July 5, 2020
MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey
Cancel Culture will Decimate Us…If We Let It
Often as I work at my computer I keep on the Sirius FM Classical Music Service, “Symphony Hall,” with an occasional switch-over to a Bluegrass channel. Both, I believe, reflect at their finest superior elements of our Western cultural tradition with deep popular roots in our civilization, in the songs and compositions of people—our ancestors—which are inspired by their faith, by their heroes, by their tragedies and triumphs, by events in their cumulative history.
Over recent years, certainly since the end of World War II and more aggressively since the momentous civil rights years of the 1960s, there has been a progressive and widespread effort to both “deconstruct” this cultural tradition and alter its expression, with a specific emphasis on the influence of women and minorities who, we are told, have been underrepresented. There is, let me point out, nothing intrinsically wrong with that: of course, women and minorities, especially racial minorities, have played a distinctive and important role in our artistic heritage and traditions. And there have been some significant and worthy contributions made by those folk. But always to be understood in perspective and in the context of two millennia of our Western culture, with its roots in, to quote the late philosopher Eric Voegelin, “Jerusalem, Athens, and Rome.”
But increasingly our cultural elites in music, art, and film have attempted to treat those essential characteristics and aspects of culture, those emanations and glories of our heritage by radically re-interpreting them, recasting them completely, and they have done so by excluding, even censoring or banning works long held to be of great value and grandeur. Indeed, a long festering anti-Western and anti-Christian animus, always there but for decades largely just beneath the surface, now aims to reign supreme and dominate. Woe to anyone who would oppose it; to do so means you are a “racist” and partake of “white supremacy.” And once that death knell is sounded, that fatal sentence is pronounced by some poorly educated “woke” lunatic on Twitter, well, there is nothing to do but subserviently crawl on all fours, beg forgiveness for everything your ancestors may have done, essentially for being white.
Especially since the death of George Floyd, a drug addict and convicted felon now apparently up for sainthood (by both Democrats AND too many Republicans), the madness we’ve witnessed in the actions of our political class now is also translated with a renewed vigour into the arts, into education, into religion, into sports, into practically everything that makes life interesting, varied and rewarding.
Ominously, the goal lines are advancing rapidly in all of those areas, as we see each day recounted by brain-dead Marxist apparatchiks on television. Outright censorship and banning are becoming the rule…and it seems that those who should be stoutly opposing them are giving in readily to the lunacy.
Consider that such “conservatives” as US Senators James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) and Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) now propose replacing Columbus Day as a national holiday with Juneteenth to celebrate the manumission of the last slaves in 1865. Tell me, please, what is the difference between these pusillanimous fake conservatives and those “woke” social justice warriors out in the streets who actually pull down monuments to Christopher Columbus? At least the rioters are honest about their designs. Lankford and Johnson think they can “compromise” their way around what is going on. Their lack of conviction, their cowardice, is revealed for all to see. And in the end the mob will not spare them, either.
Recently, Paul C. Graham, author of the book Confederaphobia (Shotwell Publishing), received notice from Amazon.com that they planned to stop marketing at least one, if not more of the titles that Shotwell has published, most dealing with the Confederacy.
Here is part of their message: "Greetings from Kindle Direct Publishing. I have received feedback from our technical team. They advised that your book has been identified as confederate flag merchandise [sic!]. Amazon policy prohibits the listing or sale of confederate flag merchandise. For more information, please see our seller help pages: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html/ref=help_search_1-1?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200685950&qid=1485836319&sr=1-1 We've unpublished this title and placed a publishing hold. Thank you for reaching out to KDP. If you require any further assistance please do not hesitate to get back into contact with us. Regards, Haashim S. Kindle Direct Publishing."
You see, for Amazon’s highly educated technical staff a “book” is actually “Confederate flag merchandise.”
Not only that, but the list of banned and forbidden items grows even as I write these words. Anything deemed to be racist, Confederate, misogynist, “Nazi” and so on by Amazon’s “technical team” will be eventually proscribed, and you won’t be able to get it from the world’s major seller of merchandise.
The ramifications of this massive assault reach into every sphere of our culture, notably film. Consider , the Civil War epic considered a classic of American cinema, that has been pulled by HBO Max (until maybe at some future date a politically correct version can be confected): "The move comes as media companies reappraise content in light of nationwide protests over police brutality and systemic racism after the death of George Floyd, a Black man killed by Minnesota police..... Long considered controversial for its depiction of Black people and its positive view of slavery, faced renewed scrutiny...."
