Wednesday, May 29, 2019

May 29, 2019

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

Remembering JEFFERSON DAVIS, Born 211 Years Ago on June 3, 1808

I pass on today a new essay I have authored which is now published by the Web site of Dr. Clyde Wilson and his daughter Anne.  It is titled “Remembering Jefferson Davis, His Faith, and His Defense of Secession,” and commemorates the anniversary of the birth of President Davis who was born 211 years ago this coming June 3 in Kentucky:


Remembering Jefferson Davis, His Faith, and His Defense of the Secession

By Boyd D. Cathey    May 27, 2019

June 3 of this year is the two-hundred and eleventh anniversary of the birth of Jefferson Davis. Born in Kentucky in 1808, actually not far from the birthplace of his future nemesis, Abraham Lincoln, Davis in another time might have risen to become in his own right a celebrated president of the United States. As it was, it was his thankless duty to captain the forlorn Confederacy through four years of tragic and bloody war which saw the end not only of the society and culture he loved, but, in effect, the practical end of the old constitutional republic originally set up by the Founders.

From a good family and with advantages that augured well for future prominence, Davis at an early age demonstrated both leadership potential and intelligence. Like many other well-bred Southern boys of the period, he received a superb classical education. In 1815 Davis entered the of Saint Thomas Catholic school at St. Rose Priory, a school operated by the Dominican Order in Washington County, Kentucky. At the time, he was the only Protestant student (he was an Episcopalian) at the school. As a boy he desired to enter the Church, but his age and family argued against it. Nevertheless, he would carry a strong affection and love for the Catholic Church throughout his life.

His famous war time correspondence with Pope Pius IX, an inveterate foe of liberalism in any form who was pro-Confederate, is famous, and indicates that the pope recognized Davis as de facto head of the Confederate States of America. In his correspondence the pope refers to Davis as the “Illustrious and Honorable President,” an implied recognition of the Confederate government. Responding to Davis’s expressed desire to find a just resolution to the conflict raging between the Confederacy and the North, Pope Pius finishes a letter to the Confederate leader acknowledging that there were, in fact, two separate governments in America: “May it please God,” wrote the pontiff, “at the same time to make the other peoples of America and their rulers…receive and embrace the counsel of peace and tranquility,” as Davis did.

After the conclusion of the war, while Davis was a prisoner in Fortress Monroe, Virginia, the pope addressed to Davis correspondence demonstrating his great sympathy for the Confederate president.  The Blessed Pius IX sent a picture of himself to Jefferson Davis with the hand-written inscription: “Come unto me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  [“Venite ad me omnes qui laboratis, et ego reficiam vos, dicit Dominus” – St. Matthew 11:28] Associated with the famous communication from Pius IX is the equally famous “Crown of Thorns,” for the longest time believed to have been woven by the pope and also remitted to Davis. Davis’s major biographer, Hudson Strode, accepted that account as the correct one.

Yet detailed research by a more modern biographer, Felicity Allen in her Jefferson Davis, Unconquerable Heart, reveals that the crown was most likely woven by Varina Davis. Records donated by the New Orleans Confederate museum and now housed in the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library at Tulane University (Rare Books and Manuscripts Division) indicate that both the autographed photograph of Blessed Pius IX and the crown were originally donated, according to the inventory, in 1891: “The Pope sent this picture to Jefferson Davis whilst a prisoner at Fortress Monroe. Accompanying the picture is a crown of thorns made by Mrs. Davis that hung above it in Mr. Davis’ study.” [Quoted by Felicity Allen from correspondence with Tulane University, August 6, 1985; see for extensive detail: Jeff Davis's Crown of Thorns]

Unfounded rumors abounded both during and after the war that Davis had converted clandestinely. But he remained an Episcopalian throughout his life. Nevertheless, the sympathy for the Confederacy and its president shown by the pope and the Catholic Church during the war were clear. Robert E. Lee, pointing to his own portrait of Pius IX, told a visitor that he was “the only sovereign…in Europe who recognized our poor Confederacy.”

