SO HOW GOES IT WITH THOSE STATUE REMOVALS?

Moving along nicely, I’d say. A few bumps in the road, still some recalcitrant politicians here and there, but progress is being made.

For now, The UVA President is hemming and hawing. But there’s a pretty good chance by this time next year, ol’ TJ’s measure will have been taken and his monuments will come a tumblin’ down. How can one defend a secessionist slaver after all?

Wonder whose side we’ll all be on then?

Take it Gene…

 

MY CIVIL WAR (1968, 1974, 2017)

My first instruction in the history of the Civil War was from the Soviet Agent who wrote the book pictured at the right.

His name was Charles Flato and you can read all about him on the internet now if you wish. But in 1968, when seven-year-old me received this as a present (not even my birthday!) from my father, whose inscription (my name and the date 4/22/68) is still on the fly-leaf, one could have been forgiven for thinking his credentials impeccable. The Golden Book of the Civil War was “Adapted for Young Readers from the American Heritage Picture History of the Civil War” and came with an introduction by Bruce Catton, the sober Yankee professor–Michigan born and bred–and founding editor of American Heritage, who was then (along with Allan Nevins, of Illinois) the reigning popular authority on the subject in question (a position now shared by the New Yorker Ken Burns and the North Dakotan James McPherson).

Flato himself was a “freelance” writer, working for magazines like American Heritage no doubt, when he penned the book for publication in 1960. The book was widely distributed ┬áto say the least. I don’t know how many copies were published or sold, but it was probably north of a million. If I wanted to sell my Eighth Edition from 1968, on Amazon or AbeBooks–which I would do some time after I let go my left arm–it would fetch something like four dollars.

I knew nothing about the backgrounds of the men who controlled the Civil War Narrative for “young readers” when I devoured the book in my youth, or when I referred to its battle maps (still the best I’ve seen in the lifetime of interest they spurred in that subject) in later years to give myself a clear set of referential aids to the mind’s eye before my actual eyeballs encountered the battlefields at Chickamauga, Chattanooga, Gettysburg, Murfreesboro (I regretted not refreshing my memory before still later visits to Vicksburg and Shiloh–I’ll not make that mistake in the future when I finally make it to Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Antietam.)

Had I known, I doubt it would have made any difference to my appreciation of the book in question, or the later books I read or documentaries I watched, virtually all written or directed by Yanks.

One thing I understood about history–was given to understand both by my own instinct and my imminently practical parents–was that its always written by the winners.

I grew up then, in the deep South, with a very distinct view of the Civil War.

The view went for my Democrat father, who had attended a Tennessee college founded by an Abolitionist. It went for my rock-rib North Carolina Republican mother, who knew Democrats, up close and personal, as the people Franklin Roosevelt cut deals with to keep Jim Crow in place in return for the Solid South’s White Supremacist electoral votes.

Be proud of your heritage, your family, etc., then…..

And thank God the Yankees won.

Also, thank God it’s over!

In the sixties and seventies, that was as typical a Southern upbringing as any other.

And it was the only view I knew until I was coming on fourteen and we moved from Central Florida to North Florida.

That’s where I soon discovered that the Civil War was not over and was further surprised to learn that anyone born south of Gainesville was…a Yankee!

When I say surprised, I mean as in so surprised I forgot to laugh.

I really regret that missed opportunity, because laughing doesn’t seem to be an option anymore.

Too bad, because rooting around on Wikipedia this morning, trying to find out who Charles Flato was, I discovered that, besides being a Soviet agent in WWII (and likely afterward–the Soviets weren’t known for letting their agents just walk), and the author of a book designed to perpetuate a vision of the Civil War in line with Bruce Catton’s or Ken Burns’s (that is was worth it….and over….and worth it because it was over), was that he was a good enough friend of Suze Rotolo to will her his car when he died.

What Suze Rotolo was famous for–besides staunch leftiness–was the way she let herself be forever defined by her clinging devotion to a freewheelin’ young man, who had recently begun calling himself Bob Dylan, on the cover of his second album…and would drop her the minute Joan Baez came calling.

