“Who cares what’s the matter with Kansas?”

November 13, 2012

Paul Krugman, very pleased with the re-election of Obama, wrote:

I have to say, the gnashing of teeth and rending of garments on the right comes as a surprise. We knew that they would be upset; but the extent to which they were really, truly unprepared for the obvious possibility that Obama would be reelected is remarkable. I suspect that it comes down to two things: self-definition in terms of always being the people with the power, and the right-wing bubble, which left them completely unaware of information they didn’t want to hear.

It’s true that the odds were always in favor of Obama, and it’s also true that many on the right (including myself) became excited when a Romney victory began to look possible, and felt devastated when he lost.

In some ways it’s analogous to what Democrats went through in the 2004 elections, working themselves into a frenzy with the belief that they could kick the hated George W. Bush out of office. I still remember the image of Bruce Springsteen triumphantly stepping off stage after a benefit concert right before the election. They really believed they would win, because they wanted so to win, and after all, they were right.

The next day they were all in shock, talking about wearing black in mourning and moving to Canada.

It is not fair to mock conservatives for their wishful thinking. Americans have always felt that elections matter and that their individual votes matter, and those on the right have, until the last decade at any rate, been able to count on a reserve of conservative white sentiment emerging at election time to confound the hopes and predictions of liberals. The reality that is only beginning to hit some of them now is that demographic change in America has largely neutralized this force.

But it is very noteworthy that Krugman, whose credibility hangs on his credentials as a world-class economist, sheds objectivity when he reveals his delight in the increasing marginalization of white middle America:

…one big thing that just happened was that the real America trumped the “real America”. And it’s also the election that lets us ask, finally, “Who cares what’s the matter with Kansas?”

For a long time, right-wingers — and some pundits — have peddled the notion that the “real America”, all that really counted, was the land of non-urban white people, to which both parties must abase themselves. Meanwhile, the actual electorate was getting racially and ethnically diverse, and increasingly tolerant too. The 2008 Obama coalition wasn’t a fluke; it was the country we are becoming.

And sure enough that more diverse and, if you ask me, better nation just won big.

Notice too that to the extent that social issues played in this election, they played in favor of Democrats. Gods, guns, and gays didn’t swing voters into supporting corporate interests; instead, human dignity for women swung votes the other way.

A huge night for truth, justice, and the real American way.

Krugman is right: the Obama coalition now represents the majority – though not a unified, coherent, or very large one. Republicans might be able to rally for another few elections, though it isn’t looking likely, considering their complete unwillingness to consider appealing to actual white – er, “Kansas” – interests. This writer disagrees, however, that the Obama coalition represents the “real America.” That is not a matter to be determined by numbers, especially not numbers inflated by the presence of foreigners like the so-called “Latinos.”

Like many I find it increasingly unlikely that our traditional institutions or the democratic process can ever again function to serve the interests of white Americans. But that only underscores the need for traditionalist conservatives to keep the flames of truth burning, and search for other ways to recover a decent way of life as a people. It’s not over by a long shot.


Non-Discrimination, Private and Public

February 28, 2012

In The House of the Seven Gables (1851), Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote that “the wrong-doing of one generation lives into the successive ones, and, divesting itself of every temporary advantage, becomes a pure and uncontrollable mischief.” Are we Americans paying for the crimes of our ancestors with the decline and imminent ruin of our beloved country? Maybe, but if so, what exactly was the crime? Taking the land from the Indians? Slavery? These are the obvious answers, but I cannot think that the evils we suffer today represent any kind of just punishment or karmic retribution for those events. We have long since done what we could to remedy the inequalities that they supposedly caused.

Perhaps the true answer is the opposite of what we conventionally think: our crime – or, at least, our profound error – is not discrimination, but non-discrimination. We started out feeling that it was not decent, or moral, to “discriminate” against minorities, meaning, mainly, black people; and the principle of non-discrimination gradually took over every functional institution of our society, until these institutions became actively harmful to the interests of the very people they were supposed to serve.

