Saturday, May 30, 2020

May 30, 2020


MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

The Riots and the Destructive Failure of the Egalitarian Myth
Tucker Carlson and Ilana Mercer Speak

Friends,

Increasingly, I try to avoid news-binging, watching assiduously all the compiled, feculent bilge that passes for news reporting these days, those authorized “stories” fed to us like tasteless, industrial-strength pablum to non-rational infants, or more, to non compos mentis inmates of the giant asylum which is what our country is quickly becoming.

Viewing just a few minutes of Fox’s coverage of the reaction to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis this past week, I was struck by the essential sameness of what could have been seen—and was, in fact, seen—over on MSNBC or even CNN. First, the cries and jeremiads about “racism”: Will we ever overcome that “problem” which seems to be endemic in our history, in our character, the broadcasters exclaimed in virtual unison? Then, the hand-wringing about the destruction of property, the “wrong way to express revulsion at Floyd’s death,” again said by almost all the pundits, although a few of the more exalted social justice types at CNN expressed degrees of sympathy for the rioters (after all they were just exhibiting their “justified rage”).

Just as for CNN and MSNBC, Fox has its own agenda, which goes like this: “racism” exists; it violates the “Ideal of America” and the American Founding wherein to quote the Declaration of Independence (and they fatally misunderstand its meaning), all men are created equal…endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights”; the Democrats have historically opposed “equality” and “equal rights” for minorities (cf. the ignorant musings of Dinesh D’Souza); and, so, only Republicans and “conservatives” can actually realize that Ideal of Equality.

Yet, that whole conversation is tragically misconceived, based on an almost complete misunderstanding of human nature, American history, and the very founding of the old American republic. Our Founders and Framers loathed egalitarianism. They knew—and foresaw—the ravages and destruction it would cause if ever imposed or enacted into laws of the republic. Equality does not exist in nature, does not exist under Natural Law, and attempts to legislate it are bound not only to fail, but cause tremendous and perhaps fatal consequences to the society where it is imposed.

It has been the objective of restless revolutionaries for centuries to get people to reject Nature and to reject the God-given order that must exist if a stable and moral society exist. Simply because my neighbor has more property and possessions than I, does not mean that I have the “right” to go seize them at my pleasure. I have only the “right,” indeed, the obligation to work hard and use my intelligence, and, as St. Matthew tells us in the Parable of the Talents, to achieve to the fullest what pertains to me (and not to anyone else but me). In so doing, I accomplish what God has allowed me in this life, and which should not and must not be compared invidiously to the achievements of anyone else.

The great accomplishment of the history of revolutionary madness, whether of the Cromwellian variety, of the French Revolution, of the Soviets, or, indeed, of our modern social justice “insaniacs,” has been to convince vast numbers of our population that orders in society, the inherent natural inequality is somehow wrong, or as we hear now on all networks and from almost all pundits, “racist.” Yet, that natural inequality in no way inhibits a man’s essential and real, God-given dignity (again, re-read the Parable of the Talents).

What happened in the streets of Minneapolis (and elsewhere) after a single (and rare) example of one policeman’s use of excessive force was not a sign of the reaction against “institutional racism” lurking just beneath the surface, but of an intellectually corrupted population, infected by generations of egalitarian venom, being told constantly by our cultural and political elites that they are victims. And, also, in a very real sense an invitation to rebel against the laws of Nature and of God.

Can any society, any social order survive in this template? Is civil life and comity possible when large portions of that society reject its very bases and foundations? Ilana Mercer in her excellent nationally-syndicated column of May 28, 2020, writes “…courtesy of its globalist elites, America is no longer a society, much less a serious one…And America, it's fair to say, is no longer a people in any meaningful way; it is a Walmart with missiles, where [we direct] fusillades at one another.

I have written previously about the potential, even probable break-up of the creaky old American nation. What has happened on the streets of major American cities in recent days has far less to do with an imagined “institutional racism” than with the fact that there is no longer anything, other than perhaps geography, that binds us all together. A (decreasing) portion of our citizenry still believes in the old traditions and standards, and in that Natural Law that produced our fragile experiment in constitutional republicanism; but a large (and growing) portion rejects that inheritance and has joined in the immemorial rebellion against God and Nature. Between the two there can be no peace. In such a conflict one side must win, the other lose…either that, or they must separate.

Tucker Carlson, almost alone on Fox, hits the target, or a portion of it, and I pass on his short introduction to his Friday night, May 29, program. But his monologue is significant not just for what he does say, but the unsaid implications that follow. No nation can continue this way for long, no nation can avoid the essential questions and the ironclad laws of Nature itself.

