Lest We Forget


Memorial Day 2024 — Confederate Cemetery in Farmville, Virginia

This morning I attended the Memorial Day service at the Confederate Cemetery in Farmville, Virginia. The event was sponsored by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and assisted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans. We pledged three flags (US, Virginia, and Confederate), said prayers, and then various people placed wreaths at the monument. A young lady sang “Amazing Grace” and we all sang “Dixie”. The ceremony concluded with a three-volley salute from the SCV honor guard, and finally a young man blew “Taps” on his bugle.

It rained early in the morning, and then again in the afternoon, but held off during the service. It was a good day.

A Fine Synthetic Brogue

When Dymphna died, she took almost all of the Irishness of this blog with her, since I have no more than a wee dram of Irish blood in my veins. However, to honor her memory and keep up the traditions, here’s a small St. Patrick’s Day post.

I’ve posted this poem before, but it’s been (I think) fourteen years, so it’s time for an accord of repetition. It’s by the late great Ogden Nash, who I suspect was no more Irish than I am. But still, he did a good job of poking a finger in the eye of the modern commercialized cult of St. Paddy’s Day:

It’s a Grand Parade It Will Be, Modern Design

by Ogden Nash

Saint Patrick was a proper man, a man to be admired;
Of numbering his virtues I am never, never tired.
A handsome man, a holy man, a man of mighty deeds,
He walked the lanes of Erin, a-telling of his beads.
A-telling of his beads, he was, and spreading of the word.
I think that of Saint Patrick’s Day, Saint Patrick hadn’t heard.

The saint was born a subject of the ancient British throne,
But the Irish in their wisdom recognized him as their own.
A raiding party captured him, and carried him away,
And Patrick loved the Irish, and he lived to capture they,
A-walking of the valleys and a-spreading of the word.
I think that of Saint Patrick’s Day, Saint Patrick hadn’t heard.

He defied the mighty Druids, he spoke them bold and plain,
And he lit the Easter fire on the lofty hill of Shane.
He lit the Easter fire where the hill and heaven met,
And on every hill in Ireland the fire is burning yet.
He lit the Easter fire, a-spreading of the word.
I think that of Saint Patrick’s Day, Saint Patrick hadn’t heard.

Saint Patrick was a proper man before be was a saint,
He was shaky in his Latin, his orthography was quaint,
But he walked the length of Ireland, her mountains and her lakes,
A-building of his churches and a-driving out the snakes,
A-building of his churches and a-spreading of the word.
I think that of Saint Patrick’s Day, Saint Patrick hadn’t heard.

But the silver-tongued announcer is a coy, facetious rogue;
He ushers in Saint Patrick with a fine synthetic brogue,
He spatters his commercials with macushlas and colleens,
Begorras, worra-worras, and spurious spalpeens.
I hope one day Saint Patrick will lean down from Heaven’s arch
And jam the bloody air waves on the Seventeenth of March.

A Bundle of Daffodils

I mentioned a few days ago that a good friend of mine has died. Her death has been very hard for me, but nothing like it has been for her husband, who was my college roommate. They had been together for almost fifty years.

She was the same age as me, so you can’t really say that she died before her time, but it still feels that way. It prompted me to dig out this poem by Michael Roberts, a between-the-wars British poet who died in 1948 at the tender age of 46, and is no longer well-known. He had a terminal illness, and wrote the poem when he knew the end was near.

A side note: he joined the Communist Party in the 1920s, but was expelled from it. That little biographical detail endears him to me.

His poem is light and humorous, a good one to be remembered for (raccourci means “shortcut” in French):

Already Said My Host

by Michael Roberts

‘Already’, said my host. ‘You have arrived already?
But by what route, what ingenious raccourci?
I half expected you, it is true,
But I expected someone a little older,
Someone rather less arrogant and impulsive,
Someone a little embittered and despondent,
Someone, in short, not quite you.
And now you arrive by some unfair expedient,
Having neglected, no doubt, to pay proper attention to the view:
You arrive a little dazed and flushed,
And you find me hardly ready to receive you, hardly able to cope.
It was inconsiderate of you to die so suddenly,
Placing me in this ridiculous quandary.
I had predicted a great future for you,
A future without happiness or hope:
I had prepared a suitable mausoleum for your reception:
And now you arrive with a bundle of daffodils, a fox terrier,
And a still unfinished smile.
Really!’

