September 15, 2019
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
Prager U and National Review’s David French—Making the Destruction of Western Civilization Acceptable
Every now and then an acquaintance who reads what I write will ask me: “Boyd, why are you so critical of writers and commentators—Neoconservatives—like Victor Davis Hanson, Ben Shapiro, Brian Kilmeade, and those who appear on Fox News? Why do you seem so condemnatory of articles and essays that show up in, say, National Review or The Wall Street Journal? Aren’t there some good and worthy items there…aren’t there some good things coming from those folks and from those publications?”
My answer is short and in the form of an analogy: Suppose you had a cantaloupe. Part of it appeared to be just fine and pleasing. But a considerable portion of it—a large interior portion you could not really see or determine—was rotten. Just as you say to yourself, “Yum, this is a tasty cantaloupe,” and continue munching away, before long and before you realize it, you are getting into parts of the fruit that maybe at first don’t seem so bad. But, in fact, you have begun to digest decaying fruit. And then it is too late….
Certainly, this analogy is imperfect. Nevertheless, that is what happens when you embrace such personalities as Hanson and Shapiro and Guy Benson, or immerse yourself in such journals as National Review or in the courses of study in American history at Prager U and Hillsdale College (under its president Larry Arnn). Every isolated nugget of truth is mixed in with historical and philosophical rot and falsehood…and for far too many people, the meagre “good” gotten by such involvement is more than counter-balanced by the gradual acceptance and infection of what is erroneous and not good.
Just recently I heard Congressman Dan Crenshaw (Republican-Texas) tell his Fox News audience—once again— that America, its foundation, is based on the proposition of “equality for all” and “spreading the Gospel of Democracy” to all the rest of the world. Just like for his far less intelligent compatriot in Congress, Adam Kinzinger (Republican-Illinois), who never saw a war that he did not want this nation to be in, and most members of the establishment “Conservative Movement, Inc.,” Crenshaw partakes of a discernible philosophical foundation which is essentially inimical to the designs and thinking of the Framers of our Constitution and the Founders of this country.
Although he and Kinzinger would undoubtedly and strongly deny it, in fact, their view owes far more to the febrile mental extrapolations and interpretations of Trotskyite publicists of the 1930s and 1940s than to the resolutely anti-egalitarian and anti-democratic vision of most of the men who cobbled together an American confederation in 1787, and who led that confederation in large part until 1861.
In effect, such enterprises as Prager U, National Review, and most of Fox (except Tucker Carlson) are in far too many ways just a more recent, maybe less noxious branch of the Progressivist revolution which has been eating away at and infecting Western civilization for well over 100 years.
Harsh words? Yes. But let me offer just two examples to illustrate. And, as I have done in past installments in this series in essays about Hanson and Shapiro, I believe these examples are not only dispositive but highly symbolic of an ingrained—and very dangerous—mindset about our history. And it is a mindset that says much about the philosophical foundations of those who mouth such convictions.
As the old saying goes: A word to the wise is sufficient. EVERY “good” item you might read in a magazine like National Review, or insight that you might pick up in one of Larry Arnn’s “American history courses,” also contains, eventually, a slow mental infection, a “hook” which if allowed to fester will pervert and distort.
Two examples, then, and both are significant and both bracket the major offensive of unfolding, progressive “conservative movement thought.”
First, Dennis Prager is seen regularly on Fox, and just recently he appeared on the Mark Levin program. Levin, characterized by his brash and seemingly uncontrollable histrionics, lapped up Prager’s insights. Prager is currently featuring a certain Professor Allen Guelzo (Professor of History, Gettysburg College) to discuss the War Between the States and Reconstruction. And like Victor Davis Hanson—and, ironically, like out-and-out Communist Eric Foner—his argument is that: (1) the War was all about slavery and the fulfilling (by force of arms) of our “national destiny” of “equality for all,” and (2) the Yankee armies should have remained as brutal occupiers in the defeated South for a far longer time after the war “until a newer generation learned a newer lesson about race and rights other than white supremacy.”
The question immediately arises: how does this revisionist historicism differ from the Marxist vision of a Foner or maybe Eric Hobsbawn?
And the answer is: not much.
Yet this narrative is pushed, and pushed hard by the Neoconservatives and the Establishment Conservative Movement. So, my question back to my interrogators is: “Why do you continue soaking up these noxious nostrums, even if there might be an occasional bit of reason or truth discovered therein, when you can go elsewhere, to other journals and online sites, to find something which will provide the same information but that is far less infectious?” [I would offer here as alternatives: Chronicles magazine, The Abbeville Institute, Reckonin.com, The Agonist, New English Review, Takimag.com, VDare.com, Big League Politics, and several others.]
