In the aftermath of the Charleston shooting, the Left seized on the Confederate flag and pushed for banning the Stars and Bars from the grounds of state capitals. Within days, the victims (seriously, can anyone even name them?) were utterly forgotten, as reporters screeched about the need to desecrate Confederate graves, ban the Dukes of Hazzard, and make sure no one ever accidently reinstates slavery by watching Gone With the Wind.
Whatever one’s opinion about the causes behind the War Between the States, the flag was targeted because it was a symbol of Southern White Identity, H.K. Edgerton notwithstanding. Fun control is unrealistic so the managerial class needed to seize on something lest this crisis go to waste.
If the flag of the Army of Northern Virginia had already been removed before the Charleston happening, the Left would have targeted something else. Athletes can be thankful the rebel flag took the bullet (too soon?) and Roof’s Gold’s Gym apparel was spared. The Salon article on how lifting weights is actually a problematic indulgence of gendered expectations about physical stature which promotes violent masculinity, unrealistic body standards, and unearned privilege based on possession of inherently oppressive quantifies of testosterone practically writes itself. Don’t rape in the squat rack, brah.
The Beltway Right quickly caved on the issue, vaguely protesting the Maoist nature of the campaign but conceding the Confederate flag should not be flown from government buildings. The American flag is the only flag we should be proud of! After all, as Victor Davis Hanson writes in “One Nation Indivisible”:
Symbols, flags, organizations, and phrases that emphasize racial difference and ethnic pride are no longer just fossilized notions from the 1960s; they are growing fissures in the American mosaic that now threaten to split the country apart — fueling the suspicion of less liberal and more homogeneous nations that the great American experiment will finally unwind as expected.
That would be a great tragedy, but a catastrophe entirely predictable if citizens seek symbolic solidarity with their tribe rather than in the common idea of just being American.
One suspects Hanson, the author of Mexifornia: A State of Becoming, knows how this movie is going to end, but doesn’t want to say too much about it so he can continue to LARP as Demosthenes warning about Putin’s Sparta.
It’s revealing the American identity was casually and even disrespectfully, described as the “common idea of just being American.” It’s a thin connection Hanson’s proposing to bind “Americans” together, as opposed to the concrete bonds of tribe, race, and blood.
It wasn’t always so. From the Founding to at least 1965, the American flag was largely taken as something that “[emphasized] racial difference and ethnic pride.” And the Left knows this, even if the Beltway Right pretends not to.
For example, Vox’s Dylan Matthews, last seen promoting unlimited African immigration to Europe because “it will help the economy,” just re-emerged to unknowingly troll neoreactionaries with clickbait about why the American Revolution was wrong.
As you might guess, it wasn’t because American independence unleashed forces of liberalism, egalitarianism, and moral universalism that would ultimately undermine the United States itself. It’s because it was bad for blacks and American Indians, and “when a cause is opposed by the two most vulnerable groups in a society, it’s probably a bad idea.”
Matthews is right that the United States, the “rising empire” in George Washington’s phrase, undertook the European-American conquest of the North American continent. The Founding Fathers also took for granted this would be a White nation. We must now say this is a Very Bad Thing, though I doubt Matthews will be giving up his house to the first aborigine he finds sleeping outside a liquor store on the Rez.
The American Creed and its larger impact on Western politics enabled the eventual recognition of non-Europeans as equal participants in the universal democratic experiment. As his commenters competing for the position of power bottom surely know, the British Empire at its height was hardly devoid of White racial consciousness. What made the American nation (when it was still a nation) retain its healthy instincts for so long was continuous existential conflict with hostile nonwhites.
When it comes to race, Frederick Jackson Tuner may have been right. To explain America’s decline in White racial consciousness, we can turn to the great hero who told us, “Peace has cost you your strength. Victory has defeated you.”
Whatever contemporary America’s ostensible racial egalitarianism and explicit anti-White fanaticism, the “American” identity remains indelibly tied to “racism” and military and demographic victories over nonwhites. We are not a nation of immigrants, but a nation of settlers, pioneers, and conquerors, insofar as we remain a nation at all. And what used to be our country is now engaged in the absurd task of trying to reconcile the “victims” of that history to the symbols and heritage of the European-American ethnic core.
Jonathan Chait, recognizing the difficulty of this charge, proposes a “new American patriotism” defined by America’s struggle to live up to the egalitarian ideas of the Founding. This “new” ideal enables rhetorical tricks like calling the Confederate flag a symbol of “treason” while framing mass immigration and the eventual dispossession of Americans as a “patriotic” gesture. All men are equal after all.
Of course, the Founding ideals are precisely what the European New Right and Identitarians identify as inherently destructive about the failed American Experiment. Furthermore, this isn’t a “new” idea but the same program both the mainstream Left and Right have been pushing for decades with the “pro-American” Martin Luther King Jr. at the center of the new civic cult. This cult is challenged by the awkward reality that most of what we teach people about MLK isn’t true and, crucially, nonwhites no longer have to bother with the tactical imperative to frame themselves as “pro-American.”
As the #BlackLivesMatter campaign picks up, burnings of the American flag have become so common that they are almost unworthy of comment. The destruction of the federal standard continues even though we can assume most of those participating in the protests (aside from those directly on George Soros’s payroll) are dependent on some form of federal aid. The #EricSheppardChallenge featuring people jumping on the American flag, was mostly championed by black college students, who may be the most officially privileged population existing anywhere in the Western world.
