Mayhem in Charlottesville: Taking Sides

What are we to think of the distressing events of Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia?

My first impression is that they are part of our nation’s continued descent into violent mayhem. I also sense that the affair is being managed by oligarchs with agendas — not the people that show up at events like this, but the rich men who bankroll the street warriors. Crises, real or contrived, are often how they press their advantage.

As with so much of our national discourse, the discussion surrounding this incident misses the point. The “alt-right” neo-pagans and white supremacists on one side, and the “antifa” and “BLM” progressivists on the other are really flip sides of the same bad coin: a vision of society that asserts man’s rights (as perceived by the warring ideologies) while ignoring the rights of God. It is a domestic American version of what happened to the Continent in Wold War II: German Socialists and the Russian Socialists attempting to divide Europe between them, with the populace forced to take one godless side or the other.

Professional provocateurs on both sides of this current false dialectic show up at these events to make a scene, to get attention, and (if they get lucky) to punch a hated rival in the face or cause senseless property damage. Nothing good could actually get accomplished, for both parties have false principles.

One wonders about that strange order given to the police to stand down, and thus allow violent leftists and violent “alt-right” protesters to clash. This vacuum could only have been a catalyst for greater violence than otherwise would have happened.

Is that what was intended by the order? If not, what was the purpose? I do not have the answers to these questions, but they should be asked of those who do.

Whether a greater police presence would have prevented a madman from plowing his car into the counter-protesters is not for me to say. The man’s cowardly act of brutality, during which he committed second-degree murder, must be condemned for what it is: a reckless, hateful sin against the fifth commandment of God.

And we can be sure that this was not the only part of the decalogue to be violated.

The Confederate monuments, which haven’t harmed anyone for the century or so they have been standing, are mere occasions for these groups to vent their hate, but none of this is really about the monuments. Just as many of the vulgar anti-Trump rallies by abortion-loving feminists were less about Trump and more about feminist agitation.

There are those who wish to defend the Southern monuments, just as there are those who wish them torn down. That, I do not deny. But a conflict over monuments was not what was going on Saturday in Virginia.

While neither extreme on display at Charlottesville represents anything like the American mainstream, that mainstream is still less interested in the rights of God and more interested in the rights of man (according to various misunderstandings of those rights). Witness the blasphemy, crudity, and flaunting of divine law in the entertainments imbibed by the masses.

The vast majority of Americans might not side with either of the belligerents in Charlottesville, but neither are they especially on the right side.

Yes, we should take sides; for, while the factions we saw fighting it out in Charlottesville are not worthy of the allegiance of a baptized soul, there is a side to choose: the side of a Christian (i.e., Catholic) America, which respects the Social Reign of Our Lord Jesus Christ the King and all that implies. Until His rights are respected, we can fully expect more Fergusons, more Charlottesvilles, and more Berkeleys. We cannot expect peace.

May God help us, for only He can.

  • MerckxFactor

    Yes, two sides of the same debased coin. Cultural Marxist Iconoclast’s vs. National Socialist opportunists, who have invited themselves into the effort to defend Confederate statuary. At some point this will all be rolled over into an attack on the remnants of traditional Catholicism.

  • The alt right is the only political defender of Christianity. It is not about neo-nazism, just people who have started to wonder why only white countries are required to “celebrate diversity.” Political conservatives have conserved nothing, in fact it was the Conservative party in the UK that instituted gay marriage. We need something better than that. The alt right is a big tent that does include some weirdos but is mostly normal people who want racial harmony, but simply belive the best way to achieve that is physical separation. Every other race besides whites are allowed to have their own countries – why is that?

  • John Horvat II

    Great commentary!

  • Thank you, Mr. Horvat. That means a lot, coming from the author of Return to Order!

  • Audacibus Annue Coeptis

    “Inter arma enim silent leges.”
    (Among violence, the law falls silent)

    – Marcus Tullius Cicero

  • Bonifacius

    “The Confederate monuments, which haven’t harmed anyone for the century or so they have been standing . . .”

    Thank you for this thoughtful article, Brother Andre Marie. While I agree with almost all of it, I would like to respond to this point. I believe that the mere presence of a statue, if it was erected to the glory of an ignoble cause, is in fact harm. I believe that it *can* be sufficient reason to remove the statue. I assume that there are statues in some parts of Europe erected to hateful anti-Catholic Protestant figures. Communists erected statues to Marx, Lenin, and Stalin. In Rome, I have seen the statue of Giordano Bruno. I am favor of tearing these statues down. The statues were erected to the glory of ignoble causes. They are “doing harm” by extension.

    The disagreement is over whether the statues in question were erected to an ignoble cause. Was the Confederacy an ignoble cause? Some say yes, some say no. There is disagreement. My own ancestors fought for the Union. I grew up in Illinois, which boasts of being the Land of Lincoln. While many white Southerners have invested their natural “pietas” in the cause of the Confederacy, I have invested mine in the cause of the Union.

    I propose the following: 1.) the South rebelled over slavery (that’s what split the Democratic Party in 1860, leading to Lincoln’s election), 2.) the Confederacy championed slavery, and 3.) the statues of Confederate soldiers were put up after the war when Southern whites disenfranchised black Southerners (again). The statues at least in part remind us of the ugly disenfranchisement of blacks after the Civil War.