Although Davis’s tenure at the helm of the Confederacy receives by far the most attention historically, his pre-war career was truly illustrious: A West Point graduate, Davis distinguished himself in the Mexican-American War as a colonel of the Mississippi Rifles volunteer regiment, and as United States Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. Both before and after his time in the Pierce administration, he served as a US Senator from Mississippi. As senator, he argued against secession but believed each state had an unquestionable and constitutional right to secede for just cause from the voluntary Union of the Founders, just as they had seceded from England seeking political liberty. Davis resigned from the Senate in January 1861 after receiving word that his State of Mississippi had voted to leave the Union.
Davis explained his actions saying:
“[T]o me the sovereignty of the State was paramount to the sovereignty of the Union. And I held my seat in the Senate until Mississippi seceded and called upon me to follow and defend her. Then I sorrowfully resigned the position in which my State had placed me and in which I could no longer represent her, and accepted the new work. I was on my way to Montgomery when I received, much to my regret, the message that I had been elected provisional President of the Confederate States of America.

​​​Davis had been a patriotic American who tried to save the Founders’ republic from Northern revolutionaries, and who reluctantly departed the Union with the old constitution intact to form a “more perfect Union.” He contended that he would rather be out of the Union with the Constitution than to be in the Union without the Constitution. The Southern States, he stated, seceded not to defend slavery but in order to save the Constitution of the Founders. Davis remarked in July 1864:
“I tried in all my power to avert this war. I saw it coming, and for 12 years, I worked night and day to prevent it, but I could not. The North was mad and blind; it would not let us govern ourselves, and so the war came, and now it must go on till the last man of this generation falls in his tracks, and his children seize the musket and fight our battle, unless you acknowledge our right to self-government. We are not fighting for slavery. We are fighting for Independence, and that, or extermination, we will have . . . Slavery never was an essential element. It was the only means of bringing other conflicting elements to an earlier culmination. It fired the musket which was already capped and loaded. There are essential differences between the North and the South that will, however this war may end, make them two nations.

At the end of the War, when a fellow traveler remarked that the cause of the Confederates was lost, Davis replied: It appears so. But the principle for which we contended is bound to reassert itself, though it may be at another time and in another form.”

Davis was critical of the Gilded Age corruption and political ignorance of the United States Constitution. In 1881 he remarked:
Of what value then are paper constitutions and oaths binding officers to their preservation, if there is not intelligence enough in the people to discern the violations; and virtue enough to resist the violators?”

President Davis was never indicted for treason. He demanded a fair trial in order to argue the constitutionality of the South’s actions in 1860-1861. This was denied by his Jacobin tormenters, and the reason was revealed by Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, Salmon P. Chase, in 1867. Chase admitted that:
“If you bring these leaders to trial, it will condemn the North, for by the Constitution, secession is not a rebellion. His [Jefferson Davis] capture was a mistake. His trial will be a greater one. We cannot convict him of treason.” [quoted by Herman S. Frey, in Jefferson Davis, 1977, pp. 69-72]

President Davis died on December 6, 1889. In death as in life, citizens across the South mourned his passing and honored him as their champion.

In 1893 his body was transported by funeral train to Richmond where he was interred at Hollywood Cemetery. At each stop thousands of mourners, white and black, paid respects. In Raleigh historic photographs show a mammoth procession down Fayetteville Street. My grandfather (on my mother’s side), then a thirteen year old apprentice, stood along the street paying respects to Davis, and he would, sixty-seven years later, recount that moving and indelible experience to me, his young grandson.

Our traditions do not really die. Sometimes, under attack, they remain dormant, to be re-awakened by new generations that re-discover them and the supreme importance that they have played, and can continue to play, in our lives, if we let them.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

May 25, 2019

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

Remembering Notable Political Leaders, Part I


I look forward in the MY CORNER series to writing about some political leaders I have known; this instalment is the first and recalls some who have now passed on.
Over the years I have known a few—very few—politicians whom I have admired greatly. It seems that the age of those remarkable statesmen and political leaders who once gave substance and guidance to this nation and to our states has passed for good.

Think of it: during the first half century of the existence of the old American Republic we were graced with the likes of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and John Tyler as presidents. In Congress there were such unique worthies as Nathaniel Macon, John Randolph of Roanoke, and John C. Calhoun—Southerners all. And during four years of bitter and destructive war, former Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis led the destiny of the Confederate States of America.

