, even to the trench system Lee set up at Petersburg. These wars were internecine, all of them; but it was not in this that we find the crucial resemblances. In view of a common Christian culture, wars within Europe would of necessity be internecine, but at least at one time there were Truces of God. What this country brought to Europe was unconditional surrender…

“The result of these wars has been the self-exhaustion of Europe, the loss of prestige before the world, and another possible shift in power from West to East. We seem to accept this with a fatalism strangely foreign to us [indeed it is, given the history of Europeans prior to this age]. The battle of Lepanto was fought and won by a Christian prince [to which I would add: as was the battle at the Gates of Vienna!]. Since that time Christendom, if we can still call it such, has been free of danger [until recently], but there is a strange resemblance between that time and this. The Christian princes were divided among themselves as in our world wars; they were threatened by their own invention, the firearm, which the Turk added to the first use of the disciplined regiment.

“We have only to remember Spengler’s warning as to the folly of teaching the techniques by which the West had overwhelmed the world and wonder [is not this also true today, given that the third-world population explosion which threatens to overwhelm the West was made possible due to Western advances in agriculture and medicine?]. Will the time come when we will pray for another Lepanto? There is no Christian prince today strong enough to take a stand. This country [the U.S.] is presumably strong enough at least to risk a defense, but to stand always on the defensive is to prepare for defeat…”

I am reminded of the words J.R.R. Tolkien placed in the mouth of Boromir, prince of Gondor, in The Lord of the Rings: “Gondor wanes, you say? Yet Gondor stands. And even the end of its strength is still very strong.” True enough; yet only with the aid of the Riders of Rohan was Gondor able to break the siege by the forces of Mordor – and even then, were it not for the destruction of the One Ring and consequent overthrow of the Dark Lord, Sauron, that victory would have been but a respite.

Where are our Riders of Rohan, our Winged Hussars? And how shall we unmake the “One Ring” of our own age?

 


 

* And no, to get this old shibboleth out of the way, Forrest was not the founder of the KKK, though he was elected – in absentia, and with neither his knowledge nor desire – its head. Rather, he used his considerable moral authority to disband that first incarnation of the Klan, when it had ceased to be a protective organization, and become one engaged in mere vigilante and often criminal activities.

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The Red Hen, The Murder of Southern Hospitality and The Spirit of Destruction | The Stream

What happened to Sarah Sanders Friday night [June 22nd] at the Red Hen in Lexington, Virginia is an abomination.

Source: The Red Hen, The Murder of Southern Hospitality and The Spirit of Destruction | The Stream

Most of us, I suspect, have heard of this incident, and I have commented on it elsewhere. My issue with the episode – aside from the rudeness, which, granted, was extreme – is the hypocrisy. I do believe that a business has or should have the right to refuse service to anyone, at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all.

(But the time to make that decision is before you have begun to serve them; kicking them out in the middle of dinner, unless for disruptive behavior, is extraordinarily unjust, mean-spirited, and inappropriate, in my book.)

But what really gets my goat is that this is seen as acceptable, even praiseworthy, by some or many Democrats, while at the same time, a Christian baker who politely declines to craft a special cake for a same-sex wedding – even offering to help the parties find someone who doesn’t share his moral compunctions – is excoriated by the Left-wing establishment. And don’t even get me started on Maxine Waters…

That, however, brings us squarely back to that pesky issue of civility, or as this article names it – appropriately – hospitality. Don’t want to serve someone? Fine, don’t: but politely turn them away at the door, don’t wait until they’ve ordered and are eating before you kick them out. Once you have welcomed them into your establishment, no less than if it were your home, they are your guest, and deserve to be treated as such, unless they do something egregious.

This goes (as does Southern hospitality in general) all the way back to the ancient Celts, who believed that even an enemy could not justly be attacked, once he had been afforded guest-right within one’s hall. So long as he behaved himself, a guest was sacrosanct – and sometime even boorish behavior was tolerated, so long as the person was a guest. This is the tradition, and reasonable expectation, that was turned on its head by the owner of The Red Hen, one that goes back literally millennia. No wonder many people are up-in-arms about it!

It would be as if the aforementioned Christian baker had started working on the cake, and then, half-way through, decided, “Y’know, I don’t think I should be doing this. I’m going to stop, and tell them to go somewhere else.”

