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Satire In The Big Easy: ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’ By John Kennedy Toole

BAB's A List, Barely A Blog, Comedy & Humor, Culture, English, Juvenal Early's Archive, Literature

The plot concerns Ignatius’s long war of attrition against the 20th Century ~ Juvenal Early

By Juvenal Early

New Orleans (N’awlins, as they say in the South) has always been a city full of characters.  Port cities are like that, and, as the Mississippi River’s window on the world, New Orleans has been the ne plus ultra of character cities, throughout its colorful history. It’s a veritable bouillabaisse of Acadians, swarthy Mediterranean types, rednecks, Cajuns, Creoles, Africans, Arabs, and anyone else who ever went down to the sea in ships. The most Catholic of cities, New Orleans did Carnival so well, its Mardi Gras became a major industry. Throw in jazz, politics, the Mafia, the flesh trade, and several quirky genius chefs, and you’ve got an unusually high quotient of characters.

Set in The Big Easy, John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer-Prize-winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces (© 1976), gave the world Ignatius J. Reilly, a latter-day Thomist, a Medievalist, a Grand Inquisitor, a man for whom the standard New Orleans character was degeneracy incarnate. Given his druthers, Ignatius would’ve chosen to live in a world purged of said characters. Fictional though he was, Ignatius has ended up becoming perhaps the grandest New Orleans character of them all. In homage, the real people of New Orleans erected a statue to Ignatius, and right on Canal Street.

Ignatius is fat, unkempt, lives with his mother, is a perpetual student of Medieval philosophy, and critic pop culture. He complains constantly about the misery visited upon him by his faulty pyloric valve (abused as it is, by Ignatius’s diet). As described in the book’s first paragraph, he is distinguished by his odd dress: baggy pleated trousers, oversized flannel shirt, a scarf, and topped off by a green hunting cap with earflaps—all this, mind you, in one of the capitals of The Long Hot Summer.

The plot concerns Ignatius’s long war of attrition against the 20th Century. The elevated language he spouts in defense of his worldview—and the way people react to it—makes for non-stop Rabelaisian pageantry.

A Confederacy of Dunces is a picaresque novel, lurching hilariously from one episode to the next, from one lively conversation to another. Ignatius is a man who can attract the wrong kind of attention just by waiting for his mother in front of a store. Whenever he speaks to people—which is often—he gets deeper into trouble. Completely without self-awareness, he insults virtually everyone whose path he crosses, assuming they’ll take it as constructive criticism from someone who obviously knows better. By the end of the book, he’s pissed off everyone to high heaven, and they all want a piece of him. The clashes and conflicts, conflated into his conversation, makes for some of the best social satire of the Sixties.

Irene Reilly wants her son to get a job. Setbacks old and new have depleted the family nest egg, and they need a new revenue source. As man of the house, Ignatius must sally forth and be the breadwinner, but his long college training in Boethius and the Middle Ages have fitted him for nothing outside of academics, and he burned his bridges there long ago. What to do? Reluctantly, Ignatius, age 30, begins his search.

He quickly lucks into a job with Levy Pants, a moribund sweatshop. The loyal but dull-witted office manager, impressed by Ignatius’s pompous language, hires him as a file clerk. Whereupon Ignatius dumps the company records in the garbage, fills the file cabinets with plants, and writes insulting letters to the company’s biggest customers. For good measure, he organizes the labor force—mostly black—and impels them to attack the company office, the vanguard holding a banner—made from one of Ignatius’s crusted sheets—proclaiming a “Crusade for Moorish Dignity.” He is, of course, summarily fired.

Next, Ignatius finds work pushing a hotdog cart for Paradise Vendors, Inc., and, of course, he ends up eating much more than he sells. His pyloric valve, as he tells everyone, completely shuts down. Dressed up as a pirate—head bandanna, sash, plastic cutlass, and earring—he roams the French Quarter, looking to cash in on the tourist trade (ironic, of course, since most tourists come to the French Quarter specifically for the great variety of Creole, Cajun, and Southern cooking). He catches the eye of a prominent member of the gay community—a sodomite, as Ignatius would say. Initially appalled, Ignatius hits on a brainstorm. If gays can be organized politically, they will eventually take over. Taking power, they will also control the military, rendering it effeminate, ineffective, and fabulous! A non-aggressive US Army means World Peace. It all fits into Ignatius’s master plan. (Hey! It’s not all that farfetched.) Ignatius sets to work with predictable results.

There is much more: the conflict at home with his mother; forays to the local movie palace, where he declaims loudly about the degradation of cinematic art; a couple visits to The Night of Joy, a Bourbon Street skin joint, where Ignatius hopes Boethius will save the world from its worst appetites. The plot builds and builds to the inevitable denouement and the unlikely Deus Ex Machina.