I certainly believed in non-discrimination for most of my life. For a personal example, which is almost amusing to me now, I once went on some dates through the classified ads (this was back when they were commonly printed in the free “alternative” weekly city papers, something I imagine has been supplanted by eHarmony). The ads would often specify the race of the person desired, e.g., SWF seeking SWM. I am a white man, but it offended me that so many white women were specifically seeking white men. I didn’t want to go out with someone who would say that! Also in the spirit of non-discrimination, I went out with a black woman or two. One lady was quite nice – clearly interested in white men (she was a lover of books and culture, and apparently couldn’t find many black men with compatible interests), but the instant I saw her I knew that I could not be attracted to her. It didn’t occur to me that preferring one’s own race might be a natural and healthy thing, or that, at least, people have the right to discriminate in the most personal of relationships, even if they believe in equal treatment in the public sphere. (It didn’t occur to me, either, that a white woman with an interest in black men might not be the best potential partner for me!) To give another example, I remember commenting to a female friend about a certain female acquaintance, that I didn’t think I could date her because she belonged to the Baha’i religion. The friend told me that she knew lots of wonderful Baha’i followers and that my comment made her “angry.” Here, at least, I stuck to my guns, insisting that religious differences were real, not something that could be overcome by niceness and kindness.

Non-discrimination is thought by its practitioners to be a virtue – perhaps the highest and most essential one of all. Yet it seems to be the code of non-discrimination that allows the worst evils to enter and flourish in our society, especially as a foundation for legal processes and decisions. The most egregious examples are probably immigration-related. (In a way, this entire blog is a reaction to mass non-Western immigration, though I usually approach the issue indirectly, by thinking about who we – the non-immigrants – are.) Outrage after outrage takes place, and nothing ever changes. Genetic testing reveals that the vast majority of Somalis brought here for family unification are actually not related to the people bringing them in. Investigations show that the vast majority of Chinese students in the United States faked their transcripts and essays. Vast numbers of Hispanics use stolen Social Security numbers. Is a commonsense decision ever made to put an end to the fraud by simply stopping taking in so many people from the particular countries involved? No, it is not. (The Somali reunification was halted, but apparently is slated to be resumed.) Somehow, the system itself cannot accept a sensible act of discrimination in that most personal – and most publicly important! – of choices, that of who to admit into one’s national family. We end up with a sick perversion of the American Dream, where lying and greed are rewarded and become the foundation of new citizenship. Is this moral? Is this virtue?

Ayn Rand, whose works I admire only very selectively, said that one must never fail to pronounce moral judgment. Laura Wood says that we must not fail to discriminate – in this article, she is referring to “economic discrimination in favor of men” in the workplace, but the statement applies to every aspect of society. Failure to judge and discriminate unleashes evil and mayhem. Even worse is the aggressive, coercive enforcement of non-discrimination through grievances and lawsuits. The great challenge for traditionalists and conservatives is to find a way to rebuild a society that judges and discriminates as it should.


A Quick Report

March 1, 2011

I spent the afternoon in Windsor, Canada, on Sunday and looked around for several hours. It’s certainly in wonderful condition compared to Detroit – and people are quite friendly and helpful, as one would hope and expect from Canadians. It is striking how similar Canadian and U.S. English are, at least the standard varieties. And yet there are all kinds of small differences in usage. The public restrooms are referred to as “washrooms,” a word my father used to use, but which I doubt a single U.S. American under about age 65 uses today. Convenience stores are labeled “Convenience.”

A nice town – but not at all free of the sense of degeneration found in U.S. cities. It has a very extensive Arab section which reminded me of Dearborn in Michigan. According to Wikipedia the town is over 20% foreign born. There are also obviously large Chinese and Vietnamese populations. I am almost to the point of wanting to eat at a “native” place despite my fondness for Asian and other foreign foods, but I did break down and have Vietnamese food at a very lively place after being unable to find something other than not-very-appealing pizza and hamburger.

