I’ve taken in as much bombast, demagoguery and name-calling as I can stomach in the past couple of days in the wake of what happened in Charlottesville on Saturday, and here’s what I have to say about what happened there – and about the larger issue of “Alt-Right vs. Antifa” which seems to undergird the violence in that college town over the weekend.
Which is to say this – I’m damn proud of my “white privilege,” and I’m happy to share it with everybody. I don’t care what color they might be. I know what the anti-American crowd means, on both sides of the Charlottesville divide, when those words are thrown around. They’re talking about my heritage as an American of European descent. One side expects me to apologize for it and the other wants me to think it makes me better than somebody else by nature of my birth. Both of them can drop dead.
I come from an ethnic background which is mostly made up of groups of people who were forcibly deported from their homes by a tyrannical government. If I wanted to, I could concoct for myself a story of grievance that would rival the losers on college campuses who practice “intersectionality,” which is the stacking up of people based on the oppression they’ve suffered – black people have more to say about a given subject than whites because they’ve been oppressed, women more than men, gays more than straights, disabled more than abled, sexually confused more than “cisgender,” whatever the hell that is, and so on.
My people, or at least a lot of them, belonged to Clan MacAoidh in the far north of Scotland. In 1805, during something called the Highland Clearances, the British government decided that the clan’s ancestral lands were better suited for sheep than people, and essentially snatched up all the MacAoidhs, or McKays, they could get their hands on, put them on boats and dropped them in Nova Scotia. Somebody in London decided to get rid of them, not unreasonably determining that they were essentially a lot of unruly rednecks who picked the wrong side of every civil conflict involving Scotland and didn’t offer much in the way of counterbalancing that, and the power of the British Empire was leveled at the project of deporting them to a whole new continent.
The interesting piece to this is that was the best thing which could have possibly happened to the McKays. They were a clan of horse thieves and cutthroats scratching out pittances in practically sub-arctic conditions in the far north of Scotland, which itself is, despite much natural beauty and a relatively rich history, an economic disaster zone and always has been, and all of a sudden they were deposited in an area with productive farmland, outstanding fisheries and an accessible nexus to highly-populated areas suitable for trade. In a short time a clan of backwoods highlanders became quite prosperous; go to Halifax in Nova Scotia and you’ll see the McKay name on just about everything. Lots of other McKays fanned out all over North America with similar results, which explains me in Louisiana.
Most of the rest of my people were Cajun French. They also were kicked out of Europe, first from France and then from the same region of Canada the McKays were moved into when the British Empire decided they had no use for les Acadiens. The Cajuns were deported into the swamps of Louisiana, where for 200 years they’ve made overcoming adversity an art form. Nobody else could have come up with alligator sauce piquante, for example, and a Higgins boat, without which Europe might never have been liberated, could only have been invented by someone who learned the principles of his design from Cajuns navigating shallow waters. It’s also not an accident that Cajuns are the last ethnic group you can tell jokes about; Cajuns have better things to do than to waste their time with “social justice” idiocy.
The Scotsmen and the Cajuns know grievance and they know tribal enmity. In both cases they got over it and made better lives for themselves. I count that as part of my heritage, and furthermore, having come from the people of Western Europe, rather than focus on the terrible wrongs visited on my people I celebrate the Western Civilization they’re part of. Sure, some of my folks got a raw deal from the British Empire but they were nevertheless part of it and I celebrate the achievements of the British in culture, art, literature, science and all the other pursuits. Ditto for the French, and ditto for the rest of what used to be called Christendom. I claim all of it as my heritage, and I’m unapologetically proud of it.
That said, my nationality is American. I claim the Founding Fathers, who distilled the greatest political ideas ever conceived into the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, setting off a revolution in not just military and political terms but in the advancement of the human condition. As an American I can point to those ideas, which represent the full flower of Western civilization, and claim they make my country far and away the greatest in world history – economically, militarily, culturally, scientifically, politically. By any real measure of human progress Americans have come further, faster and under more ethical and moral terms than any other in world history.
