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Fred Reed, a talented commentator and former Marine who now lives in Mexico, recently posted a gutsy piece about all the achievements that white people should be proud of. Fred admits that whites, like other races, have committed their share of outrages; nonetheless, he also calls attention to their past and present attainments in the arts and sciences, and their respect for the ideal of freedom. Fred also predicts that if anyone comes up with a cure for cancer, this too will likely emanate from the mind of a white scientist or else from the talented descendant of someone who came here from the Far East.

Fred is clearly responding to the predominantly white Millennials who are protesting “white privilege” and screaming that “Black Lives Matter,” but presumably not white ones. If only “white college students” and the smug leftist media and professoriate who influence them could be reminded of what they owe to a predominantly white civilization, then perhaps they would take a more favorable view of their ancestors and kinsmen!

Fat chance of that happening, for more than one reason. One, the pitifully little concerning the Western past that has entered the consciousness of the average “white college student” is filtered through the multicultural left. It usually enters the student’s mind in this and no other way Fred’s corrections will not likely change the balance of power in our educational system or in our cultural industry. I recall that by the time I retired from teaching college after forty years, the only “cultural facts” that students entering a Western Civilization class could provide are that “Islam is a religion of peace” and “diversity is strength.” And perhaps it isn’t necessary for these products of our educational system to know more about the Western past to navigate through life. Their low opinion about their inherited civilization may actually bring academic and social benefit. It may be already part of a new shared culture.  For most of our young, there may be little incentive to search beyond the clichés that Fred sets out to refute.

Two, and perhaps even more significantly, those whom Fred is trying to reach have no sense of belonging to a civilization that reaches back into the distant past. Their frame of reference is shaped by others who are living in a one-dimensional present. These young people, as far as I can tell, think that they know one thing for sure about the past: bad white dudes ran it. And we’re well rid of those times. Of course, those whose minds Fred hopes to change have no idea of their cultural debt to long dead males like Euclid, Dante, Bach, Newton, etc. But, even more relevant, they don’t see themselves as standing in any line of descent, culturally or physically, going back to the artistic, religious, and intellectual giants of the past. In fact, it’s doubtful that they even know much about their families, whatever their race, going back for more than one generation.

This brings me to a note that I recently received from a graduate student, who was excited to learn that about 10,000 Jews had served in the Confederate army, many as officers. Moreover, the Secretary of State of the CSA, Judah P. Benjamin, was Jewish, as well as David Levy Yulee, the first Jewish U.S. senator, who represented Florida and who later supported the cause of secession. Presumably such information which was included in The Jewish Confederates, a book (introduced by Alan Dershowitz) about Jews in the Confederacy would change, or so my correspondent assures me, the negative manner in which present-day Jews regard the Confederate States of America and the antebellum South. I gaped in wonder as I read this statement. What do American Jews in 2017 really have in common with those Portuguese, Spanish, and later, German Jews, who settled in the South in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century? Outside of some shared Hebrew prayers and common genes, certainly nothing I can think of. 

Most of the present American Jewish population are descended from Jews who came from the Russian Pale of Settlement two generations after the Civil War. They were social radicals and/or Zionists or extremely Orthodox and separatist. Still to be found among the descendants of this ethnic settlement are the attitudes and suspicions that their progenitors brought with them. One must add to this mix, however, memories of the horrendous experience of the Holocaust, which has driven an even larger wedge between Jews and the surrounding Christian majority. The recently deceased scholar of Judaica Jacob Neusner once complained to me that every time he helped set up a Jewish studies program at a college, the enterprise came to center on Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. The Jewish past was reduced to these particularly unpleasant circumstances and to discussions of their implications.  This emphasis was then used to justify or plead for heightened Jewish nationalism and/or current multicultural politics. In any case, those whom modern American Jews may admire are more likely to be named Chuck Schumer or Bernie Sanders than David Levy Yulee or Judah P. Benjamin.