But since the end of that conflict, I can think of only one American president that I nearly unequivocally admire: Grover Cleveland.  Of course, there was Ronald Reagan who is generally venerated by conservatives, although, as in the case of President Trump, his agenda was mostly upended almost from the beginning by Republican Party establishment types who made certain that it did not infringe on their positions or dominance.

Closer home, here in North Carolina on the state level, the one major political leader that in many ways I “grew up with”--that I have known personally--was the late Senator Jesse Helms. I first got to know him when I was a senior in high school (1965), and he, as vice-president of the Raleigh Rotary Club, helped sponsor me as an overseas exchange student in England. He also featured on one of his televised “Viewpoint” editorials something I also did while in high school: I founded the first “Friends of Rhodesia” student chapter in the world (I was presented a medal by former president of that no-longer existent county, Ian Smith).

Of course, I recognize that even mentioning this will get me labeled in some quarters a “racist” and “white supremacist.” That would be nothing new…and it was not my intent fifty-five years ago; rather it was the realistic understanding I had even as a high schooler that the native population of that former British colony was not ready for self-government and that anarchy and barbarism would occur if majority rule was granted immediately (as it had in so many other former colonial territories, e.g., the Belgian Congo)—and anarchy and barbarism most certainly did occur, with the resultant brutal dictatorship of Robert Mugabe.

Helms stood mostly above the other politicians of his era; he was not afraid to put forward a controversial proposal, even if it meant he would be attacked, even from other Republicans (who consistently caved on essential questions of the day).

Among other political leaders, there was the inimitable State Senator Hamilton Horton who represented for a number of years North Carolina’s Forsyth County (Winston-Salem) in the state General Assembly. Senator Horton was an eloquent, greatly-respected traditional conservative. I actually first got to know him in 1969 when he was a member of the State House of Representatives, and our friendship was renewed when he entered the Senate. I was privileged to work with him closely on the first attempt to enact a Monuments Protection Act. His death in 2006 was a major loss to the Tar Heel State.

I can recount one delightful event in his life in which I was honored to participate.  In the mid-1990s I was working at the North Carolina State Archives, and “Ham” (as he was called by friends) telephoned me and asked me to accompany him up to the Buck Spring Plantation in Warren County. Buck Spring had been the seat of the great North Carolina solon, Senator Nathaniel Macon, perhaps the most significant, influential and respected Tar Heel legislator of the nineteenth century whose views on states’ rights and the Constitution profoundly affected such later figures as John C. Calhoun.

Earlier I had completed a massive research project on Macon and Buck Spring; there was talk that it might become a state historic site. After all, Macon had been a national figure of critical importance in American—and Southern-history.

But, as they say, “the times, they were a-changing.” By the mid-1990s the idea of state historic site status for Buck Spring had pretty much faded; the rather simple plantation house, itself, was maintained (rather poorly) by the North Carolina Department of Transportation. I had shared a copy of my 500 page report with Ham, and he had taken an interest in Macon (as did Jesse Helms, who entered biographical portions of it into the Congressional Record). And Horton had also heard that the site was not well-maintained.

So, after informing my supervisor that my company was requested, off we went to Warren County along the border with Virginia, which before the War Between the States, as part of the great Roanoke Valley, had been arguably the most prominent county in the state.

The Squire of Buck Spring had requested that upon his death he be buried on his plantation, and that a pile of small, rounded stones be placed over the grave. When we arrived, we viewed the site in a shambles: most egregiously, Macon’s gravesite was overgrown with poison ivy and poison oak, and an assortment of weeds and new-growth hickory and loblolly pine trees.  Ham Horton was appalled, and I recall his words to me: “The DOT is responsible for this site, and I will fix their little red wagon!”

Returning to Raleigh and the General Assembly, Senator Horton almost immediately introduced legislation that would have banned all specialized and vanity license plates for DOT higher ups and would have limited portions of their budgets, pending the cleanup and proper maintenance of Buck Spring. Within a couple of fortnights he telephoned me at home to tell me that the site was now spotlessly cleaned up, and all the weeds on Macon’s grave had been killed and removed! Funny how threatened vanity can work minor miracles!

