MASK OFF

It’s another election year, which means, as per the example set last time, the cold civil war in this country heats up yet again. Each time is worse than the last, and with two weeks of riots leaving the downtown region of Minneapolis looking like Falujiah in 2005, we can rest assured that Minneapolis probably won’t be coming back from this. Seattle has a comically titled Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone (CHAZ) which is currently under the dominion of an abrasive, belligerent soundcloud rapper, because he’s the only one who thought to bring a gun. And, the icing on the cake: Pelosi spearheaded an effort to rip down, by congressional authority, more statues of Confederate figures.

In 2015, the Freddie Gray riots stripped Baltimore of businesses and shops, burned a CVS to the ground, and provided cover for a looting operation in the range of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Baltimore, to date, still hasn’t recovered from then-Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake’s order to the police to give the rioters some space to destroy. Two weeks ago, we watched mayors all across the country take her lead. The result is mind-numbing: trails of destruction cloven through downtown Minneapolis, Brooklyn, Santa Monica, Portland, Philadelphia, Washington, and now, Seattle—among many more. And at the time of this writing, the situation in places like Portland, Oregon and Atlanta are getting much, much worse.

There are three issues to address here: the violence, the attacks against our history by tearing down monuments, and how these fit into current events. We’ll start with the monuments.

Arguments

We can understand the rage against the Confederate monuments in two ways: the theoretical and the practical. Normally, the practical is simply a matter of implementing the theoretical, but in this case—and in the case of all left wing narratives of the last couple decades—the reverse is true. The theoretical is deployed as a weapon against their opposition in order to justify the practical. It’s not necessarily a lie to them, but the ideology they espouse isn’t really the point of their unrest. This is crucial to understanding what’s really going on here, and we’ll address that in a moment.

Theoretically, we’re told that statues are stand-ins for the ideas espoused by the people they depict. In the cases of figures known more for their ideology than their life, for instance, such as maybe Kant or Descartes, that could be true. In the cases of others, such as Robert E. Lee, whose guiding principles amounted to common sense Americanism—defend hearth & home, fulfill your station to your best ability, remain faithful to God, etc.—there isn’t any unique ideology there to enshrine. Most the American legends, including our founding fathers, are men such as these; even Jefferson, perhaps the most ideological of the founders, lived a life worthy of national memory regardless of whether he deserves to be vilified or glorified. For these figures, the statues are memorials to what they did, not what they believed.

Reasonable people understand this. Unfortunately, reasonableness is not the trait that our universities are charged with cultivating in the impressionable minds of our youth, as most of us now should be well aware. For the arts & humanities graduates, narrative is more important than reality—indeed becoming synonymous with it. Whatever Robert E. Lee or Jefferson Davis actually believed is irrelevant; their participation as losers in a war that determined the fate of the Peculiar Institution is all that matters. Their particular brand of post-structuralism inflicts upon the historical figures ideologies that exist purely in retrospect, and they forcibly reject any counterpoints. The actual causes of the war don’t matter to them. This applies also to Churchill, despite winning his war, and Christopher Columbus, despite not having fought one, because of the greater racial conflict purported by subscribers to racial ideology.

So theoretically speaking, tearing down statues of racists is an improvement to the public square. Who wants to live in the shadow of a villain, after all? Any self-respecting conservative (I assume there are still a few out there) wouldn’t be able to help a pang of disgust if he had to see a towering bronze effigy of Karl Marx every time he left his house in the morning. Same goes for these vanguard-activists on the left when they spot an image of Columbus. Or George Washington. Or so they claim.

But what’s really going on here?

Take the image of a statue getting pulled off of its pedestal and cracking into several chunks as it hits the ground. Take another image: a man with his fist raised high, standing atop an overturned car with a burning shop at his rear casting him in silhouette. Or take another image: a man advancing on helmet-clad anonymous police officers demanding, angrily, to be arrested.

These are images of power. They evoke a revolutionary spirit, but only because they evoke first the indication of power against authority—the authority of history, of community, of law. Any front-page worthy image from the riots these past weeks is front-page worthy because it is powerful, and we respect power. And so do they; in fact, it’s the only thing they respect.

Reasonable people, however, also respect reason. Reason is the means by which the world is made knowable and sensible. Reasonable people recognize that, even if it’s not always immediately apparent, things are supposed to make sense. Argumentation, logic, and analysis all presuppose this, and reasonable people are at least willing to take for granted the fact that somebody, somewhere, is drawing reasonable conclusions from reasonable claims. So when someone appeals to a particular argument, most of us are willing to go along with it so long as it carries with it the auspices of reason.