A recently published anthology of mine, Revisions and Dissents, focuses on another reason that Fred’s attempt to set matters straight probably won’t work. Today the cutting edge of history as a discipline (or pseudo-discipline) is the presentation and comparison of victim claims put forth by or on behalf of authorized victim groups. In this enterprise, white Christians throughout most of the West hold exceedingly bad cards, and bad cards they’ve inflicted on themselves. The strenuous effort made by social and cultural elites to denigrate what characterized the Western past cannot be reduced to an information gap. Presumably lots of academics and promoters of the culture industry are fully aware of the facts that Fred diligently transmits. But they choose to ignore them out of moral and social commitments and tweak the truth in a way that serves their ideological ends.

Those who doing the tweaking, as opposed to those who swallow what they’re told, may understand that we’re all the beneficiaries of dead white males. But these better informed people engage in their own version of the noble lie. This became apparent to me years ago when I attended the lecture of an academic colleague who was explaining why “the Irish speak a language related to Sanskrit”: The answer was this: “Gentle Hindu missionaries converted the ancient Celts before Christian missionaries came along and forcibly baptized them.” When someone (namely I) asked whether the ancient Irish spoke a Sanskrit-related language because of the Indo-European occupation of Europe, I was told this explanation was wrong, inasmuch as the Nazis proposed it. I strongly suspect that everyone in the room accepted the “Nazi explanation” but went along with the undemonstrated counternarrative in order to show they “cared.”

 I’m also convinced that those who run the Southern Poverty Law Center fully understand that their linking of the Southern Battle Flag to Nazi ideology is downright silly. The Confederates may have defended their right to own slaves but were not committing genocide — and certainly not against Jews. It is also doubtful that everyone flying the Battle Flag hates Jews and blacks, as the SPLC has simplistically insisted. A certain hyperbole and obscuring of the full truth however are seen as necessary to advance the kind of society that progressives want us to embrace and which certain minorities view as essential for their own protection.  This is not the first time that advocates of radical change have offered twisted or one-sided narrative about the past, and I’d bet it won’t be the last. 

Fred Reed, a talented commentator and former Marine who now lives in Mexico, recently posted a gutsy piece about all the achievements that white people should be proud of. Fred admits that whites, like other races, have committed their share of outrages; nonetheless, he also calls attention to their past and present attainments in the arts and sciences, and their respect for the ideal of freedom. Fred also predicts that if anyone comes up with a cure for cancer, this too will likely emanate from the mind of a white scientist or else from the talented descendant of someone who came here from the Far East.

Fred is clearly responding to the predominantly white Millennials who are protesting “white privilege” and screaming that “Black Lives Matter,” but presumably not white ones. If only “white college students” and the smug leftist media and professoriate who influence them could be reminded of what they owe to a predominantly white civilization, then perhaps they would take a more favorable view of their ancestors and kinsmen!

Fat chance of that happening, for more than one reason. One, the pitifully little concerning the Western past that has entered the consciousness of the average “white college student” is filtered through the multicultural left. It usually enters the student’s mind in this and no other way Fred’s corrections will not likely change the balance of power in our educational system or in our cultural industry. I recall that by the time I retired from teaching college after forty years, the only “cultural facts” that students entering a Western Civilization class could provide are that “Islam is a religion of peace” and “diversity is strength.” And perhaps it isn’t necessary for these products of our educational system to know more about the Western past to navigate through life. Their low opinion about their inherited civilization may actually bring academic and social benefit. It may be already part of a new shared culture.  For most of our young, there may be little incentive to search beyond the clichés that Fred sets out to refute.

Two, and perhaps even more significantly, those whom Fred is trying to reach have no sense of belonging to a civilization that reaches back into the distant past. Their frame of reference is shaped by others who are living in a one-dimensional present. These young people, as far as I can tell, think that they know one thing for sure about the past: bad white dudes ran it. And we’re well rid of those times. Of course, those whose minds Fred hopes to change have no idea of their cultural debt to long dead males like Euclid, Dante, Bach, Newton, etc. But, even more relevant, they don’t see themselves as standing in any line of descent, culturally or physically, going back to the artistic, religious, and intellectual giants of the past. In fact, it’s doubtful that they even know much about their families, whatever their race, going back for more than one generation.