Hamilton Horton is gone, and there are not many with similar courage and ability like him these days, certainly not in the halls of the General Assembly. Still, there are a few, and I hope to write about them in coming days.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

May 21, 2019

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

On Iran and the Trump Presidency: Will John Bolton Derail the Administration?


The MY CORNER installment of May 17, “Will Iran Mean the End of the Trump Presidency? Will John Bolton Succeed in Derailing the Administration?” [] was picked up and published as a main feature on The Unz Review. It has been slightly edited, and, on Unz it has been widely read and has received (as of last count) 135 comments (some reasonable, others way off the wall).

Given the continued pressure by the globalists in the White House, exerted by John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and some of the military brass, and by the media, and the most recent presentation by Bolton to members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the issue of what if any action will occur is of great significance. The latest claim, made by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), is that “a missile [small projectile] was launched against our embassy in Bagdad by them.” Notice the word “them.” We do not know with any certainty at all who that “them” is.  The assumption that globalist Graham is making is that it was Iranian agents who were responsible. But there is no concrete evidence, just supposition. Indeed, the “evidence” presented that Iran is readying an attack on US assets is shot through with the same kinds of certainty, which is no certainty at all.

Even the Iranians know that any kind of offensive action would mean severe American retaliation. They are not that stupid (although there may well be some ISIS left-over groups in Iraq who would love to see an Iran vs. US conflict).

As Tucker Carlson and his guest military intelligence author, Douglas MacGregor, made clear on his Tucker Carlson Tonight program, May 20, this has every characteristic of (another!) Iraq “WMDs” “false flag” situation which got us mired in Iraq: it is a recipe for what I call “continual war for unobtainable peace.” And it is most definitely NOT what Donald Trump promised and ran on back in 2016.

No; it’s time to dismiss Bolton and the other globalists. Trump has a presidency at stake.

Will Iran Mean the End of the Trump Presidency?
BOYD D. CATHEY • MAY 17, 2019
Many moviegoers will remember the 1997 film, “Wag the Dog,” starring Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman—not my favorite actors by any means, but nevertheless, the movie made a significant and critical point in this age of corrupt FBI and intelligence agencies working in tandem with a major political party to stage a veritable coup d’etat—a “silent coup”—against a sitting president.

Here’s the storyline:
Two weeks prior to his possible re-election, the United States president lands in the middle of a sex scandal. In need of outside help to quell the situation, presidential adviser Winifred Ames (Anne Heche) enlists the expertise of spin doctor Conrad Brean (Robert De Niro), who decides a distraction is the best course of action. Brean approaches Hollywood producer Stanley Motss (Dustin Hoffman) to help him fabricate a war in Albania — and once underway, the duo has the media entirely focused on the war [and not on the scandal].

The greater point here is that today our citizens are almost entirely at the mercy of what the government tells them and what the media reports to them.

Recall the rationale for invading Iraq: those infamous “weapons of mass destruction” (WMDs) that we were told by George W. Bush and Paul Wolfowitz with absolute certainty existed in large quantities? Recall Colin Powell going to the UN to state unequivocally that we had “proof” that such weapons existed near Bagdad? Remember that very probably some of the “documents” supposedly proving the existence of WMD were forged? Remember that this “information” was used as a pretext for invading Iraq, deposing Saddam Hussein (who although a dictator was by Middle East standards, something of a moderate, at least when it came to his country’s large Christian population), and…then, we watched the emergence of a pro-Iranian Shi’a government, far more hostile to “our interests”?

Well, as we later learned there were no WMDs, despite Wolfowitz and company. Yet, by then the severe damage was done. The “regime change” so desired by the globalist Neoconservatives was almost directly opposite of what they promised: instead of a “democracy like the USA,” a pro-Iranian regime emerged—after the deaths and wounding of hundreds of American boys and many thousands of Iraqis, and billions of dollars gone (or in the pockets of arms dealers).

