Friday, February 25, 2022

                                          February 25, 2022

 

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

 

Ukraine: The New American War for Righteousness



Friends,

Ever since the fall of the Communist system and the fracturing of the old Soviet Union in 1989-1991, the globalist foreign policy hawks in the American state department and their dutiful minions in the media and amongst both political parties have actively pursued a program of what the late zealous Neoconservative Fox News pundit Charles Krauthammer termed a “unipolar” world. By that Krauthammer meant a post-Communist (and essentially secularized) world in which the established form of American “liberal democracy” would now succeed in imposing a new world order. In the words of prominent Neocon author Allan Bloom: "And when we Americans speak seriously about politics, we mean that our principles of freedom and equality and the rights based on them are rational and everywhere applicable. World War II was really an educational experiment undertaken to force those who do not accept these principles to do so." [Allan Bloom, quoted in Paul Gottfried, War and Democracy: Selected Essays, 1975-2012 (London: Arktos Media, 2012), p. 110] (my Italics in the text)

But, in fact, as the late Sam Francis explained in various books and essays (e.g., Leviathan and Its Enemies, 2016), this Neocon vision of a new world order is nothing less than a form of managerial kleptocracy, the control by powerful elites in our (permanent) government and big corporations who talk incessantly about democracy, but in fact use that term to disguise the increasing dominance they exercise over every facet of public and private life, whether in the United States, Western Europe, or since 1991 over most of the former Eastern Bloc.

Do we need further examples of this closer to home than the recent authoritarian actions by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or the extra-constitutional actions by what is euphemistically called “the January 6 Committee” in the US Congress? Stand in the way of the Deep State administrative managers, and you get suppressed, cancelled, and arrested, and held in a Federal jail for months without bail or trial.

The present crisis in Ukraine has everything to do with the objectives and maneuvers of this managerial kleptocracy, and its attempts to force post-Communist—increasingly anti-Marxist—Russia to accept such a template.

Recall a bit of history: Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and Secretary of State James Baker (representing President George H. W. Bush) solemnly agreed in principle that the old USSR would disintegrate into various new “republics,” and in return NATO would not advance beyond its current borders, that is, would not take in those former Eastern Bloc countries (e.g., Poland, Romania, Slovakia, the Baltics, etc.), an action which would be seen as directly hostile and offensive to a greatly reduced Russian Federation. Indeed, after the end of the Soviet Union, its dismemberment, and the rise of an avowedly traditionalist and pro-Christian leadership in Moscow (no less a figure than the Reverend Franklin Graham noticed this), was there any reason for NATO even to exist, as President Trump once mused…other than as a means for continued and increasing managerial control (following the Bloom paradigm)?

Professor Richard Sakwa (University of Kent, UK), in his excellent and very detailed study, Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (December 2014), has termed what happened after the fall of Soviet Communism the triumph of “asymetrism,” by which he means that instead of welcoming the new, post-Communist Russia, which had now publicly rejected and repudiated the seventy years of brutal years of Marxist domination, as an equal partner in a “Greater West,” our foreign policy and Neocon managers in Washington and Brussels demanded that Russia give up any pretense of real independence or true partnership with the West.

This process occurred in steps, each time with agreements or protocols or memoranda, which were solemnized between the parties, but then essentially undermined by the US or by our client regime in Kiev. During the Clinton administration, and continuing on until 2020, one by one the former Eastern Bloc countries were admitted as members of NATO, including the Baltic states. In effect, the promises of Baker and the elder Bush meant nothing. What then were the Russians to think?

Much is made of the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances of December 5, 1994. Through that protocol Russia, the US and the United Kingdom “confirmed their recognition of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine becoming parties to the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and effectively abandoning their nuclear arsenals to Russia.” In return, Russia recognized the integrity and sovereignty of a neutral, non-militarized, non-hostile Ukraine. And accordingly, despite political turmoil and internal conflict within the Ukrainian state, from 1994 until the violent, American-sponsored Maidan coup d’etat revolution of February 2014 (again, recall US Assistant Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland’s direct involvement), that agreement held. But with the flagrant violation of a truce between organized Kiev protesters (who had received from the US over $5 billion to foment revolution) and the popularly-elected government of Viktor Yanukovych (who was seen by the Ukraine revolutionaries as pro-Russian), and the subsequent seizure of power by US-backed Ukrainian irredentists who then proceeded to severely persecute Ukraine’s very large Russian-language and ethnic minority, the Budapest protocol was effectively abrogated (cf., Sakwa, Frontline Ukraine, pp. 86-88 et seq).