(Begin about three minutes in, then for seven minutes)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rqo-v87_9y0

Monday, May 25, 2020

May 25, 2020

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

Observations on a Special Memorial Day – A New Essay Published by CHRONICLES Magazine

Friends,

As today is Memorial Day and also seventy-five years since the end of World War II, I’ve written a very personal essay which has been published by CHRONICLES Magazine.

The few surviving veterans of that awful conflict are quickly passing from the scene. So I dedicate this essay to them, and in particular, to my father, PFC Harry S. Cathey, 101st Cavalry, European Theater, who passed away in 1999. I hope you find it meaningful….

Observing a Special Memorial Day


By Boyd D. Cathey   May 25, 2020
My father, Harry S. Cathey, was a World War II veteran. He left behind letters to my mother written from France and Germany in 1944 and 1945. Some of the words and designations are obviously in a code they had between them—he could not identify locations in the combat zone. What comes through above all are two things: his sense of duty to his country and his abiding love for my mother—no real complaints about his conditions, although he does express the wish that he can taste her cooking again and, of course, the hope to see her soon.
A member of the 101st Cavalry, my father was assigned to a Stuart light tank and was involved in reconnaissance operations. On March 15, 1945, near Kaiserslautern in the Rheinland-Pfalz, his tank was hit directly by a German projectile. Dad, then piloting the tank, was seriously wounded, and his best buddy Dale Lackey, the gunner, was killed.
Shortly before the attack, my father and Dale had traded positions: for several days previously, my father had been the gunner and Dale the pilot. They often switched positions—and they had done so only hours before the fatal incident. That trade had saved my father’s life, almost miraculously, just as it had taken Dale’s. This fact has always affected me deeply and impelled me to count my blessings....

PLEASE KEEP READING AT THE CHRONICLES WEB SITE:

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

May 20, 2020

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

Does God Exist? Look into the Eyes of a Dog


Friends,

Last night, after my customary evening prayers and climbing into bed, my cocker spaniel Jasper jumped on the bed with me, as he is apt to do, and, then hovering over me like some special guardian surveying his charge, his legs on my chest, looked directly at me with his two adoring brown eyes. It was as if to say: “It’s bed-time, and I wanted to ‘say’ to you ‘please keep safe,’ ‘good night,’ ‘my love and devotion’ for you.”

I know, I know—dogs don’t speak, but they do communicate in so many other ways…in their movements, in their barking and whining, by wagging their tails or moving their paws, but perhaps most effectively with their eyes. Jasper’s eyes were lit with warmth and contentment, but also with a kind of fealty and intimate comradeship that only a person who has had a close canine companion for any length of time can understand and fathom.

As I looked back into those golden globes, I thought: “Here indeed was one of God’s little creatures, a kind of little barking Guardian Angel, a creature whose ancestors began to faithfully accompany man thousands of years ago, at the very origins of civilization.” 

Here in this adoring face was in fact a representation of the goodness of the Creator—in a sense, the Face of God Himself exemplified by this canine, composed of an intricate pattern of muscle, organs and tissue, but far more than the sum of his physical parts. Yes, a creation of Nature, the result of a very long line of other canines, but issuing forth in a living being with a unique personality all his own.

For me—and I realize to those with a scientific bent this may seem a bit naïve—that Jasper exists is, in a very special way, a definite sign that not only does God exist, but that He has taken very special effort in devising His creation.

Consider the essential: here is this animal, this creature who breathes, moves, eats, plays with and accompanies me, has emotions (which on close inspection over time I can detect)…and shows them. Here is a creature of extreme complexity physiologically, less so than humans, but still complex. Millions of minute cells programmed to work in harmony, and over them all a distinct, motivating, life-giving personality, and indeed what St. Thomas Aquinas called a living “animal soul.”

I was put in mind of that superb English film, “Dean Spanley” (2008), starring Jeremy Northam, Sir Peter O’Toole, Sam Neill, Judy Parfit, and Bryan Brown; it’s one of my favorite—perhaps my all-time favorite—movies. Based on a short novella by British writer Baron Dunsany it is both whimsical and deeply moving in its message. And it uses dogs to represent the kind of spiritual bond that exists between mankind and canines, but also, more importantly, between Man and other human beings. That bond is ineffable, it is spiritual, but it exists. And it is something which cannot be created in the most advanced, the most modern scientific laboratory. It is, if I may be so bold, something that cannot be explained fully by evolutionary biology.