At the heart of that episode was John P. Bolton, consistently and ferociously advocating the imposition of democracy on, let’s see, Iraq (failed), Iran (no go), Libya (another failure), Afghanistan (don’t even ask), Syria (Assad, another dictator who is the champion of Christians and religious tolerance, has triumphed against the wishes of Bolton and other Neocons, including the late and very unlamented John McCain). And these are just a few examples.

Not a good record, to say the least. Yet, President Trump—the champion of America First and not getting this nation into a far-off conflicts, not into quagmires where we have no business being—named Bolton back on April 9, 2018, as his National Security Advisor. And ever since then the irrepressible war hawk has been searching for another war in which to involve American boys and arms (to the benefit of the major arms makers and dealers, whose donating coffers seem to open up at the sound of the guns).

Under another Neocon hawk, Mike Pompeo, as Secretary of State, the even more saber-rattling Elliot Abrams was actually brought into the administration as Special Envoy for Venezuela in January. But, wait, isn’t this the same Elliot Abrams who was an unrelenting and hardcore Never Trumper that former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson wanted as his Deputy Secretary of State (February 2017), but was vetoed by President Trump due to Abrams’ staunch opposition during the presidential campaign? [“Trump rejects veteran GOP foreign policy aide Elliot Abrams for State Dept. job,” The Washington Post, February 10, 2018]. 

What gives here? Why does the president let those with a stated agenda directly—and supposedly—opposite to his own into his administration?

Certainly, it has much to do with the loudest voices and most visible talent pool inside the Washington DC Beltway and that many of those globalists, who were former Never Trumpers, strategically attached themselves to Donald Trump after he was victorious, hoping—in many cases successfully—to shape his foreign policy along their internationalist lines. And, also, the fact that during the critical days after the 2016 election many of the Establishment Neocons were able to bend Trump’s ear first, and that a major gap, a major lacuna, in the president’s knowledge was his lack of familiarity with foreign policy. As president, Donald Trump hoped to unify the Republican Party, and, thus, his desire was to bring in various factions, including those who had opposed him (but now offered “support”)…not realizing that such additions could—and would—undermine his announced America First agenda. Lastly, the support of major pro-Israeli pressure groups and personalities, and their bank accounts, certainly was not to be ignored.

Bolton’s entry into the administration was, to use Thomas Jefferson’s famous expression, “a fire bell in the night.” It should have alerted us all that, like in the Reagan years, the battles to be waged would not just be with Democrats, but also with Establishment and Deep State globalists who claim the “conservative” mantle, but whose goals and vision are very much at odds with a president who has very little experience in navigating the snake pit which is Washington DC. And a president who faced a nearly impenetrable foreign policy swamp and a powerful internationalist establishment which has learned nothing from our national reverses in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Libya, Syria….But who would love to mire us waist-deep in another quagmire in the Persian Gulf. Or, even, as the benighted inheritors of John McCain earnestly wish, a proxy shooting conflict with Russia!

So, as to be expected, Bolton has been at it again, first regarding Venezuela, where the so-called “democratic revolution” of Juan Guaido against the socialist Maduro government has fallen flat, despite Bolton’s attempt to infer that the US was “prepared to send 30,000 troops” to the country. Remember his intentionally visible note pad with that number written in large print for all to see?

And now, it’s Iran’s time in the barrel. Of course, that large nation is no friend of the United States, and it has not been since the Shah (in many ways “our man,” even our puppet) was overthrown in 1979. And, yes, Iran has definite interests in the Middle East; it has supported (successfully) Assad in Syria and has been successful in Lebanon. More significantly, Iran is seen by Israeli Likudnik hawks and their staunch supporters here in the United States (e.g. the powerful AIPAC, etc.) as a threat to Israel (mostly via Iran’s support for Hamas), and it is no secret at all that Israel would love, so to speak, for the US to help it “get its bacon out of the fire” by attacking Iran, or at least roughing it up a bit—and by whatever means necessary.

Thus, the bated breath and frenzy of most Fox News commentators (with the exception of Tucker Carlson), who like Bolton, Pompeo, and Abrams (and the dominant globalists of the GOP) wait anxiously for some, any, “military response” to Iran’s latest “provocations”—although we have no information, no data yet about what these provocations might be. Basically, we are told to “accept on faith” that they exist, and Bolton & co. plan to brief Congress.