It should be noted, as well, the United States never considered the Budapest Memorandum legally binding (Statement of April 12, 2013) or in the category of a concluded treaty.

Russia responded by acceding to the overwhelming vote of citizens of the Crimean peninsula, which had never been Ukrainian, only forcefully “given” to the artificial “Ukrainian Socialist Republic” in 1954 by Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev (allegedly after a night of riotous drinking). For the Crimea includes the major Russian Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol, supposedly guaranteed by agreement to Russia, but which after the Maidan coup, the new American-sponsored regime in Kiev now threatened to take.

Russian president Vladimir Putin responded via a press conference on March 4, 2014, to a question about Russia’s supposed violation (in Crimea) of the Budapest Memorandum, describing the current Ukrainian situation as a revolution:  "a new state arises, but with this state and in respect to this state, we have not signed any obligatory documents." The Ukrainian state as envisaged by the Budapest Memorandum had, effectively, ceased to exist, and in its place an American-CIA-US State Department-created state had been forcibly implanted.

Further, Russia declared that it had never been under obligation to "force any part of Ukraine's civilian population to stay in Ukraine against its will," including the two newly-independent heavily-Russophone states of Donetsk and Lugansk in what was eastern Ukraine (those provinces, like Crimea, had never been a part of any independent Ukrainian nation, but were forcibly given to the artificial Soviet republic by Vladimir Lenin in 1922).

Once again, whether through the so-called “Rose Revolution” in Georgia, or the American debacle in the Balkans, which only succeeded in creating an Islamist republic—Kosovo—in the heart of Europe, the “Orange Revolution” in Kiev must be seen in context as part and parcel of the overall Neocon and globalist effort to advance their internationalist aims. And those goals, let it be said, have nothing to do with traditional Western and Christian beliefs and values. Rather, they were and are a manifestation of what globalist Klaus Schwab, head of the World Economic Forum, defined as “the Great Reset,” the “window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world.”

In fact, the Russian incursion into Ukraine comes as a direct and cumulative result of actions which our State Department and intelligence community, with its minions in Western Europe, have engineered for thirty years: to, as it were, “put Russia in its place—at the back of the bus.”

President Zelensky of Ukraine, most recently implied that Ukraine might well go back and reconsider its decision to de-nuclearize. This, then, along with the violent persecution of the huge Russophone minority within Ukrainian borders, precipitated Putin’s decision to take action. After decades of broken promises, broken treaties, and violated protocols, whether at Budapest or the Minsk Agreements (which could have settled the issues equitably), which Ukraine, encouraged by our globalists, never implemented, the Russian bear had its back against the wall: either stand up to those who would subjugate you, or fight back.

Recall again the words of that great anti-Communist novelist, anti-totalitarian and fervent Christian, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (Moscow News, interview with W. T. Trietiakov published 28 April/4May 2006):

“Events in Ukraine, ever since the time of the referendum in 1991, with its poorly formulated options, have been a constant source of pain and anger to me. I have written and spoken about this often. The fanatic oppression and suppression of the Russian language there (a language which polls show is consistently the preferred language of 60% of the people there) is a beastly methodology aimed primarily against the cultural prospects of Ukraine itself. The vast territories which were never part of historic Ukraine, such as Crimea, Novorosiya and the entire southeast were forcibly and arbitrarily consumed into the territory of modern Ukraine and made hostage to Ukraine’s desires to join NATO…. It is all a simple minded, indeed simpleton and cruel joke perpetuated against the entire history of XIX and XX century Russia. Given these circumstances, Russia will never, in any way, betray the many millions of Russian speaking peoples in Ukraine. Russia will never abandon the ideal of unity with them.”