Most scenes are replete with wonderfully lively dialogue, at once zany and…well, altogether real. Toole knew his hometown and he captures the peculiar Brooklynese patois heard among certain of its down-market denizens (think Stanley Kowalski). Wondrous too is the elevated pomposity of Ignatius, truculence as poetry. As a special bonus, Toole throws in Mr Burma Jones, doubtless the greatest black character ever created by a white writer.

But why take my word for it. Let the book speak for itself.

There is conflict:

“You got any identification, mister?” the policeman asked…

“What?” Ignatius looked down upon the badge on the blue cap. “Who are you?

“Let me see your driver’s license.”

“I don’ t drive. Will you kindly go away? I am waiting for my mother.”

“What’s this hanging out your bag?”

“What do you think it is, stupid?  It’s a string for my lute.”

“What’s that?” The policeman drew back a little. “Are you local?”

“Is it the part of the police department to harass me when this city is a flagrant vice capital of the civilized world?” Ignatius bellowed over the crowd in front of the store. “This city is famous for its gamblers, prostitutes, exhibitionists, anti-Christs, alcoholics, sodomites, drug addicts, fetishists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs, and lesbians, all of whom are only too well protected by graft. If you have a moment, I shall endeavor to discuss the crime problem with you, but don’t make the mistake of bothering me.”

Movie commentary (during a public screening):

Popcorn spilled down his shirt and gathered in the folds of his trousers. “What degenerate produced this abortion?”

“Shut up,” someone said behind him.

“Just look at those smiling morons!” …

When a love scene appeared to be developing, he bounded up out of his seat and stomped up the aisle to the candy counter for more popcorn, but as he returned to his seat, the two big pink figures were just preparing to kiss.

“They probably have halitosis,” Ignatius announced over the heads of children. “I hate to think of the obscene places that those mouths have doubtlessly been before.”

Criticism of the Ladies Art Club:

“Oh, my God!” Ignatius bellowed…” How dare you present such abortions to the public!”

“Please move along, sir,” a bold lady said…

“You ladies need a course in botany. And perhaps geometry, too.”

“You don’t have to look at our work,” an offended voice said…

“Yes, I do!” Ignatius screamed. “You ladies need a critic with some taste and decency…The water in this bowl looks like motor oil.”

Helpful Race Relations:

“Shit! You think I like the Night of Joy? Ooo-wee. I wanna get someplace. I want to get someplace good, be gainfully employ, make me a livin wage.”

“Just as I suspected,” Ignatius said angrily. “In other words, you want to become totally bourgeois. You people have all been brainwashed. I imagine you’d like to become a success or something equally vile.”

“Hey, now you gettin me. Whoa!”

“I really don’t have the time to discuss the errors of your value judgements.”

Don’t forget LGBT:

“Please be serious for a moment. Stop fluttering around here.”

“Moi? Fluttering? What do you want, Gypsy Woman?”

“Have you people thought of forming a political party and running a candidate?”

“Politics? Oh, Maid of Orleans. How dreary.”

“This is very important!” Ignatius shouted …”you may hold the key to the future.”

“Well, what do you want to do about it, Eleanor Roosevelt?”

“You must start a party organization. Plans must be made.”

“Oh, please,” the young man sighed…

“You may be able to save the world!” Ignatius bellowed in an orator’s voice….

“This kind of conversation depresses me more than you could ever imagine,” the young man told him.

And the aforementioned Burma Jones at the Night of Joy:

“You oughta tell your customer use they ashtray, tell them peoples you workin a man in here below the minimal wage. Maybe they be a little considerate.’

“Listen here, Jones” Lana Lee (said)…” All I gotta do is phone the police and report you’re out of work. You understand me?”

“And I tell the po-lice the Night of Joy a glorify cathouse. I fall in a trap when I come to work in this place. Whoa! Now I jus waitin to get some kind of evidence. When I do, I really gonna flap my mouth at the precinct.”

“Watch your tongue.”

“Times changin,” Jones said, adjusting his sunglasses. “You cain scare color peoples no more. I got me some peoples form a human chain in front of your door, drive away your business, get you on TV news.”