Telephonic Blues

When I got up this morning I discovered that both voice and the Internet had gone out sometime during the night. I don’t own a cell phone, and even if I did, there is no coverage out here in the Far Outback. So I just hung around, watching episodes of Firefly and waiting for service to return.

In the middle of the afternoon I got tired of waiting, and drove five miles to the house of the lady who cuts my hair to see if her phone was working. It was, so I called technical support. After going through interminable numeric touch-tone menus, I was finally able to talk to a human being, albeit one with a thick South Asian accent. He told me that there was a local area outage, and the estimated time for restoration of service was 5pm EDT. That turned out to be a little optimistic — phone and Internet service didn’t return until almost 8pm. And now I’m catching up.

It made me nostalgic for the good old days when you could call the phone company and immediately talk to a native English-speaker. And not just an American, but one with the distinctive accent of the Central Virginia Piedmont. Or better yet, I could drive less than forty miles and make myself a nuisance to the receptionist in the main office of the phone company until I got some useful information.

Alas, those days are long gone. That little regional company was bought by a larger company in the early 1980s. That company in turn was gobbled up by an even larger company, and the process was repeated several more times in the ensuing years. The last merger occurred just a few months ago, and the service is distinctly worse than it used to be. To add insult to injury, I have to call people in Karachi or Dhaka for tech support, and I often find them very hard to understand.

Sigh.

Fear Itself

** UPDATE **

To clear up any misperceptions about what I wrote below: I mean no criticism of Western Rifle Shooters Association. Far from it. The site is a news aggregator, one of the best around. It doesn’t peddle fear porn, but it links to some people who do. As do I. We both think it’s important to link to all kinds of information, both alarming and reassuring.

My major beef is with sites that predict the occurrence of dire events within a specific time frame, then turn out to be wrong, and never have to account for their failure. Some sites that predicted hyperinflation no later than 2010 are still predicting it. It’s always going to happen within the next six months. When it eventually does happen, it won’t prove that they were right. You can wake up every morning and predict a major asteroid will strike the Earth tomorrow. Eventually there will come a day when a major asteroid does strike the Earth. But that won’t mean you were right.

And no, it’s not like a weather forecast. Weather forecasting is well understood to be an inexact science, subject to stochastic indeterminacy. Both the forecaster and the audience know that. But the doom-mongers who make specific predictions about dire events that will occur within a specific time frame make those predictions from a position of assumed inerrancy. And then, when they turn out to be wrong, they just move on to the next one, never revisiting their error or attempting to explain it.

On the other hand, I have no quarrel with writers who simply state what they think is most likely to occur. “I think X will probably occur, and here’s my reasoning. But it’s also possible that Y will happen; I just think it’s less likely, for these reasons.” And, if they’re wrong, they acknowledge it, and try to figure out where their logic went astray.

That’s the honest way to deal with the inherent stochastic nature of future events. But it doesn’t tend to generate as much eye-bulging fear in its audience, which makes it less profitable.

WRSA’s response is here.

A few weeks ago Vera, who is a long-time and regular commenter at Gates of Vienna, left this comment on the news feed:

I don’t know where to post this, WRSA now mostly posts stuff without discussions underneath, so I’ll post it here. They have been an amazing resource all these many months of madness. But lately, I am having a hard time following. They seem to have bought into the mainstream narrative of scaring the crap out of everybody, all the time. If there has been a day of late when some mushroom cloud did not feature, I haven’t noticed. And NC Renegade is the same. Endless stories of bloggers and others who have made a career out of screaming doom at all and sundry.

THIS is alternative media?!? If it bleeds, it leads? If it scares you, we’ll hit you over the head with it until kingdom come? I am revolted. MSM works hard to keep the panic going. Why are “our people” jumping on that bandwagon, have you asked yourselves?

“Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.”

I replied to her with this:

Yes, scaring people 24/7 seems to have become a major tactic used by the Empire. For that reason, I think it’s not a good idea to join in with all the hype about whatever the current doom might be.

Doom may indeed descend upon us. Who knows? But major alternative media sites have been predicting imminent doom since at least 2008, when hyperinflation and financial collapse were said to be imminent. They were all wrong back then by at least fifteen years. Why should we believe them now?

My advice: “Be patient and watch calmly.” Plus: “Keep Occam’s Razor close at hand.”

Since then I’ve thought a lot more about the issue.

For many years it’s been obvious that the populace is being professionally scared. By that I mean that the government, major corporations, and the media deliberately contrive to frighten the general public. Agents of the state act in collusion with private interests to gin up fear among the citizenry in order to serve their own purposes. It’s a well-established principle of authoritarian and totalitarian governance that frightened citizens are easier to control and manipulate.