A somewhat sad phenomenon was numerous elderly people eating at places like McDonald’s and Tim Hortons on Sunday. Presumably they live alone and don’t cook for themselves. Some were in groups, seemingly enjoying themselves; others were quite alone. One old woman ordered, for herself, enough food for several people. You see this in the States, too.

Going in, I had a thoroughly pleasant conversation with a female Canadian border officer, who passed me through easily. Returning to the U.S. was much less enjoyable. The male officer never cracked a smile and asked me all sorts of gruff questions about what I was doing in Windsor for six hours. He checked my bags, trunk, and glove compartment. I try not to blame these officers for their deportment, since I know they’re forced to treat heritage Americans strictly in order to have cover to check the truly suspicious characters – and so it will continue until some force or event, as yet impossible to foretell, puts an end to the practice of (pretended) non-discrimination in security matters.

Our societies bumble on, and I often do not know what to do but pray that the punishment needed to shock us from our deluded way of living will not be as great as I fear it could be.


It’s a Cartoon World…But It Was Real

February 14, 2011

It may be unproductive to overindulge in nostalgia, but nostalgia is undeniably at the heart of the traditionalist project. We recognize the things that are precious to us, and realize that these things exist only because of the people and culture which created them. As our society becomes increasingly broken and degraded, seeing things as they were in the past helps us to imagine how they could be in the future. Perhaps I am a bit like William Morris, whose anarchist utopia depicted in News From Nowhere looked suspiciously, and implausibly, like a medieval agricultural society. When I try to imagine America 50 or 100 years from now – and I have no doubt that there will exist a revived, European America at least somewhere within our present borders – it looks strangely like the America of 1910 (or whatever other period may be inspiring me at the time). I know it won’t really be like anything I can imagine, but at a minimum, surely, there will be free, dignified white people, married couples, modest clothing, architecture reflecting a sense of beauty and humanity, clean streets…and in this sense, how can the future possibly not look more like 1911 than 2011?

I was in Columbus, Ohio recently to see some friends and happened to see an exhibit at the Ohio State library on a cartoonist named Billy Ireland. I am no expert on cartoon art, but certain comics and cartoons have exerted a powerful magic on my imagination – Schulz’s Peanuts, for instance, or Crockett Johnson’s Barnaby – and there is the occasional contemporary graphic novel or cartoon that excites me; I even like Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor, despite its liberal orientation. I was intrigued, therefore, to learn about this cartoonist.

Now, a digression: I must say it was incongruous to be asked to sign a guest book by a Somali woman clad in black and wearing a hijab (who then went back to talking, in her native language, on her cell phone in a loud voice). The library there seems to be employing a lot of such women, reflecting Columbus’s status as one of the main Somali-settled towns in the U.S. It’s hard to imagine a person less likely to have any appreciation for the old-time America depicted by Billy Ireland than this young African Muslim lady, and hard to imagine a figure more likely to spoil the effect of the exhibit.

But I was determined to enjoy it, and enjoy it I did. It is the world of Penrod all over again – the Eastern American city of a century ago, with a sense of community, order, and local distinction that we are so lacking in today. Portrayed by charming and brilliantly drawn cartoons by the local cartoonist for the Columbus Dispatch, Billy Ireland (1880-1935). He is described as follows on the exhibit’s webpage:

Billy Ireland (1880-1935), a native of Chillicothe, Ohio, was hired by the Columbus Dispatch shortly after his high school graduation in 1898. A self-taught cartoonist, he worked for the Dispatch until his death and was famous both for his editorial cartoons and for his Sunday feature The Passing Show. Ireland had several books published, and he mentored many younger cartoonists including Milton Caniff and Noel Sickles. He turned down syndication contracts and several job offers from larger metropolitan newspapers, saying that he did not want to leave Columbus–he just wanted to get back to Chillicothe. Ireland’s affection for his home state is reflected in his work.

