That truth should be silent I had almost forgot.
Antony and Cleopatra,  Act 1, Scene 2

Unsilent Truth
July 1, 2020

Libertarianism 101, statues, and (uh oh!) the Klan


IN "LIBERTARIANS ARE INHERENTLY anti-Semitic and racist," I predicted what Libertarian 101 libertarians would say about Confederate statues in trying to escape possible charges that they are racists:

Perhaps they will even support the removal of statues of Confederate generals on the grounds that erecting memorials is not a proper function of government. Or perhaps they will object to removing them, but only because of the expense to the public treasury.
Comes now J.D. Tuccille of Reason.com to confirm my views.

He opens his comments by saying, "It's difficult to evoke much concern for the removal of statues of slavery advocates from public property, but the historical revisionism hasn't stopped there, of course. As the removals have devolved from a policy debate to a mob activity, they've engulfed morally sketchy politicians, debatable public figures and, inevitably, people about whom the mob seems to have serious misconceptions. Given that bronze and stone replicas of fallible human beings seem incapable of serving any unifying purpose for people forced to pay taxes to erect them, it's time to get government out of the monument business."

He's right, of course (except for the trite and in some cases untrue reference to "slavery advocates"). Libertarianism 101 libertarians are always right. The problem is that, at least in this case, they seem to have no understanding of the civilizational meaning of the destruction of statues, murals, memorials, and such, even if they are on so-called public property and represent (to L101) people with distasteful views. Even an L101 libertarian should be saddened to see the Lincoln Memorial vandalized, defaced, or damaged. They sometimes seem willing to see any part of Western civilization swept aside, as long as it's something funded by the state. And since most of them are atheists, it sickens me to think what they might say if BLM/Antifa Morlocks ran amok in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.

They seem to think that if human society were wiped out, and Romulans came to Earth and read whatever books they found by Ludwig von Mises and Milton Friedman, they would be able to rebuild it. No doubt, they could build a prosperous and free society that way, but it would not be human, let alone Western.


When one says A, you can count on the propagandists of the Left (and the good Do Bee dummies they ventriloquistically operate at approved social distance) to cry out that one has not said B! Or they will say, "Are you saying that not-B?" "No," one is tempted to reply, "I am saying A. Weren't you listening?" Of course, if B follows logically from A, then they might have a point, but it usually doesn't. When I want to talk about A, and B does not follow logically from A, I see no reason to talk about B if I don't want to.

And right now I don't want to. I'm going to talk about A, and the devil take anyone who wants me to talk about B.

Most people, when they hear the words "Ku Klux Klan," are filled almost at once with terror, rage, or revulsion. Perhaps all three. Most of them have never seen a real Kluxer — those they see at rallies are almost certainly leftists in Halloween costumes intended to give the propagandists something to write about. Usually their only experience with the Klan comes from movies, and then often as not in a comedic setting. (I still laugh when I recall John Goodman's character in "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" in his Klan hood with only one eye-hole.) Certainly not from a more serious depiction, as in "The Birth of a Nation." And what pass for documentaries can hardly be credited as serious studies.

These days the Klan is so powerless that it is risible that leftists treat it as one of the many great threats disturbing the peace. (Not threats to Civilization, of course, because the Left is no more interested in Civilization than Libertarian 101 libertarians are.) One might as well desecrate Elizabeth Patterson's gravesite in Baltimore lest it become a rallying site for a nascent Bonapartist uprising.

Years ago, your humble servant worked at a Borders Books store in Fairfax, Virginia. One of the ways Borders was set up was that each of its "associates" (i.e., hourly underlings) had the responsibility for keeping up the stock of specific selections of books, and of keeping the shelved stock properly organized. We were also supposed to be on the lookout for opportunities to "cross-shelve" titles. Thus, if the guy who had the True Crime section had copies of the 1989 book The Cuckoo's Egg, he was supposed to bring the book to the attention of the guy who had the Computer books section. (The subtitle of The Cuckoo's Egg is "Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage.") The guy in the Computer section was then supposed to keep a copy or two on hand and let the True Crime guy know when he needed more copies.