This brings me to a note that I recently received from a graduate student, who was excited to learn that about 10,000 Jews had served in the Confederate army, many as officers. Moreover, the Secretary of State of the CSA, Judah P. Benjamin, was Jewish, as well as David Levy Yulee, the first Jewish U.S. senator, who represented Florida and who later supported the cause of secession. Presumably such information which was included in The Jewish Confederates, a book (introduced by Alan Dershowitz) about Jews in the Confederacy would change, or so my correspondent assures me, the negative manner in which present-day Jews regard the Confederate States of America and the antebellum South. I gaped in wonder as I read this statement. What do American Jews in 2017 really have in common with those Portuguese, Spanish, and later, German Jews, who settled in the South in the late eighteenth or early nineteenth century? Outside of some shared Hebrew prayers and common genes, certainly nothing I can think of. 

Most of the present American Jewish population are descended from Jews who came from the Russian Pale of Settlement two generations after the Civil War. They were social radicals and/or Zionists or extremely Orthodox and separatist. Still to be found among the descendants of this ethnic settlement are the attitudes and suspicions that their progenitors brought with them. One must add to this mix, however, memories of the horrendous experience of the Holocaust, which has driven an even larger wedge between Jews and the surrounding Christian majority. The recently deceased scholar of Judaica Jacob Neusner once complained to me that every time he helped set up a Jewish studies program at a college, the enterprise came to center on Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. The Jewish past was reduced to these particularly unpleasant circumstances and to discussions of their implications.  This emphasis was then used to justify or plead for heightened Jewish nationalism and/or current multicultural politics. In any case, those whom modern American Jews may admire are more likely to be named Chuck Schumer or Bernie Sanders than David Levy Yulee or Judah P. Benjamin.

A recently published anthology of mine, Revisions and Dissents, focuses on another reason that Fred’s attempt to set matters straight probably won’t work. Today the cutting edge of history as a discipline (or pseudo-discipline) is the presentation and comparison of victim claims put forth by or on behalf of authorized victim groups. In this enterprise, white Christians throughout most of the West hold exceedingly bad cards, and bad cards they’ve inflicted on themselves. The strenuous effort made by social and cultural elites to denigrate what characterized the Western past cannot be reduced to an information gap. Presumably lots of academics and promoters of the culture industry are fully aware of the facts that Fred diligently transmits. But they choose to ignore them out of moral and social commitments and tweak the truth in a way that serves their ideological ends.

Those who doing the tweaking, as opposed to those who swallow what they’re told, may understand that we’re all the beneficiaries of dead white males. But these better informed people engage in their own version of the noble lie. This became apparent to me years ago when I attended the lecture of an academic colleague who was explaining why “the Irish speak a language related to Sanskrit”: The answer was this: “Gentle Hindu missionaries converted the ancient Celts before Christian missionaries came along and forcibly baptized them.” When someone (namely I) asked whether the ancient Irish spoke a Sanskrit-related language because of the Indo-European occupation of Europe, I was told this explanation was wrong, inasmuch as the Nazis proposed it. I strongly suspect that everyone in the room accepted the “Nazi explanation” but went along with the undemonstrated counternarrative in order to show they “cared.”

 I’m also convinced that those who run the Southern Poverty Law Center fully understand that their linking of the Southern Battle Flag to Nazi ideology is downright silly. The Confederates may have defended their right to own slaves but were not committing genocide — and certainly not against Jews. It is also doubtful that everyone flying the Battle Flag hates Jews and blacks, as the SPLC has simplistically insisted. A certain hyperbole and obscuring of the full truth however are seen as necessary to advance the kind of society that progressives want us to embrace and which certain minorities view as essential for their own protection.  This is not the first time that advocates of radical change have offered twisted or one-sided narrative about the past, and I’d bet it won’t be the last. 



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