In recent years we’ve been subjected to a barrage of fear porn on various topics, beginning with the “pandemic” in early 2020. The scary stuff is delivered serially, with each new frightening topic emerging in the media just as the previous panic begins to wane. First COVID, then when that started to fade, monkeypox. Then came the danger of nuclear war. And through it all was woven the perennial favorite, “climate change”, the fear of which is supposed to make us give up the internal combustion engine, live in “smart cities”, and eat the bugs.

The Powers That Be seem to be keeping their options open on various other scare stories, such as UFOs or new, improved pandemics. There’s obviously a need to hold a frightening new crisis in reserve, ready to be trotted out when needed.

There’s no denying that the legacy media are deliberately pounding their audience with fear porn, day after day. But Vera is right that the alternative media are doing the same thing, albeit with a different set of preferred scary topics. Hyperinflation, mandatory vaxing and/or chipping, transhumanism, and the abolition of cash are among the most popular frighteners. And the alt-media occasionally overlap the MSM on some fear-inducers, such as the possibility of nuclear war.

The media agents of fright, whether mainstream or alternative, rely on the short memories of their audience. I remember when the climate fright first got going, back in the early to mid 1970s. But before we were told to be scared about “global warming”, the fearmongers wanted us to lie awake nights worrying about a “new ice age”. They’re hoping we’ve forgotten all that, but the archival records are available for anyone who cares to look them up.

The PTB are also hoping we’ll forget the terrifying predictions which laughably failed to come true. The coming eco-dystopia in the 1980s, for instance — John Brunner was one of its most notable proponents in The Sheep Look Up — never materialized. Pollution didn’t kill all marine life in the 1990s. The world’s oil reserves weren’t exhausted before the year 2000. Lower Manhattan still isn’t underwater, thirty or forty years after the first alarming predictions were issued.

We’re not supposed to remember any of that stuff. And I’m pretty sure most people don’t remember it. But I do.

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Chained to the New Trivium

Jocelynn Cordes’ new guest-essay concerns the stifling intellectual straitjacket in which post-modern university writing courses are confined.

Chained to the New Trivium:

Somewhere in the Bowels of the University, Teachers and Students Alike are Crying Out “Please, Let’s Explore Something New!!”

by Jocelynn Cordes

A few years back, I was at a faculty meeting with the rest of the composition department at the university where I was then teaching. There were both tenured professors present as well as adjunct (part-time) shmucks such as myself who, for a pittance, taught incoming freshmen what is universally considered an essential skill — writing. Despite occupying the lowest tier in the university caste system, we adjuncts were a crucial part of these planning sessions, for we taught the bulk of the courses comprising the university’s writing curriculum.

The objective of this meeting was to plan the next year’s syllabus for Composition I and II. Although the types of essays we assigned students to write would not change — they were classic essay forms chosen to make students nominally prepared for the sort of writing their college coursework would require of them — other things could be altered, such as the theme around which our assignments revolved.

Ideally, a theme helps make things both interesting and organized. It provides focus for an instructor who would otherwise spend the semester floundering amidst a vast sea of potential essay topics. For students, it furnishes a subject to delve into and explore for the entire semester, a thread that will run through their assignments in some unifying fashion. A department-approved theme for each instructor’s class also provides some coherence for the department itself, an assurance of sorts that its instructors weren’t going to go off the deep end and introduce all manner of inappropriate subjects into what is fundamentally supposed to be a class centered on a craft.

So at this particular meeting, all we had to do was come up with our theme. Now, a lot of us who had been teaching composition for a while had zero expectations that the topic selected would differ much from previous years; consequently, an air of resignation issued from most of those present — a lassitude generated by the prospect of having nothing new to look forward to. After all, anyone even remotely familiar with the zeitgeist of the contemporary university would have been able to guess that our theme would most certainly revolve around some aspect of the new trivium, race, class, and gender, that unfortunately replaced the old one, grammar, logic, and rhetoric.

For the uninitiated (a group shrinking by the hour) a quick summary of the ideas that might be canvassed in a writing course designed around any one or all of these subjects might be in order. A course with gender as its theme would involve examining how gender is a social construct detached from biological sex, a consideration of how gender is actually fluid, as opposed to fixed, and must of necessity include a critique of patriarchy. A course centered on the subject of race would present issues such as determining what, if anything, constitutes race, how race (when it exists) impacts privilege, as well as the obligatory critique of colonialism. Finally, any focus on economic class will most certainly entail an examination of how class structures bestow privilege. This politicized set of ideas, with their educational and moral telos firmly fixed at the outset, have been drummed into students’ heads throughout their short lives, and for those who attend university, the beat will continue with gathering intensity for several more years.

