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The Endless Reconstruction

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Respect for the dead arguably defines civilization. Mortality unites us. Corpses can’t fight back, so only savages destroy statues and mock the dead. Men do not.

Modern America has few men. Richmond is a once proud capital now hastening its decline into just another black slum. The city’s proudest feature, Monument Avenue, has been destroyed, confirming white advocates’ worldview: If you replace the people, you replace everything. African-Americans have nothing in common with Confederate heroes any more than they do with the Founders. Confederate generals fall today and the Constitution will probably fall tomorrow, if it hasn’t already.

Richmond didn’t just take down the Robert E. Lee statue. The city destroyed it, ignoring pleas to save it or put it in a museum. ISIS soldiers and the Taliban likewise destroyed non-Islamic art and buildings.

In Atlanta, the city council removed the magnificent “Lion of the Confederacy” statue because it couldn’t (or wouldn’t) protect it from repeated vandalism. This isn’t surprising, becauseAtlantacan’t (or perhaps won’t) protect its own people.

This destruction is especially tragic because America is now not capable of producing anything as beautiful as these Confederate monuments. Someof the “art” supposedly “honoring” blacks is so derivative or ugly one wonders if a secret conspiracy of white supremacists is behind it. They are like the toddler’s scribbles indulgent parents put on the refrigerator.

In the Capitol rotunda, our rulers have replaced many statues of Southern and American heroes. This, too, reeks of condescension. Virginia’s statue of Robert E. Lee was removed to make way for Barbara Johns, an unremarkable woman who protested segregation, and whose greatest achievement was to become an elementary-school librarian. Even if Virginia was committed to picking a black person, was she the best they could do? Barbara Johns and George Washington are now the most honored people the state produced. The true monuments to desegregation are failing public schools of the inner cities and suburban sprawl built for fleeing whites.

General A.P. Hill has suffered the worst. Richmond destroyed his monument and dug up his corpse. A white contractor even mocked the dead, saying A.P. Hill went down like a “bitch.” That’s like bragging you knocked over a three-year-old.

John Hill, descendent of A.P. Hill, had to exhume his ancestor’s very bones and protect them from gawking spectators and drones. The monument will reportedly be given to a black museum, presumably to destroy it or use it to shame whites.

The feelings of white southerners clearly don’t matter. With Richmond’s citizens merrily gunning each other down and a school board member saying the public schools are in “crisis,” the city doesn’t seem to have a great future. Confederate monuments may have been the last reason to brave the crime and squalor to visit the city.

In the founding poem of our civilization, the Iliad, Achilles slays Hector and then drags the fallen hero’s body behind his chariot. That was shocking and contemptible even thousands of years ago. Achilles regains his humanity when he agrees to Hector’s father’s request to bury Hector decently. Priam and Achilles are still enemies, but they acknowledge their common humanity and shared mortality. Bronze Age Mediterranean tribesmen were more honorable than the servants of “Our Democracy.”

Orthodoxy holds that all whites are racist. This explains inequality despite decades of privileges, programs, and favorable treatment. Thus, blacks conclude, correctly, that if racial difference is impossible but they are still behind, white racism is responsible. Critical Race Theory – now doctrine in government, schools, churches, and media, holds that all whites are racist no matter what they do. This includes contractors boasting about victory over an inanimate object.

Dishonorable whites will learn that no one builds monuments to traitors. The contractor’s own grave may be dug up someday by vengeful blacks as goalposts shift and the definition of racism expands. F.W. de Klerk in South Africa won the Nobel Peace Prize for turning his country over to blacks, but he died apologetic and disgraced. Just last month, thieves stole his peace-prize medal from his home.

Every white hero could meet the same fate. Winston Churchill’s monuments needed protection from mobs. Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello insults the third president. Even Abraham Lincoln is not exempt.

