Not to be Morbid, But…

January 31, 2009

It seems to me that one element of our modern liberal society that causes great problems is our inability to calmly accept the inevitability of death. It was more difficult to avoid thinking of death in the past, when it was more visible and more likely to come suddenly.

The delaying of adulthood by putting off marriage and children; the obsession with exercise and health; the absence of older faces and voices in TV and movies; the continual rhetoric calling for “universal health care”; the massive and ever-expanding regulation of the food industry; the filing of lawsuits whenever blame can conceivably be assigned for an accidental death – all of these bespeak a culture in denial of death.

Older writers, and poets, by contrast, made death a regular theme. Were they being “morbid”?

William Cullen Bryant (1794-1878) wrote his classic poem on the subject, “Thanatopsis,’ allegedly when he was only 16. The remarkable maturity, from today’s standpoint, of his thoughts serves as a rejoinder to our present indulgence of a shallow, narcissistic “youth culture.”

When thoughts
Of the last bitter hour come like a blight
Over thy spirit, and sad images
Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall,
And breathless darkness, and the narrow house,
Make thee to shudder and grow sick at heart;–
Go forth, under the open sky, and list
To Nature’s teachings, while from all around–
Earth and her waters, and the depths of air–

The poem advises, in Romantic fashion, to take solace in the beauty and vitality of nature, and Stoically, to accept the inevitable and take comfort in the fact that in dying, one is joining the greater part of mankind:

…yet the dead are there:
And millions in those solitudes, since first
The flight of years began, have laid them down
In their last sleep–the dead reign there alone.
So shalt thou rest: and what if thou withdraw
In silence from the living, and no friend
Take note of thy departure? All that breathe
Will share thy destiny. The gay will laugh
When thou art gone, the solemn brood of care
Plod on, and each one as before will chase
His favourite phantom; yet all these shall leave
Their mirth and their employments, and shall come
And make their bed with thee.

(Incidentally, it appears Bryant had the American Indian mound-builders in mind as the vast host sleeping beneath the earth.)

The final passages exhort the reader to live so well as to not be afraid to die. Elsewhere, and later in life, Bryant expressed clearly a belief in the Christian afterlife, but in this poem the main comfort to be found is in the utter naturalness and ultimate “fairness” of death.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join
The innumerable caravan which moves
To that mysterious realm where each shall take
His chamber in the silent halls of death,
Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,
Scourged by his dungeon; but, sustain’d and soothed
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

Certainly if we want to live civilized lives, we mustn’t be so afraid of death that we’re unwilling to take risks and to fight when an enemy seeks to harm us. It also strikes me, as I get older, that whereas the inevitability of death is often used as a justification for hedonism, it really calls for the opposite: a seriousness of purpose and a valuing of things that endure, including the well-being of our progeny, which goes naturally with a reverence for our forebears. Coming to terms with death (to the extent that anyone can) is an important part of living well, a fact always recognized by civilized peoples.

Advertisements

Dear Black America…

January 19, 2009

our-wedding

A draft for a letter I’m thinking of sending….

Dear Black America,

In the midst of what is for you the joyous occasion of the inauguration of the first black president of the United States, I’m really sorry to have to write something that I know is going to hurt you. It’s the last thing I would ever want to do. But I’ve been thinking about it for a long time now, and there’s no getting around the truth.

You know it and I know it. Our marriage is not working out.

I want a divorce.

I have not come to this decision lightly. When we married, we promised to stay together for the rest of our lives, “till death do us part.” And I’ve taken that vow seriously through all these years, and tried ceaselessly to fix what was wrong with me to try to make you happy. And then, there are the children, who didn’t get to choose their parents and now will have to suffer from our failed marriage. But you know, sometimes, a marriage is just so impossible and so hurtful to everyone that there’s nothing left to do but cut your losses. I’ve decided that’s what I need to do.

I’m not playing the saint here. I wasn’t a saint at all. It was I who started things to begin with. I seduced you and took advantage of you, and I forced you to do things against your will. It was terribly wrong and there’s nothing I can do to fix the way I hurt you. True, that’s the way everyone did things in those days. I did try, in my own way, to treat you well…. Well, I don’t need to remind you what happened after that. We got into a situation where the only honorable thing to do was to offer to marry you. I gave you the option to get out quietly, but you said no, we were together and you meant for us to stay together, and so we were married.

