Saturday, July 10, 2021

Myth of the Lost Cause

 From Abbeville Institute:

The point I wish to make here is that myth and myth-making in this context is a not matter of fiction, fantasy, or falsification. Rather, it a phenomenon consisting of two parts: superlative achievement and superlative language applied to it to give it its full due. The action comes first, of course; but the words must follow in order to capture, communicate, and perpetuate its meaning. We see the process at work again and again in any number of cases of those who fought for both North and South. Only, when it comes to our heroes, the Northern, liberal mentality does not want us to have them.
As regards John Pelham and the myth of the Lost Cause, one will never convince the dyed-in-the-wool far-left Northerner, some of them descendants of New England Puritans, that there was anything noble in the life and actions of John Pelham or of any other Confederate figure. Driven by an ideology fed by Gnosticism, they have to be right and you (as a Southerner) have to be wrong.[ii] No two ways about it. And not only that, but the fact that you see in those who fought on the Southern side and in the cause itself some redeeming and noble elements means that both you and they must be destroyed. Or as they say these days “cancelled.”
Such a mentality parallels so-called Critical Theory, derived from the matrix of cultural Marxism, that is abroad in the country today. According to this mindset, there are two classes: the oppressed and the oppressors. If you are white, straight, affluent, male, or some combination, you are the oppressor. If you are black, poor, gay, female, or some combination, you are the oppressed. It is not, to those who hold this view, debatable. There is no counter argument; there are no facts, no logic, there is no objective reality that can be used to dispute this ideological viewpoint. And that is what it is, poisonous ideology. You can tell you’re facing an ideology when spokespersons for it declare that they are indisputably right and that you must capitulate. That way lies madness, of course.[iii]
Like virtually every ideological construct, this one involves a fatal internal contradiction. It says, first of all, that there is no such thing as objective reality or objective truth. There are only “positional” truths. Only those who occupy a certain position or identity—black (or some other minority), female, etc.—can speak truth. But what they don’t acknowledge is the hidden assumption that, somehow in their “wokeness,” they have totally cornered indisputable truth unto themselves solely by virtue of their arbitrarily pre-determined positions. This mindset exhibits, however, not merely, a self-defeating logical fallacy. It manifests what I term pathological hypocrisy. Moreover, it is the pathetic refuge of the intellectual coward and fraud.

It should be clear from this description that, one, we as Southern conservatives do not want to coddle such thinking and, two, that people who think that way have absolutely no ability to understand let alone appreciate the myth-making process, based in historical fact, that gave us the Gallant John Pelham. What they do not appreciate, moreover, is that part of what gives us our identity still today is heroes like Pelham, Stuart, Jackson, and Lee. Or perhaps they do. That’s why they want to cancel both them and us. We must be like them or be destroyed.

We are not so arrogant, however, as to insist that they too must honor these men and others like them. Of course, we do not need their help in any event. It should be clear by this historical juncture that what they object to is not simply the honoring of Confederate heroes or the Lost Cause. Witness various recent attacks (in 2020 alone) on statues honoring such figures as Columbus, Junipero Serra, and Col. Robert Shaw and his black soldiers. What they object to is history itself; that’s what they want to destroy. Why? Because history is complex, challenging, difficult, full of nuances, differences of opinion, and strong and difficult men and women who disagree among themselves. Many historical figures—most?—are not ideal role models for ideological fanatics. They are not formed of a clay that is easily manipulated by their woke ideology. They want a clean slate on which to rewrite humanity and society from scratch.

What we need today more than ever are men and women who, while recognizing flaws in our ancestors and historical personages in general, honor what is honorable in them and strive with courage, grace, and intelligence to emulate and defend them with whatever gifts they are given and follow humbly in their footsteps. The people I have in mind belong to those “generations of the faithful heart,” of whom Donald Davidson wrote in “Lee in the Mountains.” Perhaps there are those reading this who will answer the challenge. In doing so, they should remember with T.S. Eliot that there are no lost causes because there are no ultimately gained causes. In this endeavor we all could do far worse than to take John Pelham as one of our models. (Read more.)

1 comment:

julygirl said...

By looking back and negating some historical figures such as Robert E. Lee, who did not own slaves and was not racist, and promoting and glorifying others, such as Abraham Lincoln who was a master political manipulator by means of the so called Emancipation Proclamation and also racist as shown in early speeches, does nothing to further the cause of being a united people moving forward to a better nobler America. That is the CAUSE we should clearly focus upon.