I know what you are thinking: Americans just won’t tolerate that and won’t let this occur.
But you are wrong, deadly wrong: it IS happening all around us, such that the patrimony we may be allowed to leave to our children and grandchildren will be immeasurably poorer and barren, only a remote memory, and after we pass from the scene, not even that.
This is one of the aspects of the culture war we find ourselves in. Indeed, Pat Buchanan back in 1992 spoke of it in what were then considered stark and divisive terms. But what he said back then was only a mild forecast of what has occurred since 1992: that conflict “is about who we are. It is about what we believe. It is about what we stand for as Americans. There is a religious war going on in our country for the soul of America. It is a cultural war, as critical to the kind of nation we will one day be as was the Cold War itself.”
Friends, it is not just those public symbols, those statues and monuments which are coming down, it is practically everything that differentiates and distinguishes our culture, our inheritance, the very essence and emanation of who we are and what we hold dear, our art, music, literature, our very soul as a people, that is at stake.
If we fail in this battle, in this culture war—and it IS a war—our civilization is finished, it is over, consigned to the dust bin of history—a goal so earnestly desired and pushed by the militant mobs of Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and associated groups. There is absolutely no room for compromise a la Lankford and Ron Johnson. For compromise leads to surrender and surrender leads to extinction.
I have gone back and here resurrect two articles that I’ve published on classic Southern films on DVD. I send them out again, and I urge you to consider purchasing them while you can, before the censors ban them and before sites like Amazon stop selling them (and studios shred them). It goes without saying that other films, more recent ones like Gettysburg and Gods and Generals, may also be on the chopping block and may also disappear. If you and your family don’t own such items, now is the time to purchase them and to continue, even in the darkened catacombs of our future, to share them with your children.
The Russian people suffered under seven decades of Communism, to emerge in the early 1990s with a reborn and vigorous religious faith and devotion to their pre-Soviet traditions.
My question for us all is this: are we prepared to do likewise until that day that God ordains when His justice and triumph arrive?
Here are my two review articles:
Classic Confederate Hollywood
on Jul 30, 2014
Recent releases of four classic films should gladden the hearts of patriotic Southerners and those viewers not yet infected by the currently-raging virus of political correctness and multiculturalism.
A few years back Warner Brothers inaugurated an Archive series and began releasing hundreds of classic films that had, in most cases, never shown up previously in any commercially released video format. Warner began releasing these movies in the DVD-R format, copies of which could basically be made on demand. Very soon other studios, including MGM/United Artists, Sony/Columbia, and Fox initiated similar projects. The result is that inveterate viewers of classic films—and films about the Confederacy and the Old South—now have much greater choices in viewing.
Fortunately, several good War Between the States films from the 1930s-1950s have been included in these releases. Two of them on Fox DVD-Rs are highly entertaining, and would amply repay the investment of a few dollars. First, a real gem: The Raid (1954), starring Van Heflin, Anne Bancroft, and Richard Boone, detailing the famous Confederate raid on St. Albans, Vermont. The Raid is a superb war film, a model in its genre, in colour, with a good script, fine acting, and superior direction by old Hollywood pro, Hugo Fregonese. In particular, Lee Marvin, as the fractious Confederate trooper who hates Yankees (and can’t always hold his liquor), stands out. But The Raid also puts a human face on war, with Heflin’s Confederate officer character illustrating both nobility and admirable Southern honor. Fox has issued a re-mastered version, and it can be easily ordered using Amazon.com (in particular, Amazon’s marketplace feature).
A second Fox release is the 1938 Technicolor classic, Kentucky, showcasing Loretta Young, Walter Brennan, and Richard Greene. Beginning with depredations committed by a neighbor Yankee officer (Douglas Dumbrille) against a pro-Confederate landowner and horse-breeder in old Kentucky, the film then jumps up to the 1930s and a new generation competing in horse flesh and racing. Walter Brennan plays the crusty and irrepressible Peter Goodwin who had seen his father cut down by Federals during the War and who remains highly suspicious of the grandson of his hereditary enemy who begins to have designs on Brennan’s granddaughter, played by Loretta Young. With flair Young and Greene interpret the roles of the scions of the rival families, whose racing competition ends up in romance. Like other films produced before the advent of political correctness and the post-1960s trend of hatred of anything Confederate, Kentucky epitomizes the period when national harmony and respect of Southern tradition seemed to dominate. The acting, especially by Brennan, is fine and the colour photography—rare for 1938—is excellent. As I said, Kentucky is not politically correct, and its portrayal of blacks has offended some reviewers, whose vocabularies seem always limited to the word “racism.” But it is much more than a contextual view of race relations; it’s a heartwarming film that will appeal both to adults and the whole family.