Ireland was nationally known and was admired by such people as Will Rogers and James Thurber, but realized that he thrived best in his local milieu.

I attach a scanned image of one installment of The Passing Show. If the reader clicks the image he will be able to read most of it, although regrettably my scan is not very satisfactory. (If anyone knows a better way to do thumbnail links on WordPress, please let me know.) For more images of Ireland’s work, take a look at the following blog entry. Here’s another one.

"The Passing Show," Columbus Dispatch, 1910

The entire piece, depicting a variety of completely-forgotten events from a particular town over a century ago, is infused with the texture of American life of that time, and shows the feeling of community that we had when we were a much more homogeneous, locally-based country. One can imagine a reader poring over the column and taking in its contents in several viewings throughout the day: not the way most of us read today. Even the title cartoon, showing a round-headed character (A self-portrait of the cartoonist, I think, but there is also a visual allusion that escapes me) paddling a lady down the river in a canoe, reflects a feeling of ease and leisure difficult to imagine on TV or the news today. Then there is a call for a school levy to provide “decent schools for our children” –  in this largely white, newspaper-reading community one could have normal discussions on how to improve the schools without the discussion being dominated by violence, drugs, pregnancy, and students who don’t speak English. Note too that the city happily used Christopher Columbus as its paternal symbol.

We have a long, humorous account of an outdoor boxing match that got caught in the rain, with kidding references to local individuals who were present. We see the Prohibition movement underway with a Search and Seizure Law, jokingly rendered “The Shirts and Caesar Law.” Use of automobiles is booming: two characters called “The Jedge and Jerry” comment that “The high cost of livin’ seems to effect everything except the Sunday mornin’ attendance at the fillin’ stations!”, and the cartoonist also notes: “We can remember that the whole town thought it was positively sinful when the richest man in town paid $150.00 for a new Columbia bicycle.”

There was, of course, plenty of social turmoil, both international and domestic. The panel alludes to the U.S. Congress’s “war tasks” – a reference to operations in Nicaragua? Ireland had moderately progressive instincts; he was said to have helped drive the Ku Klux Klan out of Columbus by mocking their attire:

He was also a supporter of woman suffrage, making the seemingly irrefutable argument: “These queer looking birds can vote, but your mother can’t!” (The cartoon may be worth noting as an excellent example of the power of the progressive argument, which points out the individual injustices created by an existing practice. The problem is that the larger structural or hierarchical benefits of that practice often get ignored.)

Who could disagree?

Besides the more comfortable, leisurely sense of life reflected in Ireland’s work, what stands out is his general decency and  assumption that his audience shares his values. For us, living in a culture that honors Lady Gaga and Michael Vick, this is a good reminder of how much better it could be.

The booklet that comes with the exhibit (on for about another two weeks) summarizes the cartoonist’s legacy as follows:

During the twentieth century, much of America developed into a homogenized nation of superhighways, shopping malls and fast food outlets. Those things which made cities and towns unique were often ignored and many people lost their sense of place and history. Billy Ireland was certain where his roots were, deep in the soil of Ohio, and he felt no need to apologize for that. His friends testified that he left the world a better place. He entertained his readers, fought for causes he believed in, attempted to preserve nature’s beauties, and he was a generous and loyal friend. Billy Ireland was a cartoonist who changed his community for the better and inspired others to follow his career. (Ireland of the Dispatch, Columbus: The Ohio State University Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum,  2010, p. 17)

I think he belongs on the list of our American heroes.


Seasonal Thoughts and Old Movies (Will Rogers)

December 31, 2010

I’m spending time with family, and it’s hard to muster my attention and time to create a substantial post. It hasn’t been the cheeriest of holidays for patriotic conservatives. Our Muslim enemies have decided to make this the season of choice for terrorist attacks, but as usual no one will speak honestly about the simple way to solve this problem. Our lame-duck Congress gave us a couple of “gifts” like the official repeal of the ban on homosexuals in the military, that also cast a pall over the  season. More disturbing than the repeal was, perhaps, the complete absence of public discourse even touching on the possibility that there might be negative consequences to having open homosexuality in our military. I was delighted that the NIGHTMARE Act failed to pass, but wasn’t happy to notice, when doing Christmas and post-Christmas shopping, that the major department stores are ALL posting prominent Spanish-language signs, as if by prior agreement. When will the American people wake up to this?