Worse, even, because traditionally, an inn, tavern, or by extension, restaurant, has been seen as a “house,” and those served are “guests,” in a way that customers at an ordinary business are not. Again, the owner should be free to decide who he or she lets into his or her house, but once guest-right has been granted, they should be treated like the guests they are.

Unfortunately, as this article points out, this is part of a larger problem, a larger societal malaise. Civility, courtesy, and the traditions which mandate and enforce them, are out of vogue with a dismayingly large percentage of the population, these days. Iconoclasm, and destruction of traditional norms and mores, is becoming the “new normal,” among too many segments of our present society.

But of course, actions have consequences; and while some folks may have applauded the actions of Stephanie Wilkinson, the owner and a transplanted New Yorker (surprise, surprise… a Yankee, or perhaps one ought to say, a “damned Yankee”), many others did not – and that includes other businesses in town, who realized the damage this has done to the image and reputation of Lexington, Virginia, itself. As the article puts it,

“If you come across I-40, then head north for several hours on I-81, Lexington is a natural place to stop, but not necessary. How many will now drive on by, worried that their presence is not welcome? ‘That’s the place that wouldn’t serve Sarah Sanders.'”

GOP Congressional candidate Ben Cline quickly tweeted,

“On behalf of my hometown of Lexington, I want to apologize for the rudeness of one liberal New York transplant (who also happens to be Meryl Streep’s cousin). We hope you will come back and enjoy our area’s true southern hospitality,”

while Historic Downtown Lexington’s Facebook page pleaded,

“We do not condone the actions of Stephanie Wilkinson, owner of the Red Hen Restaurant and Director of Main Street Lexington.

“The negative impact and nasty backlash towards our little community is downright appalling.

“Please do not condemn our town for one persons actions.

“To The People, Mr. President Trump & Secretary Sarah Sanders we sincerely apologize for the poor behavior and decision of ONE PERSON!”

In a fine example of democracy and free enterprise working the way it should, Ms Wilkinson was voted out as director of Main Street Lexington, and The Red Hen itself was closed for ten days, although it reopened yesterday – unsurprisingly, to both protests and defenders. Its ultimate disposition remains in doubt. But this controversy is a symptom of a larger disease, one battle in a larger war.

That war is, as I have pointed out in more than one post on this blog, a war against Western civilization itself, and the norms and values that underpin it. Here in the U.S., the most recent outbreak of hostilities began with attacks on the Confederate flag, moved on to renaming streets, parks, and schools, then to removing monuments linked to the Confederacy.

But the War Between the States was only low-hanging fruit; soon protesters were attacking monuments to people who had nothing to do with the Confederacy, including Andrew Jackson, Teddy Roosevelt, Francis Scott Key – even Washington and Jefferson. And since his election, they have been going after not only President Trump but, now, anyone associated with him.

Anyone who thinks that this was about the Confederacy, or slavery, or anyone who think it’s merely about the President, is sadly deluded. This is, as one Facebook friend of mine has phrased it, a slow-moving Kristallnacht against our nation, and against Western civilization / Christendom itself. As the linked article aptly notes,

The spirit that has been unleashed on this nation is one of destruction. It has but one goal. Remove Trump from office? No. You’re deluded if you think it stops there. He’s just one chunk of flesh and blood. The goal is to consume in fire. To consume common decency, to consume friendships, to consume civil discourse, to consume any hopes of compromise and problem solving, to consume our nation.

It must be resisted, as the article again states, “with fervent prayer and determined voices.” Indeed! Let us do so.

Spoiled leisure – from “I’ll Take My Stand”

Related image

Here’s a thought to “cheer” your Saturday:

“It is common knowledge that, wherever it can be said to exist at all, the kind of leisure provided by industrialism is a dubious benefit. It helps nobody but merchants and manufacturers, who have taught us to use it in industriously consuming the products they make in great excess over the demand.

“Moreover, it is spoiled, as leisure, by the kind of work that industrialism compels. The furious pace of our working hours is carried over into our leisure hours, which are feverish and energetic. We live by the clock. Our days are a muddle of ‘activities,’ strenuously pursued. We do not have the free mind and easy temper that should characterize true leisure.