Our rulers have redefined the Civil War. It was once the American Iliad — a war of brother against brother in which both sides fought bravely but ended with national reconciliation. However, now West Point is removing monuments to American soldiers who served in the Confederate army, even if they also fought for the United States. The new orthodoxy is not that the war was tragic and Reconstruction was military occupation, but that Reconstruction didn’t go far enough in pursuing what The Atlantic called “the ideal of perfect equality.” Such an ideal is impossible and immoral, but that may be a benefit. An ideal that can never be realized, will forever justify new programs to humor mooches. Some whites expect jobs but others are just chasing a moral high, like the “anti-Germans” who celebrate the bombing of Dresden.

Apolitical groups are now “haters” if they aren’t sufficiently self-flagellating. The Sons of Confederate Veterans was uncontroversial not long ago, but today, it is a scandal that hacked membership records show politicians and soldiers are members. The Knights of Columbus could get the same treatment for being named after a colonist and for using a fasces as part of its logo.

Some argue that “traitors” to the United States shouldn’t be honored, but Confederates had no desire to destroy the United States. They wanted to go their own way, just like the men who founded this country. Robert E. Lee is no more a traitor than George Washington. If treason means anything, it must mean siding against one’s own people. Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and other Confederates fought for the United States in the Mexican-American War. Confederate General Joseph Wheeler fought for the United States after the Civil War, commanding Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders. (During one engagement, he reportedly forgot himself and shouted, “We’ve got the damn Yankees on the run!)

The Confederacy was less radical than the Continental Congress. It didn’t form a military alliance to attack the mother country’s interests around the world. Even Northerners knew this; one last-ditch effort for peace was Secretary of State William Seward’s plan to start a conflict with a European power in the hope that North and South could reconcile.

After the war, the government did not try Jefferson Davis for treason, because he probably would have won his case. The same document that says “all men are created equal” also says that if the government threatens life and liberty, “it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it.” The Confederate flag was carried in battlefields in World War II, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf. Nathan Bedford Forrest III was the first American general killed in action during the War in Europe.

“Losers!” mock those who laugh at the South. Those who celebrate General Sherman’s March to the Sea probably have a different view of his postwar campaigns in the West. If those who warred against the United States government shouldn’t be honored, every American Indian monument in this country should be torn down. The Indians are “losers,” too. If the Confederate flag is treason, so too is flying the Mexican flag in the American Southwest.

We know why the federal government sneers at the Confederacy but builds monuments to the American Indian. It’s about humiliating whites. It’s about reconquering the South. The first act of conquerors is often destroying holy sites or monuments and replacing them with new ones.

Whites, perhaps uniquely, don’t usually act this way. Even during the Indian wars, many American officers honored their enemies. Union and Confederate veterans held reunions after the war. The United States did not have to spend decades fighting a guerilla war. Holding the country together was the point of the war from the Union’s perspective, and Abraham Lincoln always argued that the Confederates were not a separate people.

Lincoln’s offer of reconciliation has been retroactively withdrawn. If white Southerners must be crushed and the Confederacy damned, Southerners who accepted defeat and contributed to union after the war were fools. Tearing down Jefferson Davis’s statue shows he was right. If so, Robert E. Lee’s greatest mistake was not Pickett’s charge but surrendering.

Confederate flags at football games or NASCAR races are banned. Governor Nimrata “Nikki” Haley, a Republican, removed the battle flag from the South Carolina state capital. Robert E. Lee Plaza is being renamed after Henrietta Lacks, a black woman whose cells were used without her permission for medical research. This is considered an achievement worthy of immortality. The military is now throwing away the sacrifices of white Southerners who fought in the American armed forces after the Civil War.

Perhaps that’s for the best. “Our Democracy” may truly be something utterly different from what the Founders built or even the union Abraham Lincoln left us. If even West Point is just another affirmative action degree mill, perhaps it’s better that General Lee not lend his prestige to it. An association with the regime that disgraces the name of Washington discredits Confederates in a way the Lost Cause never will.

One defining trait of “Our Democracy” is that the majority often doesn’t get what it wants. Sam Francis wrote that in 1994, Republican candidate David Beasley in South Carolina promised to protect the Confederate flag. After he became governor, he promptly switched his position. A poll released just a month after the media frenzy surrounding the 2017 Unite The Right rally found most Virginians supported leaving Confederate monuments alone. A recent poll found most Virginians in Fairfax County wanted to keep streets named after General Lee and General Stonewall Jackson, but because this is a democracy, the authorities changed them anyway.