As an American I don’t just claim the Founding Fathers as part of my heritage, though. I also claim the heroic Chinese immigrant laborers who participated in carving railroads out of a vast wilderness. I claim the Irish who did other jobs no one else wanted, and the black slaves who did jobs even they didn’t want. I claim the Navajo codetalkers who helped win the war in the Pacific and the Hispanic Tejanos, like Placido Benavides, who fought Santa Anna in the Texan War of Independence.
I claim Sam Adams, and I claim Crispus Attucks.
And I claim a tradition of American thinkers who celebrated the principles of liberty on which the nation was founded and asked only that those principles apply to all. I claim Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington and Martin Luther King.
And I claim those who were found on the wrong side of history, but did what they saw as their duty. Particularly in the case of those, like Robert E. Lee and P.G.T. Beauregard, whose actions after the Civil War showed that at the end they were Americans above all. Lee dedicated his final years to sewing the country back together; Beauregard actually ran for mayor of New Orleans on a civil rights ticket. One may recognize their contributions without agreeing with their actions, particularly given a context in their time much different from that in which we live. The South was in the wrong during that war and paid dearly for it. It was poorly, and stupidly, led, and the Southern secession was possibly the worst political mistake in the nation’s history. Perhaps most tragic, in a philosophical sense, is the negative connotation Southern racism gave to the concept of state’s rights – we need a lot more localized government to rein in abuses from Washington, after all, and the best tool for doing that is tainted by slavery, secession and what came after.
Nevertheless, it’s part of my heritage as a Southerner and as an American, and I claim it.
But I don’t claim the alt-right. And I don’t claim Antifa, or Black Lives Matter, or La Raza, or the Muslim Brotherhood. None of my heritage is represented by any of those groups. And frankly I’m insulted at demands that I answer for any of them.
The difference between all that I claim and that which I don’t is the losers of the alt-right, the neo-Nazis, the leftist social justice warriors or the Islamists have no respect for America. They hate that which I love. They offer nothing but identitarianism. Tribalism. Collectivism. Excuses and failure. These people don’t make me freer, they don’t make me more prosperous, they don’t love anything or anyone, they have nothing to sacrifice and nothing to sell. All they have is lies, schemes and political manipulation – the very things America was founded to liberate people from.
You might have noticed – I certainly did – that in all of those images of the fracas which Charlottesville devolved into there were no American flags. There were Soviet flags, confederate flags, Nazi flags, all kinds of other collectivist symbols. But you had to look a lot harder than I did to find an American flag. That’s not an accident.
David Duke is a shiftless, hapless demagogue, and those with whom he traffics are the dregs of society. They poison everything they touch. My heritage is not theirs.
But that is no less true of the SJW crowd, which offers precisely the same things the skinheads of the alt-right do – power and grievance. Their ideas are not American ideas – their ideas are the crap which blew in from bad French and German philosophers with idle hands and addled minds; those who couldn’t improve on or compete with the giants of the Enlightenment who came before them and ultimately sought only to destroy that which the Enlightenment built. Justifiers of tyranny, that’s all those people were. And their followers were butchers in the truest sense. It’s an insult to human intelligence anyone is still influenced by Marx, Marcuse, Rousseau or Hegel.
I see no difference between David Duke and DeRay McKesson, between Richard Spencer and Bernie Sanders, between the Klan and La Raza. It’s all the same garbage. I see no similarity between what I know as the Right in America and the national socialism of a David Duke. Richard Spencer is for single-payer health care; I reject him as I reject the imbecile Maxine Waters.
I reject all the collectivists. I reject the violence of Charlottesville. I reject the weak, ineffectual leadership in that city which allowed the weekend’s events to take place. I reject anyone who requires the Otherization of an entire group of people in order to bolster his own bullshit philosophy.
I reject the anti-Americanism of both the alt-right and Hard Left which has fueled the growth of the skinheads. I reject the destructive dishonesty of the mainstream media which depends on setting us off against each other, and promoting these tribalist hordes, in pursuit of ratings and clicks. I reject the childish irresponsibility of our academic institutions and popular culture which seeks to constrict our freedom of expression and thus fuels the extremists – by denying the right of people of good will to speak, they open space for those of bad will to enter the field.
I’m an American. I’ll defend my American heritage. The rest of these people, and the tyranny they represent, can go hang.