Years ago, when I was studying in Spain, one of my professors was Dr. Wolfgang Strobl, without doubt the most brilliant man I’ve ever met or had the privilege to know. Dr. Strobl was born in Bavaria and a shell-shocked veteran of World War II, which gave him a permanent limp (he walked with a cane). After the war he earned his first doctorate at the University of Munich in philosophy, mathematics and physics (1952) “summa cum laude,” with a mammoth work, titled, “The Fundamental Problems of the Philosophy of Nature in the Ontological Sense of the New Physics.” A second earned doctorate came in 1967 (Pontifical University of Navarra): “Scientific Reality and Its Philosophical Criticism.” Fluent in a dozen languages, guest professor at numerous universities in every part of the world, including Columbia, Fordham, and St. John’s in the United States, translator of Werner Heisenberg and other German philosophers into Spanish, he was amazing. In his lectures at Navarra it was if someone just pushed a button and out flowed a perfectly organized (and for me, diagrammed) fifty minutes of brilliance.

I recall back then—in 1973—we took up the work of French scientist/philosopher Jacques Monod, Chance and Necessity (published first as Le Hasard et la Nécessité: Essai sur la philosophie naturelle de la biologie moderne). Monod’s work was all the rage at the time, and not just in France, but also in the United States. Basically, and not to do him an injustice, Monod posited that “the combined effects of chance and necessity, which are amenable to scientific investigation, account for our existence and the universe we inhabit, without the need to invoke mystical, supernatural, or religious explanations. While acknowledging the likely evolutionary origin of a human need for explanatory myths, in the final chapter of Chance and Necessity, Monod advocates for adopting an objective (hence value-free), scientific worldview as our guide to assessing truth. He describes this as an 'ethics of knowledge', which disrupts the older philosophical, mythological and religious ontologies that claimed to provide both ethical values and a standard for judging truth.”

As Monod summed up his work: "...man at last knows he is alone in the unfeeling immensity of the universe, out of which he has emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty.”

For a number of sessions Strobl lectured about—and profoundly critiqued—Monod’s work and his assertions. And he did so not only from biological science and the standpoint of physics, but also from mathematics and the philosophy of logic.

On various occasions I was privileged to visit him and his wife for lunch and continue those discussions. I recall distinctly him describing the inadequacy of Monod’s (and other’s) theories of human evolution that left out, noticeably and fatally, essential ingredients in the make-up of Man. Like some other critics, Strobl contended that Monod failed in his attempt to banish "mind and purpose from the phenomenon of life" in the name of science.

And, venturing into the foundations and philosophy of mathematics—if I may call it that—Dr. Strobl added that the study of probabilities, alone, made the commonly-held belief in biological evolution, as currently conceived, a practical impossibility. After one reaches a certain level of (im)probability, a happening, an event, an occurrence is considered not just improbable, but, practically speaking, impossible. Distinct and widely disparate amounts of time are required for something to occur depending on the level of probability—the chance, if you will—that it might happen in nature.

The chance that I get stung by a yellow jacket this summer while working in my yard can be calculated roughly using a number of factors: where the yellow jacket nests are, how many of them exists, where exactly I work and step, the care I take, how many times I work in my yard, and so on. Depending on these conditions, I could, if I knew them all, estimate my chances, maybe 5%, maybe more, maybe less.

But let’s take something much more extensive and far more improbable: the example of a monkey sitting in front of key board and pecking out the entire works of William Shakespeare by chance. Of necessity it would require millions—perhaps billions—of years (of trial and error), and then what are the percentages? Would it actually ever come to pass?

As Dr. Strobl explained, after reaching a certain level of improbability, a happening becomes in effect impossible. Despite the billions of years for that monkey to type out Shakespeare by chance, if at all, at a certain point mathematically such a calculation is essentially impossible.

Thus, if we posit that a one cell amoeba somehow evolves and has evolved into my canine companion Jasper, not only does that evolutionary process demand millions, perhaps even billions of years, but from a mathematical viewpoint is dead on arrival, impossible.

Without something more than the cold theories of evolutionary science, stripped of all other considerations and ignoring (or refusing to examine) the insights of other disciplines which offer a more rounded and fuller picture of life, we are left bare, tiny meaningless specks in an inscrutable and unforgiving universe.