In any case we mustn’t allow our enemies to rob us of the spiritual joy and wonder of Christmas. It gets harder to find it in the outside world, so we have to look within and in our families and communities to find it.

I watched the 1933 Will Rogers film Doctor Bull on Turner Classics – a charming portrait of the old America. Rogers plays a doctor in a small New England town who “delivers most of its residents into the world and tries to delay their departure from it as long as possible.” Rather than being a saintly character, he is a bit curmudgeonly with those villagers who demand that he check every ache and pain; when he loses patience, he dismisses them with his standard recommendation that they take a good dose of castor oil! Still, he labors on to save lives through vaccinations and other unglamorous measures, for which he is inadequately recognized.

“Doc” Bull incurs the emnity of some of the village gossips, who disapprove of his harmless flirtation with the widow, Mrs. Cardmaker. When typhoid breaks out in the village, his foes attempt to have him removed from his position, although the real cause of the epidemic seems to be the failure of the owner of a local construction camp to keep the water supply clean. The good doctor, in the end, is able to ride out the crisis and arrive at a happier place in life.

Will Rogers (1879-1935) was one of our best known and best loved public figures. Born on a ranch in Oklahoma, he became a vaudeville performer, actor, public speaker, radio  personality, and writer, one who was said to always have his finger on the pulse of the American people. He died quite needlessly in Alaska in a small plane crash of the sort that used to happen all the time. He was most remembered for his folksy quips expressing a kind of country common sense–I’m sure he was an influence on Ronald Reagan. My generation, though, knew little about him. I always thought he was an actor in Westerns, but that was not his main activity. One of my in-laws lives near a school that is named after him. Needless to say, I doubt that the younger generation has been taught about him at all.

I have a book entitled The Best of Will Rogers by Bryan B. Sterling (New York: Crown Publishers, 1979) that is mostly a collection of his quotes. I’d prefer to read longer pieces by him, but meanwhile here are a few quotes from him that I’m sure you’ll find apt. Till next time, my best wishes for a Happy New Year!

I originated a remark many years ago that I think has been copied more than any little thing that I’ve ever said–and I used it in the Zigfield Follies of 1922. I said America has a unique record: we never lost a war and we never won a conference in our lives. I still believe we could, without any degree of egotism, single-handed lick any nation in the world, but we can’t even confer with Costa Rica and come home with our shirts on.

**

If America ever passes out as a great nation, we ought to put on our tombstone: America died from a delusion she had Moral Leadership.

Say, if we had any morals, we would use ’em ourselves.

**

No matter what we do, we are wrong. If we help a nation, we are wrong; if we don’t help ’em, we are wrong. There just ain’t any such animal as International Good Will. It just lasts till the money you lent ’em runs out.

**

On the Riviera in France, they found a bunch of people wearing no clothes and not particularly caring who they were married to, and they called it a cult.

Over here we call it society. [He means the elite or upper class.]

**

America is a great country, but you can’t live in it for nothing.

**

Of all the things that this country is suffering from, the greatest is an overproduction of organizations. When Judgement Day comes, half of America will be on their way to some convention, and the other half will be signing application blanks.

**

Americans have one particular trait that they need never have any fear of some other nation copying, and that is we are the only people that will go where we know we are absolutely not wanted.

Last year Americans spent $700,000 to be insulted in Europe, and they could have got it done for half the money over here.

**

We are the champion yap nation in the world for swallowing propaganda. You can take a sob story and a stick of candy and lead America right off into the Dead Sea.

**

We are the first nation in the history of the world to go to the Poorhouse in an automobile.