No one—no one—wants war, with the resultant terrible destruction, loss of life, and mayhem it inevitably brings. But as I have written in previous essays, if you search for the profound cause for what has happened, it is not the invading Russians, it is not really the regime in Kiev, but rather it is the sponsoring apparatchiks in Foggy Bottom along the Potomac, in Brussels, and in the houses of Congress (the Lindsey Grahams and Roger Wickers who actually urge our potential use of nuclear weapons against Russia), and what Dr. Paul Craig Roberts calls the “pressitutes” in American media, from Fox News to MSNBC (which now are like an indistinguishable, foaming-at-the-mouth phalanx in their defense of the aggressive managerial world revolution).

The blood spilt will be on our hands, that is, on the hands of our elites. As cartoonist Walt Kelly once put it: “We have met the enemy and he is us!”

Saturday, February 19, 2022

                                        February 19, 2022

 

 

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

 

How the United States Has Provoked the Ukraine Crisis



Friends,  

In the midst of this current "Ukrainian Crisis,” I am reminded of a very solid volume I read in 2015, during what was back then the first Ukrainian Crisis: Frontline Ukraine: Crisis in the Borderlands (2015, Tauris), by Prof. Richard Sakwa.  Sakwa, whose father was an officer in the Polish army during World War II, has authored a number of scholarly studies on Russia, its president Vladimir Putin, and Ukraine. Given his Polish ancestry, Sakwa may not seem like someone who would write scrupulously evenhanded books described by one reviewer as “detailed, balanced and sober.” 

In Frontline Ukraine he summarizes his arguments this way: 

The unbalanced end of the Cold War generated a cycle of conflict that is far from over. An extended period of "cold peace" settled over Russo-Western relations, although punctuated by attempts by both sides to escape the logic of renewed confrontation. This is what I call mimetic cold war, which reproduces the practices of the Cold War without accepting the underlying competitive rationale. Structurally, a competitive dynamic was introduced into European international relations.... At worst, the revanchists in the post-Communist countries of Eastern Europe, encouraged by neoconservatives in Washington and their vision of global transformation on a global scale, fed concerns about Russia's alleged inherent predisposition towards despotism and imperialism. The Trotskyite roots of US neocon thinking are well known: the fight now was not for revolutionary socialism but for capitalist democracy--to make the world safe for the US. This became a self-fulfilling prophecy: by treating Russia as the enemy, in the end it was in danger of becoming one. NATO thus found itself in a new role, which was remarkably similar to the one it had been set up to perform in the first place---to "contain" Russia.  (p. 5) 

Despite some critics who suggest he is “pro-Russian,” Sakwa’s research stands up as well in 2022 as it did in 2015. 

The very simple conclusion that may be drawn from what is occurring is this: our foreign policy elites--Neoconservatives and their zealous followers in both the GOP and the Democratic Party--see Russia as a major obstacle in the continuing process of imposing economic and political control over countries which have heretofore not acceded to their hegemony (i.e., Russia and Hungary). Using NATO as a strategic shell and Ukraine as its frontline player, the Neocon/globalist combine seeks to: 

(1) prevent an economic disaster for the US of a functioning Nord Stream II pipeline, which would give Germany and potentially other European countries, a climb off ramp from economic domination by the US (journalist Mike Whitney has written conclusively on this topic in the Eurasia Review); and  

(2) eventually impose politically a pliant government in Moscow, which has become the chief stumbling block in preventing Neocon globalist hegemony and the realization of "the Great Reset." Russia, like Hungary, has expelled CIA-infested and Soros-sponsored NGOs which in many locations around the world have incited "color revolutions" to install favorable client governments.  

More concretely, the Biden administration and US foreign policy establishment (with congressional Republicans in tow) are accusing Russia of "false flag" operations, or more specifically, accusing the pro-Russian secessionists in Lugansk and Donetsk republics of violent attacks against Ukraine (on civilians, schools, all the usual claimed targets), while in fact it is elements of the Ukrainian military, with American encouragement and technical “advisors” embedded, who are responsible for the shelling and the attacks across the cease-fire line.  This is one more example of disinformation strategy, projecting onto the Russians what we are actually guilty of.   