I recall an interview with the late Southern novelist and writer, Walker Percy, from Esquire back in 1977. In it Percy was asked why he was a Christian, and he responded: “What else is there?” And the follow-up question:

“Would you exclude, for example, scientific humanism as a rational and honorable alternative?” And he answered: “Yes…It’s not good enough…This life is much too much trouble, far too strange, to arrive at the end of it and then to be asked what you make of it and to have to answer ‘Scientific humanism.’ That won’t do. A poor show. Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight, i.e., God. In fact I demand it. I refuse to settle for anything less. I don’t see why anyone should settle for less than Jacob, who actually grabbed aholt of God and wouldn’t let go until God identified himself and blessed him.”


So it was when I looked into those two loving orbs, those two golden brown eyes of Jasper last night, and he communicated to me his love and companionship and care, far, far beyond any consideration of what amoeba he might have supposedly come from billions of years ago. And as I reached out and scratched his floppy ears with my returned affection, yes, I stared into the face of one of God’s creatures whose very existence signaled to me, to echo Walker Percy, “What else is there?” Scientific humanism and atheism won’t do. “Life is a mystery, love is a delight. Therefore I take it as axiomatic that one should settle for nothing less than the infinite mystery and the infinite delight”—God.  The Creator once more demonstrated His love last night through His little creature on my bed, as I prepared to end the day and take one more step towards eternity.

Friday, May 15, 2020

May 15, 2020

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

Two Recent Essays at LEW ROCKWELL and RECKONIN.com

Friends,

I offer two more recent essays published, respectively, by LewRockwell.com and Reckonin.com, and there are more coming soon. But today I send out from Lew Rockwell’s Web site a slightly edited version of a MY CORNER which originally showed up on May 7, and the Reckonin’ essay, a MY CORNER originally from April 18 of this year. The topics are very different, but both have suscitated a number of comments.

Here they are:

LewRockwell.com anti-stateanti-warpro-market

As I Viewed This I Was Shaken to My Core—You Will be Also

By Boyd D. Cathey   My Corner    May 8, 2020

It begins in muddied black and white, no voices over until about two minutes into the film. At first it may seem a bit unclear what is happening. But soon, with the first interview of a British officer, it becomes all too apparent—too graphic, too unsettling, too horrific for our minds so accustomed to the cushy prosperity and relative peace of contemporary America to fully grasp. And it is only the beginning. The online Youtube is titled “Forgotten History of World War II: Operation Keelhaul,” although the initial title in the film reads “Orders from Above.”
At the end of it we find in the credits that it was originally produced with much research by the BBC in 1975. To my knowledge it has never been screened on American television, never released in a VHS or DVD format of any kind. But it cries out, with the voices of millions of men, women and children cruelly and barbarously murdered, for acknowledgement…and for justice, even if seventy-five years too late.
It left a profound impression on me, as I think it will on you as you watch it.
1974-1975 many of the sealed World War II records and archives of the British Foreign Office were finally unsealed, and, in particular, the files of how our English allies forcibly shipped back to the Soviet Union and to our supposed friend in the war against Adolf Hitler, “Uncle” Joe Stalin (as he was affectionately called in the Anglo-American press), some two million plus Russians who existed within Western Europe at the end of the Second World War.

And if other nationalities that were sent to the Soviets are counted the figures mount to around five or six millions: all to become victims of Stalin’s revenge.
Not just the thousands Russians (mainly Cossacks) who had actually volunteered to fight with the Germans against Communism and for their homeland (which was their object, not really for Naziism), but hundreds of thousands of civilians, who had been forced at gunpoint to work for the Nazis as part of their war effort. And including thousands of innocent women and children, again many inducted forcibly into labor battalions. Not only that, Stalin also requested—and many times got—any Russians the Westerns powers could round up or find who had taken refuge in Western Europe prior to 1939…in other words, the many anti-Communist Russians who had left Russia after the Revolution of 1918-1920 and had been living peaceably in the West since then.

For Stalin there were no POWS: a Red Army soldier was either victorious or died for Communism (either at the hands of the enemy or by his own suicide!). Capture by the enemy was unacceptable, not acknowledged by the Soviet military. A Soviet POW was already sentenced to death if he was captured alive or surrendered. Almost certain execution, either immediately or in a gulag, lay ahead for any returned comrade.