“The Boy General With His Flowing Yellow Curls”

November 22, 2010

So Mr. Obama has included Sitting Bull among the “Great Americans” eulogized in his children’s book Of Thee I Sing. Sitting Bull’s story is indeed an epic, tragic Indian saga, but as has been pointed out elsewhere, it is simply logically impossible that someone who was a mortal enemy of the United States could also be an “American.” But at this point perhaps it may be beside the point to oppose Mr. Obama’s view of what constitutes an American on the basis of logic and non-contradiction. His claim makes perfect sense according to the liberal view of American-ness that has taken root since the 1960s. In that view, anyone in the world of any background whatever who manages to arrive in the United States and reside there permanently is an American. A corollary principle is that anyone who ever resided within our borders is also an American – and in fact, American Indians have more or less been granted status within the culture as the truest Americans, as indicated by the title “native Americans” by which they are now known.

Well, I can’t imagine that any American today would have the audacity to deny Indians their special status and right to be here. I would suggest to my fellow (non-Indian) Americans, though, that they think twice before consenting to the notion that American sovereignty belongs to the Indians. The Indians are not about to re-take the United States, but the non-Western immigrants who are currently carrying out an aggressive transformation of our demographics and culture are very much emboldened in this endeavor by the belief that white Americans are, at best, “immigrants” with no particular right to this country, and at worst, invaders who ought to be expelled. Thus an African illegal alien and welfare recipient like Mr. Obama’s Aunt Zeituni claims that America belongs to God, not Americans, and that Americans owe her a living – a sentiment I have also heard expressed by Somalis living here. Thus “Hispanic” immigrants justify their hoped-for takeover of our society on the grounds that they are genetic kindred to American Indians – “we didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us.” (In the linked article, “conservative” Linda Chavez, who had a civil rights appointment under President Reagan, advises Hispanics not to use this slogan, for strategic reasons.) No, we had better affirm America’s European, English-speaking identity and announce that we intend to keep it that way. Do we really want to go the way of Aotearoa/New Zealand?

While Sitting Bull was not an American, George Armstrong Custer (1839-1876), killed by a coalition of Indian forces who had gathered at Sitting Bull’s camp, certainly was. It is not a matter of liking or disliking Custer; it is simply a fact that Custer was a soldier and citizen of the United States and an ethnic member of that nation. But is there any point in saying this to those numerous Americans of European descent who, as a result of 50 years of a liberal-left rewriting of American history, have never once entertained the notion that they belong to nation of people with a particular nature and history?

Such deracinated Americans are likely to buy into the view of Custer presented in the 1970 film Little Big Man, which portrays him (admittedly with obvious satirical intent) as a delusional, narcissistic lunatic. If you scan the comments on the YouTube video showing the scene of Custer’s death in that film, you will find self-professed Americans saying things like “This land belongs to the Indians,” “Custer was a genocidal killer,” etc., in the usual atrocious spelling and mixed with the usual obscenity. Similar comments are made by foreigners who clearly despise the United States, but this apparently doesn’t strike the Americans as meaningful. In Custer’s case there are a few comments made by Americans who sympathize with the man or defend him. For this we should be thankful.

Who the heck was this Custer anyway? An ambitious military officer, one of the best known of the Civil War, distinguished by his fearlessness and readiness to strike quickly and decisively, though the high casualty rate for his men may be taken as an indictment of his tactics. A practical joker who graduated last in his class at West Point and accumulated numerous demerits for stunts and violations of rules – though we should remember that about two-thirds of his entering class were culled out by graduation; anyone who graduated was a success! A Michigander (and partial Ohioan) who led his Michigan Brigade into battle at Gettysburg with the call “Come on, you Wolverines!” A self-promoter and publicity seeker, but to some extent necessarily so – military leaders, then as now, needed to paint their deeds in a good light and cultivate political connections if they were to succeed.