Just listen to the braindead Biden essentially mouthing this propaganda line.  

If warfare breaks out it will be because the US State Department and our agents have impelled the Ukrainians to launch such "false flag" actions, literally forcing the Russians to react and thus producing a conflict, into which the US and NATO can pour support and implement various measures, economic and financial and, eventually, military against Russia, while blaming the Kremlin for starting it. 

Recall that early in the John F. Kennedy administration there were solemn promises that "American combat forces will not go to Vietnam." Then came the false flag Gulf of Tonkin incident, and US forces did go in in force...and we know what happened. Back then we were actually opposing a form of Communism, not a country that stands in the way of Great Reset globalist hegemony, as Russia is doing today. So, from that perspective we did have arguably a rationale for opposition to what was happening, even if badly reasoned and poorly executed. 

Let me be clear, I do not claim in these present comments that Vladimir Putin is some great conservative hero.  What I am saying is not a direct defense of him in that sense...that is not my object here. The question of Putin's beliefs, his Christian faith (or lack of it), is for another discussion. Rather, my present concern—which should be the concern of all patriotic Americans--is essentially what Russia represents in the context of global geopolitics, as it, in fact, is in opposition to the plans and devices of proponents of the universal Great Reset and the continuing success of the machinations of Western elites and the Neocons. That essentially is the crux of the matter and what is occurring in that region of Europe.  

What we are witnessing is what our foreign policy elites have done for many decades...think of the bogus "Iraq WMDs" and the now-proven-false reasons for intervening in the Balkans (with the result that we engineered a Muslim Islamist state—Kosovo—right in the middle of Europe). Can we actually trust the American foreign policy establishment to tell us the truth: the same establishment that foisted off as an undebatable certainty that "Russia had sabotaged" our 2016 elections...that Trump was a "Russian stooge"...that the Russians were paying bounties to the Taliban to kill American boys in Afghanistan...that the Russians had sabotaged Vermont's power grid…and on and on; all of which were blatantly false, total disinformation, in most cases to favor the elites and Neocons of the Deep State? With such an inglorious record, can we trust our Intelligence agencies, the CIA, and yes, the FBI?  

If so, then I have an oil well in my back yard, right beside a gold mine, that I will sell you cheap (sight unseen, of course) for just a measly one million dollars. 

As I write this the Bidenistas and the totally in-lock-step GOP elites (in some cases, far worse than the Left on foreign policy) are now confidently, with absolute certainty, telling us that the Russians will "invade Ukraine within a few days." Of course, these are the same voices that informed us with appropriate seriousness that a Russian invasion would definitely take place on Wednesday, February 16--remember Biden’s solemn assurance telling us that? If our clients in Kiev, prodded enough by us can provoke enough violence, shoot enough missiles, plant enough bombs, then perhaps the Russians will indeed have to intervene...and this is exactly what our State Department elites desperately desire.  

But bear in mind if this should occur who we are talking about and what the essential and fundamental issues actually are. If serious conflict does erupt the blood will be on our hands, that is, on the hands of our foreign policy establishment in Washington and its minions in both political parties and in Western Europe.  

Will the American public fall for this continuing Neocon disinformation and latest advance in implementing the Great Reset? How many disasters...how many lies and how much disinformation...how many dead American boys...how many billions of taxpayer dollars...must be expended on the altar of the powerful globalist elites, the Neocon/Big Business arms dealers and the frenzied Left who despise the growing nationalism and revival of a very traditional Christianity in Russia (as well as in Hungary) which stands athwart their road to domination?

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

                                          February 16, 2022 

 

 

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey

 

 

Nightmare Scenario for the 2022 Congressional Elections?


 

Friends,

Most pundits we see on Fox News or Newsmax these days, or whom we read in the conservative “blogosphere” are confidently predicting huge Republican gains in the November 2022 congressional elections. Based on various national and state polls showing the marked unfavorability of Biden and the Democratic Party, they exude a confidence in this outcome which approaches certainty. All we must do is wait, they assure us, and the scoundrels will be turned out of office.