All this—all of the forced and many times very brutal and inexpressibly horrific repatriation at the point of a bayonet or facing British machine guns took place in almost total secrecy. The English—Anthony Eden, Patrick Dean and, yes, Winston Churchill (and Franklin D. Roosevelt)—were eager to placate “Uncle Joe” and keep him happy, even if it meant the cruel death (or at the least a slow death in a gulag in Siberia) for more than two million living, breathing men and their families. “Collateral losses” was an antiseptic term used, “unfortunate necessities” is another fancy word expression…an expression to evoke just one aspect of official Allied policy at the end of the War, a policy that continued for several years, and then details about which were locked away for another thirty years.

For three decades the policy of Britain and America was to keep a rigid silence about these actions, mostly deny the existence of such incredible barbarity…at least until 1974-1975. Then English journalist, Nicholas Bethel (in his riveting volume The Last Secret: The Delivery to Stalin of Over Two Million Russians) and Count Nikolai Tolstoy in The Secret Betrayal, 1944-1947  tore back the curtain, employing the finally opened archives.  And later Tolstoy, a British citizen and distant cousin of the famous Russian novelist, authored a shattering sequel, The Minister and the Massacres (1985), which traces in a straight line who gave the orders, who were responsible for what in many ways rivalled in barbarity the crimes of our enemies in the late war.
Those millions of Russian victims of the war do not take into account  approximately maybe ten to fifteen million Eastern European German civilians (Volksdeutsche) living outside Germany forcibly moved back to the fatherland, with only clothes on their backs, as many as 2.5 million of whom perished during the frigid winter of 1945-1946, as Alfred de Zayas has documented in his scholarly yet stunning volume Nemesis at Potsdam: The Anglo-Americans and the Expulsion of the Germans: Background: Execution, Consequences (1979).

Nor do they measure the actions of us Americans after the war—documented by Canadian journalist, James Bacque in his book, Other Losses (1989). Bacque’s incredible, nearly unbelievable findings: that U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower intentionally caused the deaths by starvation or exposure of around a million German prisoners of war held in Western internment camps briefly after the Second World War.

How do victorious powers in a righteous war against an Evil Power responsible for immense cruelty and criminality, then establish peace, justice, and liberty after that war when they engage in similar practices of cruelty and criminality against that Evil Power, or more specifically against millions of subjects in occupied lands under that Power’s control forced into its service?
Do we not still suffer the effects of our, in many ways, continuing dalliance with Communism, and more so today, of its bastard step-children, the progressivist “woke” post-Marxist Left that so defiles and despoils our culture, denies our history, and despises and bans our heritage?
****
I pass on to you the Youtube, “Forgotten History of World War II: Operation Keelhaul.” It lasts for about one hour and a half, which I recognize is long for such a video. When I first began watching I thought only to view bits and small parts of it. But I could not stop—I could not stop listening to and seeing the still-shaken British soldiers and officers recounting how they had been ordered to bayonet soldiers and civilians and force them into blinded box cars or herded into over-crowded ships to Odessa, only to watch them brutally murdered dockside upon arrival. I could not stop viewing the searing images, the reminiscences of the few Russians who somehow managed to escape or survive.

If you don’t have a full hour and a half to watch this film immediately, just begin with a few excerpts—at about 23:00 into the film, then at about 56:00 for the next few minutes, and then finally at around 1:05:00 until the end when Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, from his monumental Gulag Archipelago is quoted. Sadly, some of the books I’ve cited are now priced terribly high (and one must wonder why that is?), but I recommend also purchasing some of them and sharing them with your family and friends. In the scheme of eternity, it’s important.

Like the British officers and the clergyman interviewed, I too am haunted by all this, I am haunted by the complicity of “civilized” nations, by people raised and annealed in the principles of our Christian faith. This film makes it all too real.
If I had a time machine for our society and culture, I would immediately send us all back prior to the First World War (for that is where the Second originated)…and I would frantically warn the Archduke Franz Ferdinand not to go to Sarajevo. I would scream from the rooftops, as in Holy Writ, that irredentism and unbridled, headless nationalism could only lead to devastation. And I would plead that all men—English Victorians, the Russian tsarists, the French republicans, the Serbian extremists—spend more time in Church asking for God’s grace and forgiveness, than on the battlefield or hurtling blood-soaked threats at their neighbors….

Here we are now in 2020, after by far the bloodiest and most unimaginably vicious century—the 20th—in human history. And in our insouciance and worldliness we pretend that the most important things are material, and we act as if God does not exist. In fact, most people probably believe in Satan more, at least in the way they act, than in Our Heavenly Father.

It cannot last…indefinitely. And we should begin, we should prepare by arming ourselves with knowledge and Faith.
Please continue:
Reprinted with the author’s permission.