When Ignatius is home alone, he fills Big Chief writing tablets with his unique invective, gems of nihilism, as his half-foe/half-ally Myrna Minkoff describes it:

I can at last describe to you our factory…The scene which met my eyes was at once compelling and repelling. The original sweatshop has been preserved for posterity at Levy Pants. If only the Smithsonian Institution, that grab-bag of our nation’s refuse, could somehow vacuum-seal the Levy Pants factory and transport it to the capital of the United States of America, each worker frozen in an attitude of labor, the visitors to that questionable museum would defecate into their garish tourist outfits. It is a scene which combines the worst of Uncle Tom’s Cabin and Fritz Lang’s Metropolis; it is mechanized Negro slavery; it represents the progress which the Negro has made from picking cotton to tailoring it.

You won’t want to put this novel down. But you also won’t want to rush through it.  You’ll want to savor every dialogue. There’s nothing else like it. Sadly.

Everyone loves this novel. Everyone I know who’s read it is also saddened, disappointed, and angered to know that it’s all we’ve got. John Kennedy Toole spent most of the 60s writing A Confederacy of Dunces and trying to get it published. Failing in the latter, he took his own life in 1969. His mother, believing ardently in her son’s genius, shopped the manuscript around, until she was finally able to press it into the hands of another Louisiana novelist, Walker Percy. In the novel’s preface, Percy describes how he reluctantly took up the dog-eared pages and was dismayed, after reading the first few pages, to find that it wasn’t bad enough to dismiss. He read on and gradually came to relish its genius. He managed to find a publisher for it, and a year later it won the Pulitzer Prize.  See if you don’t think it’s not the funniest novel you’ve ever read.

I could say a lot more about the book. Subplots involving a half-dozen of the novel’s eccentrics; Toole’s not-so-hidden messages; the sexual tension between Ignatius and Myrna Minkoff; strippers and cockatoos; theology, geometry, and the consolation of philosophy. But in the end, it’s just a great book to read. What’s it all mean? Who knows? Just read it.

With apologies to Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer (which is the great Mardi Gras novel), A Confederacy of Dunces is the great New Orleans novel.

*******

“Juvenal Early” is a contributor to Barely A Blog. His first essay was “The Dissident Right Has An Idiocracy Problem.” It made waves! He has a BAB archive.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn Knew What Ukraine, NATO & US Neoconservatives Were Up To

BAB's A List, Boyd Cathey, Christianity, Foreign Policy, Globalism, History, Iraq, Nationalism, Nationhood, Neoconservatism, Russia, The West

 Solzhenitsyn: The USA and NATO are in the process of encircling Russia and depriving Russia of its independence as a nation state.

By Boyd Cathey

In all the hysteria over the latest strain of the Coronavirus virus, the frenzied ideological (and essentially authoritarian and anti-constitutional) activities of the House January 6 “Investigatory” Committee, and the frenetic lead up to this recent Christmas, one significant anniversary was missed, or rather ignored, by our media, including the so-called “conservative” media: the birth on December 11, 1918 of arguably the 20th century’s greatest novelist and social/cultural critic, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Solzhenitsyn, let it be said, will long be remembered when the names of moronic fanatics like Nancy Pelosi, Adam Schiff, and others of that ilk, have become filthy curse words symbolizing the political and cultural nadir of our once great republic.

Yet, with all the ejaculatory exclamations and dire warnings, and subsequent demands for “American” and “NATO” action to thwart the supposed “threat” by the Russians, under that evil genius Vladimir Putin, to use bloodthirsty Cossack troops to invade and conquer poor, little democratic Ukraine, Solzhenitsyn’s comments shortly before he died on August 3, 2008, demand consideration.

No one can accuse the great Russian writer of being an advocate of violence, aggression or war. His experiences, so brutally and so vividly recounted in his various semi-autobiographical novels dissuade any dispassionate reader from that conclusion. He had seen the open jaws of bitter Hell, and that Hell attempted not only to swallow him but destroy him and his soul totally. That the Soviet Hell—the Gulag—did not succeed, and that he emerged stronger for it, a man of resilient and unquestioned Faith, is a remarkable example of how true religious conviction and Hope can indeed overcome even the worst trials, both physical and spiritual.

When Solzhenitsyn came to the United States and gave his famous address at Harvard, June 8, 1978, it was met first by shock, then by a studied if respectful silence by many in the media. For in that speech he had taken target at some of America’s showiest and most prized attributes:

He attacked moral cowardice and the selfishness and complacency he sees in the West. Materialism, sharp legal maneuvering, a press that invades privacy, “TV stupor” and “intolerable music,” all contribute to making the western way of life less and less a model for the world, he said. “A decline in courage,” Solzhenitsyn said, is the most striking feature of what he called “spiritual exhaustion” of the West. “The forces of evil have begun their decisive offensive, you can feel their pressure, and yet your screens and publications are full of prescribed smiles and raised glasses. What is the joy about?” “To defend oneself, one must also be ready to die; there is little such readiness in a society raised in the cult of material well-being….”

