A great deal has been made of this past weekend’s events in Charlottesville, Virginia where the “Unite the Right” rally descended into violence. That’s not surprising. What is surprising, however, is how many pundits and social-media “experts” are only now coming to the realization that racism and bigotry in the United States is not confined to fever swamps and southern mountains. For decades, civilized white America has patted itself on the back with the self-confident belief that racism, by and large, had been eradicated from everywhere except the peripheries of society. The election of Barack Obama in 2008, so the story went, proved that America had overcome the race problem. All the while disparate groups identifying as neo-Nazi, neo-Confederate, nationalist, and, eventually, alt-right had begun leaning on increasingly more subtle and complex arguments for why race—and indeed racism—still mattered. America, they claim, is on the verge of losing its white-European-Christian-whatever identity; the time to stand up and fight has finally arrived.
Of course, how many “soldiers” of this particularly distasteful manifestation of the Right are available is something of an open question. By most accounts, only a few hundred folks attended the “Unite the Right” rally. And while there are plenty of racist trolls lurking around social media, many are anonymous, cowardly, and lacking anything resembling a coherent outlook. So now the media, indeed white America as a whole, is at risk of compensating for its prior dismissal of the race issue by overblowing the extent to which ideological racism shapes the thinking and political choices of a noticeable swathe of Americans. The reason this is a risk is because racial issues, like gender issues, tend to obscure one of the deepest problems in the United States (if not the West), namely class. But few people want to talk about that.
There is another risk that should also be noted: giving the racist Right a deeper (but ultimately false) sense of their own power and influence. Make no mistake about it: “Unite the Right,” a rally involving anything but a proper sampling of the American population, is now being heralded as a victory for no other reason than it has upset the Left so. Those who adhere to the true principles of the Right or, rather, principles often associated with the Right but only have coherence and meaning if moored to the Catholic tradition should worry about this. While there can be no doubt that civilizations must be defended if they are to be preserved, it is only Catholic civilization—Christendom—which warrants defending. The racist Right’s nationalism, fueled by such idiotic pieties as “Southern pride” and “Western values,” is devoid of any sense of the common good; whatever its purposes, the salvation of souls is not among them.
Unfortunately, too many Catholics (meaning any Catholic, anywhere) have been enchanted with the racist Right and its wobbly nationalistic outlook. Instead of identifying with the Church and working for the restoration of all things in Christ, they cling to the useless hope that by marginalizing minorities, mindlessly halting immigration, and touting the “glories” of America, they are somehow engaged in a holy crusade that finds favor with God. The reality is that the only thing pleasing to God is the re-Christianization of society, of bringing to Christ His lost sheep (of which there are hundreds of millions in America alone).
Although it should go without saying that integralists can have nothing to do with the raw nonsense spouted by the racist Right, certain remarks popping up on social media compel me to point to an early piece I wrote for The Josias that makes clear the racism and nationalism being promoted in certain circles has nothing to do with integralism or Catholicism. Catholics are not concerned with the color of man’s skin but the state of his soul. The civilization we seek to rebuild has nothing to do with the heritage of a country infused with the false principles of liberalism, but everything to do with the timeless principles articulated and defended by the Church for centuries. Ultimately, we have no use for secular presidents and legislative bodies that serve the interests of elites. It is Our Lord Jesus Christ, not liberalism, which we wish to see reign over society, and until He does again, our work for the rights of God, modest though they be for the time being, will never cease.
August 14, 2017
Charlottesville is in Virginia. 😉
August 14, 2017
Ah, oops. Ric Flair has been on my mind this morning and he’s from Charolette, NC. Thanks for the catch.
August 14, 2017
Our boy Matthew Heimbach was present.
August 23, 2017
” The reality is that the only thing pleasing to God is the re-Christianization of society, of bringing to Christ His lost sheep (of which there are hundreds of millions in America alone).”
I think that you are confusing categories, and your “only thing” rhetoric lends itself to monism. In addition to supernatural priorities/interests, countries also have natural priorities/interests. It is possible to seek the conversion of your country while opposing immigration rates that lead to undesirable demographic shifts. It’s not as though, “I must seek the conversion of my country; therefore, I must not have opinions on things that do not directly bear on that question.” When France and England fought in the Hundred Years War, both sides were formally Catholic. Should St. Joan of Arc have shrugged her shoulders and said, “What difference does it make?”
