March 26, 2020
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
Every Southerner Should Get Chronicles Magazine
On various occasions I’ve made references to Chronicles Magazine and cited articles printed in it. Remarkably, Chronicles is the only print magazine of stature (it is also online) in America which has represented and aired traditionalist conservative viewpoints, in depth and intelligently, now for forty-four years.
Edited by Dr. Paul Gottfried (Raffensperger Professor of Humanities, Emeritus, Elizabethtown College), the magazine includes some of the finest writers of the Old or Traditionalist conservative persuasion in the Anglosphere. And recently, Chronicles, which has been consistently favorable to the heritage and traditions of the South, has published even more quality essays by and on Southerners. Early this year the magazine inaugurated a series –“Remembering….”—which undertakes to recover the thinking and wisdom of various writers, many of them from the South, who contributed mightily to American history and culture, but who, largely due to the dominance nationally of the anti-Southern Neoconservatives, have been neglected or exiled from the public square.
In the December 2019 issue, for example, Chronicles featured fascinating appreciations of Mel Bradford (by Clyde Wilson), Robert Lewis Dabney (by Zachary Garris), and an introductory essay by Gottfried titled, “Remembering the Right.” Subsequent issues have featured an appreciation of the late historian Eugene Genovese (by Robert Paquette, a Genovese amanuensis, in the January 2020 issue) and Tar Heel writer Richard Weaver (by Jay Langdale, in the February 2020 issue).
Chronicles has never been afraid to address controversial issues from a traditionalist point of view, and thus go against the grain of our consumerist and authoritarian gate keepers who now control the establishment Conservative Movement and who accept far too many precepts and agenda points of the looney Left. An excellent example of this intelligent and thoughtful non-conformity—this “emperor-has-no-clothes” approach to the intellectual bankruptcy of “Conservatism Inc.”—is the February 2020 issue, which not only has the Weaver appreciation but several other significant contributions that every thinking Southerner would do well to search out.
A major contribution is Dr. Brion McClanahan’s superb critique of the latest initiative of the fanatically “woke” Leftwing historical establishment, “The 1619 Project,” which attempts to frame all of American history in the terms of race as the pivotal benchmark in the development of this continent since the first African slave stepped off the boat. McClanahan’s essay is a masterful response that demolishes the very basis of “the project.” Another essay by him in the same issue, “The Reinvention of Reconstruction,” demonstrates how Reconstruction and it policies were renewed as an ideological platform for both historians and politicians in the 1960s, and how this ideology has come to dominate all discussion about the War Between the States, about civil rights (expanding beyond simple laws on accommodation or voting, to such extremes as same sex marriage and a race-consciousness in nearly aspect of American life), and the virtual excommunication of anyone who would question that narrative.
Another fascinating February contribution, “The Great Debate: Lincoln’s Legacy,” by H. A. Scott Trask is a thorough examination of the famous and long-running discussions between Drs. Harry Jaffa and Mel Bradford over the (nefarious) role of Abraham Lincoln, not just during the 1861-1865 War, but even more significantly since then on the decay and destruction of American institutions and the Constitution. Trask goes into some detail regarding the profound and significant debate between Jaffa, who seized upon the Declaration of Independence—in particular, its propagandistic exclamation that “all men are created equal”—to assert that equality was the fundamental basis of the American nation, and Bradford, who firmly rejected that proposition: America was based on communities and families who came to these shores for land and liberty; NOT to establish some egalitarian “world state,” as Jaffa implied (see for example, Bradford's deeply-reasoned, “The Heresy of Equality,” Modern Age, Winter 1976). Editor Gottfried adds additional and critical commentary.
As both Trask and Gottfried show it was Southerner Bradford’s rather complete take-down and devastating assault of the “Lincoln Myth” that got him into serious trouble with the Neoconservatives. Supported in 1981 by Senators Jesse Helms and John East of North Carolina, and Howell Heflin of Alabama, to be President Reagan’s head of the National Endowment for the Humanities, Bradford was immediately attacked by columnist George Will and other establishment (Neocon) conservatives for his writings on Lincoln and the Confederacy. Such views, once welcomed by the older Conservative movement in the 1950s and 1960s, were now verboten and most likely “racist.” And after a barrage of negative attacks, the appointment went to Democrat, Neocon-favorite William Bennett.
For full disclosure I admit that I have had a few items published by the magazine over the past couple of years, and a review of my book, The Land We Love: The South and Its Heritage (Scuppernong Press, 2018), by Dr. Donald Livingston of The Abbeville Institute, was published in the May 2019 issue. Let me add that I have been a subscriber for nearly thirty of the magazine’s forty -four years, and I look forward to its arrival in my mailbox each month.
The annual subscription price for the print edition is $48.00 a year, twelve monthly issues—well worth the cost (which would be about the same for a husband and wife at middling steak house).
Chronicles subscriptions and a view of some of the recent articles are available at its Web site: https://www.chroniclesmagazine.org/. There is also an “800” number for those who prefer the old-fashioned method of using the telephone. And while you are there on the Web site, take a look at the Archive of articles and essays, a veritable cornucopia of excellent traditionalist writing.
Every Southerner who really cares about our heritage and traditions, who is concerned about the present parlous state of the American nation, and who is worried about what kind of country we have become and what we will leave to our children and grandchildren, should receive Chronicles.
In a sense, it is one of the best “weapons,” certainly intellectually and historically, we can have in our meager arsenal. In these dark days, as our monuments come down and, to quote poet William Butler Yeats, “The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity,” Chronicles is a ray of light and a hope for our future.