And that was in 1978.

Furthermore, modern managerial democracy and its vaunted demand for universal (and chimerical) equality, imposed on the rest of the world and modeled on the US experience, actually led to the eventual triumph of totalitarianism.

After the fall of Communism and the end of the Soviet Union, it was gradually insinuated that the great writer was now, given the elapse of time, perhaps a bit passe’ or too much the slavophile or Russian nationalist. Indeed, increasingly leftist (and neoconservative) pundits and writers, while grudgingly acknowledging his literary ability, called him a “reactionary,” unable to understand the new globalist age.

But Solzhenitsyn’s comments about Ukraine made after the dissolution of the old Soviet Union ring true today and are even more prescient now than when they were made shortly before his death.

I transcribe below a letter he wrote to a Ukrainian friend, Sviatoslav Karavanski in 1990, later published in the journal Zvezda, December 1993. And I follow that with portions of an interview that Solzhenitsyn gave to The Moscow News, April 28/May 4, 2006.

Author Peter Rieth (in The Imaginative Conservative, August 24, 2014) commented on the Russian author’s warnings:

“Americans should take heed. Solzhenitsyn’s words would make President Reagan roll over in his grave. America in 2014 is supporting the goals of Lenin, helping pummel the city of Donietsk, a historic British city which was a bastion of anti-Leninist resistance and advancing a geopolitical vision dreamt up by German imperialists, pursued by Hitler in the west and Bolsheviks in the east. It is only historical ignorance which makes this possible….”

Here are the two items:

“Esteemed Mr. Sviatoslav Karavanski,

“I deeply respect you for all that you have suffered and for your calm under duress when you were made to suffer. I am happy that I can hear your calm voice, even though your countrymen—from the tribune of the High Committee of the USSR to the far off emigrant newspapers—have concluded on the basis of my writings that I am simply a believer in Greater Russia, a chauvinist, a colonialist, a servant of imperial tyranny, and a ‘retarded imperialist’ at that (as published in Gomin of Ukraine 10.10.1990). Such premeditated blindness and incompetence make one wonder, but also make one alert. Just what are they trying to hide by barking so loud?

“I can appeal to you sir, in the hope for mutual understanding, since they have not sought such mutual understanding with me.

“With regard to your historical arguments, beginning with your reflections on Tatar invasion (at least with respect to Red Rus and not Rus itself), one could elaborate on this matter for quite some time. Yet all such elaborations would pale when compared to the strongest argument which you now fail to make, perhaps because it is so clear: If the hearts of the people of Ukraine desire to separate from the Soviet Union, then we have nothing to quarrel about. All that is required is a movement of the heart! This was the thrust of my article. I also wrote about this in my Gulag Archipelago (part V, chapter 2). This is why my current view is certainly not without precedent. Yet even you, good sir, have failed to note that I have no quarrel with Ukrainian separatism, only with the factual state of Ukraine.

“Currently, as statues of Lenin are being torn down in Ukraine (as rightly they should be!), why is it that western Ukrainians of all people in that land desire that the state of Ukraine should have the borders made for it by Lenin himself? The borders which Uncle Lenin himself drew up for Ukraine? For the present borders of Ukraine are the result of Lenin seeking for a way to compensate the Ukrainian people for consuming their liberty under Soviet domination. Thus it was Lenin who arbitrarily attached Novorossiya, the Donbas (by which Lenin separated the Donbas from the anti-Communist counter revolutionaries of Donietsk) as well as attaching parts of the left bank to Ukraine. Later, Khrushchev arbitrarily added (1954) Crimea to Ukraine. And now Ukrainian nationalists stand firm in defense of their “holy” territorial integrity—of borders created by Lenin?

“I wrote in my article (though I suspect no one read what I had to say): ‘of course, if the Ukrainian nation does indeed wish to go, then no one can dare use force to prevent their departure’. But realize please how heterogeneous is this great territory and allow the local people to decide the fate of their districts. And for writing this, I am considered to be a ‘retarded imperialist?’ What of those who forbid the nation from expressing its will, and, along with those democrats and liberty lovers, even fear this expression of national will for some strange reason?