Let’s suppose that this scenario somehow becomes reality and that Republicans appear to win a majority in the congressional elections this fall (and this despite the certain efforts to rig the vote by Democrats as they did in 2020). But then, following the election result, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her henchmen in the US House of Representatives solemnly declare that perhaps half of the new GOP congressmen were elected based of racist voting procedures and racially gerrymandered and ultra-partisan congressional districts in their respective states which violate the 14th Amendment and various laws and court decisions guaranteeing civil rights. In other words, the Democratically-controlled House then refuses to seat the newly-elected GOP majority. They are illegitimate, their elections tainted as minority voters in their districts were somehow denied the “equal right to vote.”

So what you would have is the usurpation by a rump, lame-duck congress of power, the denial of the results of the election due to phony charges of "voter suppression,” “discriminatory partisanship" and "racist gerrymandering," and the continuation and tightening of Democratic control—the virtual triumph of authoritarianism under the guise of “saving our democracy.”  

Think it cannot happen? It can, and it already has occurred in American history, in the immediate congressional and presidential elections following the War Between the States. In the congressional elections of 1866 “most of the congressmen from the former Confederate states were either prevented from leaving the state or were arrested on the way to the capital. A Congress consisting of mostly Radical Republicans sat early in the Capitol and aside from the delegation from Tennessee who were allowed in, the few Southern Congressmen who arrived were not seated.” In that case the question was whether those congressmen-elect had engaged in “insurrection” and sedition. But the precedent was set for Congress to regulate and expel members which it felt in some way had violated the Constitution.

Already across the United States Democratic-front organizations, led by former Obama Attorney General Eric Holder, have launched legal action, asserting that newly-drawn districts favoring Republicans violate the Constitution. In North Carolina the 4 to 3 Democratically-controlled Supreme Court just threw out (February 4) proposed congressional and legislative redistricting maps confected by a Republican-majority General Assembly, using the argument that they were overly partisan and also discriminated against Democrats (minorities) by unnecessarily splitting and diluting that vote into Republican districts.  Of course, in other “red” states Republicans may prevail and dominate the election, but the legal basis for denying newly-elected GOP congressmen in those states has been established and could well be employed by a lame-duck congress to refuse to seat those representatives.

Of course, this assumes that the foolish GOP can actually win the November congressional elections without committing suicide, which is what they usually end up doing.

Perhaps then, following on the tendentiously ideological "findings" of the January 6 Commission which will surface conveniently prior to the election, the House decides to expel some members who are already in congress (e.g.. Rep Jim Jordan) who supposedly had "contact" with the "insurrectionists"? This idea has been raised by general counsel to the Democratic National Committee (and former counsel to Hillary Clinton), Marc Elias, among others.


Indeed, Elias and Democrats have suggested that Congress could possibly expel sitting House Republicans for supporting or encouraging the Jan. 6 “insurrection.” Last year, several Democratic members called for penalizing dozens of current Republicans. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) demanded the disqualification of the 120 House Republicans, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif), for simply signing an “Friend of the Court” amicus brief in support of an election challenge from Texas.

And a Democrat-related group is challenging North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn's right to run for re-election, because he had "contact" and "encouraged" the "insurrectionists" of January 6. The NC Board of Elections (controlled by Democrats) may in fact disqualify him as a candidate.

All of this could possibly happen with a degree of impunity. Of course, there would be legal action by the Republicans, but that would also signal a constitutional crisis unlike anything since the 1860s. Would the crazed Democrats then enact legislation adding members to the high court? Would Biden, pushed by his even more extreme advisors, declare a national emergency and martial law, as Justin Trudeau has done in Canada? And how would “moderate” Republicans like Mitch McConnell and Mitt Romney react?

I have mentioned this nightmare scenario to several friends who have held high government positions, and they tell me that such a play out is conceivable, given the dominance of extreme ideology in the Democratic Party. 

I would add: does anyone believe that the Democrats and leftists who now control congress will give up power voluntarily? If they cannot manipulate the election (like they did in 2020), then what have they got to lose, especially against a spineless GOP?