“Nor does the separation of our lives into two distinct parts, of which one is all labor – too often mechanical [whether literally or figuratively] and deadening – and the other all play, undertaken as a nervous relief, seem to be conducive to a harmonious life. The arts will not easily survive a condition under which we work and play at cross-purposes. We cannot separate our being into contradictory halves without a certain amount of spiritual damage.

“The leisure thus offered is really no leisure at all; either it is pure sloth, under which the arts take on the character of mere entertainment, purchased in boredom and enjoyed in utter passivity, or it is another kind of labor, taken up out of a sense of duty, pursed as a kind of fashionable enterprise in which one’s courage must be continually whipped up by reminders of one’s obligation to culture.”

— Davidson, Donald: “A Mirror for Artists,” I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition (1930).

Be A Southern Gentleman – Defining The Southern Gentleman, Part 1

Every man is going to be something. Be a Southern gentleman.

Source: Be A Southern Gentleman – Defining The Southern Gentleman, Part 1

From the inestimable Stephen McGehee, who notes:

“Being a Southern gentleman is a state of being. It is not something that is put on to impress others and then taken off. It is a lifestyle based on the ancient code of chivalry. It is a mindset of putting others first and having a truly humble spirit. It is a respect for others – and for oneself. It is respecting the dignity of all men, no matter what their station in life may be. It is a deep and abiding reverence and respect for women, coupled with the manners and etiquette that outwardly demonstrate that reverence. It is the understanding that we are not self-made men, but we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. It is a reverence for the God who created us, and who is the source of all of our many blessings.”

While cautioning us to understand that “no one possess all of these traits. Most of us are fortunate if we can successfully cultivate even a few of them,” he reminds us that

“What sets a man apart as a Southern gentleman is that he understands the goals, knows that they are important, and strives with every fiber of his being to be a Southern gentleman. When he fails, he is determined to do better next time and never makes excuses.

“Being a Southern gentleman is a journey. It is not a destination.”

Indeed it is, and a journey worth embarking upon, regardless of where one is geographically located. As another Southern friend of mine has remarked, these days not all Yankees (properly damnedyankees) are in the North, nor are all Southerners in the South. Yet as Mr. McGehee further points out, in a comment to another post,

Southern culture – and the Southern hospitality that is so much a part of it – is still alive and well in much of The South; especially in the more rural parts. Much of this came from the culture of the English Cavaliers who came to The South during the English civil war and brought with them their respect for good manners and gracious hospitality.

Reassuring indeed that so much of it still survives! It is not so in all areas of this once-great land of ours. Yet cultural influences, for good or ill, can long linger. See David Hackett Fischer, Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in America, to learn more about how the points of origin of the original settlers of the British North American colonies, that later became the original United States, continues to affect the character and ethos of the regions they settled, many centuries later.

I am eagerly looking forward to Mr. McGehee’s “Part 2.” God save The South!

 

6 Qualities That Define Southern Hospitality – Southern Living

Woman Preparing Meal

One survey narrowed down the characteristics of Southern hospitality to six qualities, with politeness and delicious home cooking topping the list.

Source: 6 Qualities That Define Southern Hospitality – Southern Living

To my mind, this should be the case everywhere! It used to be, to a much larger extent than it is now. Well within my lifetime, as I remember it well! But the fact that the South has hung onto these (among other) traditions longer and more tenaciously than many other places is one reason that I so love that region…

At any rate, follow the link to learn what all six characteristics are. All highly admirable!

Southern Culture: From Jamestown to Walker Percy | Abbeville Institute

“Nations are the wealth of mankind, its generalized personalities; the least among them has its own unique coloration and harbors within itself a unique facet of God’s design.” — Alesandr Solzhenitsyn

Please allow me to quote at some length from this typically excellent essay from the Abbeville Institute:

James Warley Miles was librarian of the College of Charleston in the mid-nineteenth century. He was also an ordained Episcopal priest. Miles had spent some years in the Near and Middle East collecting manuscripts and was said to know thirty languages. A philosophical book of his had been noticed in European universities. He was, in short, a typical product of the notoriously backward culture of the antebellum South.

During the brutal bombardment of the civilians of Charleston, the longest and most deadly any American city has ever experienced, Miles preached a sermon, offering comfort and encouragement to his fellow Southerners in the trials of their war for independence. Reminding them that history is an unfolding of God’s plan, he said: “No people has ever existed wholly without meaning.”