    Some disagree with these positions. Fine. But many do agree with these positions, apparently including many black Southerners. I have heard several state articulately why the statues offend them. They asked, “What would you think if someone put up statues to people who mistreated your ancestors?”

    That alone can’t settle the argument. Everyone has harmed someone. Many of the Founding Fathers owned slaves. They mistreated the Indians, and their fellow colonists who stayed loyal to the British Crown. As Pres. Trump rightly asked, “Where does it end?” I don’t see the removal of the statues as necessarily principled. However, I do see how some people can and do regard their presence as offensive and harmful. Decades ago, these people weren’t in control. Now, apparently, they are. The wheel of fortune turns.

    When considering this, it helps to keep in mind the Christians who removed the statue of the pagan goddess Victory from the Roman Senate house. The pagans wondered what harm the statue had done. The pagans remembered the battles fought and won by Rome, and the Christians remembered the blood of the martyrs who were slain rather than sacrifice to idols.

    For whatever that’s worth.

  • Where does it end is a good question. Apparently, for the Cultural Marxists carrying out the iconoclasm, it does not end. It will continue with Washington, Jefferson, Columbus, Saint Junipero Serra, etc.

    I know that does not answer the specific points you bring up regarding the Confederacy, but I also believe you drastically oversimplified the cause(s) of secession, and the Confederate cause as a whole. General Lee, for instance, did not fight to defend slavery. He fought to defend his homeland, Virginia, which I refused to invade as the leader of what he saw as a hostile army.

    If we were, today, to defend the United States and its freedoms from foreign invaders, we would not, per se, be fighting for the evil causes of abortion, LGBTQ “rights,” contraception, divorce, and the numerous other peculiar institutions of our nation. We would be defending our homeland.

    And as much as I do not like your Lincoln, and consider his crimes in that war to be quite serious, I do not militate for the destruction of his Memorial in DC. For what it’s worth.

  • Bonifacius

    Thank you for the response. My point was not to advance a particular understanding of the causes of secession. It was to point out that statues erected to ignoble causes do in fact constitute “harm” (or offense, at least) in some relevant sense. Meaning, I accept in principle that it can be good to remove statues that offend needlessly.

    “And as much as I do not like your Lincoln, and consider his crimes in that war to be quite serious, I do not militate for the destruction of his Memorial in DC.”

    But imagine if you were ascendant. Imagine that you and forces allied with you are now in control of the country. You dictate the allocation of resources, you write the history books, you choose which figures are honored in public places. Lincoln is now treated like Cromwell. Some of the more rambunctious Fire-Eaters (the radically pro-slavery folks who militated for secession: in the new aristocracy start militating to shut the monument down. I could see this happen very easily. Just because you don’t militate for the monument’s destruction now, it seems that you support principles that would, if developed to their full, lead to the re-evaluation of the monument at some future date. Then folks like me would ask, “What harm has this statue done in 100 years?” Is that fair? Or do you just never see your side being ascendant?

    Regarding Lee serving to protect his homeland from invasion:

    1.) This is always a problem when a civil war involves a sectional aspect. Many of the men who fought against Franco in the Spanish Civil War thought they were defending the Basque Country or Catalonia from the hated Castilian oppressors. The fact that one side is fighting on its home territory doesn’t make that side correct. Every army wants to wage wars in such a way that the enemy is forced to defend their home territory. I imagine that some Basques and Catalonians might have preferred fighting Sherman’s troops to Franco’s.

    2.) There is much in the Southern heritage, and in the rebel cause, that is good and that serves as a check on the North. That’s why I’m glad the Union victory preserved both parts of the nation within the Union. That’s part of the reason the statues have been preserved for so long.

    3.) In Lee’s specific case, there were other choices available than the one he chose. In every Southern state except South Carolina, there were Unionists who took up arms in defense of the Union. There were pro-Unionist politicians who refused on principle to join the rebel side. Future Pres. Andrew Johnson was one.

    Then there was the great Sam Houston of Texas. Opposed to secession, he was forced out of the governorship of his state. Like Lee, he refused a Union military commission. However, to his everlasting credit, he also refused to defend the Confederacy. He knew that it would not end well. He said:

    “Let me tell you what is coming. After the sacrifice of countless millions of treasure and hundreds of thousands of lives, you may win Southern independence if God be not against you, but I doubt it. I tell you that, while I believe with you in the doctrine of states rights, the North is determined to preserve this Union. They are not a fiery, impulsive people as you are, for they live in colder climates. But when they begin to move in a given direction, they move with the steady momentum and perseverance of a mighty avalanche; and what I fear is, they will overwhelm the South.”

    That’s what is called foresight, prudence. If Lee had had more of it and had refused a Confederate commission, the war might have been shorter, and thousands of fewer lives would have been lost. That is part of the reason why I do *not* celebrate the choice of military officers who chose the rebel cause.

  • If you’d like to discuss the issue and have a nice historical debate, you will probably find someone willing. I have a school year to prepare for and much more important things to do, so I don’t have the leisure.

    The whole country is going to hell in a handbasket right now because it does not have the true faith, the only one that saves. I suggest we both focus our energies there.