Rival “Anti-Nationalists” March in Charlottesville

The street battle in Charlottesville pitted two enemies of American nationalism in a contest over which fringe group of dissidents – who all hate how the United States has reached its level of high civilization – will bring the country down. It would be a mistake to allow antipathy towards either extreme to push one into supporting the other extreme. Both are to be rejected in favor of resurrecting a broad center coalition that can focus on moving the nation forward with programs that are both realistic and inclusive.

blue_logo
By William R. Hawkins l August 15, 2017

I wince whenever a media report on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia calls the racist thugs who sparked the brawl “white nationalists.” They are not “nationalists” because the hate they espoused was meant to be divisive.

Indeed, the banner they marched under was the infamous Confederate flag, the symbol of a Disunited States torn by a war started to protect slavery. The purpose of their march was to protest the removal of a stature of Robert E. Lee, the traitor whom, after serving 32 years in the U.S. Army, deserted his post to join the secessionists. He had fought in the Mexican War, which won California and the Southwest for the United States; and, had been Superintendent at West Point. Yet, he could not raise his thinking to the national level. He betrayed the trust given to him in the past and turned down an offer to lead Union troops. Instead, he embraced the evil and self-destructive political economy of Virginia and the Confederacy; a truly “anti-nationalist” decision.

I was raised in Illinois, the land of Lincoln; the savior of the Union.

But my mother was from Louisiana and I have lived nearly my entire adult life in the South: Texas, Tennessee (twice), North Carolina, Virginia (three times), and Arkansas. I like the modern South and have no desire to live in any other region, though fate may decide otherwise. Some may question my counting Tennessee as a southern state. I lived in Knoxville, in the eastern part of the state which was pro-Union. Indeed, that is why it is still the most Republican part of Tennessee, as the GOP was the party of Union. Tennessee was a border state and had its share of rebels and battles. To my dismay there were people in late 20th century Knoxville who looked with fondness on the Confederate flag even though it was not associated with the history of their part of the state. Eastern Tennessee is rough terrain and was not suitable for plantation slavery, though Tennessee was a slave state.

I have never understood why anyone living in the South today would want to look back to the region’s ugly past for any reason other than to thank God they were not part of it. No one alive today had anything to do with slavery; why would anyone pretend they did by waving a Confederate flag? Besides the obvious immorality of the system, it kept the region poor and inferior in every regard to the Northern and Western states, which built their economies on “free soil and free men,” and on industrial progress. The Union won the war because its system was superior. It had more factories and farms, and a larger population. After all, why would anyone coming to America seeking a better life choose a region dominated by slave-owners? It was the Union that offered a “land of opportunity.” Its more enlightened political economy produced a conquering wave of weapons, supplies, and troops.

While some romanticize the rich plantation lifestyle, their wealth kept the general population poor. It is simple economics; supply and demand. When a labor market is dominated by impoverished slaves, wages for everyone else will also be kept down. The tragedy of the common Confederate soldier is that he was fighting for a system that made him a victim too. The best days of the South are now, not back then. Southerners today should be proud of what they have accomplished and be just as scornful of the errors of the past as anyone else. Slavery and secession were the worst things to ever happen to America, and those who defend such practices, then or now, need their heads examined.

The nature of the Charlottesville protest took on an even more sinister tone when James Alex Fields rammed his car into counter-protesters in the manner of Islamist terrorists in Europe. It seems Fields idolizes Adolf Hitler. It is hardly necessary to list all the evils of Nazism, but it should be remembered that Hitler declared war on the United States just after Pearl Harbor was attacked. You cannot be an American nationalist and embrace an enemy. My father served in the U.S. Navy during World War II hunting German U-boats in European waters. Anyone who can’t remember which side his country was fighting on is not a patriot. And to those on the Left who like to equate nationalism with fascism, it should be noted that the Axis was defeated by people in the Allied countries who were strong nationalists, willing to fight and die for their flags. Even Joseph Stalin understood that the Russian people would fight for their Motherland much more fiercely than for Marxism. The Chinese today understand this as well, as they abandon communism for national development.

You cannot be both a racist and a nationalist in the United States.