This short summary reveals the essential nature of a writing course designed around any part of this triumvirate: it is a class in which the student’s attention is briefly directed outward (the sociological/anthropological element) before being redirected back to themselves. I’ve often quipped that these courses could easily be described as a more elaborate version of the “All About Me” pamphlets often assigned in elementary classrooms.

But that day something completely unexpected occurred at our meeting. Out of the blue, someone suggested we do something different, that we consider organizing our composition courses around a subject — an actual object of inquiry.

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Requiem for a Culture, Part 5: The Graves of the Ancestors

This is the fifth essay in an occasional series. Previously: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4

Requiem for a Culture

Part 5: The Graves of the Ancestors

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

— William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun, Act I, Scene III (page 80 in the Vintage paperback edition)

On a cold rainy Saturday afternoon back in February I drove down a long driveway between rows of ancient English boxwoods to a farmhouse in Amelia County. The occasion was the swearing-in of three new members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans at the grave of their common ancestor. It was a ceremony I felt privileged to attend.

I got out of the car into a very cold rain. The temperature was about 37°F (3°C), and the water that was coming down could just as easily have been snow if it had felt so inclined. When I approached a group of my fellow SCV members, most of them in uniform, one of them must have noticed that I was wearing only a tweed jacket. He said: “You’re gonna get wet — better go get an umbrella.”

As it happened, there was an umbrella in the car. It was one of Dymphna’s — bright yellow with a duck’s head for a handle. I went back to get it, and when I returned to the Confederates, they chuckled as they saw it. I said: “Now the Yankees can see me coming.”

Some of the members of the candidates’ families were also carrying umbrellas, but the uniformed guys just had their kepis and big floppy hats to keep off the rain. After we stood there for a few minutes, a fellow arrived with a pop-up canopy and set it up. Everyone without an umbrella crowded together under the canopy, and we all waited to see if the rain would abate so that the graveside ceremony could take place.

While we waited there was a general conversation about the event, and the history of the place where we were standing. The ancestor of the men who were being sworn in was one of eight brothers who served in the Confederate Army during the Recent Unpleasantness. Seven of the eight survived the war, which was pretty amazing. Some of the descendants had moved away, but many still lived in the area, and a good number of those had gathered in the rain to see their relatives sworn in.

The nearby house was built in the 1730s, if I remember rightly. It wasn’t one of those big antebellum mansions, but rather a modest residence, smaller than Schloss Bodissey (which is not large). But you could tell it was very old, by the shape of the chimney and by the steepness of the gables. And the land it was built on was a Crown grant.

While we waited, the various cousins caught up on the news with each other and shared family stories. It was fascinating to hear some of the accounts of the history of the place. Like most SCV members, the men were interested in history, and had read some of it, but what they were sharing were family memories handed down from events that had occurred 160 years ago, rather than stories read in books. For an outlander like myself, it was a real treat to listen in on the very local history of Amelia County.

In early April of 1865, after the siege of Petersburg had been broken, General Robert E. Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia on a retreat that passed through Chesterfield, Amelia, Nottoway, and Prince Edward counties before it ended with the Confederate naqba in Appomattox. As I understand it, General Lee camped overnight in Amelia Court House, and then continued westward the next day. The women, children, and old men in the neighborhood must have lined the road on both sides just to see the great general ride by on Traveller. The memory of that occasion was passed down through the generations alongside the soldiers’ stories of combat and suffering.

One of the seven brothers who survived the war was captured by the Union and held for more than a year at the Point Lookout prisoner of war camp in St. Mary’s County in southern Maryland. The Confederate prisoners were allowed out once a day to gather firewood. They were permitted to cut only as much wood as they could carry in their arms — no wagons or carts — and had to travel on foot to and from the place it was cut. By the time the war ended, all the trees near the camp had long since been cut, and the prisoners had to walk four miles (six kilometers) to collect their wood — four miles there, then four miles back carrying the wood in their arms. And that amount of wood had to serve for cooking and warmth for a 24-hour period.