“Under such turbulent circumstances, it is impossible to discuss this complex problem through which our two nations have combined together through family ties in hundreds of cities. There is also an additional argument which, to my surprise, you make: you claim that the language which children will speak should not be left to the ‘whims’ of parents, but should be determined by the State? You write that ‘non-Ukrainians are free to make their choice’. But will you limit the amount of their schools? As for Ukrainians, I understand you to be saying they are not free to choose? Thus you support coercion yet again? No sir, this dictatorship is unnecessary. Let all cultures develop in a natural way.” (Published in Zvezda, December 1993)

*****

By 2006, Solzhenistyn had become far more pessimistic, as we can see from this interview:

“WT [interviewer]: Personally, I think that the three basic components of Christian civilization, Euro-Atlantic civilization—the United States, the European Union and Russia—should all create a strategic alliance with one another sooner or later. If they do not, then our whole civilization will cease to exist. How can we save our European and Atlantic civilization; does it need to be saved?

Solzhenitsyn: Unfortunately, global processes seem to be moving along a direction contrary to your desires. The United States of America are moving their occupation armies into ever newer countries. Such was the case of Bosnia 9 years ago. Such was the case of Kosovo (where they helped establish an Islamist state in the heart of Europe). We have witnessed it over the last 5 years in Afghanistan and over the last 3 years in Iraq. Although in Iraq, the occupation will not survive long. The activities of NATO and, separately of the United States, do not differ except in minor details. NATO clearly realizes that Russia is not capable of threatening the Alliance and thus NATO methodically and stubbornly develops its military apparatus from Eastern Europe to the south of continental Russia. One sees it in their open support for a variety of color revolutions as well as the paradox of North Atlantic interests taking precedent there over central Asian interests. All of this leaves little doubt: NATO is in the process of encircling Russia and depriving Russia of its independence as a nation state. So, to answer your question: no, allying Russia to a North Atlantic Treaty Organization that uses violent force in various corners of our planet to plant the seeds of an ideology of modern western democracy will not expand Christian civilization, only terminate it.

WT: What is your view about what is happening in Ukraine. And what is your view on the issue of fragmenting the Russian nation (the most fragmented nation in Europe)? Should Russia raise the prospect of uniting all of the Russian and Rus lands if the Ukrainian elites turn their country in the direction of NATO and the EU?

Solzhenitsyn: 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, Novorossiya 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. Under the Yeltsin presidency, not one meeting was ever held with the Ukrainian President that did not end in Russia capitulating and accepting everything Ukraine requested. Yeltsin uprooted the Black Sea fleet from Sevastopol; something not even Khrushchev did under the USSR. 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.” (Moscow News, interview with W. T. Trietiakov published 28 April/4May 2006)

*****

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it was mutually agreed by Yeltsin and President George W. Bush that the Soviet state would be dissolved and the former constituent states of the Union become independent, on condition in return that the United States and NATO would not incorporate those states into their military alliance, an obvious threat to Russia (and for which there would be now no real reason). But that is exactly what occurred, beginning with President Clinton and continuing under George W. Bush, and under Obama and Biden.

George Kennan, one of the most distinguished of American diplomats, told The New York Times he believed the expansion of NATO was “the beginning of a new cold war…I think it is a tragic mistake. There was no reason for this whatsoever. No one was threatening anybody else. This expansion would make the Founding Fathers of this country turn over in their graves.”

And today Russia finds itself virtually encircled by an armed NATO, a Ukrainian government which mistreats and persecutes its large ethnic Russian minority (around 30%) and that has violated the peace terms of the Minsk Agreement (negotiated after the 2014 crisis), and American and European Union NGO agents provocateurs and subversion internally and in nearby pro-Russian associated states (such as, most recently, Kazakhstan).

In 2014 American government officials, including Obama’s Assistant Secretary of for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (wife of the late John McCain’s foreign policy advisor, Robert Kagan), were responsible in large part for instigating the “Maidan coup” which overthrew the popularly elected and pro-Russian Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. In a secretly recorded phone message Nuland declared that the Obama State Department had selected Arseniy Yatsenyuk to be the new prime minster: “Yats is the guy,” she said. Voting by Ukrainians be damned if not acceptable to the Foggy Bottom globalists.

Is the American State Department, infested as it is with Neoconservative globalists, willing—like England did to Poland before the outbreak of World War II—to give Ukraine the promise of (unlimited) military support which could unleash world conflagration?

Is the so-called “conservative movement” so corrupted by a secular and increasingly anti-Christian globalism that it now spouts ad libitum Leftist foreign policy talking points? To listen to a Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) or Lindsey Graham (R-SC), one would have to conclude so.

Already our misguided and belligerent policies have forced Russia into the arms of China—the two largest nations of the earth whose national and internal interests have sharply diverged, but who now find themselves drawn closer due to American insistence on imposing our form of democracy uber alles, our internal subversion (via the “color revolutions”) in former Eastern Bloc states, and our zeal to see Russia accept the worst gutter filth that we export around the world.