Nowadays, of course, those auspices of reason tend to be couched in certain buzzwords and phrases, which themselves carry weight due to their origination: the various academic institutions that dot the West like pox on a diseased cow. Most self-respecting Americans would naturally assume that a university professor, tasked with shaping the intellectual framework of our academic superiors, would act responsibly in continuing the tradition of reasonable thinking so characteristic of the West. Or at least, most self-respecting Americans could be forgiven for believing this about thirty years ago. Now, with entire faculties of liberal arts departments openly endorsing the values of socialism, the evils of whiteness, and giving platforms to anti-white extremists, no American with an ounce of self-respect should delude themselves into thinking that universities are anything other than machines of indoctrination.

Nonetheless, a common thread of respecting reason prevails among those average, common Americans who vote on either side of the aisle. Conservatives do not have a monopoly over it any more than liberals have a monopoly over extremism; we know this because what a person believes isn’t always congruent with how he acts or what his priorities are. A retiree paying lip service to Black Lives Matter from the comfort of a wooded suburban Connecticut home carries little practical weight, so far removed from the violence taking place miles away in Brooklyn. It’s a virtue signal, and—even if he’s the type to rave against Trump supporters on Facebook—a practically harmless one.

But what if you don’t care about reason? What if reason was just another piece of the architecture that had systematized the oppression of your people?—or, say, maybe that’s what you were told in order to pander to your own life of hardship. What if you were told that reason was just a means of justifying a system of power, and that in itself, reason had no meaning and didn’t actually explain anything? You can see where this takes us.

What we’re talking about is the use of arguments as weapons. The appointed spokespeople for these radicals are not reasonable people. They claim to be open to dialogue as they shout in your face, silence opposition, and sic mobs on the nation. They do not care about whether they win the argument, because the argument is just part of their battle plan. They care if they win the fight, be it by dishing out a rhetorical flex or sending a brick through a window. At the end of the day, what conservatives in particular must recognize, is that you might be right about your reasons for opposing them, but if all you’re going to do is argue, you’ll be the one bleeding out on the pavement while they stand on top of your body and proclaim victory.

I say conservatives here specifically because conservatives—or more accurately, right-liberals—are far more likely to oppose what’s going on in an open and vocal environment than their left-of-center peers. Yes, our government is completely compromised and all of our GOP representatives, Justices, and administrators have, by all appearances, sold us up the river. But the left-liberal Americans will take a lot of this sitting down. They want appeasement, because they may sympathize with the arguments being made even if they don’t agree with the cities being burned. Just by listening to the arguments, however, they’re subjecting themselves to the abuse and allowing themselves to be cowed by a mob who does not care about them.

The anti-white, anti-American, “anti-racist” rhetoric isn’t designed around a pursuit of truth in order to make the world a better place. The whole ideology exists to undermine and depose the social order representative of the American quasi-liberal status quo. It doesn’t matter how it’s accomplished and it doesn’t matter if it makes no sense. A population cowed by consumerism, near-instant gratification, and pornography, a population already enslaved by its passions, is not difficult to herd into a rhetorical pen that feeds into an actual slaughterhouse. And if you believe that it’s worth even engaging with an argument put forward by the likes of Antifa or BLM spokespeople, you’re already in that pen.

The fight here isn’t over racism, or intersectionalism, or Marxism. The fight is about power. Liberalism provided the avenue for the naked fight over political power to take place. Before that, a wholesale rejection of the struggle would have been provided by every level of government and social order. Now? Not so much. Liberalism, which espouses a relativity of truths, obscures reason and forces the issue of power over all, because by rejecting a singular truth from which is ordered the architecture of reason, liberalism’s only enforcer is whichever man is holding the sword at the end of the day. As we see playing out farcically in the Seattle autonomous zone, that man will either be a cop or it’ll be a self-appointed vigilante with a gun.

Humiliation

Bending the knee is a sign of submission, fealty, agreement and endorsement, and humility before a social better. When we bend the knee before the altar, we’re acknowledging God and His Real Presence in the tabernacle, we’re acknowledging ourselves as His subjects, and in humbling ourselves, acknowledging how little we are before His majesty. When we bend the knee before our king—if we had one—there would be congruent acknowledgments of respecting the earthly authority of the nation’s living regent.

Learned as we are as secular modernists, we have no need for kings and, gradually, we have come to find little need also for God. Absent truth and absent reason, the best a civilization can do is wrestle for the control levers of power, while those who have it will wield it with impassioned abandon. Good secular rulers will rule according to the rough approximations of reason that is possible for authority bound to his passions; the worst rulers will ignore any pretenses of reason altogether and embrace despotism. This applies not only to the rule of single dictators but of oligarchies the likes of which the United States has operated as for the last fifty years.

