Sunday, September 2, 2018

September 2, 2018

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

Prof. James Robertson and Rob Christensen Write on the Mania and Lunacy of Destroying the Symbols of Our History

Where Are the Other Mainstream Voices?


In case you haven’t noticed—and I wager that you have—we live in an insane age, an epoch that the late British critic, novelist, poet and essayist, the great Christian writer G. K. Chesterton would have surely denominated as a “time of lunacy” in which the lunatic runs the asylum and reason and genuine thought are nearly extinguished. Or that the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats, writing his poem “The Second Coming” almost exactly one-hundred years ago, might have described as one in which,

    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

So it is with the manic and unhinged frenzy to bring down monuments not just honoring Confederate veterans, but honoring almost anyone—as long as he be a white male who in some way can be tagged as representing European (i.e., white) Christian civilization, its culture, and its traditions.

Those who rave and fume and take matters into their own hands, both against law and against the wishes of a large majority of our citizenry—it has been documented and illustrated numerous times—are mostly a small, very loud and very zealous minority, composed of various revolutionary groups, openly Marxist and Communist Workers World Party zealots, Antifa radicals, Black Lives Matter, and a few left wing sentimental Christians who have in fact given up any semblance of or relationship to traditional Christianity.

You would think that our established and ruling elites and those who mostly govern our states and nation, benefiting from the culture and knowledge that they would have supposedly received from the legacy and understanding of our collective history—you would think that they would stoutly oppose the unbridled shenanigans and violence of those groups, that they would recoil, recalling the legacy of law and the comprehension of history.

You would think that this would be the case—but, in large part, it is not. For most of those elites have run to the tall grass, seek not to face the real and very critical historical and cultural issues confronting them, search for a way to avoid making decisions—that is, for an “out” that will mollify the bands of roving extremists, those brain-corrupted lunatics whose mad objective is the destruction of the very culture that has given them sustenance.

After the toppling of the “Silent Sam” Confederate monument on the campus of the University of North Carolina on August 20 and a subsequent riot there on August 25, and after meetings of the UNC Board of Trustees and the university system Board of Governors, Chancellor Carol Folt’s response was just one more example of the kind of pusillanimous response we have come so accustomed to from far too many academic leaders and politicians: a fearful search for a way to placate the lunatic left, look for a way to not be labeled a ”racist” or “white supremacist,” at all costs and ignoring both history and state statutes.

Despite Chancellor Folt’s fear of her raving left flank (both student and academic) and her actions against not only the university system, but against the law of the land and the wishes of a majority of North Carolinians, there are still a few leaders of prominence nationally who enjoy respect in their careers who have spoken and written about the folly of removing our monuments and who have taken the long view, examining these issues from an historical perspective as to what this present madness of cultural obliteration and the attack on memory—and that surely is what it is—is all about.

I offer two items about them and by them. The first is a piece on the views of Dr. James “Bud” Robertson, Professor Emeritus of History at Virginia Tech. Dr. Robertson is, undoubtedly, the nation’s leading authority and historian of the War Between the States. In his long life (he is 88) he has published forty books on the topic, including a multi-prize winning biography of Stonewall Jackson, one of finest books of history written in the past fifty years.  Robertson staunchly opposes the removal of the monuments, and this article from The American Thinker (August 26, 2018) explains why. Although his expressed views relate to Virginia, they are equally applicable to other states and locations as well.

(There is an hour long video of Robertson expatiating at length on his views, with a link embedded in the article. As might be expected, various frenzied leftist types have attempted to damn Robertson and use the tried-and-true racist and white supremacist meme to attack him: he is, some of them say, “old and garrulous, the product of another [and presumably unenlightened and bigoted] age,” so his “racist blather” may be forgiven, but not excused. Yet, Robertson has never been in his long and distinguished career even remotely connected to such views; indeed, up until recently he has been praised by the historical profession—that is, until now, when his probity and honesty have compelled him to set the record straight and incur the wrath of all those intellectual pygmies who claim to be “historians,” but in reality are nothing more than unlovely ideological spear-holders for the advancing tide of cultural rot that is literally trashing both history and memory.)

The second item is by someone I have known more or less for thirty years, a rare breed these days, a kind of classic liberal who is both reflective and pensive, and who writes well. Years ago there were many Rob Christensens who wrote fluently and who were carried by newspapers like The (Raleigh) News & Observer.  Indeed, other than Pulitzer Prize-winning Edwin Yoder, I can’t think of many other mainstream columnists who would fall into this category these days. But Christensen does, and it is something of a minor miracle that the foaming-at-the-mouth lunatic left editors of the N & O would let him appear—but they did, and I pass it on as the second piece today.


August 26, 2018

Confederate Monuments and the Destruction of a Nation's History

They tore another Confederate statue down.  A mob of misinformed lawless miscreants in North Carolina, ignorant of history but allowed to alter history.  Violating law and allowed to do so by gutless local authorities guarding not history or law but their positions and municipal pensions. Where is the concern for facts or even the greater concern for a destruction of national identity conducted by the uneducable twenty-year-olds? 