That suggests to me the way the history of the South, or indeed of any nation, should be approached. As the story of a people whose existence has meaning. But, alas, another reflection from the same time indicates the way that the history of the Southern people is more commonly told. This is the view of a Confederate soldier who had been captured at Gettysburg, written for his hometown newspaper after he had returned South. He described those among whom he had sojourned as a prisoner thus:

“They believed their manners and customs more enlightened, their intelligence and culture immeasurably superior. Brimful of hypocritical cant and puritan ideas, they preach, pray, and whine. The most parsimonious of wretches, they extol charity . . . . the blackest-hearted hypocrites, they are religious fanatics. They are agitators and schemers, braggarts and deceivers, swindlers and extortioners, and yet pretend to Godliness, truth, purity and humanity… They say that we are a benighted people, and are trying to pull down that which God himself built up.

“Many of these bigots expressed astonishment at finding the majority of our men could read and write; they have actually been educated to regard the Southern people as grossly illiterate, and little better than savages. The whole nation lives, breathes, and prospers in delusions; and their chiefs control the spring of the social and political machine with masterly hands.

“I could but conclude that the Northern people were bent upon the destruction of the South. All appeared to deprecate the war, but were unwilling to listen to a separation of the old union… A great many, I believe, act from honest and conscientious principles; many from fear and favour; but the large majority entertain a deep-seated hatred, envy and jealousy toward the Southern people and their institutions.

“They know (yet pretend not to believe it) that Southern men and women are their superiors in everything relating to bravery, honesty, virtue and refinement, and they have become more convinced of this since the present war; consequently, their worst passions have become aroused, and they give way to frenzy and fanaticism.

“We must not deceive ourselves; they are bent upon our destruction… They are so entirely incongruous to our people that they and their descendants will ever be our natural enemies.”

Those “descendants” are writing much of the accepted history of the South.

Except for substituting a form of left-wing secular Puritanism for the old religious sort – complete with trying to bring about their own version of a secular and (pseudo-)”Progressive” Kingdom of God (perhaps “Kingdom of Godlessness” would be more apt) as rapidly as possible – things haven’t changed much in the last 150 years or so, unfortunately.

At any rate, there is so much good in this essay that to truly bring it out, I should need to copy most of it verbatim. Instead, I implore you to follow the link, and to “read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest” this essay. If you are not familiar with the reality of the South, as opposed to the caricature presented by the mainstream media and academia, it will help to redress the balance. If you are, it will reinforce the truths you know already.

Perspectives on politicizing history: the Confederacy, “white supremacy,” and tribalism

I wrote the following essay in response to a Facebook thread, in which some of those involved were invoking the all-too-predictable bugbears of “racism” and “white supremacy” to justify opposition to the Confederate flag, monuments of Confederate heroes and honoured dead, and so on. Basically, the left-wing narrative is that the Confederacy was racist and white-supremacist, and so, consequently, are any or all of its memorials, heroes, and iconography. As should be needless to say, I take exception to that notion; thus, this essay. I was told by a friend that I should blog it, so here it is!

It is problematic, for a number of reasons, to apply (post-)modern standards of “racism” to historical contexts. For one thing, it is an innate human characteristic to associate and affiliate primarily with one’s own people, and to mistrust and/or look down upon those who do not “belong.” Although of course, definitions of “one’s own people” vary; those who do not view the matter in ethnic or racial terms nonetheless tend to prefer the company of people who think like they do: merely switching one “tribe” for another.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, it was commonplace to think of Africans (and Asians, for that matter) as inferior – intellectually and morally, as well as technologically (the latter being true enough, at the time) – to Europeans. Those who did not hold that viewpoint were the exceptions.

Britain may have ended slavery in its territories in the early 19th century, but quite late in that century, well after the War Between the States had ended, the noted British author and poet Rudyard Kipling famously wrote about “the white man’s burden.” That burden was to “uplift” Africans and Asians from their (as it was seen) benighted, backward, and primitive existence; to “civilize” and Christianize them, for their own good.

This was a paternalistic view indeed, but one that would have found resonance with many or most Southern slave-holders, and one which was certainly not grounded in racial hatred. If Europeans (in Europe itself or in America) had hated them, why would they have helped them?