The dispensation of justice and the rule of law become the arbitrary marks of the ruling party’s decisions. This is the modern political framework, and those who behave this way cannot conceive of a moral order independent of the shackles that bind them to their passions. This is why all modern attempts at explaining justice, law, and authority are built on the premises that no one is actually right in any objective sense, and that justice is achievable only with relation to certain in-group preferences. Of course this makes no sense at all, but that’s what we’re told to believe according to the social justice narrative.

So when they incite the mobs to tear down our history, they aren’t doing it in order to usher in regime change. The regime already changed. Keep in mind that the people tearing down monuments already have the sympathies of one of the two ruling parties in the country. House majority leader Pelosi even had the portraits of Confederate sympathizers removed from the Capitol building as a sign of solidarity, and she drafted legislation that would remove Confederate statues from cemeteries and public land in an official capacity. The vanguard in the streets behaving like even less-classy Bolsheviks aren’t rebels, they’re just the radical faction of the ruling party. They get to do what the ruling party wants done but without the pretenses of jumping through legal hoops.

And you might wonder what the goal of tearing down statues is if it isn’t regime change and if they don’t really believe their own rhetoric. The answer is simple humiliation. Just like using bad arguments to bully reasonable people into supporting their fight, they tear down the statues purely because they know that a) it will elicit a vocal response and b) their opposition isn’t going to put up a fight over it. The enemy thinks they’ve already won, and that the bulk of Americans are just going to roll over and accept whatever brave new hellish world they plan on implementing.

Maybe they’re right, I don’t know. Six decades of the government actively harassing, infiltrating, and outright purging organized right wing movements has left whatever remains of the right as little more than a collection of peaceful pro-life activists, demoralized NRA members, and Knights of Columbus-adjacent cookout fans. When large groups of people who self-identify with the right come together to organize, they’re smeared by the media, at best, and at worst, funneled by cops toward Antifa specifically so a fight can break out and the state has an excuse to arrest them. There’s no question that if the riots two weeks ago were predominately right-wing inspired, and they were burning down abortion clinics while demanding the dismantling of DACA, there’d be boots on the ground the same day and there’d be a clean-up operation that’d have made Nixon raise his eyebrows.

With this in mind, it’s clear that the government is going to let this continue for as long as it wants until it gets whatever it’s goals are. That masks didn’t slip off this time, the perpetrators just took them off themselves and the rest of us, shocked that they’d do such a thing, still seem to pretend like they’re wearing masks. The opposition is openly flaunting a definite, literal hatred of white people—and whether you believe that’s a legitimate category or not doesn’t even matter at this point, they’ll know you’re white enough when they see you.

Conclusion

I won’t pretend to know the answer to all of this. A fight of this size comes in waves, on a predictable cycle of every four years, because that’s our election cycle. At least for now. This year it’s bad; next time it will be worse.

On a practical level, the one thing we must all remember is to cling as close as possible to the Sacraments, maintain if not further deepen our devotions and our interior lives, and do whatever is in our power to be better Catholics. This should always take priority, especially now as all the signs are on the wall: this violence is distinctly anti-Christian and especially anti-Catholic. In the time it took to write this piece, the mob went from tearing down confederate statues to tearing down statues of saints and even of Our Lady of Fatima. The Enemy is at work here.

On a wider level, organization will be key, but I don’t know how much to trust efforts of organization for the reasons I mentioned before. We already know that our elected officials don’t have our backs, as American citizens, and we’ve been watching Trump literally do nothing while the country burns, so we know his administration doesn’t have our backs either. After the recent passages of Bostock v. Clayton County and Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California through the Supreme Court, we know that the judges don’t have our backs, either. If there was ever a time when the U.S. Government so thoroughly and so obviously resented, dismissed, and ignored its own people, we’re living through it now.

All I know is that when we’re watching mobs of rioters, profiled by fires, tear down statues of national heroes like George Washington, it isn’t alarmist to draw parallels to the disastrous revolutions of 1789, 1848, and 1914, to mention just a few. When members of the mob are shouting, on video, “shoot the white folks,” and “kill whitey,” and are so emboldened as to take over city blocks and point weaponry at cops, it isn’t alarmist to call this the beginnings of a race war. And when the government ignores the violence when it isn’t outright endorsing it, it isn’t alarmist to consider the fact that you don’t have a country anymore.

It’s just a few words. It’s just a slogan. It’s just pronouns. It’s just airing legitimate grievances. It’s just some statues. It’s just some names. It’s just reparations. It’s just relocation. It’s just workplace reassignment. You will be made complicit by our demands to fall in line. Shut up, get in the camp. Shut up, you don’t deserve to see your family. Shut up, you lost the war. Shut up, do what we tell you. Shut up, dig the graves.

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