A third recent release has shown up on Olive Films in both regular DVD and Blu-Ray formats (in a fine black and white print). Perhaps the finest movie about Reconstruction ever made and directed by one of the finest cineastes in the history of the film industry, John Ford, The Sun Shines Bright, is a sheer delight, combining all of the wonderful characteristics of Ford’s famous movie-making. As usual the “Ford actors ensemble” works extremely well together. Thus, Grant Withers, Jane Darwell, Russell Simpson, John Russell, James Kirkwood, Trevor Bardette, and other Ford regulars show up, playing off each other with ease and grace.
The story, taken from Irvin S. Cobb’s tales of Old Kentucky, details life towards the end of the 19th century, with the little community of Fairfield split between partisans of the South and those who appear to be mostly carpetbaggers or scalawags. In a role assumed by Will Rogers twenty years earlier (in another Ford classic, Judge Priest), Charles Winninger is simply perfect as Confederate veteran and bugler Billy Priest, now Judge of Fairfield County. Winninger heads up a diminishing encampment of the United Confederate Veterans. And Milburn Stone–Doc Adams of “Gunsmoke” fame—takes the role of Horace K. Maydew, the Republican attorney who hopes to replace Judge Priest at the next election.
As with most of Ford’s films, humour plays a central role. Add strictly comedic roles with Stepin’ Fetchit, Slim Pickens, and Francis Ford, and the traditional Ford magic takes off from the first scene and never ceases until the final credits. Fetchit is Judge Priest’s “boy,” an integral and beloved part of his household who keeps him abreast of all the gossip and news circulating in Fairfield, but also insures that the old judge gets his “rheumatiz” medicine every morning to, as he says, “get my heart started.”
Early on there is a rapturous scene in Judge Priest’s courtroom when a young black man is brought in for vagrancy (as charged by attorney Maydew), and Stepin’ Fetchit reveals that the boy can superbly play the banjo and asks him to begin “Dixie.” He does, and every UCV member in the small town hears it and makes his way to the courthouse to join in. It’s as if the whole town, both white and black, is celebrating “old times there are not forgotten.”
Yet, despite its boisterous humour and rhapsodic flow, The Sun Shines Bright also offers the spectator some wonderful insights into human nature, loyalty, justice, love of tradition and devotion to one’s native land. The final moving scene, with Judge Priest disappearing past a series of opened doors, was adapted by Ford years later for the final scene of his masterpiece, The Searchers.
Originally released by Republic on VHS cassette, The Sun Shines Bright has now been licensed to Olive Films who have released it both on DVD and Blu-Ray disc. For a birthday, an anniversary, or for any occasion, this film is a must for any Southerner and any lover of great filmmaking. John Ford, reportedly, said that The Sun Shines Bright was the favorite of all his superb films. That is high recommendation indeed.
The fourth recent release of a War-related film from the 1950s is a new re-mastering of Drums in the Deep South (1951). This movie has long been available, both on VHS cassette and DVD, but always in sub-standard and poor quality, with bad colour separation and smudgy video reproduction. I can recall many years ago seeing it on television, and even then the Super Cinecolor process looked bad. But, finally, VCI Entertainment has found an acceptable master copy and restored it. The Super Cinecolor is still a bit washed out (as most Cinecolor films are), but the colour separation is far superior to other editions and the copy on DVD is sharp, and does not detract from the story line. And the film can be had from sources like Amazon.com for under ten dollars.
James Craig stars as the Confederate officer charged with inhibiting Sherman’s march from Chattanooga to Atlanta, and his close friend, Guy Madison (not yet into his Wild Bill Hickok role), assumes the role of Craig’s Yankee nemesis. The action is plentiful and the attention to both historical and military detail is very good. The last scene, as James Craig decides to sacrifice his life for the Cause, is memorable. Final credits include the obligatory statement about a re-united nation, “indivisible,” but this should not deter purchasers.