But the essential question arises like thunder in a storm: Iran has always been somewhat hostile to us in the Persian Gulf—yet, there have been no attacks, no assaults on any American personnel, no attacks on our vessels or our interests. Indeed, Iran, despite its fundamentalist Shi’a regime knows fully well that ANY such attack would bring swift retaliation. So, who, then, is being provocative here?

Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal and other media have reported that Bolton’s (and Pompeo’s) headlong push for (another) war has been, apparently, stymied, at least for the time being by Trump himself and that the present situation may be due to mutual “misreading” by both the US and Iran. (cf. “Intelligence Suggests U.S., Iran Misread Each Other, Stoking Tensions,” The Wall Street Journal, May 16, 2019] In fact, in his administration Donald Trump, despite his virtual lack of knowledge vis-à-vis foreign policy, may be, ironically, the only person who stands in the way of what can be called “continual war for unobtainable peace.”

For if he lets Bolton and others of that ilk have their way and we do go to war against Iran, that very simply will be the final nail in the coffin of the Trump agenda, and very probably the end of the Trump presidency in 2020. Neocons like Bolton are quite capable of using or manipulating Donald Trump…until he is no longer useful to them.

Monday, May 20, 2019

May 20, 2019

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

North Carolina SECESSION Day, 1861 
Plus Another Essay at


Today, prior to my usual commentary, I wish to recall that exactly 158 years ago, in the City of Raleigh, in the historic old Capitol Building (1840), the delegates assembled of the Tar Heel State unanimously declared this state once again a free and independent Republic, severing ties to the usurping Federal government of Abraham Lincoln—and then quickly associating the lives and fortunes of our citizens, of our great-grandfathers and great-grandmothers, with the nascent Confederate States of America.

It was not a decision taken lightly; rather, it was forced upon our ancestors by the outright aggression against our sister state, South Carolina, and by unconstitutional demands that we provide troops to illicitly invade that state. It was, in effect, our answer and our show of resistance to an overweening and dictatorial Federal government and its blatant assault on our historic Constitution. We had the choice: submission to dictatorship, or a declaration that we would live (and die) as free men.

We chose the latter, and, after four years of cruel War, we lost on the field of physical battle, and our rights were curtailed and the Constitution forever altered. 

The War for Independence of 1861-1865 continues these days, but not through military conflict, but for the minds and souls of our people. For the Behemoth that triumphed in 1865 has only increased its appetite and its powers over us. The Legacy of Abe Lincoln, tolerated for a century, now reveals itself as a massive cancerous infection which, if left unopposed and unchecked, will destroy not just our culture, but our very souls.

We must resist it to its face; we are few, but by the inspiration and spirit of our ancestors, and through the Grace of a Just God, we may be victorious. For as President Jefferson Davis said after the War: “Truth crushed to earth is truth still and like a seed will rise again.” (1873)

Happy Secession Day!


Back a week ago, May 11, I offered an installment in this MY CORNER series on our public school system [], advocating that it was time that we begin the process of privatizing our public schools, that, essentially, public education had become nothing less than an ideological Trojan Horse which, in too many cases, has served to pervert our republic, while dismantling and destroying our civilization. Robert Lewis Dabney clearly foresaw this prospect 143 years ago when he debated Virginia’s first Superintendent of Public Instruction, William Ruffner, in a series of articles. Those essays hold up extremely well today, and the points Dabney made are even more searing—and truthful.

I went back and edited that column, and it now appears on the Web site of Dr. Clyde Wilson and his daughter, Anne. I pass it on to you this morning:


By Dr. Boyd D. Cathey  -  5/19/2019
That’s right: It is time to disestablish our public school system, sell or lease the public school facilities to various independent associations (e.g., family groups, churches, corporations, etc.), and use the tax monies as vouchers for parents for their school age children so they may go where parents judge best.

It’s time, it’s right, and it’s necessary if the nation and our state survive.