One year (2007) before he died, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gave another interview, this one to the German magazine, Der Spiegel, in which he said:

“[Vladimir] Putin inherited a ransacked and bewildered country, with a poor and demoralized people…. And he started to do what was possible, a slow and gradual restoration. These efforts were not noticed, nor appreciated, immediately. In any case, one is hard-pressed to find examples in history when steps by one country to restore its strength were met favorably by other governments. Putin gives us hope and seeks to restore Russia’s Christian tradition. That I applaud.” [The Washington Post, August 5, 2008]

Once again, the American media and political establishment largely ignored his utterance, just as our nation has ignored the warnings of Lee Congdon, former Ambassador Jack Matlock, Paul Craig Roberts, the late Stephen Cohen, and others. And now it is we who have created the conditions for unnecessary conflict, misery, and global conflagration.

********

==========================================

~ DR. BOYD D. CATHEY Dr. Cathey earned an MA in history at the University of Virginia (as a Thomas Jefferson Fellow), and as a Richard M Weaver Fellow earned his doctorate in history and political philosophy at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. After additional studies in theology and philosophy in Switzerland, he taught in Argentina and Connecticut before returning to North Carolina. He was State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives before retiring in 2011. He writes for The Unz Review, The Abbeville Institute, Confederate Veteran magazine, The Remnant, and other publications in the United States and Europe on a variety of topics, including politics, social and religious questions, film, and music.

Vulgarity And Vanity Come To The Ancient St. George Chapel, At Windsor Castle

BAB's A List, Boyd Cathey, Britain, Christianity, Conservatism, Culture, Hollywood, Left-Liberalism And Progressivisim, Nationhood

By Dr. Boyd Cathey

… IN DECEMBER 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated as King of England, basically over his love for an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson, something deeply frowned on and disapproved of back then—yet scarcely forty-five years later the heir apparent to the English throne, Prince Charles, married Lady Diana Spencer, a disastrous matrimony that would assist immeasurably in discrediting the House of Windsor, which had already begun a decline many years earlier.

But like most current ruling monarchies today, the catch phrase is “relevance,” getting “with it,” so to speak, with all current fads, breaking with tradition, basically turning a backside to the past and its critical importance in the survival of the nation. And if that means inviting a whole slew of remarkably disreputable Hollywood types, not to mention pseudo-celebrities like Oprah Winfrey, into the great halls and chapels that once beheld the noble figures of a King Charles the Martyr or Victoria Regina, then so be it.

And then there was the ungracious spectacle of the “Presiding Bishop,” Michael Curry, of what is called the Episcopal Church in the United States. Curry, a few years back, was the Episcopal bishop in North Carolina, and distinguished himself for his left-wing social and religious views—he would much rather preach the gospel of “Saint” Martin Luther King than St. Paul: too many inconveniences and prohibitions in the Pauline message!

And he did not disappoint in St. George’s Chapel: jumping around like a jack-rabbit, pretending he was sermonizing to a group of illiterate Yazoo bayou dwellers in Mississippi, he brought, as admiring Fox commentator/airhead Ainsley Earhardt fawned, “a wonderful and inspiring American element” to the wedding. [Where, pray tell, does Fox get all these brainless blondes from?]

For thirteen minutes he basically said just one sentence: “How great is love!” But he managed to mix in bits of MLK (yeah, cheater King was an expert on conjugal love!), civil rights, and a social gospel totally extraneous to the supposed occasion.

The Windors, for the most part, set stony-faced, enveloped by the tide of nonsense and relevance that has overwhelmed them. Oh, certainly, it was said that the ceremony
“combined the best of British tradition with a new and fresh ‘American’ approach.” But what it actually did was point out sharply the truth … about monarchy and monarchs in the modern world:

“They are increasingly a ‘sign of contradiction’; this must be their role in our world. If they fail in this—if they embrace all the tawdry excesses and excrescences of our times—they will forfeit that historic role, and rightly so.”

Our world is perishing for the lack of heroes, for the lack of those Don Juans of Austria, for those new and courageous Stonewall Jacksons and King John Sobieskis who would stand manfully against the onrushing tide of Modernity and decay in our civilization. The awe and reverence, the understanding that the past is never really “past,” that it is always potentially within us, and that it can inform our steps and continue to inspire us and anneal us in its grace, is a precious legacy, an invaluable gift from our ancestors and Christendom. We forfeit it, and the blackness of despair and death awaits us.

When the traditional champions of our culture and civilization quit the field, as the Windsors have done, only Evil—the “rough beast”—smiles.

… READ THE REST. The complete commentary is “That Royal Wedding, Reverend Michael Curry, and the End of England.”