The most symbolic moment occurred in Baltimore, where the American flag was ripped down from its flag pole, trampled, and replaced with a version that was solely black and White. The obvious comparison was to the incident from the first wave of amnesty protests during George W. Bush’s presidency, when the American flag at a California school was put upside down with a Mexican flag waving above it in triumph. And the middlebrow intellectuals of the Left continue to promote Frederick Douglass’s contention that July 4 belongs only to Whites and that the loyalty and identity of blacks as “Americans” is only conditional.
And after all, why should nonwhites continue to follow Saul Alinsky’s advice about co-opting the flag for their own purposes? Once demographics change, they don’t need to bother anymore. As Rush Limbaugh, unknowingly channeling Sam Francis, observed, once you go after the Confederate flag, you can go after the American flag. There is no claim of “racism” you can make against the Stars and Bars that you can’t make against the federal banner. And right on schedule, Louis Farrakhan sneered it was the American flag which needed to come down because “we’ve caught hell from that flag.”
But do they now? The American flag as a symbol means many things to many people, but in terms of practical reality, the American flag represents a system of racial socialism which confiscates wealth and resources from European-Americans and redistributes it to nonwhites. Increasingly, that’s all the federal government does, as even basic duties like protecting the borders or maintaining infrastructure are secondary to creating phony jobs for the otherwise unemployable.
The essential contradiction at the heart of American race relations: They need us. We don’t need them. If we leave, they follow. And the Supreme Court of the government which rules us just mandated that we aren’t even allowed to flee anymore. You can commit “discrimination” unintentionally now. Diversity will be imposed, as it always is, at bayonet point.
Despite this, it is only European-Americans who feel a sense of automatic loyalty to the United States. We saw a small example of this playing out when would be flag burners rallying around the slogan #BlackLivesMatter were chased out of a Brooklyn Park by mostly White veterans. Meanwhile, VA hospitals are openly refusing to accept new patients, even in Obama’s imaginary world where all Americans now have access to health care. It’s the groups have been given the least by this government that are willing to sacrifice the most to defend its symbols.
There will be a breaking point. Polls show patriotism is on the decline. Interestingly, the area of the country which is the most patriotic is–you guessed it–the South. Younger Americans are less likely to feel pride in their country, mostly because it is not progressive and universalist enough. Yet even as the United States becomes more progressive, a majority report they would leave the country if given the chance. Patriotism also varies by race, with, as you would expect, Whites showing more patriotism than other groups.
There is a breaking point. At some point, someone actually has to fight and sustain this thing we call the United States of America. Who is going to do it?
The war over symbolism can only accelerate. We see a glimpse of what may be coming in Africa. Even after the fall of South Africa and the transformation of street signs, national symbols, and political and cultural institutions, the war against remnants of the White past continues and The Great Erasure rolls on. Rhodesia changed to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and finally, Zimbabwe as Whites became irrelevant, much like the country’s currency. And South Africa, still a few steps behind on this journey, now features blacks throwing their poop at statues they don’t like, as these racist stone faces are presumably the reason they can’t keep the power on anymore.
A pessimist would argue that European-Americans will simply buckle under this transition, just as Whites were eventually overwhelmed in Rhodesia and South Africa. But I believe in American Exceptionalism. America may not even achieve the doubtful stability of a South Africa–after all, the Afrikaners were not brought to heel by the hapless ANC but by Western moral, economic, and diplomatic pressure. The fall of South Africa was a triumph of the “core” over the periphery. If the United States and Britain had remained supportive of South Africa, a State President with a Dutch name would yet reign in Pretoria.
The core of the “indispensable” American nation is a European-American population that the current system is doing its best to dispossess. Mark Steyn writes in After America that soft decline is less likely than a “catastrophically convulsed America that descends into Balkanized ruin and social collapse on a planet with no global order in which the former hyperpower still makes the most inviting target.” He seems to think this is a bad thing. But for European-Americans who have already woken from the American Dream, this is a critical opportunity.
The problem is how to reconcile the anti-egalitarian, anti-liberal, and anti-universalist ideas of a new Founding to the symbols and mythos of a fallen regime. In Russia and especially in the quasi-independent republics in eastern Ukraine, the hammer and sickle of the Soviet Union are not generally symbols relating to “Communism” but reminders of stability, strength, and military victories. We may see something similar following a breakup of the United States, where a polity built on a wildly different ideological foundation would nonetheless appeal to symbols of a “glorious” past.
But that will come later. For now, we still live in this Hollow Empire, going through the motions this Independence Day even as blundering kosher conservatives recognize modern America isn’t worth celebrating. “Americans” of whatever race are increasingly seeing each other as strangers, and slowly, ever so slowly, Whites are recognizing we have no stake in this Failed Experiment stumbling on any longer. We’re not part of a country or even an empire, but simply interchangable consumers. And the American flag itself is no longer the proud standard of a free people, but just another logo.
Unfortunately, there’s not much of an alternative. The Confederate battle flag still represents “the South” specifically, and refighting the intra-White battles of the past is the last thing our people needs. But maybe that’s beginning to change. After all, the flag was banned because it was “White,” not because it was “Southern.” The fact that corporations are running from the Stars and Bars means it can be taken seriously--it’s about something deeper than NASCAR. And if there’s one thing all European-Americans need to start thinking about, it’s the oldest American tradition of all–rebellion.