Copyright © Boyd D. Cathey 
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In Memory of a Special Friend and Mentor




by Boyd D. Cathey   4/19/2020

It came in the form of a letter; I could read from the return address who it was from. But the handwriting, so distinctive, was not his, and immediately I thought, was this news sad news, maybe of his death? After all I knew he was well into his 80s.

And when I opened the long envelope, there was the program for the memorial service and a short personal note from his wife, Barbara: my dear friend, former history professor, and actual first “mentor,” Eugene Earnhardt had passed away on February 4 of this year after battles with several insuperable illnesses, a few days shy of his 86th birthday.

Shocked—although I suppose I shouldn’t have been—I immediately telephoned Barbara who lives in a retirement cluster near Asheville. And we had a moving, emotional conversation that lasted for about an hour.

You see Gene Earnhardt was my first history professor in my freshman year for undergraduate studies at Pfeiffer University, and he was pivotal in how I would lead the rest of my life and the choices I would make. Not just that but he was an incredibly talented writer and writing stylist, for whom the written word was special: he could not abide what he called “purple prose,” pomposity, or literary laziness…or silly political correctness.

I recall the first paper I wrote for him—I still have it somewhere stored away. It was a discussion of the old conservative movement of the 1950s, including writers and thinkers like Russell Kirk, Clinton Rossiter, and a few others. When I got my paper back, I got an A-, but the whole thing was marked up, bloodied in red, with comments like: “too many words to say what you mean,” “poorly phrased,” and “this paragraph should come later.” In conferences with Gene, he painstakingly gave me pointers on how better to express myself in writing, how better to make things flow and make better sense.

All that was really fundamental for a young 18 year old college freshman, and I like to think that it was his dedication to his art, to teaching and instruction, that was responsible. But I know now, after fifty years of friendship after those undergrad days, that it was also because he saw something in me worth cultivating and alimenting and assisting…and because of a natural bond of friendship and respect that began back then and continued on for five more decades.

But Gene was pivotal in another way, even more important and critical for me.

For back in my senior year of high school I had become acquainted with the works of conservative scholar, Dr. Russell Kirk, and for Christmas 1965 I asked my parents for a selection of books by him, including his seminal, The Conservative Mind. I was enthralled and much taken by “the Sage of Mecosta” Michigan (as he was known), by his elaborate detailing and defense of a usable Anglo-American past, of our Anglo-American heritage and constitutional traditions, which he termed “conservative.” Not only that, he seemed to comprehend and express eloquently the thinking of that tradition and its major figures, beginning with Edmund Burke and continuing on through men such as John Randolph, John C. Calhoun, Benjamin Disraeli, Robert H. Taft, and T. S. Eliot, among others.

So when I got to Pfeiffer and in one of my first meetings with Gene Earnhardt, I mentioned Kirk. And, amazingly, he replied: “A few years ago I sailed across the Atlantic to England, and he was on board, and we became friends.” Then, he suggested to abet my enthusiasm that I should write Kirk directly, which is exactly what I did that Fall in a long and rambling letter.


I then more or less forgot that…that is, until I received a response, postmarked Mecosta, Michigan, and from Dr. Kirk. I recall a phrase from that letter to this day. He wrote that Richard Nixon had requested to see him, and that “he has never listened much to what I have to say, and I doubt he will this time, either.”

You can imagine my sensation. That letter began a conversation—a correspondence—that lasted almost until Russell Kirk’s death in April 1994. But not just by mail: my senior year at Pfeiffer I was in charge of the visiting speakers program (can anyone imagine that now!?), and I was able to bring him down to the college for several days, including a speech and a round-table. Later, he invited me to be his personal assistant during the year 1971-1972, opening up undreamed of opportunities and introducing me to individuals who would exercise additional and significant influence in my formation and life.

After Pfeiffer I was off to the University of Virginia, awarded a Thomas Jefferson Fellowship to study under the late Jefferson biographer, Merrill Peterson. And, again, it was Gene Earnhardt who assisted me critically in preparing for that step. I took his American intellectual history course and a course in historiography, both of which were important as I went from a small college to a large university. Without his guidance, his advice, and his friendship, I doubt I would have done that or made those career changes.

And after grad school our friendship continued. Occasionally, I would stop by the little town of New London where Gene and Barbara lived and spend a night and rekindle our discussions and profound friendship. Sometimes when Gene and Barbara would come to the Raleigh area to visit Gene’s brother, we would have lunch together. In every meeting, it was like old and good friends joining together once again. But I was always the student, and he always the teacher.

