Monday, November 5, 2018

November 5, 2018

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

My Latest Published Essay in CHRONICLES MAGAZINE: From Silent Sam to Screaming Selfies


Today I pass along to you a copy of my latest essay published in Chronicles magazine [“From Silent Sam to Screaming Selfies,” November 2018 issue]. Chronicles is arguably the dean and intellectual lodestar of Old Right traditional conservatism. This is the fourth essay that I’ve had the honor to publish there (two in print, two online), and I deeply appreciate the confidence of the journal’s editors who have chosen to run my writing.

For those who do not know the magazine, here is a brief description of its history and objectives   []:

For nearly four decades, The Rockford Institute’s flagship monthly,
Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, edited by Chilton Williamson, Jr., Scott P. Richert, and Aaron D. Wolf, has defended Western Christian civilization. A magazine without peer, Chronicles aims to influence the influential. Nearly a third of its readers hold advanced degrees and include novelists, filmmakers, university professors, teachers, homeschooling mothers, captains of industry, government researchers, journalists, bishops, priests, and politicians. Former presidential candidate Patrick J. Buchanan called Chronicles “the toughest, best-written, and most insightful journal in America.” One venture capitalist described Chronicles as more useful in predicting social and cultural trends than all investment newsletters combined, and a best-selling thriller writer calls Chronicles “the magazine I read first.”

I hope you will consider subscribing. Each monthly issue is filled with thoughtful and well-written essays addressing the major issues of our time, excellent reviews, and acute commentary. For print subscriptions [one years, $44.99], please write: CHRONICLES Subscription Department, P. O. Box 3247, Northbrook, Illinois 60065-9968, or:

My published November 2018 essay, “From Silent Sam to Screaming Selfies,” may be found both in the print edition and also online (for subscribers, log in at:]. 

The essay is largely a rewriting of an installment of MY CORNER from August 26 of this year which addressed the toppling of the “Silent Sam” monument on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the deeper implications; []


November 2018

Letter From North Carolina

From Silent Sam to Screaming Selfies

by Boyd D. Cathey

In the wake of the August 20 toppling of Silent Sam, a monument to North Carolina students who volunteered to become Confederate soldiers in 1861-65, our television screens were filled with images of scraggly, rough-bearded Millennial men and unkempt women screaming profanities and shouting imprecations about racism, white supremacy, and the dangers of “fascism.” Which is to say, they were “demonstrating for peace and justice.” Silent Sam, a symbol of courage, sacrifice, and duty, has stood on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for over 100 years. News accounts showed the figure lying on the ground, as members of the mob took turns kicking at it and spitting on it, and taking selfies while doing so. Behind those fierce images of anarchy lurked a darker, scarier truth.

Admittedly, some members of the mob of August 20—a number of whom came back to demonstrate again on Saturday, August 25—were not really students. They were professional itinerant militants from Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and other Marxist groups. But many indeed were enrollees at that institution—students who are by most accounts receiving the finest public education that money (and Mommy and Daddy) can buy from one of the most prestigious universities in the South.

There was, for example, Margarita Sitterson, a Chapel Hill student who is the granddaughter of former chancellor of the university J. Carlyle Sitterson. As reported by Big League Politics, she boasted of her participation in the lawlessness of August 20 and her active involvement in tearing down the monument:

“So basically what happened was there was four banners on each side—well actually one banner on each side, and they were all connected by sticks, and people wrapped rope around the sticks and we pulled back and forth and back and forth until it fell down.”

Sitterson flippantly added a reference to her lineage:

“My grandfather—he went here for college, then he became a professor, then he became a dean [inaudible], then he became chancellor.” Sitterson said she was ashamed and that she carried guilt because she is white, and white people owned slaves.