While we were standing there in the cold, cold rain listening to these stories, I was thinking about those Confederates, both the prisoners in Maryland and the soldiers camped in the trenches outside Petersburg, in February of 1865, one hundred and fifty-eight years earlier. I was shivering, and my hands were going numb, and my jacket and pants had gotten wet despite the umbrella, but I thought: This is NOTHING. What I have at this moment is absolute luxury, compared to what those soldiers endured every single day.

Later, when I was talking to some of the other SCV members, they said more or less the same thing. We had all thought about what our ancestors had had to go through, and we all appreciated the good fortune of our own circumstances.

Listening to the stories, I learned about something I hadn’t heard of before. Almost all able-bodied men between the ages of sixteen and fifty had left their homes to defend the Commonwealth of Virginia, leaving behind women, boys, and old men (and slaves, if they had any) to tend the farm. When a unit was not facing any imminent combat during planting or harvest time, sometimes a soldier would take time off and return home to help put the seed in the ground or get in a crop. When the job was done, he would rejoin his unit.

Such soldiers were AWOL, and under the code of military justice could be dealt with harshly when they returned. One of the eight brothers had returned to the farm to get the crop in, and when he returned to his unit his superior told the commander: “So-and-so has come back. What should I do with him?” The commander replied: “Nothing. He’s too good a soldier to punish.”

Apparently that response was a common one in the Confederate Army during the war, so that it became a catchphrase afterwards: “He was too good a soldier to punish.”

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After about 45 minutes of telling and listening to stories, the rain finally slacked off to a drizzle, and the general consensus was that the ceremony could proceed. We filed down the lane to the family cemetery — which was also surrounded by gigantic boxwoods — and gathered around the grave of the ancestor, who had died in 1909, while the Commander welcomed the inductees to the camp, and the chaplain administered the pledge required of new members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans.

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Movin’ Out

I’ll be leaving shortly on an overnight trip to visit some of my relatives. There will be no news feed tonight, but I should be back in time to post one tomorrow, because I hate driving after dark.

The logistics of traveling this time of year can be tricky if you don’t want to drive after dark. In late June you have fourteen or fifteen hours of daylight to work with at this latitude (about 38°N), and your schedule can be flexible. But in mid-December there’s only about nine hours of well-lit travel time.

I can remember that when I lived in the North of England (latitude about 54°N), during the Christmas season it got light at roughly 9 o’clock in the morning. School let out at 3:30pm, and by the time I walked home, it was dark. The flip side, of course, was that at midsummer there was still faint twilight at 11pm, and the sun came up at about 4am — those endless summer days!

Requiem for a Culture, Part 3: The Battle of Staunton River Bridge

This is the third essay in an occasional series. Previously: Part 1, Part 2.

Requiem for a Culture

Part 3: The Battle of Staunton River Bridge

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

— William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun, Act I, Scene III (page 80 in the Vintage paperback edition)

The Roanoke River is a modest river at the bottom of a deep gorge where it flows out of Roanoke to the southeast. By the time it empties into Swan Bay and Albemarle Sound in coastal North Carolina, it is a broad expanse of slowly-moving water.

For a portion of its passage through Virginia, the Roanoke River inexplicably assumes a different name. According to Google Maps, it becomes the Staunton River where Cheese Creek joins the flow just below Altavista in Campbell County. It then resumes its former name where it widens out as it becomes the John H. Kerr Reservoir, a.k.a. Buggs Island Lake, between Charlotte and Halifax Counties. In reality, however, the two toponyms are not that clearly delineated — which name is used depends largely on local customs.

To make matters even more interesting, the name of the river, like that of the city of Staunton (which is nowhere near the river), is pronounced “Stanton” — one of many regional peculiarities of Virginia pronunciation.

In the middle of its term as the Staunton River, it is crossed by a railroad bridge that was strategically important to the Confederacy in the summer of 1864. At that time General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia were entrenched in and around Petersburg, where they were besieged by the Union Army commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant. The Confederates’ main supply route was a single railroad line that crossed the Staunton River from Charlotte County into Halifax County just south of Roanoke Station, nowadays called Randolph.

In late June General Grant ordered a raid on the railroad line. 5,000 cavalry troops led by Brigadier Generals James H. Wilson and August V. Kautz left the Petersburg area on June 22nd and proceeded west and south along the railroad, tearing up track and burning down stations. Their ultimate objective was to destroy the Staunton River Bridge.

Below is a map of the raid. It’s somewhat inaccurate in its details — for example, it puts Cumberland significantly to the south and west of its actual location. It also misspells “Nottoway”. Nevertheless, it’s a useful overall schematic diagram of events during the raid.