We never got along completely peacefully, but I think that, at least at first, we both tried to make it work out. You asked me to teach you about what was in all those books of mine, so you could improve yourself and so we’d have more in common to talk about. And I think we were both pretty excited about the progress you made, at first. I tried to get to know your interests, too, and really came to appreciate your charms and your talents and your own special kind of wisdom. We went places together, and we helped each other out in all sorts of ways. I thought things were going pretty well there for awhile. Even you have to admit we had some good times.

I always tried to be good to you, and I think I did many things to help you. But I admit, despite my best intentions, I could sometimes be abusive and violent and cruel to you. I didn’t mean to be, but I was. I was used to being in control and I felt threatened when you challenged me on it. Oh, you provoked me often enough, and nobody can be meaner than you when you want to be, but I’m not going to use that as an excuse. I take responsibility for my own actions. I eventually managed to get myself under control, and I thought you’d forgiven me for the past and that we had an understanding now of how to settle disputes between us. And we had a period where I thought we got along pretty well. Don’t you think so?

Well, it came as a shock when you came out and said you were miserable and that I was still mistreating you just as badly as before. You wanted us to be equal. You wanted an equal say in how our household was run, you wanted an equal share of our possessions and prestige. Well, I was completely shocked because I’d always figured the arrangement we had was what was best for both of us. We weren’t completely equal, but each of us had his own sphere of activity and it seemed to work smoothly most of the time. But what could I say if that’s what you wanted? I believe in marriage as an equal partnership; I don’t want to keep my spouse under my thumb. So I promised to devote myself to making our partnership into an equal partnership.

Well, I believe I have done the best any person could do to meet your request. I’ve had myself analyzed and re-educated; I’ve apologized and renounced my acts;  I’ve been punished and rebuked. I cut off ties with those relatives of mine who didn’t accept you; I sent money and gave my help to your relatives across town and invited some of them to join our family. And I never lost faith. Every time I tried something new, I believed that this time, you would be happy.

Instead, I’ve ended up the victim in an abusive relationship. First there is the physical abuse. I just never know when you’re going to lash out and hit me or worse. There’s been some sexual abuse too, I’m sorry to say. Then there is the psychological abuse. You are constantly talking about our past and how I’ve mistreated you, and I’m starting to realize that you’re exaggerating and making up things that aren’t even true. And you’ve made me a stranger in my own home, talking about me with your friends and telling the children lies about me to get them to side against me. Then, when I draw back from you, you get teary-eyed and sentimental and tell me I need to understand you, that if we both just try a little harder we can get along. Something about you is so sweet when you cry to me like that that I begin to believe what you say. But now I realize it’s part of the way you manipulate me.

And I don’t know why it’s only recently that I’ve noticed you never say you love me?

I have to be honest with myself. Living with you makes me miserable. I’ve given up my friends, my hobbies, even my values and beliefs, to try to make you happy. But it’s just not working out. And I’ve realized that it never can. You know why? We are just naturally different. We don’t fit together, spiritually, intellectually, or physically. And we really have known it all along. I’m not saying this to put you down. You are a wonderful person. But you need to be with someone else, not me. And the same is true for me. If I stay with you, I seriously feel it is going to destroy me.

What I’ve said may be very hurtful to you. So though it may not help any, I want to say that I care about you very much. We have been together for a long, long time and our lives have been changed forever by the experience. In some ways, we know each other better than anyone. I value the good times we had together and all the things you have taught me. It is a cliché, but I sincerely hope that we’ll be able to be friends, once the pain of separation has subsided. We like and care about many of the same things, and sometimes we really enjoy each other’s company. And I assure you that if you ever need help in the future, I’ll do anything in my power to assist you.

I want to be friends. But I don’t want to be married to you anymore. I want a divorce.

Please try to understand.

Sincerely,

White America


As We Begin a New Year….

January 12, 2009

New Year’s celebrations this year certainly took on a muted tone, at least in the mass media. In a piece I heard on NPR shortly after midnight of January 1, the commentator seemed unable to think of anything positive to say. Ostensibly, the reason for the gloom is our economic crisis. In reality, it comes from a growing sense that we have no control over how to face whatever crises the future brings. Even white liberals, whom one would expect to be thrilled at the election of Obama, do not seem genuinely excited. The sentiment I hear most often is that people “hope” things will get better under Obama. Hope. Funnily enough, people seem to be directing that hope, mainly, toward the possibility that racial tensions will be reduced once our non-white president is in office. With major threats to our economy and national security, with the systematic dysfunction of education and health care, we pin our hopes on black people finally coming to like us. And you know, I think maybe white Americans really want that more than anything.

