"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

For Love Of Hated Places - Colonial Empires, European Kingdoms, And The Old South

The old and ancient empires of the world were magnificent expressions of high culture, art, science, and philosophy.  The Roman Empire was responsible for infrastructure, language, and the sophisticated amalgam of Greek and Roman art and intellectual achievement.  The Persian Empire was as sophisticated and almost as extensive.  


In Persepolis pashas and their harems ruled from palaces of untold, unimaginable luxury.  The British Empire reformed an undeveloped often primitive world and gave it law, administration, and the foundations of civil society.  India, the jewel in the crown, was perhaps the best example of latter-day empire, transformed from a collection of warring states into a colonial union, the foundation for a modern state. 

The Russian Empire under the tsars was not so extensive as that of Rome or Persia, but still grand.  The Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg chronicles through art the centuries of Slavic culture, royalty, and rule. 


The reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King, was responsible for a flowering of high-culture and its art and architecture.  The Palace of Versailles, the Louvre, and the Tuileries are testaments to imperial vision and power. 

Each European kingdom, small or large, shared the same value of royalty and aristocracy.  Imperial cultures cannot survive without a cultural core protected and preserved, and the Bourbons, Hapsburgs, Romanoffs, and Tudors were guardians and caretakers of culture. The legacy of these empires and kingdoms is Western civilization, the embodiment of the principles of governance, culture, and society since the ancient Greeks. 


In America, European civilizations are being dismissed as irrelevant reminders of a predatory, racist, and exclusive past.  The Greeks, Romans, and Persians were all slave-owning societies; and later Europeans turned slavery into a commercial venture for which they cannot either be forgiven or acknowledged for their accomplishments.  A cancel culture is monolithic, with monocular vision, lack of historical perspective, cribbed and crabbed, accusatory, and presumptuous. 

In Europe, after much of the same insistence of diversity, countries are finally admitting their mistakes.  Marion Marechal of France, Giorgia Meloni of Italy, Gert Wilders of the Netherlands, and the presidents of Hungary and Poland are but a few who have shouted basta! and reviled the corrosive, destructive influence of Muslim immigration.  


They unlike their American counterparts have no difficulty is blaming the religion of Islam for this invasive, insidious influence.  The cries of Allahu Akbar are not incidental.  The calls for an Islamic caliphate not one-off political slogans.  Muslim immigrants to France have been unequivocal about their hate for Christian, French culture and demand separatism.  Marion Marechal says No Mas!

I do not want my daughters, she says, to grow up in a Muslim-dominated country where sharia law, burkas, headscarves, genital mutilation, and the incarceration of women are the norms; and I will fight for the return of France to its uniquely Christian, Western roots. 

Of course the Left howls racist! xenophobe! cultural imperialist! but Marechal is undaunted.  The victory of Charlemagne over the Muslim Saracen invaders at Roncesvalles in 778 which earned the right of France to call itself 'the eldest daughter of the Catholic Church', the savior of Christianity is recalled by Marechal proudly.  We must return to Roncesvalles, she says, for the Muslim invasion of today is no less determined and dangerous. 

American historical myopia is universal and destructive .  Not only do progressive revisionists want to remove all traces of European empire from America's legacy, but native ones as well.  Everything relating to the Southern antebellum period, the Civil War, and Reconstruction must be removed.  References to the English cavalier culture which gave the Old South its particular, unique culture of graciousness, manners, civility, and honor must be removed

Yet the Old South cannot be ignored nor forgotten.  As much as many would like to think that it never existed or at best should be consigned to the dust bin of discredited history, it will not go away.  Rhett, Scarlett, pocket doors, mint juleps, cotton plantations, and Reconstruction cannot be wished into oblivion, airbrushed, and forgotten.  

The great antebellum mansions of the Old South not only existed but still exist, visited every year at Southern pilgrimages, tributes to a simpler, more sophisticated,  graceful, and elegant way of life.  Residents of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi may have moved on from the civil war and Northern occupation, but they have not forgotten Southern traditions.

Image result for images antebellum mansions

Manners, hoop skirts, formal dances, broad lawns and civility are not a thing of the past, but a living history, a present, and a permanent piece of both Southern and American history, a vital and essential piece of our past.

Yet there are many in the North who would like to airbrush the entire South – to remove it from recollection and significance.  According to them slavery is the only criterion for social judgement; and no matter how much the  Southern, English, cavalier ethos may have contributed to American culture, its livelihood of human bondage must never be forgiven, a mark of Cain which can never be removed. 
No amount of penance can forgive the horrors of slavery.  


So the names of military forts, schools, parks, avenues, highways and street recalling Confederate leaders are removed. A major artery in Northern Virginia, Jefferson Davis Highway, will soon be changed.  Jeb Stuart High School is no longer, Fort A.P. Hill retired.  Statues of Confederate-era statesmen and battlefield generals have been taken down, melted and forgotten.  Complete erasure of the South and Southern history is the goal. 

Yet one can never understand American history without a knowledge of Southern history, nor can one observe and understand the black diaspora and its persistent dysfunction without a look at the Southern past.  It is not enough to cry racism! and artificially raise the black man atop the human pyramid without looking honestly at his origins. 

The South was not some penitential gulag, a reviled, nasty place.  It in fact was similar to the civilizations of Europe whose aristocracies were responsible for the continuation of high culture, breeding, manners, and sophistication.

The revisionist cancel culture of 21st century America is ignorant, divisive, and profoundly corrosive to the nation.  In its presumptuousness, historical arrogance, and defiant ignorance of the wider breadth and scope of culture, it is a far greater threat to democracy than any leveled at the Right. It is time for Americans to listen to Meloni and Marechal. 

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