My second example, the second major offensive involves the ferocious attack on a major and essentially defining characteristic and historic quality of Western civilization: our inherited Christian moral tradition, a tradition and belief system that is inextricably bound up with the very existence of our culture. It has, thus, been a primary target of the unrelenting post-Marxist social justice warriors—beginning with divorce-on-demand, paid for abortion for all women, the destruction of the bonds of matrimony and same sex marriage, full acceptance of transgenderism and “gender-fluidity” (i.e., on Monday I “feel” like a woman, but on Tuesday I “feel” like a man), and now even pedophilia. And its effect is to both deny the laws of nature and the Divine Positive Law. Without those foundations, our civilization cannot continue, and our enemies know that full well.
So why do figures such as Jonah Goldberg, George Will, and National Review’s David French (and many other “conservative” spokesmen) not only accept such aberrations, but actively support and advance them in our society?
And here it is very instructive to read what major National Review contributor David French has to say about “Drag Queen Story Hour,” a program now present in some of our public libraries, and aimed at “grooming” young impressionable pre-schoolers across the country.
French thinks it’s not only fine, but a wonderful expression of “the blessings of liberty,” indeed, he thinks such activities should be widespread. Or, as he says: “There’s this idea that victory is the natural state of affairs and defeat is the intolerable intrusion,”…demonstrating the mindset that has caused mainstream conservatism to conserve nothing throughout the decades. “What I’ve been trying to tell people is that none of this stuff is fixed. There is not necessarily an arc to history….”
Just two examples, but two of an increasing number which illustrate the utter corruption of the Establishment Conservative Movement, and its Fifth Column use by those on the further Left. Such luminaries as David French and Dennis Prager, and their ilk rationalize, then normalize and make acceptable the aberrant behavior and anti-Christian beliefs which are destroying what remains of our civilization.
They propound a toxic mix which, in the end like every toxic mix, will be fatal to its recipients. That cantaloupe may seem okay, but in the end rot and decay will spoil it…and make you sick.
Here below are two pieces by historian Philip Leigh about Prager U’s “Civil War and Reconstruction” focus, and an article on David French’s latest antics.
WHO WON RECONSTRUCTION?
By Philip Leigh (September 10, 2019)
“Conservative” Prager U and the American Battlefield Trust recently teamed-up to sponsor by Dr. Allen Guelzo who claims that “the North won the Civil War but the (white) South won Reconstruction.” (....)
Guelzo’s dominant concern is that Reconstruction failed to fully integrate four million ex-slaves into American society. That, he claims, was the aim of Republican Reconstruction. Only after it ended in 1877 did “the South return to . . . economic backwardness.” He argues that the region should have remained under military occupation “until a newer generation learned a newer lesson about race and rights other than white supremacy.”
Additionally, he avers that “we should have gotten [Southern] land ownership into the hands of the ex-slaves” and thereby brought the South into a “free market” economy like that of the North. He gives only a passing nod to the region’s protracted poverty, which he attributes to white supremacy.
Professor Guelzo’s biggest error is his assertion that the South’s impoverishment resulted from an end to Republican Reconstruction in 1877. In reality, it was caused by the wreckage of the Civil War, twelve to seventeen years earlier. Upon returning home after their surrender the typical Confederate soldier found his family in a condition of near, or actual, starvation.
Historian David L. Cohn writes: “When there was a shortage of work stock, the few surviving animals were passed from neighbor to neighbor. [When] there was no work stock [the men] hitched themselves to the plow. By ingenuity, backbreaking toil, and cruel self-denial thousands of Southern farmers survived reconstruction . . . They received no aid from any source, nor any sympathy outside the region.” Despite population growth the South did not reach its prewar level of economic output until 1900. Not until 1950 did it regain its 73rd-percentile prewar ranking in per capita income, which was still well below the national average.
Guelzo falsely implies that anti-black racism was isolated to the South. Horace Greeley, who owned the country’s largest newspaper and was earlier a leading abolitionist, wanted freedmen to get Southern lands in order to keep them from migrating North. Similarly, Massachusetts Congressman George Boutwell proposed that South Carolina and Florida be reserved exclusively for blacks. President Grant’s largest campaign contributor owned the Northern Pacific Railroad, which received land grants equal to the size of Missouri, but his Party did nothing to encourage blacks to seek free western Homesteads where they were unwanted. In fact, what little land the freedmen did get came from 46 million acres of Southern Homestead lands. When a white boxer beat the reigning black heavyweight campion in 1915 the reported that the roar from New York’s financial district “would have done credit to a Presidential victory For a moment the air was filled with hats and newspapers. Respectable businessmen pounded their unknown neighbors on the back” and acted like gleeful children.
Although it is often assumed that Republicans sponsored Southern black suffrage because of a moral impulse to promote racial equality, the bulk of the evidence suggests the Party was more interested in retaining political power.