Enter an expert, a person not wet behind the ears with a sledge hammer, but rather an astute historian who possesses knowledge beyond any level which the mobsters could imagine.

Meet James "Bud" Robertson.  If you have read Civil War history, you might have read one of his books.  He has published forty [including his magisterial prize-winning biography of Stonewall Jackson]. If you are a statue remover, you most assuredly have read none.

Mr. Robertson is professor emeritus Virginia Tech.  He has studied the politics of the great war for nearly six decades.  He assisted the Kennedy administration in the commemoration of the Civil War Centennial. He provides great wisdom regarding the importance of history to a nation's identity and insights into the Civil War.  His one hour speech can be seen on his video.  It is remarkable collection of observations, both past and present, regarding a nation's history and the peril that comes with its altering.  He corrects the misconceptions that fuel much of this Confederate statue controversy.

His opening line is dramatic. "For the first time in my sixty year career I must say I take no pleasure in the talk I am about to give. Yet, it is time that the other side be heard in this monument fury…I will address the factors that lay behind the insanity under which we live in many sections.  I understand and I respect those whose friendships I may damage here."

Here are some salient points from Mr. Robertson:

  • Forgetting the War is impossible
  • Slavery was an underlying issue but not the only factor. States rights and limitations on federal power were also very much in play.
  • Probably 90% of our citizens could not pass a history exam. Cultural illiteracy is fast becoming a way of life in America.
  • History is the greatest teacher you will ever have.
  • Monuments compel us to look back, and learn from our history.
  • Demagogic propaganda that purges fact and extols fantasy is destructive.
  • Great men are being slandered by the non-educable.

Robertson points out that there are laws on the books to prevent monument removal by local authorities.  The wisdom of these laws is to disallow the ideological fashions of the day, implemented by fleeting politicians, to erase a history revered by the previous generations who were witnesses and participants.

In 1906 a federal law was passed which state Confederate soldiers would be treated the same as any other American veteran.

The statues in Virginia memorialize those who defended their state. Section 2742 of the Virginia code, passed in February 1904 protected all monuments from removal: "It shall not be lawful for the authority of any county or any persons whatever to disturb or interfere with any monuments. (Prohibiting removal, damaging or defacing was included later.)  It is still the law in 2018.  In short, monuments may not be removed due to the whims of a local agency or "loud mouths" seeking notoriety.  Authorities in Leesburg and Alexandria sought to take down monuments but such proposals were quickly shot down.

Robertson suggests individuals memorialized should be considered in the "context of their time", and that too many local politicians are to willing to bend to the politically correct trend of the moment.

"It is sad that so many of my Democrat friends who have respect for history are having to take the other side merely because if the Republicans are for it, they must oppose."  Politics must never supersede principle, says James Robertson. We must not ignore the presence of a mob mentality that is long on noise and short on knowledge.

General John Kelly was castigated for commenting that the Civil War was caused by a "failure to compromise".  Robertson notes that "failure to compromise" has been a staple of Civil War causes ever since the war ended. Noted historians including Columbia's Allan Nevins and Randall of the University of Chicago wrote extensively on just that point and thus General Kelly took the position of experts.

According to polls, at least 70% of the electorate do not want monuments removed. There are laws on the books to prohibit removals.  Yet, laws are ignored, historical fact is ignored. Why are bona fide references to history and its analysis, widely held for decades such as General Kelly's comments, now castigated? Is this intentional ignorance or anarchical globalist machinations? Or both?

Robertson maintains eliminating the past has never been a successful means for healing.

Winston Churchill said, "The farther backwards you can look, the farther forward you can see." But "When the present argues with the past, you have likely lost the future."

Robertson notes "When we remove statues erected by previous generations we are destroying more than bronze and marble, we are tearing down our nation itself…all the things good and bad and inadequate that made it.  Why should we want to learn from an imperfect past.  We could learn from it and move to a more perfect future."

But there are those who wish to "tear down" and there are those who choose not to "learn".  Their mission is to erase history, to eviscerate and carve out the foundations of a nation's heritage.  What could be more distasteful to a globalist than that which is the foundation of a nation, that being a nation's history?

Robertson continued:

Only when Americans learn more of their history will they become more respectful of it. Nothing is more critical to the future of liberty than the manner in which we educate our children. We cannot sit idly and watch these incendiaries run loose, for protection of heritage is patriotism.

Robertson closes with a call for more history, not less. We yearn for more reminders of how far we have come and the obstacles we have overcome and the long journey. Eliminating memorials will not change yesterday. Learning from them can change tomorrow.


Raleigh News & Observer

Duke history professors ignore school’s past as they push to remove Julian Carr’s name


September 01, 2018 12:23 PM

I doubt that I am the only person who finds it ironic, that Duke University’s history department — the professional historians for goodness sakes — want to rename the Carr building where their department is housed.

Julian Shakespeare Carr, the Durham industrialist and philanthropist, is a bad odor these days, because he was a white supremacist, and made a virulently racist speech when the Silent Sam memorial in Chapel Hill was dedicated in 1913.

While many now know about the much-quoted racist speech, fewer people are aware that Carr also saved Trinity College from financial ruin, and donated 62.5 acres to the school to move it from its Randolph County campus to Durham where it was renamed Duke University.