Thursday, February 3, 2022

                                             February 3, 2022

 

MY CORNER by Boyd Cathey


 

Adventures in Southern and Confederate Cinema



Friends,

Recently a friend of mine asked me to list my ten favorite films about the South and the War Between the States, and to discuss the reasons I would choose them. I had written several columns in the past about cinema that favorably portrayed the Southland and had dealt fairly with the War Between the States, including, most recently, the delightful early color Bing Crosby vehicle about Dan Emmett and his composition of the unofficial Southern national anthem, “Dixie” (1943), and also about “Firetrail,” on Sherman’s march through the Carolinas. Before that I authored an essay about the classic 1946 title, “Song of the South,” and where to find good DVD copies here in the United States, and, back in 2014, a piece for the Abbeville Institute on “Classic Confederate Hollywood.”  

Earlier (July/August 2013) I reviewed a Blu-Ray copy of one of director John Ford’s finest classics, “The Sun Shines Bright” (1953) in Confederate Veteran magazine.

In each of those review essays I cautioned readers to snatch up copies before our modern totalitarian censors got round to interdicting them and locking them up in some inaccessible vault, away from the eyes and ears of viewers. For in contemporary America “cancel culture” has stretched its long tentacles into almost everything that in any way affects us. In a real sense it is the advance phalanx of the Revolution that seeks to completely and radically change our society and simply destroy the very memory of our past. This is true not only in how we examine and study our history, what we read and esteem as great literature, but especially in what is permitted (and what is banned) in our cultural accoutrements—in music, sports, and film.

The controversies over such classic films as “Gone With the Wind” and Disney’s “Song of South” (1946) as racist and examples of “white supremacy” continue to generate discussion and fierce debate. But in many ways, the forces of progressive “wokism” have already been successful. Of course, “Gone With the Wind” is far too significant a film to ban outright, but cautionary messages now surround it, and when it is screened (now uniquely) on TCM, there is always an introduction to let viewers know of its supposedly explicit and contextual racism. For “Song of the South,” once a crown jewel in the Disney film library, it was last dusted off and re-released to theaters in 1986. Disney’s executive chairman and former CEO Bob Iger recently affirmed (2020) during a shareholders meeting that the film would not be released officially in the United States in any format, even with an "outdated cultural depictions" label. The film was, he declared, "not appropriate in today's world." “Song of the South,” he added was “antiquated” and “offensive.”

It is available in some foreign DVD transfers, but most of those in a non-American format. But as I wrote in my Abbeville piece (July 25, 2019) “Song of the South” still can be had here in the United States in a good transfer and in the American DVD format.

There are a number of other films which treat the historic South fairly, even favorably, and which our modern-day cultural totalitarians have either not gotten round to or perhaps don’t realize exist...yet. But they do exist, for the time being, in the DVD format.

To begin our chosen ten, any list of films specifically about the Southern War for Independence must include special mention of director Ronald Maxwell’s two blockbuster extravaganzas: “Gettysburg” (1993) and “Gods and Generals” (2003). Both run in excess of four hours, and both pay minute attention to historical detail, seamlessly weaving in personal vignettes and narratives that might well have occurred at the time. “Gettysburg” is based on Michael Shaara’s historical novel, The Killer Angels, and “Gods and Generals,” on his son Jeff Shaara’s novel of the same name.  The younger Shaara’s novel The Last Full Measure was intended to be the basis for the third film in a trilogy, one leading to Appomattox, but never made it to the screen due to lack of funding and faltering interest from Ted Turner and Warner Brothers.

Both films attempt to portray well-known events with comparative fairness, with a degree of objectivity, even sympathy, for the various historical players and their actions. In particular, the character of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, played memorably by Stephen Lang, becomes the central personage in “Gods and Generals,” around which much of its action takes place. “Gettysburg,” despite its length, is a much tighter-knit film, the action and events leading up to the third day of that momentous battle; “Gods and Generals” is more episodic and was criticized for that very reason—it becomes almost a docu-drama in its treatment of the beginning years of the War. Yet, Robert Duvall’s General Lee (preferable to Martin Sheen in “Gettysburg”) and the moving scenes involving the death of “Stonewall” Jackson are not to be missed.

