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.

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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.

History Prof: ‘Cultural Cleansing’ to Tear Down Confederate Monuments | LifeZette

Source: History Prof: ‘Cultural Cleansing’ to Tear Down Confederate Monuments | LifeZette

Many of us have been deeply concerned by what some have called “the purge of Southern culture,” the current version of which began in 2015: ostensibly in reaction to, and certainly enabled by, the mass murder of church members in Charleston, SC, by a despicable psychopath. But the situation may be – indeed, almost certainly is – even worse than it appears on the surface:

“The removal of all things Confederate is complicated,” said Dr. Marshall De Rosa, a political science professor at Florida Atlantic University and expert on the Civil War.

“Some support stems from sheer ignorance about what those monuments represent,” said De Rosa, referring to those who see Confederate monuments as inherently racist. Others, however, are apparently motivated by far more sinister, ideological motives, he said.

“It’s a form of cultural cleansing that will not stop at Confederate memorials,” De Rosa warned. “There are discussions to tear down the Jefferson Memorial, rename Washington, D.C., change the U.S. flag, etc.,” De Rosa noted.

“The purpose is to make Americans, specifically white Christian Americans, ashamed of their ancestors, if not themselves,” De Rosa told LifeZette. “This makes them much more vulnerable to manipulation by and capitulation to the policy demands of the Left and their globalist supporters.”

Many of us thought – or at least hoped – that this sort of thing would end following the defeat and collapse of the atheistic, globalistic Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact satellites. Unfortunately it has sprung up once more, under slightly outward forms, within the United States and Western Europe themselves. I am reminded of J.R.R. Tolkien’s warning,

Always after a defeat and a respite, the Shadow takes another shape and grows again.

Or St. Paul’s (Ephesians 6:12): “For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

So, sadly, it seems to be.

Let us then heed also St. Peter’s admonition (1 Peter 5:8-9): “Be sober, be watchful; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist, steadfast in the faith.”

New Orleans is Ground Zero | Abbeville Institute

The social justice jihad to eliminate “white supremacy” was spawned by the successful eradication of Confederate memorabilia.

Source: New Orleans is Ground Zero | Abbeville Institute

Americans were not overly concerned about the disparagement of Confederate heroes but when the disparagement was turned against the Founding Fathers and Western Civilization in general, they began to take notice. The public finally realized they weren’t witnessing isolated incidents but a well-coordinated movement, promulgated by national and international forces.

If anything, I fear this statement may be a bit too optimistic: I am not at all sure enough of the American public has begun to awaken to the reality of the situation, at least not yet. I hope and pray they will! This blog is part of my contribution to encouraging that awakening.

At any rate, this essay is an excellent, if sobering, discussion of the situation. New Orleans is indeed “ground zero.” If the forces of violent revisionism, cultural cleansing, and the suppression and removal of anything deemed “offensive” by or to the decidedly illiberal left are successful in NOLA, they will only be emboldened elsewhere.

The camel’s nose is already in the tent. We need to make darned sure the rest of the camel doesn’t get inside!

The War against the Confederacy | US Defense Watch

The War against the Confederacy is a War against America. The War against the Confederacy is a war on American history. The War against the Confederacy is a war against all of us and a war on America’s institutions.

Source: The War against the Confederacy | US Defense Watch

This essay comes at a time when New Orleans is in the midst of attempting to remove four monuments pertaining to the Confederacy, in the heart of town. One, which has already been removed, was not directly representing the Confederacy itself; it commemorated a post-War Between the States conflict between Louisianians and a government which they perceived as being beholden to the “scalawags and carpet-baggers” that were busy kicking the South while she was down.

The other three, however, commemorate President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, General Robert E. Lee, and General P.G.T. Beauregard. Were it not for the efforts of a dedicated band of defenders, these statues would probably also have been dismantled and carted away by now. They may yet be. Yet as this article makes clear, that would be a grievous error, an action more suited to ISIS, Stalin’s goons, or jack-booted storm-troopers than the supposedly freedom-loving United States.

For a long time, after the War Between the States (erroneously called the “Civil War” – a civil war is contention between two or more factions for the control of the central government, which this emphatically was not), what some have called the “Great Truce” or “Great Compromise” was in effect. Continue reading “The War against the Confederacy | US Defense Watch”

What Is Southern Agrarianism? – The Southern Agrarian

“The Southern Agrarian movement, born in the 1920’s, is rooted deep in Southern soil. It also goes back to the English Cavalier culture with its system of aristocracy and social hierarchy. The need to return to this simpler, more orderly, and self-reliant way of life has never been greater than it is today. Southern Agrarianism is a cultural movement, and that is our primary focus.”

Source: What Is Southern Agrarianism? – The Southern Agrarian

As someone who was born, bred, and is currently living in the northern marches of what has traditionally been known as the “Old South” (antebellum South – Maryland being by history and heritage a Southern state, part of the Tidewater region, and of what was in the 18th century known as the “Tobacco Coast”), I find deep resonances and affinities in the Southern Agrarian movement. This blog, The Southern Agrarian, by Stephen Clay McGehee, is superb. As he writes,

In short, this is about leading the way to a life set free from the bonds of an increasingly complex society and the vulnerabilities that go with it. It is about tradition and social order. It is about growing plants and raising animals and understanding the meaning of husbandry and stewardship. It is about understanding our place in the world – those who came before us and those who will follow after us.

Southern Agrarianism is a Blood and Soil movement. It takes in two of the most basic concepts in all of history: Our People, and the soil that provides the food that feeds our people. It means that, while we wish all the best toward others, our immediate family comes first, followed by ever larger circles of extended family, and then on out from there. There is Our People, and there is Other People.

This being Southern Agrarianism, our people are the Southern people; those who originated in Europe and built the South. Historically, the culture of the South was heavily influenced by the Cavaliers who fled the violence of the English civil war and settled in the South. They brought with them the English high culture which translated into the Southern Plantation culture: a hierarchy-based culture that was deeply rooted in the soil. [I would only add that there was significant influence on Southern culture from the Scots, Irish, and Scotch-Irish who moved into the mountain hinterland, as well, but the Southern Plantation culture of which he speaks was largely English – and Anglican.] There was a sense of kinship that was shared by both the smallest share cropping farmer and the largest plantation owner; they shared the common bond of those who live close to the soil. They were Southern Agrarians.

The Southern Agrarian

As you can see from the above, there is a direct historical and cultural connection between the Southern Agrarian tradition and the “Anglophilic Anglicanism” of this my own blog! I commend The Southern Agrarian, and the Southern Agrarian tradition and movement, to your sympathetic attention.


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