…A prodigious letter writer. An anti-Abolitionist Democrat and sympathizer with the South who nevertheless took the Union side with no hesitation. A critic of Indian agents who sold goods for personal profit that were meant to assist the Indians, and wrote “If I were an Indian, I often think, I would greatly prefer to cast my lot among those of my people adhered to the free open plains rather than submit to the confined limits of a reservation, there to be the recipient of the blessed benefits of civilization, with its vices thrown in….” (1) And, undeniably, a figure who owes his present fame not to his interesting and impressive career, but from being immortalized by his disastrous defeat at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. The exact sequence of events at that battle will never be known, although archeological excavation seems to shed some light on the matter. This historian gives what sounds like a balanced account, refuting the idea that Custer was a megalomaniac or madman.

At different times and by different people, Custer’s merits and flaws have both been exaggerated. Yet the drama and horror of his “last stand” quite understandably excited the imagination of his fellow Americans. How could one be indifferent to an event like this? Custer is one of ours, and we relate to him, and easily imagine ourselves, with horror, in his place. If we relinquish our right to judge for ourselves his merits and demerits, or indeed whether to remember him at all, we are giving up a piece of our heart. You might as well ask us to stop caring about missing white girls. No, that way lies extinction. The history of a people is in part a spiritual drama, represented by iconic events remembered collectively. The nature of this drama, and how it shall resolve itself, is the great question we face, and this is a question which no number of archaeological digs can resolve.

Notes
(1) George Armstrong Custer, My Life on the Plains, University of Oklahoma Press, Norman, OK: 1962.


Toxic “Knowledge”

November 15, 2010

Recent histories of the United States invariably focus on the experience of the various vanquished Indian peoples and of the African slaves, not to mention the various new minorities who arrived in the 20th century. You know, this kind of thing is demoralizing to read. Wholesale destruction of Indian tribes; the slave ships of the 18th century…the list is endless, and even if one remembers the other side of the story – the cruelty of Indians or Africans; the many kind and humane Europeans; the utterly different societies and conditions of the past – one wishes things could have been different. (I mean this mainly with regard to those who were displaced or forcibly brought here; I have little concern with peoples who came of their own accord after the country was formed.) What gets to me is not so much the alleged badness of my forbears; I have learned to listen to those forbears directly, and their humanity and heroism are apparent to me. It is simply the sadness of knowing that for our civilization to rise, other peoples and cultures had to perish or be pushed aside. And they, too, had their humanity and heroism. That is the tragic side of our history.

Adults who are secure in their sense of identity can afford to contemplate, from time to time, the sometimes unfathomable cruelties of history, including those that took place in their own country. That does not necessarily mean that it is a useful thing to do. I remember reading of a Holocaust survivor who derided the idea of using art and literature as a means to “understand” that event. Some things are so horrible that there is nothing to be gained by contemplating them, which is not the same thing as saying that the facts should not be ascertained, the causes analyzed, etc.

What about in the case of children? We obviously want to teach our children to value and seek truth. But responsible people would not expose children to historical narratives that could traumatize or confuse them, any more than they would expose them to pornography. I think here our culture is deeply confused: on the one hand, our cultural arbiters seem to have decided that stories like “The Three Little Pigs” or “Little Red Riding Hood” need to be rewritten so that there is no villain and nobody gets hurt. On the other hand, they seem to have a compulsion to expose children to graphic accounts of violence and cruelty of America’s past, as long as it is a matter of white Americans being cruel to non-whites.

Here’s an example, from the state of Michigan, of the nightmarish results that can ensue:

Warren district faces suit over slavery lesson

Book excerpts with N-word rile family of fifth-grader

Christine Ferretti / The Detroit News

Warren — The family of a former Warren Consolidated Schools fifth-grader is suing the district, claiming the African-American girl was the victim of racial discrimination when excerpts from a book about slavery containing “outrageous statements” — including the N-word — were read aloud in class.

The lawsuit, filed last week in Macomb County Circuit Court, says the district inflicted emotional distress and racial harassment on the girl by allowing a Margaret Black Elementary School teacher to read sections of the book “From Slave Ship to Freedom Road” by Julius Lester.