Academy Award winning film composer Dmitri Tiomkin provides a lush and lyrical score. The result is another product that those devoted to Southern history, the War Between the States, and good cinema should snatch up without hesitation.
Amidst the clutter of contemporary attempts by Hollywood to produce politically-correct films on the history of the War Between the States period (with such ahistorical examples as Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and 12 Years a Slave now typical), exploring films of an earlier era in American history serve as an antidote to the infectious brew that both pollutes our minds and warps our judgment.
Song of the South and the Assault on Culture
on Jul 25, 2019
Most of us, even the youngest, have heard of the magnificent Disney film, “Song of the South,” originally released in 1946. And certainly we are familiar with its hit song, “Zip-a Dee Doo Dah.” Some of us have seen this partially animated classic, or recall seeing it years ago, even though it is officially unavailable at present. Disney refuses to release it to the American market.
Well, superbly reproduced video copies can now be purchased in the United States.
Here’s the rest of the story.
In our politically-correct times, various films—mostly dating from the 1940s and 1950s—that are genuine cultural treasures have been or are in danger of being banned or removed de facto from public view. In particular, it has been classic films about the South and the Confederacy which have become increasingly the most notable targets of fierce and unhinged attacks, objects of efforts not only to eradicate wonderful cinematic works of art, but extinguish their very memory and the memories they convey.
It’s a campaign that parallels the frenetic attempt to remove monuments honoring Confederate veterans, and now has expanded to censor and ban artwork and memorials to such national figures as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson or Christopher Columbus. And that movement only increases and broadens its targets as time passes.
It is, of course, part and parcel of the multifaceted and ongoing campaign in our society, in fact in all of the remnants of Western Christian society (including Europe) to efface any symbol of our historic cultural heritage.
It is all about the progressivist template which posits that “race” is the central motivating factor in history. All else pales in significance and importance: not religious belief, not shared cultural heritage, not a common history or language, but race is the determinant for practically everything in society. The historic “colonialized” peoples, black and brown (but curiously normally not Asians), according to this narrative, are a downtrodden underclass, oppressed historically by the European white patriarchy who have brutally amassed their fortunes and power at the expense of those black and brown peoples.
Thus, according to such Marxist ideologues as Frantz Fanon (in his influential volume, The Wretched of the Earth, 1961) and Saul Alinsky (in his handbook for modern revolutionaries, Rules for Radicals, 1971), those races must overthrow the white European hierarchy, by whatever means necessary.
It is not even a question of the overused totem word “equality.” For these newer revolutionaries, although they may use that term widely (and indiscriminately), actually desire a new form of inequality, with themselves at the top of the mound heap—witness the politically enhanced campaign for “reparations,” now adopted in some form by most Democratic candidates for president.
This template of race and liberation from racism is an explosive theorization that inevitably produces violence and social upheaval. And it fits into a Neo-Marxist revolutionary narrative which employs it as a means to power. Indeed, one may question whether these new fanatical revolutionaries’ professed concern for the underclass is really that, or rather, a classic Marxist use of the “proles” to advance their replacement of one oligarchy with another of their own making.
Interestingly, for those millions of radicalized “woke” white millennials (and craven politicians who cower in fear at their latest barbarity), this meme has become a kind of exercise in public expiation of their own sense of “white guilt,” pounded into them by poisonous academic and cultural elites who dominate our society and our educational system.
Like most revolutionary movements, in the arts and literature it initially appeared modest in its goals: “We just want to restrict the most offensive [for minorities] works of art,” it declared, “such books as Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or Helen Bannerman’s The Story of Little Black Sambo, which are perceived to be racist.” Or, “we just want to ban such songs, like ‘Dixie,’ that produce discomfort or instill fear into minorities.”
But, of course, like any revolutionary movement, book burning takes on a life and logic of its own. And its list of targets has grown as the cowardice and corruption of the supposed opposition to it has collapsed.
This is perhaps most noticeable in the fate of classic films that portray the Old South or Confederacy in a favorable light. Such works fail to satisfy the correct propaganda purposes and, thus, do not further the revolution.
Back in 1956 as a young boy my family and I went to see a special, tenth anniversary screening of Disney’s masterful semi-animated film, “Song of the South.” I can still remember the wonderful sensation, the delightful songs, the humor and imagination, and the heartwarming story. This cinematic epic is a monumental film, a true American classic with appeal to viewers of all ages, with a message of loyalty and genuine love that transcend both the times and race.