Now that’s really the sort of thing that should make you laugh out loud. And if there wasn’t all this talk about how we’re headed for a second Civil War, I’m sure I would have.

As it lay, I had to settle for a rueful smile.

I say all this to remind everyone–yet again–that I am not opposed to removing Confederate statues.

Nor am I opposed to leaving them standing.

Couldn’t care less.

I do care about what’s coming next–about seeing what’s behind the sudden fervor that has mobs of educated white people assaulting Bad Monuments to prove they themselves are not Bad People, even though everyone who ever fought to assure their Monument Assaulting Privilege was Very Bad Indeed.

And what I see is the same old, same old. The angry face of the mob.

I see it growing and growling in the heart of an Empire–not a nation–that is poised to go the way of the Russian, Ottoman, Austro-Hungarian and Hohenzollern Empires at the end of the Great War. I see it coming because I see there is already nothing to hold us together when the wind blows–and nothing will have to become less than nothing before it becomes more than nothing again.

Or, as the freewheelin’ young prophet had it….

If you see something different–something other than the waters of oblivion–peace be upon you.

I hope you’re right. Really I do.

For now, just remember that History does not have Wrong or Right sides.

It has Winning and Losing sides.

I know the modern American has been thoroughly brainwashed into believing otherwise, that Right will make Might.

But even when I was seven–soaking up Yankee and Soviet versions of my own region’s history and thinking no more of it then than I do now–I knew the winners get to decide about the whole Right and Wrong thing. That the only real Lesson of History is always the same.

Don’t lose.

So it is as we watch Lee and Jackson fade into our History.

So it will be when it’s Jefferson and Washington–and Lincoln’s–turn.

The only question now, for the people who think the old Liberal/Conservative divide that sustained the Enlightenment and the first two hundred years of the American Experiment still holds, and that they’ll get to opt out of the Future, is what you’ll do when it’s not Robert E. Lee’s statue the Neo-Nazi Fascists and Antifa Marxists are fighting over but the Jefferson Memorial, like it’s Weimar all over again.

Whose side will you be on then? Whose side will you be on when “Liberal” and “Conservative” are no longer an option?

Better decide now, because the people who will be coming for whatever your cherished version of History is have one thing in common.

They aren’t going to let you sit that one out.

And they aren’t going to give you a whole lot of time to think.

Take it Gene….

 

AS A POINT OF COMFORT….

…I’m not always right about this End of Days stuff.

I’ve been telling the only friend I have with whom I tend to discuss politics (she keeps her “political” twitter account under an assumed name, separated from her personal/business oriented twitter stuff, to avoid the usual constant threats of violence and barrage of abuse) that statues honoring Jefferson and Washington will soon follow those honoring Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson into various states of defacement and dismemberment, and that Lincoln and Grant will be in the cross-hairs five minutes after that.

Silly me.

It looks like I had the order wrong.

Oh, by the way, the organizer of the Charlottesville Unite-the-Right March, is now reported to be an Obama-supporting Wall Street Occupier who had a magical conversion to White Supremacist power player within days of Donald Trump’s election. It hardly matters if it’s true. The important thing is that conflicting accounts are now readily available from all the usual sources and you may choose among them as you wish.

I pity those whose brains remain unprotected from these waves of industrial feces by insufficient familiarity with the New Testament or the holy texts of Rock and Roll America and advise them to repair to a quiet space at once and redress their ignorance in council with their own spirit practicing the Priesthood of the Believer.

I don’t know any songs dedicated to the smell of sheep dip, so this will have to do for today’s inspirational tune from the Book of Clarence. (Chapter Seven, Verse 4, I believe, but don’t quote me. I ain’t here to start any trouble.)

Those who prefer The Good News version to the King James, may like this one better…

…Either way, hello America. It’s a brand new day!

Didn’t listen now, fools, did ya?

 

TO LIBERAL DEMOCRACY, R.I.P. (Late Night Dedication)

I’ve given periodic nods to the present air here. Doomy, I know. Probably not pleasant reading. But it’s pervasive enough it can’t be entirely ignored.