This country was filled with people from all over the world. What unites us is allegiance to the American flag and “the country for which it stands,” and to the culture and values which have made the U.S. the world’s preeminent leader of modern civilization. This is the grand identity to which we must all adhere, if we are to live together in a healthy society. We cannot place sub-identities of race, religion, or foreign origin above our shared national identity without risking social disintegration and a level of strife that would put domestic prosperity, security, and happiness in peril.

This is the message President Donald Trump was trying to convey in his remarks condemning the Charlottesville riot. The liberal media has ignored the end of his statement to the press:

We love our flag. We’re proud of our country. We’re proud of who we are, so we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it. And we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen. My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another. We must love each other, respect each other and cherish our history and our future together. So important. We have to respect each other. Ideally, we have to love each other.

This was an expression of true nationalism and of social unity and cohesion. It has been his strongest theme. On August 3, at a rally in West Virginia, he closed his speech with lines used over and over during his campaign, in his Inaugural Address, and many times since entering the White House: “We share one home and one glorious destiny. Whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood. We all salute the same great American flag. And we are all made by the same almighty God. As long as we remember these truths, and who we are and what we are fighting for, America will never fail.” Indeed, it is his unabashed nationalism that has made those on the Left so manic in their “resistance” to him. It has also discomforted some in the GOP establishment who would rather focus on lucrative special interests than more noble national interests.

The Big Lie, however, comes from the Left.

Consider the twisted claim of Brian Beutler that the Charlottesville protesters were “Donald Trump’s Racist Troops.” Beutler is senior editor at The New Republic, once a respected magazine of thoughtful liberalism which has become just another dirty rag hanging from a tree in the fever swamp of extremism. He went so far as to call Trump himself “a vile racist.” Has Beutler not heard Trump’s own words? Or has he and fears their power? The Left has called Trump a racist from the start, needing to diminish his broad appeal as a nationalist. The American people despise the partisanship that has crippled Washington. They want someone who will rise above party and truly work to “Make America Great.” The Left cannot allow such a leader to emerge; or policies to be formed and judged on the grounds of a general interest.

Critics thus attacked the opening of Trump’s Charlottesville statement: “We’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” They wanted him to only condemn one side, not both sides. Yet, the counter-protesters who confronted the “white supremacists” were not nationalists either. They did not meet the Confederate flag with the American flag. Photos show instead an array of red flags, the symbols of left-wing revolution and the division of society along class and racial lines. The Left hates nationalism because it pulls the different segments of society together in a common cause, defeating the radical campaign to spread alienation and foment domestic strife for political gain. The campaign to substitute multiculturalism for assimilation is meant to keep groups separate and vulnerable to partisan recruitment rather than unite them in a shared national identity.

So-called “sanctuary cities” are another case study and not just because they show the Left’s greater sympathy for illegal/criminal aliens over the jobs and security of American citizens. It ironically harkens back to a tactic once used by the Southern slavers; the idea of “nullification” – the claim that States have the right to invalidate Federal law within their territory. South Carolina tried to “nullify” the protective tariff of 1828 because it promoted domestic manufacturing. As a slave state, South Carolina was dominated by plantations which imported their manufactured goods from Europe; another way in which their evil practice was “anti-national” and ultimately self-defeating. President Andrew Jackson rejected South Carolina’s claim and threatened to enforce Federal law by force if necessary. Some Southern states tried to revive nullification in the 1950s to oppose Federally mandated school integration and were again defeated by Federal power and national opinion. The same fate should befall the Left’s attempt to use nullification to spread crime and chaos today.

The street battle in Charlottesville pitted two enemies of American nationalism in a contest over which fringe group of dissidents – who all hate how the United States has reached its level of high civilization – will bring the country down. It would be a mistake to allow antipathy towards either extreme to push one into supporting the other extreme. Both are to be rejected in favor of resurrecting a broad center coalition that can focus on moving the nation forward with programs that are both realistic and inclusive.


William R. Hawkins, a former economics professor and Congressional staffer, is a consultant specializing in international economics and national security issues. He is a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis, of the Conservative-Online-Journalism center at the Washington-based Selous Foundation for Public Policy Research.

Related Articles