When the Civil War ended the Party was barely ten years old. Its leaders worried that it might be strangled in its cradle if the re-admittance of Southern states into the Union failed to be managed in a way that would prevent Southerners from allying with Northern Democrats to regain control of the federal government. If all former Confederate states were admitted to the 39th Congress in December 1865 and each added member was a Democrat, the Republicans would lose their near veto-proof two-thirds majority in Congress.
Thus, the infant GOP needed to ensure that most of the new Southern senators and congressmen be Republicans. That meant that puppet governments had to be formed in the Southern states. Since there were few white Republicans in the region the Party needed to create a new constituency.
Consequently, Republicans settled on two goals. First was mandatory African-American suffrage in all former Confederate states. The Party correctly reasoned that such a mostly inexperienced electorate could be manipulated to consistently support Republican interests by way of demagoguery and political spoils. Second was to deny political power to the Southern white classes most likely to oppose Republican policies. This was achieved through disfranchisement of many former Confederates. Finally, the typical Carpetbag regime set-up an “election returning board” to count votes. As a result, the “official” vote outcomes were normally consistent with the desires of the controlling Party regardless of the actual vote.
Professor Guelzo’s video is vulnerable to many other criticisms. Some are mentioned in the of my July presentation at the Abbeville Institute . Readers may also read that presentation .
It is disappointing that Dennis Prager and the American Battlefield Trust sponsored Professor Guelzo’s corruption of history.
Two of my books provide renderings undistorted by political correctness:
by Philip Leigh
DENNIS PRAGER’S ERRORS
By Philip Leigh (September 12, 2019)
Conservative talk radio host Dennis Prager has become a YouTube success with his five-minute videos on politics, history, religion and culture. They’ve been viewed 2.5 billion times and he gets thousands of emails daily. About eighty percent are hosted by prominent experts that include prime ministers, Nobel Prize winners, professors and other credentialed authorities. Prager is an especially effective advocate for free speech, which has even required that he battle YouTube.
Dennis is proud of Prager U’s popularity and the quality of hosts it normally attracts. On a recent YouTube he complained that when critics denounce the videos as inaccurate, “they never give an example.” So, I’ll provide some. The recent Prager U video with is not only inaccurate but also contains outright falsehoods. Guelzo claims that although white Southerners lost the War, they “won” Reconstruction by perpetuating a racist society.
President Andrew Johnson’s overruled Reconstruction plan would have permitted the former Confederate states to rejoin the Union by merely ratifying the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery.
In reality, the plan also required them to repudiate Confederate debts, including personal savings bonds. Thus, nearly all that was left in the war-ravaged region was poverty. Since Johnson considered Abraham Lincoln the greatest American who ever lived, he felt duty-bound to implement the martyred President’s plan as nearly as possible. Arguably he understood it as well as anyone since he was Lincoln’s Vice President and earlier military governor of Tennessee, which was re-admitted to the Union before Lincoln died. Additionally, Johnson’s plan was more stringent than Lincoln’s. Former Confederates with $20,000 in property or previous political influence, for example, had to apply directly to him for the pardons that would enable some to vote and hold office.
The South returned to “economic backwardness” after the end of Republican Reconstruction in 1877.
In truth, the region’s “economic backwardness” began with the wreckage of the Civil War, which ended in 1865 and started in 1861, some twelve to sixteen years earlier. After surrendering, Confederate soldiers typically returned to families that were barely surviving under conditions of near starvation. Historian David L. Cohn writes: “When there was a shortage of work stock, the few surviving animals were passed from neighbor to neighbor. [When] there was no work stock [the men] hitched themselves to the plow. By ingenuity, backbreaking toil, and cruel self-denial thousands of Southern farmers survived reconstruction . . . They received no aid from any source, nor any sympathy outside the region.”
When white Southerners regained control of their state governments between 1872 and 1877 they disfranchised black voters and imposed a Jim Crow culture.
In reality, those developments came 20-25 years later when the rise of the Populist Party threatened to return the Southern states to Republican Carpetbag Rule by weakening the Democratic Party. Southern aversion to the threat can only be understood by those informed of the corruption and abuses of the Carpetbag regimes, which Guelzo fails to mention. An objective teacher might have quoted the following experts:
Booker T. Washington: “In many cases it seemed to me that the ignorance of my race was being used as a tool with which to help [Republican] white men into office, and that there was an element in the North which wanted to punish the Southern white men by forcing the Negro into positions over the head of the Southern whites.”