We’re fast approaching a day when it won’t be possible to ignore it at all. When everyone who refuses to choose between the remaining viable evils, or at least clap for each temporarily presiding result in turn, will be strung up anyway. The fate of the Empire is at stake! The last burning question is whether we’ll proceed directly to Tyranny….or pass through an Age of Chaos first?

The only thing that has kept the American nation from real, frightening levels of fragmentation and public violence the past few years has been the slight uncertainty as to whether the Feudalist-minded Confederate Right (which calls itself anything but) would organize and take to the street in numbers and intensity similar to the Marxist-minded Communist Left (which calls itself anything but).

Tonight in Charlottesville, Virginia we can observe a large step in the direction of an answer. Complete with Hitler salutes.

Sorry, but anyone who believes we ever walked away from 1968…or 1861….that the years of relative peace lying in between have been anything but periods of gestation (which we’ve given the Nervous Nelly name of Progress) for the coming collapse, is delusional. I don’t know if the first big outbreak in the new war taking shape will come in a month, a year or a generation. I don’ t know if it’s still 1850 or the new John Brown will strike a match that burns and burns this very weekend. I’m selfish enough to hope it’s the former–that I won’t live to see what’s coming. That, in the words of the Prophet Ronnie Van Zant, it’ll be “Lord take me and mine before that comes.”

Because it’s coming soon enough. An epitaph a stone’s throw from this weekend’s “rally” reads:

Here was buried
Thomas Jefferson
Author of the Declaration of American Independence
of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
& Father of the University of Virginia

The first two achievements have been under siege for decades, if not since the beginning. Last night, his university joined them. Literally.

Those of us who supported his Dreams of Possibility have been left with only the most pitiful tools to fight back. Hopes of a meaningful appeal to the government vanished long ago. Put whatever date on that you want. (Don’t like or 1963, or 1968? Prefer 1980? Whatever.) The result is the same.

What are you gonna do? What am I gonna do?

Tweet about it?

Light a torch and rumble?

Call out the riot police?

You know, the same ones who are now paid by the very people who fund the thugs in the street on both sides?

Yeah, that’s what I thought.

Tweet away.

So take it Dobie. Better yet, take me.

Sing that greatest record ever made by a black man in Nashville one more time. Make everybody cry.

(Well, at least I got to put Ronnie Van Zant, Dobie Gray and Thomas Jefferson in the same tag list. After the revolution, maybe that, at least, won’t be ┬ánothing…even if every one of them is turning in his grave tonight.)

DON’T WORRY FOLKS, THIINGS ARE JU-S-S-T FINE…

Just now, on Charlie Rose, a guest host whose name I didn’t catch was filling in for Charlie’s corpse and hosting a panel of Martin Amis, Carol Blue, Leslie Cockburn and Douglas Brinkley. The topic was “What Would Hitch Say?”

Evidently, the late Christopher Hitchens, who was known mostly for being for and against everything before and after he was for and against it, has achieved a status previously confined to the likes of Aristotle, Jesus and Thomas Jefferson: What would the dead man think about our current predicament (you know, the one bearing the initials DT)?

Yes, that’s what it’s come to…Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the modern intelligentsia! So devoid of any thoughts of their own they have to channel a dead pundit to be able to express themselves properly.

And the smug solemnity of the participants occurred in a vacuum so complete it achieved reverse zero negative awareness of its own complicity (or Chris Hitchens’) in our “predicament.”

Jesus Christ, I know a man chooses his friends, but if these were the best he could do, I begin to understand why this particular man stayed sloshed for the entirety of his adult life. I almost feel a kind of solidarity with him, too, because I can now imagine him being granted some kind of dispensation in the afterlife he didn’t believe in just so he can join my future ghost in a chorus of something no man of his gentle breeding would have ever let his hair down far enough to enjoy while he was stuck here, where the mysteries of the universe so obvious to some of us are forever bound to befuddle our betters….Come on Hitch. Sing it with me! (Cue the Sun God.)