(Click to enlarge)

On June 23rd General Lee sent word to Captain Benjamin Farinholt, who commanded a battalion of reserves charged with defending the bridge, warning him that the Federals were about to come down hard on him, and ordering him to prevent the bridge from being destroyed. If the Union troops were able to get to the bridge even briefly, they would pour oil on its wooden structure and torch it.

Captain Farinholt’s situation was dire. He commanded a force of fewer than 300 soldiers, and had only six artillery pieces with which to confront the sixteen being fielded by the Northern cavalry.

That night he sent word out to the surrounding communities, asking for volunteers to help defend the bridge. Military-age men had already been siphoned off by conscription, so the captain was drawing on teenage boys and men over 45 to form hastily-assembled militias. In popular accounts written after the war they were referred to as the “Brigade of Old Men and Young Boys”.

The new arrivals were also augmented by 150 Confederate regulars from detachments stationed around the region. With the regulars added to the old men and boys, Captain Farinholt was able to deploy a force of 938 men — less than 20% of the size of the cavalry units bearing down on him.

The battle was joined on the afternoon of June 25th. As happened so many times during the Civil War, the South prevailed against a much larger Northern force. 42 Union soldiers (including several officers) were killed, 44 were wounded, and 30 were missing or captured, while Captain Farinholt’s men suffered 10 killed and 24 wounded.

The details of the battle make for inspiring reading. The excerpts below are from the Staunton River Battlefield website:

In June of 1864, Confederate General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia were engaged in a desperate defense of the city of Petersburg, Virginia. Victory for Lee depended upon a steady flow of supplies from the west and south, via the South Side and Richmond & Danville railroads. Union General Ulysses S. Grant knew that if these supply lines could be destroyed, Lee would have to abandon Petersburg. To accomplish this, Grant planned a cavalry raid to tear up the tracks of both lines and destroy the Richmond & Danville railroad bridge over the Staunton River.

The raid began on June 22, and was led by Brigadier General James H. Wilson and Brigadier General August V. Kautz. They left Petersburg with over 5,000 cavalry troops and 16 pieces of artillery. As they moved west, the Union raiders were closely pursued by Confederate General W. H. F. “Rooney” Lee and his cavalry. Although Lee’s troopers occasionally skirmished with the invaders, they were unable to stop their advance. During the first three days of their raid, Wilson’s cavalry tore up 60 miles of track and burned two trains and several railroad stations.

Just south of Roanoke Station (present-day Randolph) was a long, covered railroad bridge over the Staunton River, Wilson’s final objective. The bridge was defended by a battalion of 296 Confederate reserves under the leadership of Captain Benjamin Farinholt. On June 23rd, at 10 p.m., Captain Farinholt received word from General Robert E. Lee that a large detachment of enemy cavalry was moving in his direction to destroy the bridge and that he should “make every possible preparation immediately.”

Captain Benjamin Farinholt: “By the trains at 12 o’clock that night, on the 23rd, I sent off orderlies with circulars, urging the citizens of Halifax, Charlotte, and Mecklenburg to assemble for the defense of the bridge, and ordering all local companies to report immediately… On Saturday morning, the 25th, about 10 o’clock I had received, citizens and soldiers inclusive, 642 re-enforcement. Of these about 150 were regulars, organized from different commands, my whole command numbered 938 men.”

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Old Enough to be Drafted

Today is the eighteenth anniversary of the founding of Gates of Vienna.

In preparing for this post I went through a lot of archival material stored in the Auxiliary Brain, and now I’m suffused with nostalgia. Dymphna and I started this blog together, but it’s been a one-man operation for the last three and a half years. I remember those early days, which simultaneously seem so recent and so long ago. A lot has happened since then.

Looking through the graphics and documents from the old days reminded me of how naïve we were when we started out. In the intervening years, as my hair turned white, I became quite cynical and skeptical, not to mention paranoid. Jamaat ul-Fuqra, death threats, intramural wars in the Counterjihad, and the gradual realization that Islamization was continuing apace regardless of anything we might do or what the ordinary citizens of the West might want — our culture was being systematically deconstructed, and there wasn’t a damned thing we could do about it.

The last six or seven years, culminating (so far) in the Corona hysteria and the war in Ukraine, have brought an increasing ghastly awareness that the controlling oligarchy in the West is a force for evil that intends the destruction of everything Europeans have accomplished and hold dear.