Finally, about four or five months ago I telephoned Gene to see how he was doing. By then he and Barbara had settled into a retirement community. He had, I knew, some health issues. But I simply wanted to express to him, again, my continuous and unceasing appreciation and thanks for all he had done for me, the direction he had imparted, the patient and sage advice, and, perhaps now most of all, the deep and abiding friendship, the kind of bond and love that comes from God Himself and in which we also learn the best parts of our humanity.

I tried to express this, these thoughts, to Barbara when we talked; I am not sure that I was able…words are not always easily found in these situations. But somehow I think she knows. And my dear friend and first “mentor,” Eugene Earnhardt, now at rest and at peace in the fellowship of Our Lord, knows.

Old friend, teacher, exemplar, guide—thank you! Rest in peace.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

May 14, 2020


MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

The End of Free Speech?  That’s the New Agenda

Friends,

I pass on to you today a new article that I have had published in Chronicles (on the magazine’s Web site). Since the Framing of the American Constitution there has been a debate over the nature and meaning of the First Amendment. Generally, citizens have enjoyed the right to speak their minds (or write) what they believed, as long as those expressions did not violate defined community standards of decency or morality, urge active participation in the overthrow of the government, or defame publicly (and falsely) another citizen so as to damage or destroy his reputation or good character.

These precisions are far more detailed and complex in law and jurisprudence, but this overall summary, as codified by 2oo years of practice and judicial polity has been something of a constitutional bedrock for Americans. We know that if we publish an article or make a speech critiquing a certain viewpoint or criticizing the person who publicly espouses that viewpoint, that we may do so if we do so properly.

Thus, I may blast away at political candidate X who advocates universal healthcare for all, I may suggest that he is ignorant, a crazy socialist, a senile politician who should stay at home. I may even question whether in the distant past he would have assaulted in one way or another young ladies...at least ask the question. I may do all this, but I cannot assert without any hint of proof that he is a rapist or abuser, which charges, not based on evidence, would damage or destroy his reputation.

Admittedly, such accusations and any resultant court proceedings tend to be difficult things; slander and defamation of character are extremely hard to prove, and usually require proof that the person engaged in defamation acted willfully, with the intent to do real harm and severe damage to his target.

That may be the reason such proceedings are rare, especially these days when it seems that the American nation is full of millions of Twitter users who take to the Internet to savage not just the ideas of opponents, but their character and reputations. The standards of defamation or slander have, it seems, broadened in our day.

But, nevertheless, the essential right of citizens to express differing views on a wide variety of topics has been considered sacrosanct, at least until recently.

And that brings me to the growing current on college campuses and stated with increasing frequency in Mainstream Media: certain people because of who they are, because they are white or male or Southern or conservative, don’t enjoy or at least should not have the rights of free speech, that they should be banned from speaking on university campuses, forbidden from taking to Twitter or Facebook—because others, those “woke” social justice warriors find what they say or simply who they are to be offensive. Indeed, this new template boldly asserts that speech which opposes the advances and propositions of progressivists is, ipso facto, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, or homophobic, and thus by definition, must be proscribed and banned.

With growing respectability this narrative of curtailing views considered en dehors de tout debat—outside of all debate—has emerged with force in recent years.

But then, under this new template who then decides, who determines which views are now acceptable and which persons will have the right to express such views? College administrators? The supposedly aggrieved students on campus, themselves? In far too many cases, it has been the highly-organized social justice warriors on campus (and their friends off campus) who have taken matters into their own hands. Opposition in any form to the progressivist agenda is shouted down, that is, when a cowardly administrator does not forbid it because of fear of a campus riot (or that it might somehow infringe upon a minority “safe space” or cause mental “hurt” and “pain” to students who realize that someone might be on the same campus as they and with differing views!).

Our state governments, boards of trustees and governors for our colleges and universities, and most directly, college administrators are all guilty in abetting this—the rise of a kind of rigid and brutal totalitarianism, right in our midst, that in fact destroys the genuine educational experience and the essential liberty that must exist not only on university campuses, but in society at large, if this nation survive.

Already we have seen what failure has produced. More of this will surely be fatal to the country.