Back on Wednesday, May 1, thirty-four public school systems in North Carolina closed for a day in the middle of the week so that teachers and support staff could travel to the state capital Raleigh to engage in an organized mass demonstration titled “Red 4 Ed.” The rally was organized by the North Carolina Association of Educators (NCAE)—and the object was to demand that state legislators give them large salary raises and additional benefits for their work in and out of the classroom. Dressed out in red T-shirts with a Marxist-style clenched fist emblazoned on the front, participants partially surrounded the State Legislative building and screamed out their demands. Some demonstrators at this “non-partisan” rally held signs demanding Medicaid expansion (a hot political issue in the state General Assembly) and, of course, “gun control” (e.g., “more funds, less [sic!] guns” a sign read—hopefully, this placard was not created by an English teacher!!). And anti-Trump sentiment was
also present, if mostly just below the surface.

Raleigh Police estimated that “fewer than 19,000” attended the May 1 rally, fewer than the rally held on May 1 last year. Yet, the loquacious leftwing Mark Jewell, President of the NCAE, estimated the total at 30,000, going so far as to tweet out a highly doctored photograph attempting to prove his assertion; when called out for his dishonesty by others and by other photographers, Jewell conveniently deleted  his post [“How big was the teacher’s rally? NC education leader posted an altered crowd photo,” The News & Observer, May 2, 2019]
Among the speakers at the rally was the irrepressible black extremist and radical social justice advocate the Reverend William Barber who
…wrapped up the rally, giving his first speech on the grounds since he was banned from the property after a [violent] protest in 2017. A judge recently lifted the restriction, specifically denying a prosecutor’s request that Barber be kept away at least until after the teachers rally, because he tends to draw a crowd. “They didn’t want me to come,” Barber told the crowd, “but it looks like they’ve got a bigger problem than me.” Barber told the teachers, teacher assistants, nurses, counselors, custodians and other school workers who stood in the sun that they were right — morally, legally, constitutionally and religiously — to stand where legislators could hear them and demand better treatment. “It’s time to teach them a lesson,” he said again and again, to the teachers’ cheers. Barber especially praised the group’s solidarity, advocating not only for themselves but for each other and the students…“Together,” he said, “we will turn North Carolina around.” [For the second year, teachers march through Raleigh demanding more education funding, News & Observer, May 1, 2019.]

Interestingly, the 
average salary (as of March 2019) for a public school teacher in North Carolina comes in at $53,975, and the General Assembly is proposing the restoration of extra pay for advanced degrees and pay raises ranging from 1 percent or $500 for school support staff to 4.6 percent for teachers, 6.3 percent for assistant principals and 10 percent for principals. The Republican-sponsored budget would bring teacher pay to $55,600 by 2020.  Such figures are actually higher than what the average North Carolinian makes per year: $52,752 (by 2017 figures). Thus, teachers currently average $1,223 more per annum than the average Tar Heel makes.

Yet this is not seen as anywhere nearly sufficient by the unionized NCAE which is joined at the hip to the state Democratic Party. The NCAE is demanding a $15 minimum wage for school support staff, a five percent raise for all school employees and a five percent cost of living adjustment for retirees; Medicaid expansion statewide; and the hiring of “thousands of additional staff psychologists, social workers, counselors, nurses, and other health professionals” to meet the “national standard.” In reality, this effort was little more than politics at its worse: using teachers as pawns in a larger battle against the Republican legislature. No doubt, if the GOP General Assembly were to raise all salaries by $10,000, there would still be rancorous complaints from the NCAE and its minions.

One friend, a retired educator and college professor, remarked that given the state of public education in North Carolina, were our public school system a private business, probably half of those teachers would be terminated for ineptitude and inability to perform their jobs. Of course, there are many dedicated public school teachers who deserve our appreciation and support—but could they not do even better if not weighed down by excess bureaucracy and unqualified fellow personnel?

That comment is no exaggeration when you consider the relative success of the operation of charter schools in the state (cf., Lindsay Marchello, “A Public Decision: School Choice has a Long History in North Carolina,” Carolina Journal, May 2019, pp. 1 et seq.). The Raleigh Charter High School, for example, ranks as one of the top high schools in the United States, and it achieves that without an expensive sports program, without a cafeteria serving three meals a day, without an auditorium, and without all the additional “support staff” deemed so necessary by public educators.