At this point the juggernaut can’t be stopped. It’s too late. My role in the time that remains to me is to chronicle what happens as best I can, knowing that at some point everything is going to come to grief. I may not live to see that dire time, but it’s definitely on the way.

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The photo at the top of this post shows a panorama of Vienna as seen from the Upper Belvedere Palace. I took it in May of 2008 during my visit to the city for one of our Counterjihad conferences. I got as close as I could to the view used for the masthead of this site, which was painted by Bernardo Bellotto (Canaletto) in 1758. He must have been painting somewhere a little further to the left, perhaps from a balcony at the far west end of the palace.

To reach the location I took the U-Bahn to the Karlsplatz station, walked across the Karlsplatz and up the hill on Prinz-Eugen-Straße to the western entrance of the upper palace. The Turkish embassy with its ominous red crescent-and-star flag sits across the street and just down the hill from where visitors enter the palace grounds.

The view from the palace includes the spire of the Domkirche of St. Stephan in Central Vienna. Closer at hand is the Lower Belvedere Palace, and in the far distance is the Kahlenberg, where King Jan III Sobieski of Poland arrived on September 11, 1683 to break the siege of Vienna by Kara Mustafa Pasha and the Ottoman Turks.

In the Bellotto painting the Karlskirche is visible in the distance on the left, with the reflecting pool in the Schwarzenberg-Garten in the middle distance. The border trees and shrubbery are much taller now, so those landmarks are no longer visible, at least not when the leaves are on the trees. I never saw the reflecting pool, but based on the Google satellite image, it’s still there.

There’s almost no remnant of the original city walls, so I was never able to take a photo of the actual gates of Vienna. As far as I know, there is nothing left of those gates.

If I make it to the nineteenth anniversary this time next year, who knows what I might have to talk about by then?

Deo Vindice.

Convicted of Exposing Islam?

The following article about the travesty of “justice” inflicted upon my Danish friend Steen was written by Peder Jensen, better known as Fjordman.

Earlier this month Steen was convicted in a Danish court and given a four-month prison sentence (suspended) for writing about and linking to a video of the murder of two young Scandinavian women by mujahideen in Morocco in 2018. He simply described what happened and linked to a site that had posted the murderers’ video of the atrocity, and that was enough to bring down the wrath of the Danish legal system upon himself.

Before I get to Fjordman’s account of what happened, I’d just like to say a few words about my association with Steen. I got to know him online in early 2007, and stayed with him at his flat in Copenhagen later that year when I attended the first of a series of Counterjihad conferences in Europe. He and I became good friends, and he is one of the finest people I know. (As it happens, that event in Copenhagen was the first time that Fjordman and Steen met, but that’s another story.)

Back then Steen, Fjordman, and I all wrote pseudonymously. Nowadays all three of us are public — how times have changed!

Steen took over the small blog Dansk-Svensk in 2004 and turned it into Snaphanen, retaining the combined focus on Danish and Swedish affairs. He was neither a blogger nor a writer by trade, but a professional photographer. Nevertheless, by patient work as an editor and collator, he made Snaphanen into the largest blog in Denmark.

In July of 2011, after the massacre committed by Anders Behring Breivik in Oslo and on the island of Utøya, like so many of us Steen was exposed to the glare of the media klieg lights by his site’s association with Fjordman. Under the same circumstances, numerous other Counterjihad activists fled and hid in the shadows in the face of all the vicious publicity, shutting down their sites and retiring from activism.

But not Steen. He remained defiant. He kept Snaphanen open and active, saying to those who would bring him down, in effect: “Here I am. Come and get me.”

Seven years later the Powers That Be at last managed to find a way to get him. The case against him is ludicrous. It’s buffoonery. The Danish government ought to be ashamed of itself.

Somebody should market lapel buttons featuring the slogan (in Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, and English): “We are all Steen now!”

Many thanks to LN for translating this Danish-language article from Snaphanen:

Convicted of exposing Islam?

by Fjordman
February 24, 2022

Maren Ueland and Louisa Vesterager-Jespersen met a beastly death in the Atlas Mountains. Back home in Denmark and Norway the media and authorities did not want people to know about it.

For many years the Danish writer and photographer Steen Raaschou has run the website Snaphanen.dk. On September 20 2022 he was sentenced by the District Court of Copenhagen to four months’ imprisonment, suspended, for writing in December of 2018 about the murders of Louisa Vesterager-Jespersen and Maren Ueland in Morocco, and for linking to a video that showed the atrocities.