*********

Here is my Chronicles essay:

CHRONICLES  May 13, 2020

Free Speech and the End of the Old Rules


Free speech, open inquiry, and serious academic discussion are now being construed as the fruits of racism, white supremacy, sexism, or homophobia in my state of North Carolina. Differing points of view, once the hallmark of our college education system, are now routinely suppressed, and increasingly by professors and pusillanimous administrators at our universities.
A case in point in my neck of the woods is the message conveyed by the University of North Carolina at Greensboro’s officially sponsored conference, “Finding Expression in Contested Public Spaces.”  This gathering was held on Oct. 24 and 25, 2019 for the benefit of students and the public alike. The two-day program opened with keynote remarks by Dr. Eric King Watts, associate professor at UNC’s Chapel Hill campus, whose presentation was titled “Tribalism, Voicelessness, and the Problem of Free Speech.”
Setting the tenor for the conference, Professor Watts attempted to “contextualize” the concept of free speech historically and in terms of its effect on race and gender:
“In particular, freedom of speech is conceptualized and found in documents as a universal human capacity and right requiring legislative and judicial protections, but this late-18th-century idealism obscures the manner in which freedom of speech is always already implicated in racism,” Watts said. He identified the idea of race as a biotrope (a living, constantly developing piece of language that’s represented by different words), and free speech as instrumental in the social construction of race.
“The very idea of freedom, postulated in universalist terms in the 19th century, and serving as the ontological structure for the First Amendment, doesn’t allow the black,” Watts said. “This exclusion is not legal, nor paralegal; it is brokered by the psychic structure and pseudoscience responding to the biopower imperatives of racism.”
It seems the very concept and reality of free speech is corrupted irretrievably by racism. Free speech supposedly both serves and furthers a racist agenda.
Watts, who may have rightly assumed that most of his audience agreed, concluded:
“Put bluntly, the left is not really intolerant of conservative values. Indeed, many of us here probably wish for the good old days when we just had to deal with the neocons,” Watts added. “Rather, the left is intolerant of racism, homophobism, xenophobism, and misogyny.”
Branson Inscore of the John William Pope Foundation reported that “most speakers at the free speech conference promoted the idea of restricting free speech to ensure space for ‘marginalized’ or ‘oppressed’ voices.” 
What we are witnessing on college campuses makes absolute sense, given its own twisted logic. Although the left’s template posits equality as a goal, the implementation of its vision requires the throttling of dissent and the end of free speech as we have known it.
The evidence comes from the multiple attempts to stifle opposing viewpoints on campuses and increasingly in the public square. Non-“woke” personalities—cabinet secretaries, writers, and others—have been singled out and harassed in restaurants, in their places of employment, or at home—as happened to Fox News host Tucker Carlson in November. Literally hundreds of Trump supporters and conservatives have been assaulted by leftist mobs. Between March 1, 2016 and July 5, 2018, Breitbart.com counted 70 acts of violence and harassment against non-woke dissenters. The conference at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro showed to what extent the Left, particularly its academic representatives, equate the expansion of equality with the suppression of unwanted views.
A few years ago—in the heat of the 2016 presidential race—I met the daughter of longtime friends. She was a college sophomore at a nearby university. Her parents had forewarned her that I was voting for Trump and that I wrote essays that suggested as much.  After some few pleasantries, she lit into me, and what followed was the acidic exchange:
The Student: “Mom tells me you support Trump? Is that right?”
Me: “Yes, I do, and I have written about him and the election.”
The Student: “How can you possibly support, much less vote for that racist white supremacist?”
Me: “I don’t believe he is what you call him—his program is to tear off the mask of the managerial administrative state. That needs to be done; we are losing our liberties.”
The Student: “Trump is a fascist, and needs to be stopped. Men like him have no place running for office. What they say and preach must be stopped. They should be prohibited from running. They don’t have a right to say those things because it’s racist and sexist.”
And finally, as the conversation was getting beyond the bounds of good manners, my interrogator concluded: “Well, at least you’re old and people like you—old white males—will die off soon and be replaced by my generation and lots of people of color, brown and black people.”
At that point, the conversation ended abruptly. But the message was clear: people like me had no right to “free speech.”

And now, reflecting on that exchange—which in a few phrases typifies the thinking of millions of regular people and not just students—the meaning of Professor Watts’ words becomes obvious: deviations from the new template will not be tolerated. Those of us who object will be labeled racists, homophobes, xenophobes and misogynists, and our speech restricted and banned. Old methods of playing by the rules of civil discourse no longer apply. “Woke” social justice warriors, their professors, much of Hollywood and the media, have declared war on us.

                                                June 11, 2021   MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey     The Battle for the West is Also a Cult...