If Duke historians want to disassociate themselves from Carr, should the university return the campus land to Carr’s descendants?

Top of Form

Bottom of Form

“We need to reckon with the dual truths. Duke probably wouldn’t exist without Julian Carr’s generosity. And Julian Carr was a virulent white supremacist,” Don Taylor, a public policy professor and chairman of Duke’s Academic Council told The Washington Post.

There is a similar debate in Carrboro, where there is a petition to change the town’s name, because it is now embarrassed by its creator.

Carr’s name has already been removed from a building on the Durham School of the Arts.

While the debate over historic names and monuments is full of anger and fury, what is often missing is any context or nuance, or a sense that things are more complex than today’s sloganeering.

Carr was a racist. Racism is bad. Let’s banish his name, or so the reasoning seems to go.

While Carr was certainly a bigot, he was born in 1845, and his views on race were typical of many 19th century whites in the South, the U.S., and in Europe during the period of colonialism. (Thomas Jefferson was a slave-holder and Abraham Lincoln was a white supremacist, believing black people were inferior.)

Those views are now repugnant to most of us in the 21st century.

But we have no idea how our views today will hold up over time in the 22nd or 23rdcenturies. Will meat eaters be reviled? Will abortion or our treatment of the mentally ill be viewed as barbaric? We don’t know.

Carr should be viewed as a man in full. Carr became one of North Carolina’s wealthiest men, making Bull Durham tobacco famous throughout the world, owning and partnering in textile mills, banking, railroad ventures, and electric and telephone companies. Among other things, he was a key financial backer of The News and Observer in the 1800s.

He is said to have given away most of his fortune helping schools such as Davidson, Wake Forest, St. Mary’s, Elon and Greensboro colleges. Carr financially supported the women’s suffrage movement and helped launch the career of John Merrick, a founder of the N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Company, which was one of the nation’s largest black-owned businesses.

He was one of the first textile mill owners to employ blacks in production jobs, not just maintenance work. He contributed land to build Durham’s public library, the first publicly supported library in the state.

Does this make Carr a prince of a guy? Most assuredly not.

But as Peter Coclanis, a UNC history professor, noted last year: “People are more than the worst thing they have done in their lives.”

The trend now is to judge people of our great grandfather’s era by the standards of 2018 — when, of course, neither they or their contemporaries are alive to defend their reputations. Former Gov. Charles Brantley Aycock, once the hero of progressive North Carolinians for his support for public education, is in the process of being historically erased because of his white supremacist views.

N.C. Central University in Durham is considering a push to remove the name of Clyde Hoey, a governor from 1937 to 1941 and U.S. senator from 1945 to 1954, from a building because he was a segregationist

By that standard, nearly every North Carolina political figure in the pre-civil rights era is in danger of having his name scratched off buildings.

The lack of reflectiveness is bad enough. Vandalism is worse.

Duke University decided not to replace a statute of Robert E. Lee in Duke Chapel after it was vandalized — thereby rewarding criminal behavior. The same is true of a Confederate monument toppled in Durham.

Which is why the legislature is right to argue for replacing the Silent Sam statute memorializing a Confederate soldier on the Chapel Hill campus that was brought down by protests earlier this month. Otherwise, state and university officials are encouraging future mob action.

The debate surrounding the Confederate monuments has many stake holders — including African-Americans offended by the statues and those white Southerners who want to honor the valor and sacrifice of their ancestors. (And yes I know the monument debate does not break down neatly along racial lines.)

It is a difficult needle to thread.

North Carolinians prefer keeping up the Confederate monuments by a 2 to 1 margin, according a state-wide Elon University poll conducted in October. So activists who take the law into their own hands, are courting a political backlash.

There are ways for a community to decide the fate of these issues, as we saw with the deliberations of the N.C. Historic Commission which considered the future of the three Confederate memorials on the state Capitol grounds in Raleigh.

After hearing from all the stakeholders, the commission said it did not have the authority to move the monuments. But it did recommend that further language be added to contextualize the monuments, and that money be raised to build a monument recognizing the contributions of African-Americans.

This was not a decision to satisfy everyone. But such deliberations are far preferable to mob action.

Rob Christensen can be reached at or at 919-829-4532

Comment as of 10:45 p.m., Sept. 1, 2018

Thank you, N&O for this thoughtful and sensible editorial that reveals the complexities of looking at history as a morality play. The knee jerk consignment to the "memory hole" of history of flawed human beings who still accomplished much good needs to be carefully rethought.

Worst yet, the endorsement by academics of the destruction of memorials to the dead who were caught in the tectonic plates of wars and issues of the past opens a Pandora's Box. Do we give the green light to mob violence from any quarter when speech and advocacy are not quick enough in bring about results that are desired?

If so, any person may say the heck with dialogue and resort to violence on issues of gun rights, abortion, affirmative action, taxation, environmental protection, property rights, sexual orientation, voting rights, religion and yes, statues to all the other Americans who do not pass the litmus test of presentism.

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                                                         April 30, 2021   MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey   The Survival of Western Culture...