The lesson took place in January, and involves passages that include: “Step right up! New shipment of n—–s just in.” And, “Nine months after you buy one of these n—–s, you will have a plantation full of n—-r babies,” according to the lawsuit.

Novi-based attorney Scott E. Combs, who is representing the family, says the incident violates Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, which bars employers — and schools — from discriminating on the basis of factors such as religion, color, age, height and weight. The family is seeking damages exceeding $25,000.

Combs said Tuesday that numerous letters and calls to the district failed to remedy the family’s concerns over the literature.

The issue, he said, ultimately led the parents to pull the child from the district. She is now enrolled in sixth grade at an undisclosed school in Oakland County.
……
In the book — geared toward children ages 10-15 and in grades six to eight, according to Scholastic’s website — Lester uses text to interpret 24 paintings by Rod Brown to re-enact the 250-year journey from the first slave ships taking Africans from their homes to the Civil War and emancipation. It also depicts difficult truths such as whippings and lynchings, Scholastic.com says.

An Amazon.com review said some paintings “may be too powerful for younger children” and certain depictions “are difficult even for adults to bear.” The review says, “Children may be initially startled… but they will also be engaged and enlightened.”

I remember Scholastic. When I was in elementary school in the 1970s, we got children’s magazines published by them – I think they were called Scholastic News and Scholastic Voice; there was also one called Dynamite. We also could order books through the Scholastic Book Club – you would bring in a few dollars for the order, and a week or two later the books would come in. What a pleasure that was! Ghost stories, dinosaur stories, and some books dealing with the Founding Fathers and other topics that I daresay planted some seeds that are yielding fruit decades later in this blog.

So Scholastic is now in the business of forcing children to hear stories and see pictures of slavery and lynching, and even to do “thought exercises” that are different for students of different races! Neither black nor white children should be exposed to this sort of material, which is upsetting in itself and is obviously going to inculcate guilt in the white children and anti-white hostility in the black and other non-white children.

To cap off this “educational” travesty, the author of Slave Ship is black! So, a black man writes an anti-white children’s book, a teacher (I suppose white) reads the book to the class, and a black child’s family sues the school for traumatizing her. On both sides, blacks make money and get to inhabit the moral high ground in the deal; meanwhile, children of both races are mistreated. It sounds like another good example of what some are calling “Black-run America.”

This is not a country that I want to live in or consign my children to live in.

The reality is that some things are more important than making sure that certain “facts” are widely and publicly known. For instance, a people must first feel secure and sovereign in their identity and enjoy a healthy connection to their past, before they can enjoy the luxury of critiquing themselves and their history. The American people today enjoy no such security and are allowed little such connection. In such an atmosphere, it would be better if slavery, lynching, the atomic bombings, and other morally and ethnically-charged phenomena were suppressed and forgotten, than that they be taught as they are today, where every “fact,” true or false, becomes ammunition for angry minorities, foreign colonizers, and foreign enemies. This goes for what is told to adults as well as what is told to children.

And of course – my regular readers will hardly need to hear this – facts themselves can mislead more than enlighten. It would be better, I think, if no one “knew” that there were 5,000 lynchings between 1882 and 1968 in the United States except those who were also prepared to also learn, for example, what portion of those lynchings were of whites; how many victims of lynching were likely guilty; how many Americans in the North and South perished in the Civil War; the nature and condition of black communities from Reconstruction to the present; and recent black-on-white crime statistics. We should note also that a book like Slave Ship is more fiction than fact – how does Julius Lester know what kind of dialogue took place at a slave auction?

I believe in seeking truth. But even if it could be proven that all of the whites who colonized America were nothing but plundering, raping savages, I would stand by their descendants’ right to control this land and the destiny of the nation. Because somehow or other they created the America I know, a unique and beautiful civilization that I would do anything to help save. If you accept that, we may have something to talk about.