Daniel Chamberlain, who was the last Carpetbag governor of South Carolina where over half the population was black, wrote decades later in 1900: “In the mass of colored voters in South Carolina in 1867, what forces could have existed that made for good government? Ought it not to have been clear . . . that good government . . . could not be had from such an aggregation of ignorance, inexperience and incapacity?” He also admitted that the Carpetbag regimes were chiefly intended to keep the Republicans in control of the federal government. The welfare of the ex-slaves was, at best, a distant secondary goal: “Underneath all the avowed [Republican] motives . . . lay a deeper cause . . . the determination to secure party ascendency and control at the South and in the nation through the negro vote. If this is hard saying, let anyone now ask himself . . . if it is possibly credible that the  reconstruction acts would have passed if the negro vote had been believed to be Democratic.”
Despite often harshly criticizing the South, Wilbur Cash’s 1929 observes: “. . . mark how the Yankee was heaping up the odds. In his manipulation of the unfortunate black man he was . . . generating a terrible new hatred for him. Worse, he was inevitably extending this hate to the quarter where there had been no hate before: to the master class.”
Former Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens’ remarks to the all-white Georgia legislature in February 1866 suggest that President Johnson’s Reconstruction Plan might have had better results for ex-slaves than did Republican Reconstruction:
Wise and humane provisions should be made for [freedmen] . . . so that they may stand equal before the law, in the possession and enjoyment of all rights of person, liberty and property. Many considerations claim this at your hands. Among these may be stated their fidelity in times past. They cultivated your fields, ministered to your personal wants and comforts, nursed and reared your children; and even in the hour of danger and peril they were, in the main, true to you and yours. To them we owe a debt of gratitude, as well as acts of kindness.
I speak of them as we know them to be, having no longer the protection of a master or legal guardian; they now need all the protection which the shield of law can give. But above all, this protection should be secured because it is right and just . . . .”
Far more powerful criticism may be applied to Guelzo’s Prager U video on the basis of his omissions. This article merely focuses on his outright falsehoods because Dennis Prager claims few critics provide examples of errors. Those wanting to learn more about Reconstruction free of political correctness may consider two of my books:
by Philip Leigh
by Philip Leigh
SICK: Never Trumper David French Calls Drag Queen Story Hour a ‘Blessing of Liberty’
Long-time columnist David French has been one of the most vicious and dishonest Never Trumpers for many years, but he has hit a new low with an endorsement of drag queen story hour.
In a about the future of conservatism, French gave a full-throated endorsement for the that has given and intimate access to young children across the country.
“There’s this idea that victory is the natural state of affairs and defeat is the intolerable intrusion,” French said, demonstrating the mindset that has caused mainstream conservatism to conserve nothing throughout the decades.
“What I’ve been trying to tell people is that none of this stuff is fixed. There is not necessarily an arc to history, and you don’t have to surrender first principles to fight over stuff that you care about. The day is not lost in any way, shape, or form. And, oh, by the way, you can’t define victory as the exclusion of your enemies from the public square,” French added.
This is when French went completely off the deep end, making statements that are an affront to every principle that the founding-era revolutionaries put their lives on the line to protect.
“There are going to be Drag Queen Story Hours. They’re going to happen. And, by the way, the fact that a person can get a room in a library and hold a Drag Queen Story Hour and get people to come? That’s one of the blessings of liberty,” French said.
French has gone on many Twitter tirades in favor of drag queen story hour in recent months, making justifications for the obscene practice at every turn.
Set aside the broader dispute about conservatism here—this is about constitutionalism. Is Ahmari so horrified by Drag Queen Story Hour that he wants the state to suppress free expression? Apparently so! And does really he trust the state to suppress only expression he dislikes?
This is the key question. To ban drag queen story hour, you have to adjust the law, and adjusting the law would involve intruding upon 1) local control of the library; 2) freedom of association; and 3) freedom of speech -- and that's just to start.
· The original context for the dispute arose out of a rejection of my approach, which is to preserve civil liberties for all while also seeking a religious revival.
That was the context of my dismissive remarks about drag queen reading hour, and I wish you’d noted that. There is no crisis or emergency or catastrophe necessitating backing away one bit from the protection of civil liberties.
It took only about 38 years of (mostly-conservative) litigation, but the doctrine of viewpoint-neutral access to public forums is about as established as a constitutional principle gets. Toss it away to stop drag queens? Nope: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/viewpoint-neutrality-protects-drag-queens-and-millions-american-christians/ …
French has also , who made that he tried to pass off as jokes.
“Disney should rehire James Gunn. We’re rapidly reaching a point where we’re telling our most creative and interesting people that they can never, ever speak outside the lines,” he wrote after Gunn was fired. French eventually got his wish, and Gunn was re-hired to direct “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” despite his vile comments.
Making matters worse, French and his wife adopted a young foreign child from Ethiopia in 2010. The craven opportunist has frequently and attack the President and his supporters. With his support of a glorified grooming operation for pedophiles and a man who make remarks in favor of pedophilia, one can only imagine the horrors this child is subjected to within this monster’s household.