Similarly, if the guy who was responsible for the Sociology section had copies of any books by the criminologist Stanton Samenow, he was supposed to make sure that the guy who managed the Local Authors section had a copy or two there. (In those days Samenow lived in the D.C. area.) Cooperation among the underlings was necessary because the computer inventory system was capable of listing only one location in the store per title. That makes sense if you think about it. After all, the Borders in Indianapolis would have no reason to keep any copies of Samenow's books in its Local Authors section. It was this attention to local particulars and differences and its encouragement of special knowledge among the underlings that helped make Borders stores great bookstores in the chain's early days.

As it happened I had the section dealing with politics and political history, and one day there appeared in my bin of books Kathleen M. Blee's Women of the Klan: Racism and Gender in the 1920s. Because I like to do my job well (and because I like to stir up trouble when I can), I brought the book to the attention of the gal who had responsibility for the Women's Studies books. She wanted no part of it, and would not shelve the book in her pristine — and may I say, boringly bromidic — section. Well, no surprise there. Most people knew then that Borders had become a hotbed of leftwing agitprop, even before it was taken over by Kmart in 1992.

I never got around to reading the Blee book, and in any case, I would have no way of learning how nearly accurate her portrayal is. From the review at Amazon, which reads a little like the promotional summary on an inside front cover, I would expect it to be just as bulging with commonplace biases as one might imagine it to be. But Blee (or the review) gets one thing right: the Klan was a "movement that appealed to ordinary people throughout the country."

In an agreeable turn of events, I was acquainted with two such ordinary people, and before you ask, no, neither one was David Duke. It was an agreeable turn of events because the ordinary people were relatives of mine. One was the father of an uncle, and the other was an uncle of my father. Both had been members of the Baltimore Klan in their youth.

Both men were German Protestants, and both had to resign their membership for the same reason: each had fallen in love with a Catholic girl (not the same Catholic girl, you understand). Indeed, in Baltimore it is a little on the difficult side, if you are a young man ready for love, not to find that the object of your affections is Catholic. In these cases, one girl was Polish Catholic and the other was German Catholic. Everyone "knows" that the Klan is racist (whatever he thinks that word means), but most people forget that it was also anti-Catholic.

The father of my uncle began talking to me about the Baltimore Klan during a cookout one summer day in my mother's backyard. One reason for anti-Catholic sentiment in Baltimore was that most poor people in that city were Catholic. This means that many were small-time criminals now and then, and that most of them drank a lot. (Wine-bibbing Episcopalians — who of course, were not common laborers — drink sherry; but German Catholic drinkers — at least in Baltimore — tended to be beer drinkers. Irish Catholic drinkers, but I repeat myself, went for the harder stuff.) It was common for hourly workers to stop by a bar on payday and consume some large portion of the paycheck and to beat their wives when they got home, probably because the wives complained that they had drunk a large portion of the paycheck. Of course, wife-beating was not limited to Catholic households. Protestant laborers were as prone to beating their wives as the Catholics were, but on the whole, Protestants, even German Protestants, tended to do less drinking than Catholics.

What the father of my uncle told me was that the primary focus of the Baltimore Klan was not on "the niggers" but on the wife-beaters. When Klan members learned that a certain guy had beaten his wife, even if he was one of their own, the Klan would pay him a visit and do what they could to encourage him not to beat her again. They also encouraged him to get the entire paycheck to the missus.

"We never lynched anyone," he told me. And apparently they never even burned a cross in front of a Negro home. He was a little evasive about how they encouraged men not to beat their wives. (Did they burn crosses in front of their homes?)

He also told me that the Klan was attentive to (white non-Catholic) widows and orphans. They did what they could to make sure they had sufficient food and clothes. In short, the Klan (at least in Baltimore) functioned in part as one of those "friendly societies" that looked after neighbors and that were driven out of business by the Roosevelt administration.

All in all, my uncle's father seemed to think that the Klan had made Baltimore a more livable place. My father's uncle was somewhat more reticent about his days in the Klan, but he did mumble once, "They weren't what people think they were."

And in case you forgot, no, I am not going to talk about B.

***                 ***

"Ms." with or without the period is not a word. It is not an abbreviation. It is not an honorific of courtesy with obscure 17th-century pedigree. It is a flag. That's why the gals who use it get their knickers in a twist when others will not. There are women — real women — who will not fly that flag. We men should join them whenever we are free to. Ω

July 1, 2020

© 2020 Ronald N. Neff
Published in 2020 by WTM Enterprises.

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