It is about and takes place in the Old South, on a Southern plantation, one in which a familiar and peaceful–albeit unequal–relationship between white and black Southerners ensures a good story. But for our modern custodians of good taste and artistic virtue, this is a very big problem: “Song of the South” does not call for a race war, nor does it demonize Southerners or the Old South. Thus, today this cinematic masterpiece, comparable at the very least to anything else Disney produced (e.g., Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Fantasia, etc.) is not commercially—officially—available in the United States.
And you know the reason: our cultural elitists and politically-correct “woke” cultural masters inform us that it’s “racist.”
Walt Disney passed from the scene in 1966, and his company soon fell under the control of New York cosmopolitans (e.g., Michael Eisner and Bob Iger) whose appreciation of traditional American heritage and traditions was about as great as their appreciation of Eastern North Carolina barbecue.
In other words, given the changing cultural and political climate in the United States, releasing “Song of the South” for American distribution was not something they were going to do (even with the potential millions of shekels they might amass).
Here is what the Wikipedia tells us:
“The Walt Disney Company has yet to release a complete version of the film in the United States on home video given the film’s controversial reputation…. From 1984-2005, Disney CEO Michael Eisner stated that the film would never receive a home video release in the U.S.A., due to not wanting to have to hire a viewing disclaimer. However he favored its release in Europe and Asia where “slavery is a lesser controversial subject”.… In March 2010, new Disney CEO Bob Iger stated that there are currently no plans at this time to release the movie on DVD yet, calling the film “antiquated” and “fairly offensive”…. Film critic Roger Ebert, who normally disdained any attempt to keep films from any audience, supported the non-release position, claiming that most Disney films become a part of the consciousness of American children, who take films more literally than do adults…. The full-length film has been released in its entirety on VHS and LaserDisc in various European and Asian countries. In the UK, it was released on [the European, non-American video format] PAL VHS first in 1983, then in 1991, 1992, and 1996, and again in 2000. In Japan it appeared on NTSC [American format] VHS, and LaserDisc in 1990 with Japanese subtitles during the songs (additionally, under Japanese copyright law, the film is now in the public domain). An NTSC DVD was released in Taiwan for the rental market by “”Classic Reels”.”
Even in England it is now listed by Amazon.co.uk as “no longer available” and extremely difficult to find. My first copy came from Taiwan, replete with Taiwanese subtitles that I could not, unfortunately, shut off.
There have been private copies circulating, and over the years I’ve purchased several of them, with varying degrees of success as to film reproduction quality, color, and sound.
But now, , [songofthesouth.org] in glorious Technicolor and, even more attractive, at an excellent price. And I’d like to share it with you.
I recommend it without hesitation. The quality of the video reproduction is superb in every way, color, sound, contrast, sharpness. And the price (INCLUDING FIRST CLASS POSTAGE AND HANDLING) is only $11.99. Additionally, this seller will include a second and largely forgotten Disney classic, “So Dear to My Heart” (1948), as a second, for only $16.99 for both. I ordered my copies on a Saturday, and the order came priority mail the next Tuesday, that is, in record time, in a nice DVD package with cover art.
In short, this is a self-recommending purchase, and an opportunity to fully appreciate, enjoy, and participate in the richness of our cinematic cultural inheritance.
Given the unhinged and frenetic attempts to censor and eradicate our heritage, I don’t know for how long this fine copy of an American and Southern classic will be available before the PC police denounce the site and demand it cease offering copies to purchasers.
As for me, I plan to get several additional copies for my own archive and for possible Christmas gifts.
And my advice is for you to do the same.
About Boyd Cathey
Boyd D. Cathey holds a doctorate in European history from the Catholic University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, where he was a Richard Weaver Fellow, and an MA in intellectual history from the University of Virginia (as a Jefferson Fellow). He was assistant to conservative author and philosopher the late Russell Kirk. In more recent years he served as State Registrar of the North Carolina Division of Archives and History. He has published in French, Spanish, and English, on historical subjects as well as classical music and opera. He is active in the Sons of Confederate Veterans and various historical, archival, and genealogical organizations. His boo, The Land We Love: the South and Its Heritage, was published in 2018.