Still, even if January 1 is no more than an arbitrary point on a calendar, I like the fresh feeling of starting a new year. In deepest winter, it is a time for looking ahead. As the John Wayne quote, apparently genuine,  reminds us, “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.” I also value the opportunity to make New Year’s resolutions, and have made a couple of personal ones. As for this weblog, I intend to keep it working at its intended task: in however small a way, promoting love of country for Americans and love of Western civilization for Westerners. My regular readers will know exactly what I mean by this, something for which I am deeply thankful. But I hope this year will also see many new visitors and ultimately, new friends and allies.

An interesting historical phenomenon associated with the New Year in America is the paper carrier’s address. When I delivered papers as a boy, the “Christmas tip” was always something to look forward to. But in earlier times, paper carriers would actually go to the homes of their customers on the new year and recite poems which combined some thoughts about the preceding year with exhortations for a new year’s “bonus.” Interestingly, the very first such poem I happened upon at in the linked collection has Uncle Sam, in 1852, bewailing the destruction being wrought by mass immigration – of Catholic Irish and Germans, no less. I quote the pertinent verse, not because it is great poetry or on the mark about those ethnic groups, but only because it shows a refreshing kind of popular resistance:

Turn we to home – to see what mighty strides
We here are making, over lands and tides;
Through the broad world our booming engines go,
Where dell and mountain sweep or billows flow.
Yet reap we not the fruits our labors win –
Scarce to secure our liberties begin –
While wandering Celts and squalit Swabians pour
Their whelming masses on our cumbered shore;
To curb our pride, to claim our dear-bought rights,
And filch the bread from hard-press’d laboring wights.
Hence Natives shake the slumbering lion’s mane,
And call upon their brethren – not in vain –
To quell the curse thus o’er the franchise spread,
And rob our toiling millions of their bread –

(The final line seems not to fit grammatically; if any reader is able to parse these lines to make sense of them, I would welcome hearing from him!)

While this weblog is not about me personally, it may be worth making a few comments about its intended meaning and how my own background relates to that meaning. Its focus is the promotion of historic American nationhood. The most immediate motivation for its creation comes from alarm over the destructive effects of mass immigration. But focusing on national identity is really one of an unlimited number of approaches one could take in response to this problem. Other writers focus specifically on the threat of Islam, or on racial differences, or on religious matters. I myself feel that the common cause we have with other Westerners trying to preserve their civilization may be more important, in a sense, than nation-based patriotism. Nevertheless, to be a Westerner is to be a Westerner of a particular nationality, and my own is not only indispensable to me, but something I want passed on to future generations.

Common to all traditionalist conservatives is the understanding that race is an essential part of one’s identity, and that the taboo in our society against acknowledging this is the single biggest obstacle to our ability to actively stand up and fight for our civilization. This weblog begins with the understanding that American civilization is essentially the creation of people of white, European descent. It acknowledges the important role, past and present, played by those of other races, and especially black Americans, and it holds no ill will toward any individual “minority” who respects the historic American civilization and supports its preservation. But its author is one who has understood clearly that you can’t have white civilization without white people, and that for a historically white nation to redefine itself as a space for all the other peoples of the world to colonize is not an act of generosity and broad-mindedness, but of national suicide. If this seems an odious notion to the new reader who may have casually stumbled upon this site, I only hope he will give a hearing to the arguments made here and elsewhere, and see if they don’t contain some truth.

Regarding the nature of that “white” identity, in the interests of full disclosure, I probably should admit that despite the very “Anglo-Saxon” theme of this site, I myself do not come from “founding” American stock, but am largely a mixture of post-1880 immigrants which includes quite a bit of Celtic as well as some Jewish background. I do not regard myself as at all Jewish and indeed do not know enough about Judaism to fake it if I wanted to, but obviously I include myself in the category of people I aim to reach in these writings, the “heritage Americans.” This is not to say that I aim to recklessly celebrate the “melting pot” and the indiscriminate mixing of peoples and races that is now the official ideal of our country. A certain amount of variety and new blood undoubtedly stimulates a nation, but even in the 1850s, and certainly in the Ellis Island years, mass immigration had severe costs. If anything, I agree with one of my online friends who remarked that if the population of America could come to resemble its founding population more, that would be a good thing and not a bad thing. But not being in any position to promote mass English immigration to this country, I have to content myself with paying tribute to my nation’s founders and promoting the creation of a civilization that they would recognize as a rightful descendent to theirs. That is, perhaps, my ongoing and final “assimilation” to America – and maybe yours too. What we make of our heritage is up to us.


Apologies

January 11, 2009

…for the unannounced absence. I will resume posting on Sunday evening.