Most of our dear readers have heard about the sad turn of events in Charlottesville. With the KKK and Neo-Nazis on one side, Antifa and Black Lives Matter on the other, and a police force unprepared for violence, the rally was opportune for chaos. Mirabile auditu, the police needed to evacuate the scene and return with proper riot equipment! Gavin McInnes avers that this ineptitude was by design: mayors cite disorderly conduct in other rallies and assemblies as both a means to deny permits to rally and to accrue more power to restrict free expression. The end result is a “right” of peaceful assembly with more red tape than a license to purchase fully automatic weapons. Future rally organizers need to be wary lest they unwittingly give ammunition to politicians wishing to impose restrictions like “hate speech” (i.e. anti-Leftist speech) laws and the like on American citizens.
The most offensive persons at the Charlottesville rally numbered among the far-right and alt-right. (I made this conclusion from all the information I have: I know well Antifa is essentially the Democrats’ new KKK.) During the recent presidential campaign, I often wished to defend the alt-right. Yet, the alt-right has consistently moved from the legitimate domain of defending white cultures into the white nationalist camp. Perhaps, they were always there, but so much confusion over just the definition of alt-right made me and other conservatives think that they were lumped together in the same boat. But, the alt-right has appeared prominently and without shame besides the KKK and Neo-Nazis. I, a philosophical adherent of classical liberalism, can’t make common cause with any of these three groups.
Reading Fultin Sheen’s Treasure in Clay offers the reader many great insights. One of the best comes in the following quote:
The curious would like me to open healed wounds; the media, in particular, would relish a chapter which would pass judgment on others, particularly because, as a French author expressed it: [n]ous vivons aux temps des assassins–“we live in days of assassins”–where evil is sought more than good in order to justify a world with a bad conscience. (310)
This idea is salient on the question of social justice vs. individual justice, over which Sheen claims Vatican II was debated. Moderns have in large part discarded individual for social justice. In doing so, they can see the collective guilt of societies, but not the guilt of their own souls. To them, righteousness is something gained by being on the right side, not through individual deeds.
At present, I happen to be living in Richmond. I must confess to having fallen in love with the state to the extent that I wish to transform myself into a Virginian, which—if nationality is a matter of heart rather than birth—seems possible. To this end, I picked up a work covering one of Virginia’s most famous sons: Robert E. Lee on Leadership by H. W. Crocker III. This work combined with a Civil War documentary have inflamed my desire to study about the man. To this end, I have begun reading the biography by Emory Thomas, who happens to have grown up in Richmond.
His work is apparently the best single volume life of the man. A friend of mine and native of Lynchburg recommended a work by one of that city’s sons to me: Douglas Southall Freeman’s four volume biography. This work was published in 1934, needed 10 years of research, and is still considered the best life of the man. Interestingly, Thomas mentions that this work represents a more hagiographic view. In the 60’s, a new vision of Lee came about which focused on the man’s faults: his obsessive concern with sin, his feelings of failure after the war, hatred of paperwork, and his love of female company and flirtaceous dialogues with them. True, these are faults, but hardly the worst into which a man can fall. Thomas endeavors to find the real Lee, neither a melancholic nor a demi-god.
But, in reading the first fifty pages of the work, there do not yet seem to be any grave faults in the man, which one might expect of someone who said: “Duty is the most sublime word in the English language.” One officer referred to him as polished marble, which is a remark reminiscent of George Washinton, to whom Lee has been compared. Lee did not receive a single demerit during his time at West Point. He always treated both his men and fellow officers with respect and kindness and performed his duty with such diligence that General Winfield Scott called him “indefatigable.”
At any rate, I hope that this biography gives me a balanced portrait of the man and that I can share my thoughts with you soon.