==========================================

~ DR. BOYD D. CATHEY is an Unz Review columnist, as well as a Barely a Blog contributor, whose work is easily located on this site under the “BAB’s A List” search category. Dr. Cathey earned an MA in history at the University of Virginia (as a Thomas Jefferson Fellow), and as a Richard M Weaver Fellow earned his doctorate in history and political philosophy at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. After additional studies in theology and philosophy in Switzerland, he taught in Argentina and Connecticut before returning to North Carolina. He was State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives before retiring in 2011. He writes for The Unz Review, The Abbeville Institute, Confederate Veteran magazine, The Remnant, and other publications in the United States and Europe on a variety of topics, including politics, social and religious questions, film, and music.

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The Conservative Cult Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Communist, Plagiarist, And Worse

BAB's A List, Boyd Cathey, Communism, Conservatism, Cultural Marxism, Ethics, History, Intellectualism, Left-Liberalism And Progressivisim, Morality, Republicans

I almost lost my lunch listening to a radio rerun of Sean Hannity’s odes to Martin Luther King Jr.  To declare the schmaltzy, sub-intellectual fare of  King Jr.  to be the greatest thinking ever is to kill one’s intellectual credibility and affront the history of thought. I read Plato—yes yes, he was a statist—and I think, “Just wow,”and “what genius.” I listen to the “I Have a Dream” speech, and I think, “Oprah,” and “what kitsch.”

Barley A Blog correspondent Dr. Boyd Cathey fills in the blanks:

For the past thirty-five years (officially since 1986) the third Monday in January has been celebrated as a federal holiday, Martin Luther King Day. Federal and state offices and many businesses either close or go on limited schedules. We are awash with public observances, parades, prayer breakfasts, stepped-up school projects for our unwary and intellectually-abused children, and gobs and gobs of over-the-top television “specials” and movies, all geared to tell us—to shout it in our faces, if we don’t pay strict attention—that Martin Luther King Jr. was some sort of superhuman, semi-divine civil rights leader who brought the promise of equality to millions of Americans, a kind of modern St. John the Baptist ushering in the Millenium. And that he stands just below Jesus Christ in the pantheon of revered and adored historical personages…and in some ways, perhaps above Jesus Christ in the minds of many of his present-day devotees and epigones.

It seems to do no good to issue a demurrer to this veritable religious “cult of Dr. King.” There are, indeed, numerous “Christian” churches that now “celebrate” this day just as if it were a major feast in the Christian calendar. In short, Martin Luther King has received de facto canonization religiously and in the public mind as no other person in American history.

Mention the fact that King plagiarized as much as 40 percent of his Boston University Ph.D. dissertation [cf. Theodore Pappas, Plagiarism and the Culture War: The Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr, and Other Prominent Americans, 1998, and Martin Luther King Jr Plagiarism Story, 1994], or that he worked closely with known Communists throughout his life, or that he advocated American defeat in Vietnam while praising Ho Chi Minh, or that he implicitly countenanced violence and Marxism, especially later in his life [cf., Congressional Record, 129, no. 130 (October 3, 1983): S13452-S13461]—mention any of these accusations confirmed begrudgingly by his establishment biographers David Garrow and Taylor Branch, or mention his even-by-current-standards violent “rough sex” escapades (which apparently involved even under-age children) [cf., Cooper Sterling, January 13, 2018]—and you immediately get labeled a “racist” and condemned by not just the zealous King flame-keepers on the Left, but by such neoconservatives like James Kirchick and Dinesh D’Souza who supposedly are on the Right.

Indeed, in some ways Establishment “conservatives” such as Jonah Goldberg, Rich Lowry (National Review), D’Souza, Glenn Beck, the talking heads on Fox and the furious scribblers at The Weekly Standard, and many others, not only eagerly buy into this narrative, they now have converted King into a full-fledged, card-carrying member of “conservatism inc.”—the (contemporary) “conservative movement,” a “plaster saint” iconized as literally no one else in our history.

Celebrating King becomes a means for these ersatz conservatives to demonstrate their “civil rights” and “egalitarian” bona fides. The neocons, with their philosophical and ideological origins over on the Trotskyite Left of the 1930s and 1940s, when they made their pilgrimage towards conservatism in the 1960s and 1970s, brought with them a fervent believe in a globalist New World Order egalitarianism that characterized Trotskyite Marxist ideology, and the determination to redefine and re-orient the traditional American Rightwing, and to re-write, as well, American history.