Our public school system has increasingly become not so much a vehicle for educating our children as rather a massive Petri dish in which to incubate future social and cultural revolutionaries who are “woke” to the perceived “crises” in the environment, to the “white racism” inherent in our history and societal structures, to the misogyny and “toxic masculinity” which has oppressed women (and the LGBTQ community), and to the absolute imperative to “overthrow” the institutionalized “prejudice” and “inequality” that characterize our society and our republic.

Thus, any opposition to such demonstrations as we saw on May 1, even the slightest demurrer or questioning of the basic premises of such manifestations and demands is met with shrieking accusations—the same ones we are now accustomed to hear regarding so many other issues—about race, gender, prejudice, equality and “right-wing extremism.”

Here, for example, is long-time Democrat strategist and former special assistant to Democrat Governor Jim Hunt, Gary Pearce,
 making those accusations:
…why the anti-teacher, anti-public-school rhetoric and action? There are five reasons: race, religion, ideology, politics and – as is so often the case in politics – money….Under Trump, the Republican Party is dominated by rural, high-school-educated whites. Hostility to “race-mixing” still runs strong….Sometimes this is camouflage for race, and sometimes its [sic] sincere conviction. The Supreme Court not only struck down school segregation, it “took God and prayer out of the schools”….The Republican Party today holds to a rigid right-wing ideology that is rabidly anti-government….The rise of anti-public-school politics coincides with the rise of an ultra-wealthy, ultra-reactionary oligarchy…who have deployed their wealth to shape politics, dictate policy and reshape society in a way that serves their own selfish interests at the expense of most Americans. 

The message is clear: if you in any way oppose the full demands of the educational establishment—the real oligarchy—and the Democratic Party, you must be a racist, a bigot, an intolerant Christian fanatic, or somehow connected to “ultra-reactionary, ultra-wealthy oligarchs”—and one of those unenlightened “rural, high-school-educated whites”!  (Notice the dripping ill-concealed condescension.)

And you should just shut up. Got that?

Fascinating: back in 1981 it was a critical phone call by Pearce that assisted me in getting a full time position (initially pretty low paying, but it was still a job) with the Department of Cultural Resources. But in 1981, it seems, Pearce had not yet “evolved” into the raving social justice fanatic he apparently is now, and the old Democrat Party still had room for folks with traditional ideas about merit over race and gender.

Over 140 years ago the great Southern theologian, essayist, and critic Robert Lewis Dabney prophesied the future failure of public education in a series of essays he penned for Planter and Farmer magazine and later for the Richmond Enquirer(1876).  State-run education imposed an unnatural equality on students and exposed the school system to ideological manipulation by “demagogues, who are in power for a time, in the interests of their faction.”  “Providence, social laws, and parental virtues and efforts, do inevitably legislate in favor of some classes of boys,” he declared. “If the State undertakes to countervail that legislation of nature by leveling action, the attempt is wicked, mischievous, and futile.” The older system of largely private education left “the school as the creature of the parents, and not of the state….This old system evinced its wisdom by avoiding the pagan, Spartan theory, which makes the State the parent. It left the parent supreme in his God-given sphere, as the responsible party for providing and directing the education of his own offspring.” (R. L. Dabney, “The State Free School System,” reprinted in Dabney, Discussions, vol. IV, “Secular,” pp. 201-210)

So, yes, our legislature—and legislatures around the country—must continue the process of disestablishment: more charter schools, more support for home schoolers, more voucher programs, more parental control, with a final goal that our public school system—which is now serving as a vehicle for ideological and cultural indoctrination—be dismantled. Let newly-formed associations of parents, corporations (why not Duke Power, Red Hat, etc), church organizations, and others assume control of buildings and use them; why not take the tax monies collected and disperse them accordingly? Would this not be real school choice? And, if in some few cases, perhaps in some poorer counties, this would work less well, then certainly there would be no time limit in the process of disestablishment.

In the long run our students—our children—will be far better off, better educated, and better prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century. And the ideological incubation so prevalent
today would, hopefully, in large part subside.

                                                May 7, 2024     MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey   NEOCONSERVATISM: A SECULARIZED GLOBAL...