The narrative is familiar: It conforms to the instructional template that frames nearly every course on American history, literature, and politics on offer at today’s institutions of higher learning. This framework admits two measures by which all human history and experience, all human knowledge and expression, are to be evaluated: racial oppression by the white race of black and brown people, and sexual oppression by men of women. Thus, reading our history and literature to discover deeply embedded examples of “racism” and “white supremacy,” and of “male exploitation” and the “oppression of women,” has become the central characteristic of the college-classroom experience. Shakespeare, a white male, glorified the abasement and enslavement of women and degraded nonwhites in Richard III and The Merchant of Venice. Mozart’s Die Entf├╝hrung Aus Dem Serail and Rossini’s L’italiana in Algeri demonstrate an overtly racist hostility to Muslims and women. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, Gone With the Wind, the Uncle Remus stories of Joel Chandler Harris: These are almost too triggering to mention.

When such works are taught and discussed in our universities, they are accompanied by grim warnings. This treatment of the patrimony of our civilization effectively cuts students off from the past and from the shared culture that shapes our collective identity as a people.

Obviously, when students like Margarita Sitterson arrive in the classrooms of Cultural Marxist ideologues who will do little more than inculcate the theories of “critical race theory” and the “feminization of history,” they have already, in most cases, endured years of poor education and early indoctrination in our public schools. They have been “softened up” for this process. These arriving freshmen, while able to describe in excruciating detail what they have been told about the “racism” and “white oppression” supposedly existent in the United States today, cannot read basic texts or pass basic exams in math, English, and history.

In late 2016, Dr. Walter Williams wrote that “a very large percentage of all incoming [college] freshmen have no business being admitted to college.” After taking the College Board test,

Only 32 percent of white students scored at or above proficient in math, and just 7 percent of black students did. Forty-six percent of white test takers scored proficient in reading, and 17 percent of blacks did. The ACT, another test used for admission to college, produced similar results. The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education reports, in an article titled “A Major Crisis in College Readiness for Black Students,” that 34 percent of whites who took the ACT were deemed college-ready in all four areas—English, mathematics, reading and science. For blacks, it was only 6 percent.

This educational rot extends to the U.S. Military. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Trump and financed by a $670 billion defense-spending measure approved in September calls for an increase of 15,000 active-duty troops in 2019. This comes following a year in which the Army failed to meet its recruiting goal for the first time since 2005. There is a bigger problem: In addition to the fact that many potential candidates are too obese to meet the physical requirements of the military, many more are too dumb. As Mark Perry writes at The American Conservative’s website,

one in four cannot meet minimal educational standards (a high school diploma or GED equivalent), and one in 10 have [sic] a criminal history. In plain terms, about 71 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds (the military’s target pool of potential recruits) are disqualified from the minute they enter a recruiting station: that’s 24 million out of 34 million Americans. . . . [F]ully 30 percent of those who have the requisite high school diploma or GED equivalent fail to pass the Armed Forces Qualification Test (the AFQT), which is used to determine math and reading skills.

Given the wretched state of American education today, is it any wonder that rowdy mobs of students spouting Cultural Marxist slogans are answering the call of their leftist teachers and college professors to destroy Confederate symbols? And since they are glorified as courageous defenders of “free speech” and “social justice” by the media and Democratic politicians, what is their incentive to stop? Taught to hate everything, they will remain angry and restless until they obliterate every vestige of Western Christian civilization.

The administrators at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, like the administrators at most colleges throughout the country, have yet to comprehend the depths of this problem; indeed, many of them sympathize with the young lunatics. Too many political and civic leaders continue to bury their heads in the sand, look the other way, or hope the problem will just go away. But it won’t. Cultural Marxism is a rapidly spreading cancer that must be

excised and removed—else it will kill the host body.

At stake is the very existence of our civilization and our identity as a people.


Boyd D. Cathey holds a Ph.D. in European History from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an M.A. in Intellectual History from the University of Virginia. He was an assistant to the late Russell Kirk and served as state registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. His book The Land We Love: The South and Its Heritage is forthcoming in November 2018.

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