And if we were to consider the matter objectively and with open eyes, we would discover that all or nearly all cultural, racial, or ethnic groups on the planet are “racist” to some extent, depending on how we define our terms. And while I am not aware of any specific studies on the matter, anecdotal evidence from personal observation – not just of my immediate surroundings, but using a global and historical perspective – suggests to me that Asians and Africans are, on average, about as “racist” as Caucasians.

And anthropologists tell us that just about every single indigenous group that has ever been studied calls itself by a name that translates approximately to “the People,” with the strong implication that others, outside that group, are not really or fully “People.” I am not making a moral judgement in saying this, just expressing an objective reality.

Returning to the era of the War Between the States, it can be reasonably argued that, despite the fact that some whites – and a surprising number of free blacks – held people of African descent as slaves, the Confederacy as a whole was significantly less “racist” than the Union. It had integrated units, with blacks fighting alongside whites (Nathan Bedford Forrest’s personal bodyguard being perhaps the most famous, but not unique); it had troops from Native American nations, troops (and at least one Cabinet secretary!) of Jewish heritage, it had Hispanic soldiers and even (IIRC) a few Asian ones.

The Union Army, in ironic contrast, was lily-white, except for the “US Colored Troops,” who were strictly segregated, and fought under the command of white officers. The antipathy and aggression of Union troops, both during and after the WBTS, toward Native Americans is well-known; that toward people of Jewish heritage is less well known, but no less real; and Union actions and attitudes toward Southern blacks, both slave and free, were hardly what anyone could consider exemplary.

And what are we to say about the Northern ship-captains who transported African slaves – who had been captured and sold to these merchants, not by Europeans or Americans, but by other Africans of rival tribes, or sometimes Moslem Arab slavers – to these American shores? Are they somehow less racist than the owners of plantations? The Confederate Constitution actually forbade the importation of any additional slaves, and no slave was ever brought from Africa on a Confederate-flagged ship. The same cannot be said about merchant shipping flying Old Glory.

Or what are we to say of the English Colonies, later the original United States, who engaged in the “Triangle Trade” transporting slaves, cash crops such as sugar and tobacco, and manufactured goods between Africa, the Americas (including the Caribbean, as well as the North American continent), and Europe, for some two centuries before the so-called “Civil War”? What are we to say of the Northerners who, when their states abolished slavery, did not set their slaves free, but sold them south?

What are we to say about the plantation-owners – always a very small percentage of Southern society – who went off to war, leaving their lands, women, and children in the capable hands of trusted black “servants”? Nor did any of them, to my knowledge, have cause to regret that decision. A general slave uprising would have been relatively simple, and likely quite successful, during the War, but it never happened. It is hard to escape the conclusion that many or most African “servants” felt a greater affinity for their own “white folks” than for the invaders from the North.

And perhaps most of all, what are we to say of the so-called “Great Emancipator,” whose famous Proclamation freed not one slave in areas under Union control – including both Union slave states and even areas of the Confederacy that had fallen to Union armies – and who only “emancipated” slaves in areas where his writ did not run, whose words and writings made it clear that he believed blacks to be inferior to whites, did not like them or feel that they could ever be part of an integrated society, and who advocated for their removal to “colonies” in Africa or Central America?

These are considerations that are ignored or, at times, actively suppressed, when speaking of the South, the Confederacy, and its iconography – including flags and monuments – as being indicative of “white supremacy.” While it is true that there were aspects of superiority and inferiority ingrained in the worldview of most 19th century persons, the matter is far more nuanced than many on the left, whether in ignorance or arrogance (most likely some of each), are willing to admit.

And of course, that leads to the grandest irony of all: that the very same human impulse to tribalism – to favouring one’s own group, and disparaging those who are not part of it – that led people of European heritage to first enslave, then endeavor to “uplift” and “civilize” Africans, is operational in those whose left-leaning social and political views of both history and contemporary life leads them to try to “convert” those who do not share their views, and to hate those who will not join them.

With the exception of those who are so completely relativistic that literally anything goes (in which case they would have no right to complain about any views held by anyone at all), we are all to a greater or lesser extent convinced of the rightness of our positions, and intolerant of those who do not share them. Some of us, however, have more grounds for our perspective than do others!

So to those who say (or imply), “check your white privilege,” I say, “check your ‘liberal’ privilege.” And perhaps, consider looking at the world through the larger lens of objective history, rather than the tiny aperture of ideology.

That is all.