It won’t stop there. The Founding Fathers are next, along with Christopher Columbus, Teddy Roosevelt, the national anthem, and its author, Francis Scott Key. Our rulers have no use for great men. Ulysses S. Grant got a posthumous promotion to humiliate the South, but it may not last long. Union generals such as Sherman and Custer enforced a harsher policy against the American Indians than Confederates ever did. The last Confederate general to surrender, Stand Watie, was a Cherokee.

Calls for another Reconstruction are really calls to treat the South, and all of America, like a conquered nation. Just last year a Washington Post columnist recommended that. Conservatives are angry. They are also naïve. America is already conquered and occupied.

Occupation means rule by aliens, and democratic trappings make it especially insidious. A monarch might be good or bad, but people know whom to blame. Our government puts foreigners before citizens when it spends our money. Non-whites, even if they aren’t citizens, may have more rights than whites because of affirmative action and “civil rights” law. The intersectional flag — even the nightmarish new version — means more than the American flag, which increasingly seems like a relic of a bygone age.

Whatever you think of the war in Ukraine, it’s amusing to see the same media that are hostile to Hungary and Southerners, suddenly celebrating ethnonationalism.

The Ukraine/Russian conflict, though tragic, shows the importance of symbols. Ukrainian nationalists claim a separate identity while Russia appeals to both Soviet and imperial nostalgia. When pro-Russian militias raise a Soviet “victory banner” over a Ukrainian city, or a Ukrainian tank rolls into battle with a Wehrmacht cross, we see that symbols can be more powerful than a HIMARS.

National Review says the system is fundamentally fine. It’s not. It is not even ours. The American government is a colonialist power, but its victims are not Third World masses but white Americans. A people owes loyalty to its leaders only if its leaders are loyal to them. The Potomac regime and its grave-robbing servants are coming close to breaking that social contract. There is no telling what a government that desecrates graves might do. (Look at an example from the Spanish Civil War.)

Protecting monuments must become a political issue. Republicans have lied to our faces about protecting them, so we can’t even argue that Republicans are the lesser of two evils.

Southerners, white advocates, and those who simply don’t want great art destroyed have trusted in legal agreements, state promises, and the courts to protect monuments. In the case that led to the removal and destruction of the Robert E. Lee monument, the court dismissed a binding agreement on the novel grounds that the state has free speech and can therefore ignore contracts.

The white South eventually threw off the first Reconstruction. Many called this “Redemption.” The nation needs redemption, but the system and its rulers are beyond it. At some level, even our rulers are puppets. Dominated by media signals, desperate for self-righteousness, dependent on a pat on the head from those who despise them, they are not opponents so much as natural obstacles like rocks or rivers.

This is no longer just a Southern battle. It’s a battle for the nation itself. What should be our symbol? Some say the Confederate battle flag is tied to a regional cause and can’t represent all European-Americans. Moreover, it was Abraham Lincoln who championed what was our best course – free white labor, colonization for slaves, and a powerful economy and a single national identity. And yet our opponents are turning the flag into a national symbol.

It was never the flag of a government. It was and is the flag of the common man who put his body between a hostile regime and the community he loved. Our opponents have given that flag a more compelling meaning than nostalgia. We can now celebrate Southern and American heroes as part of a living tradition, not remnants of a dead past.

The Confederate battle flag may be the best symbol. Anyone who won’t defend the South won’t defend the real America. To resist the new Reconstruction, we need people who laugh at propaganda from their so-called betters. Cowardly vandals are in no position to lecture us on morality. Our fight will require far more courage and virtue than that displayed by those bragging they won a fight with a corpse. From the ruin he calls a city, Richmond’s Mayor Levar Stoney says removing A.P. Hill’s monument is the end of the Lost Cause. It may be the beginning of a new one. To win it, we’ll need people who will say that they won’t be reconstructed . . . and do not give a damn.