Thus, the purges of the old conservative movement in the 1980s and 1990s—there was no room for Southern conservatives like Mel Bradford, no room for traditionalist Catholics like Frederick Wilhelmsen or Brent Bozell Sr., no room for paleolibertarians like Murray Rothbard, no room for Old Right anti-egalitarians like Paul Gottfried, and no room for “America Firsters” like Pat Buchanan … And those traditional conservatives who were too significant in the “pantheon of greats,” like a Russell Kirk, they attempted to simply whitewash and give new, cleaned up images and identities (part and parcel of their “rewriting” of conservatism). Thus, Kirk’s opposition to the civil rights bills of the 1960s and 1970s, his staunch arguments against egalitarianism—are all swept under the carpet or carefully ignored.

In this, in fact, the dominant necons have joined with their cousins on the “farther Left,” to the point that Bush consultant guru and Fox pundit, Karl Rove, could boast that hardcore Marxist/Communist historian Eric Foner (who lamented the collapse of Soviet Communism) was his favorite historian (when examining Reconstruction) [See Dr. Paul Gottfried’s incisive critique of Foner and those “conservatives” who have praised him, “Guilt Trip,” The American Conservative,” May 4, 2009, pp. 21-23].

King Day becomes, then, for the Conservative Movement an opportunity for it to beat its chest, brag about its commitment to civil rights and the American “dream, the unrealized idea of equality (that is, to distort and re-write the history of the American Founding), and to protect its left flank against the ever increasing charges that it could be, just might be, maybe is—“racist.”

And for the “farther Left,” that catapulting cultural Marxist juggernaut that continues to move the societal and political goalposts to the Left, King Day becomes as a major ideological blitzkrieg, a weaponized cudgel used to strike down and silence anyone, anywhere, who might offer the slightest dissent to the latest barbarity and latest “advance” in civil rights, now expanded to include not just everything “racial,” but also same sex marriage, transgenderism and abortion on demand. Martin Luther King–that deeply and irredeemably flawed and fraudulent figure imposed upon us and our consciousness—has become an icon, a totem, who serves in martyred death the purposes of continuing Revolution.

The heavily-documented literature detailing the real Martin Luther King is abundant and remains uncontroverted and uncontested. During the debates over establishing a national “King Day” in the mid-1980s, Senators Jesse Helms and John East (both North Carolinians) led the opposition, supplying the Congress and the nation, and anyone with eyes to read, full accounts of the “King legacy,” from his close association and collaboration with the Communist Party USA to his advocacy of violence and support for the Communists in North Vietnam, to implicit support for Marxist revolution domestically. Ironically, it was Robert Woodson, a noted black Republican, who highlighted, in a lecture given to honor the “conservative virtues of Dr. Martin Luther King” at the Heritage Foundation on November 5, 1993, the difficulties in getting black advocates of the older generation to respect King’s role as a Civil Rights leader. According to Woodson, as quoted in an excellent essay by Paul Gottfried,

“When Dr. King tried to bring the Civil Rights movement together with the [Marxist] peace movement, it was Carl Rowan who characterized King as a Communist, not Ronald Reagan. I remember being on the dais of the NAACP banquet in Darby, Pennsylvania when Roy Wilkins soundly castigated King for this position.” [Paul Gottfried, “The Cult of St. Martin Luther King – A Loyalty Test for Careerist Conservatives?” January 16, 2012]

But not only that, behind the scenes there were voluminous secretly-made FBI recordings and accounts of King’s violent sexual escapades, often times with more than two or three others involved in such “rough sex” trysts; and of his near total hypocrisy when discussing civil rights and other prominent civil rights leaders. It is, to put it mildly, a sorry record, scandalous even by today’s standards…Indeed, King makes Harvey Weinstein look like a meek choirboy in comparison.

But you won’t hear any of that mentioned by the slobbering Mainstream Media or the media mavens on Fox News. In fact, such comments will get you exiled to the far reaches of the Gobi Desert and labeled a “racist,” quicker that my cocker spaniel gobbles down his kibble.

THERE IS MORE HERE.

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~ DR. BOYD D. CATHEY is an Unz Review columnist, as well as a Barely a Blog contributor, whose work is easily located on this site under the “BAB’s A List” search category. Dr. Cathey earned an MA in history at the University of Virginia (as a Thomas Jefferson Fellow), and as a Richard M Weaver Fellow earned his doctorate in history and political philosophy at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain. After additional studies in theology and philosophy in Switzerland, he taught in Argentina and Connecticut before returning to North Carolina. He was State Registrar of the North Carolina State Archives before retiring in 2011. He writes for The Unz Review, The Abbeville Institute, Confederate Veteran magazine, The Remnant, and other publications in the United States and Europe on a variety of topics, including politics, social and religious questions, film, and music.