Both films are available singly on Warner DVDs, but my advice is to snatch up the beautiful commemorative box containing both, in director’s cut editions, expensive, yes, but a genuine keepsake.

I’ve always been a fan of the classic American Western film genre, basically from the beginning of the “talkie” era (around 1929) until the early 1970s (with a few exceptions since then). In fact I have written about the classic Western on various occasions, most recently for Chronicles magazine (December 2021) and for the Abbeville Institute, LewRockwell.com, and Reckonin.com.

Over the years I’ve discussed my passion for old Westerns and films about the South with my friend Dr. Clyde Wilson, who is, without doubt, the country’s leading expert on Southern and Confederate-themed films. Some time ago in our discussions of a “Southern canon of best films,” he made an observation that the classic Western in many ways was a “Southern,” in that so many Westerns from even before the advent of the sound era to more contemporary times essentially treat the War or post-War periods with a western twist. Former Confederates go west and fight new battles to open the plains and uplands to settlers and prospectors, fend off rustlers and crooked bank presidents, bring law and order to areas beset by disorder, and sometimes, as in the case of the numerous films about Jesse James and the Youngers, continue fighting the War as guerillas and Border Bushwhackers. Randolph Scott, Audie Murphy, Joel McCrea, and others made dozens of such “Southern Westerns.” And who can forget John Wayne in “The Searchers”?

So a list of good films treating the Confederacy will need to also consider the “Confederacy out West.”  Indeed, some the finest movies on the War and its aftermath are set beyond the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers, in Texas, Kansas, Colorado, Arizona, and even California.

Two of the finest are: “Jesse James,” in Technicolor, released in 1939 by 20th Century Fox, and starring some the most notable actors of the period: Tyrone Power as Jesse James, Henry Fonda as his brother Frank, Southerner Randolph Scott as Will Wright, John Carradine as Bob Ford, and the inimitable Henry Hull as Major Rufus Cobb, CSA.  Very successful at the box office, 20th Century Fox followed it in 1940 with “The Return of Frank James,” with Fonda, Hull, and Carradine reprising their earlier roles, and directed by Fritz Lang. I must admit that I like “The Return of Frank James” even more than “Jesse James.” There is one scene—it takes place in a court room when Frank goes on trial—where War veteran Colonel Jackson is called to testify. Played by legendary actor, Edward McWade (1865-1943), the unreconstructed colonel humorously taunts the Yankee attorney.

Both “Jesse James” and “The Return of Jesse James” are on 20th Century Fox DVDs.

After their success with the James movies, Fox followed in 1941 with another major Technicolor adventure set in the border Missouri-Kansas region, “Belle Starr – The Bandit Queen.” Featuring Randolph Scott as guerilla leader Sam Starr, Dana Andrews as Yankee Major Thomas Crall, and with Gene Tierney as Belle Starr, it is perhaps the most unabashedly pro-Confederate film of the period. Of course, its depiction of contented slaves and evil carpetbaggers is not acceptable to our “woke” cultural censors these days. Copies can be had in non-USA DVD formats from Great Britain, Spain, and France, but these require a universal or PAL DVD player. But a good American format copy may be obtained from Vermont Movie Store; the DVD print is fine. If you desire a rousing good story, “Belle Starr” fits the bill. Criticized for romanticizing events and distorting history, in the movie’s defense I would reply as did the freedmen at the end of the film: Belle Starr may be largely mythic, but as they explain: “It’s what the white folks call a legend…[and] a legend is the best part of the truth.”

Two fine films are set in the east during the War, and are based on actual—and remarkable—events: “Alvarez Kelly” (1966), starring William Holden and Richard Widmark, and based on General Wade Hampton’s famous “Beefsteak Raid” in September 1864 around Union lines at Petersburg to capture some 2,000 cattle intended for eventual Yankee consumption. Completely successful, even Lincoln remarked that the feat was “the slickest piece of cattle-stealing” he had ever heard of. “Alvarez Kelly” is available on Sony DVDs.

