July 6, 2019
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
New Book by Ronald and Donald KENNEDY, Yankee Empire – My Review
I pass on another commissioned book review essay, this one of the Kennedy Brothers’ (James Ronald and Walter Donald) latest volume, Yankee Empire: Aggressive Abroad and Despotic At Home, their latest salvo in the ongoing war to recapture, revive and richly illustrate Southern heritage, and to offer to modern day Southerners a strong historical and political basis for our future. For as the American nation continues to decay, decline, and, in fact, apparently disintegrate in so many ways before our eyes, it behooves us to re-examine our history and the postulates about union which we have accepted since the end of the War for Southern Independence.
Those assumptions have collapsed.
The Kennedys have been doing that re-examination in a series of easily readable, but powerful books over the past few years; and in so doing, they have been in a forefront of a growing movement among writers and historians and those interested in the preservation (and renewed flourishing) of our Southern culture and society.
My review appeared in the July/August issue of Confederate Veteran magazine, and has not appeared previously in the MY CORNER series. It is not online, only in the magazine…and here:
CONFEDERATE VETERAN MAGAZINE
REVIEW of Walter Donald Kennedy and James Ronald Kennedy. YANKEE EMPIRE: Aggressive Abroad and Despotic At Home (Columbia, SC: Shotwell Publishing, 2018), 380 pp. paperback.
By Boyd D. Cathey
Once again the Kennedy brothers—Walter Donald and James Ronald—have written a block buster that should be in the hands of every Southerner. Indeed, it would pay tremendous dividends if some of our brethren above the Mason-Dixon Line were to read and digest its insights, as well.
Yankee Empire: Aggressive Abroad and Despotic at Home (words used by General Robert E. Lee in a letter to Lord Acton in 1866, warning of what a post-War America might become) ranks with their earlier books, The South Was Right!, Punished With Poverty, and Dixie Rising: Rules for Rebels, as essential reading as the present-day American—let’s call it Yankee-dominated—nation descends into a truly unprecedented time of fierce and unbridgeable division, unprecedented, that is, since 1860-1861.
Yankee Empire is basically an attempt to chart what has happened to America since then—that Confederation of independent states that came together in 1787 to create the old American republic with so much expectation and hope. But a republic that was destroyed in four short years of terrible conflict unleashed by an anti-Constitutional, usurping Yankee government, intent on subjugating the Southern states and turning the very region of the republic largely responsible for that republic into a plundered and vassalized region, dependent on crony capitalists, unelected political elites, and a managerial class that operates with impunity, ignoring the wishes and needs of the population.
The Kennedys recount that after the War and the First Stage of Reconstruction (the Second Stage is upon us now), a kind of tacit peace between the regions was established, a kind of “period of good feeling.” The South was permitted to honor its heroes and remember its honored fallen veterans, observe its holidays, fly its flags and sing it songs. In return, it was impelled to accept the Northern version of patriotism and, eventually, the Northern version of history, which at first was somewhat respectful, even anodyne, when treating the War for Southern Independence. Most of its “new South” leadership class (to use the terminology of historian Paul Gaston in his book The New South Creed) was soon convinced, or, rather, bought off by the enticements of Northern crony capitalism.
The young Henry Grady, editor of The Atlanta Constitution, enthusiastically summed up this trend. The South must show itself ready and eager for what he termed “progressive development” and Northern capital. The South would have to discard its conservative ways when these conflicted with modern ideas and innovation…and fealty to the dominant commercialist and expansionist Yankee ideology.
This version of history soon had its global effects, as the Kennedys recount, with the virtual seizure and then annexation of the Kingdom of Hawaii (actually a prepared coup d’etat by Northern financiers, who then presented the country to President McKinley), followed by a series of “involvements” by the united American nation—the Spanish-American War (and the taking of the Philippines), intervention in Nicaragua and in Latin American, entry into World War I “to make the world safe for Democracy,” and Franklin Roosevelt’s “back door to war” (to used historian Charles Tansill’s expression) to get the country into World War II.
Through it all Southerners had been cajoled and educated to think that this misplaced nationalism was the correct form of patriotism they needed to exhibit. And, indeed, beginning with the Spanish-American War, Southern military figures have played a singularly outstanding, even admirable role.
Yet, as the Kennedys illustrate the so-called “compromise” reached after Southern defeat in 1865 was chimerical, fraudulent, and ultimately one-sided, as more recent history has overwhelmingly proved. It did not last. And in the process too many Southerners seem to have lost their very souls to a contrary spirit, a philosophy that, in fact, turns its back on our most hallowed and appreciated Southern traditions and inheritance, turns its back on “who we are.”
Since the late 1960s the old “solid South” has ceased to exist as it once was: while the Democratic Party veered wildly to an openly anti-Southern and hostile Left, the Republicans took advantage of the opportunity to attempt to replace them. But the type of conservatism offered by most representatives of the current GOP largely deny or reject our heritage in the name of a universalized crony capitalism, which seems mostly incapable of connecting with our remembered past, much less defending it.
In very readable and accessible language, yet amply supported by solid documentation, the Kennedys chart this history, but, like their other volumes they also offer reasons for hope: the American nation is coming apart at the seams, more Southerners—given the assaults on our heritage—are becoming cognizant of what is occurring and at stake. Yankee Empire, then, becomes an important guide book, a significant source for information and history…and a clarion call to action, for us and for our children and grandchildren. May it signal our awakening.