“Catholics are not concerned with the color of man’s skin but the state of his soul.”
Qua Catholics, we are not concerned. But the citizens of a country are entitled, qua citizens of that country, to consider whether the incorporation of people from foreign nations into their own country favors their country or poses unwarranted risks. It would be a mistake to think that Catholics consider *only* the state of people’s soul when they consider natural life. When you hire a new employee, you also consider his training, aptitudes, etc. When you consider possible new immigrants, you can consider the effects of admitting people from this nation vs. that, quite apart from the state of soul of the applicants. Again, you’re speaking as though a Catholic can think only and ever about the supernatural.
“It is Our Lord Jesus Christ, not liberalism, which we wish to see reign over society, and until He does again, our work for the rights of God, modest though they be for the time being, will never cease.”
It seems to me that we can distinguish baseline Anglo-American liberties and limited government from liberalism in the noxious sense. One can argue that these liberties are consistent with the restoration of all things in Christ. One can argue that current rates of immigration contribute to the electoral victory of forces that are most stridently committed to liberalism and most stridently opposed to the reign of Christ the King.
In the 300s and 400s AD, one could at the same time seek to convert the Roman Empire and seek to preserve it from military conquest from without. One can at the same time argue for the conversion of America and for the preservation of what is good in its specific heritage, and is at stake in the current culture wars relating to multiculturalism. One can do this without succumbing to false racial theories or delusions about America’s history. Consider Orestes Brownson, a proud Catholic and a proud Yankee, a man both critical of his country and a champion of it.
One should not view the preservation of American heritage as an absolute, but neither should one view it as a matter of pure indifference because the country has not yet been converted.
August 27, 2017
Here ya go.
August 27, 2017
How is that a response to what I wrote? I did not claim, “The Christian/Catholic/Integralist position is to seek to preserve the ethnic identity of the commonwealth in which he lives.” I claimed that, as a citizen of a given country, it might be prudent to do so. Mine is a natural claim. You seem to be saying that, because the Catholic Faith does not prescribe an answer to the question, “How should countries manage demographic shifts?” therefore, a Catholic *must* not adopt a specific position that you’re arguing against. The conclusion doesn’t follow.
I’m not defending every position that is marketed as alt-right; far from it. But lets take a specific man who professes to be Catholic: Patrick Buchanan. He would argue against the current high levels of immigration from Third World countries. He gives reasons for why his proposals work for the common good of the country we live in. I don’t see how his arguments are somehow ipso facto anti-Catholic. They might be right, they might be wrong, but they don’t seem to be wrong or immoral or “beyond the pale” prima facie.
To return to the writings of Diognetus, he’s about how Catholics live in society. He says that they are Greeks among Greeks and barbarians among barbarians. Okay, say the Catholic lives in a Greek city, which is seeing an influx of barbarians. For the sake of maintaining the established customs of their country, that city places limits on continued barbarian immigration, or it denies the franchise to foreign metidcs. Does the Christian suddenly say, “Nope, sorry, that’s contrary to the Gospel. I guess I really am not a Greek among Greeks. Hah-hah-hah. Jokes on you.” I’m guessing he would say, “I am a Greek by birth and a Christian by Baptism. I bear no ill will toward the barbarians, but this law is not ill willed. It is based in natural pietas, for the good of the community in which I live. Therefore, I am at peace with it.”
This is your blog, but I think the counter-arguments I propose merit more than a flippant “Here ya go.” Thank you.
August 27, 2017
Sorry, foreign *metics.*
August 23, 2017
“The civilization we seek to rebuild has nothing to do with the heritage of a country infused with the false principles of liberalism . . .”
A more Manichaean dichotomy between supernatural piety and natural piety, I can’t imagine. You’d do better to emphasize what is truly Christian in the American heritage, or is consistent with Christianity, and from there push for the full conversion of the country and the removal of what is not Christian, than start from the position, “What we’re doing has nothing to do with America’s heritage.”
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