“The Raid,” from 1954 and directed by Hugo Fregonese, is a largely underrated film, portraying the famous and incredibly daring Confederate raid on St. Albans, Vermont, in October 1864. With a solid cast headed by Van Heflin (as Confederate Major Neal Benton, the leader of the twenty-one raiders), Anne Bancroft, Richard Boone (as the hard-nosed and suspicious Yankee Captain Lionel Foster), and a wonderfully expansive Lee Marvin, whose character hates all Yankees but can’t keep silent when he has a few too many drinks, “The Raid” illustrates the nobility of Major Benton at the end, despite his orders to burn public buildings in the town. “The Raid” is available on a 20th Century Fox DVD.

In the aftermath of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, reaction from the Federals was swift and merciless, and often involved overriding constitutional protections and flagrantly violating settled legal procedure. Such was the case with Mary Surratt. A devout Maryland Catholic and Southern sympathizer, Surratt was caught up in the frenzy to find and severely punish anyone even vaguely associated with the assassins. The story of her arrest, mockery of a trial and execution is told with unfolding intensity in “The Conspirator” (2010), starring Robin Wright (as Surratt), James McAvoy (as Surratt’s attorney, Captain Frederick Aiden), and the fine character actor, Tom Wilkinson, as Senator Reverdy Johnson, who advises Aiken.  The Socialist journal, Jacobin, accused the film of promoting the “neo-Confederate Lost Cause.” Nevertheless, the vehemence of the film and its enveloping narrative held me spellbound when I first viewed it. It is available on a Lionsgate DVD.

My two favorite films about the War and the post-War South are both incredibly rich in storylines, plot and finely-etched acting. First, there is the John Ford classic, “The Sun Shines Bright” from 1953. In some ways it is a remake of Ford’s earlier classic, “Judge Priest” from 1934 (starring Will Rogers). Some critics prefer that earlier filmed version of the Irvin S. Cobb short story, but the later version with Charles Winninger’s inimitable portrayal as the judge for me is supreme.

Of all his great films—including “Stagecoach,” “Grapes of Wrath,” “My Darling Clementine,” “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon,” and “The Searchers”—Ford cited this one as his favorite. It combines all his classic traits—humor, pathos, well-developed characterization, an ensemble cast that worked effortlessly together, and something of Ford’s almost spiritual understanding of Americana, in this case the South after the War. The scene of the UCV veterans trooping past at the end is always memorable.

A marvelous, restored Blu-Ray version of “The Sun Shines Bright” was issued by Olive Films in 2013, and I would urge anyone interested in great-filmmaking and the post-War South to get this film.

And, lastly, an unheralded and unjustly neglected film in the Errol Flynn filmography: “Rocky Mountain,” from 1950. Of all the films I’ve cited, this one may be the most straightforward, major pro-Confederate cinematic release available. Set in the mountains of California in the waning days of the War, the story recounts the history and fate of a small eight-member band of Confederate soldiers sent west to raise Confederate supporters in that Pacific state. From the start it becomes a forlorn mission, supremely heroic but destined to fail. Starring Flynn (as CSA Captain Lafe Barstow) and Patrice Wymore (as Johanna Carter), the film also stars Slim Pickens, Guinn “Big Boy” Williams, and other actors from Warner Brothers’ stable. During the movie, each of the Confederates, who were specially chosen for this impossible task, relates his history and background. Young Dickie Jones’ story of serving a meal for General Lee and about his little dog Spot, who came with him from Virginia, steal the show. And at the end, those eight Confederates, beset by hundreds of Shoshone Indians make one final, death-defying charge…so impressive and so moving, that even the approaching Yankee detachment salutes their fallen sacrifice, as the swelling strains of “Dixie” echo. And Spot? At the very end that little canine literally has tears in his eyes!

The first time I saw it was with a friend, and we both had drunk a couple of shots of Tennessee Bourbon. I will admit that by the end of the movie we both had tears streaming down our faces.

“Rocky Mountain” (it’s in black and white) is available on Warner Archive DVD.

That’s actually eleven films, but there are many more out there, and many more that I could list. But for the moment, this will have to do. My hope is that good Southerners interested in their history and great cinema will purchase these and other such films. In our present age, there is no telling if they will be around tomorrow. Share them with your family and your friends, and by so doing keep our rich cultural heritage alive.

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