The trial has taken several years. Early on the morning of May 8 2019, Raaschou had his private residence searched by at least five police officers. They confiscated his computer equipment and handcuffed him as if he had been a dangerous terrorist. Raaschou was by then a pensioner and had no criminal record.

However, the authorities wanted a harsher punishment. The prosecutor had asked for six months of unconditional imprisonment for Raaschou. But the judges decided to impose a suspended sentence, partly because of the defendant’s age and health. Steen Raaschou has been seriously ill with cancer and is still taking numerous medications on a daily basis.

I know Mr. Raaschou personally, and was present in court myself, as one of dozens of witnesses. As a non-lawyer, I immediately found the application of the law to be strange.

Raaschou was convicted by the Copenhagen District Court of violating ¶264d of the Danish Criminal Code, which prohibits the dissemination of images relating to the “private affairs” of another person and which are clearly not in the public interest.

An example of this practice is if you were to distribute or publish nude pictures of your ex-girlfriend or spouse. Such actions are intended to personally harass and humiliate another person with images that are clearly private and certainly not in the public interest.

People die every day. Some die more brutally than others. Death by murder places an extra strain on the survivors, on the family and friends of the victims. This is because serious crime is not just a private matter. The right to privacy must be balanced against the public’s right to be informed about what is happening in the world around them. People should be made aware of problems and potential threats. They have a right to demand to receive basic information about the society in which they live. Moreover, withholding truthful information may often encourage the spread of rumours, which can be both true and false.

The double murder of Louisa Vesterager-Jespersen and Maren Ueland bore the stamp of an act of terrorism. The militant Muslims who committed the murders in an extremely brutal and ritualistic manner sympathised with terrorist organisations such as the Islamic State (IS).

A deadly terrorist attack against a Danish and a Norwegian citizen is of obvious and general interest to citizens of Denmark, Norway and other countries. It is quite unreasonable to treat this in the same way as the dissemination of private nude photographs.

Steen Raaschou referred to this fact on his website Snaphanen.dk in December of 2018 because he felt that the mainstream media were not reporting the whole truth about what had really happened in Morocco. The media in Denmark and Norway wrote diffusely that the two women had received “injuries to their necks”. This is such a gross paraphrase of what actually happened that it is in fact a complete lie. Raaschou himself says that he wrote to inform the public of the truth. In no way was this done to cause inconvenience to the victims’ families.

The judges at the Copenhagen District Court rejected the arguments by Raaschou and his lawyer that he had used his freedom of speech to inform the public. They considered that the victims’ interests outweighed the defendant’s freedom of expression.

It was also argued that Raaschou could have reported the double murder in a different way, rather than by showing a diffused screenshot and providing a video link to another website.

The video footage of the murders was not shown to the parties in court. However, a witness who has worked for the police was called. He described parts of the video. The judges prohibited reporting the content of the video.

Everyone present in the courtroom, including members of the audience such as myself, were thus prohibited from describing what we heard mentioned in the courtroom about the video. Violation of this prohibition could, in the worst case, lead to our own prosecution.

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Requiem for a Culture, Part 1: The Sentinel

Requiem for a Culture

Part 1: The Sentinel

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

— William Faulkner, Requiem for a Nun, Act I, Scene III (page 80 in the Vintage paperback edition)

I first read the above quote more than four decades ago, and in the years since then I have always associated it with the Civil War. However, upon looking it up while preparing this post, I noticed that the context is the personal history of one of the main characters, and refers to events in the early to mid-20th century. Nevertheless, the Recent Unpleasantness is woven into the fabric of the novel, so that relating it to the war seems appropriate.

For a Virginian whose family was caught up in the struggle, the 157 years since the surrender at Appomattox is a short time indeed. Generations in my mother’s family were long, so that I heard family stories about 1865 from a relative who heard them from an aunt who was alive at the time and witnessed the events herself. So that’s not really far back at all.

The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

Back in the 1990s I wrote a poem entitled “Mason Dixon” that concludes with these lines:

How can one forget? Millennia hence,
when English is just the language of the scholiasts
or the key to ancient software, Gettysburg
will mean no more than Thermopylae does to us,
and Jackson’s tactics, like Hannibal’s,
will be studied by commanders
training for the galactic wars.

Then Appomattox will no longer appear on any map,
with Bull Run just a vague rumor,
a place somewhere off to the east
of the Blue Ridge Islands.

The War Between the States is something that one never quite comes to terms with. It is the wound that will not heal.

When you cross into Appomattox County, Virginia from one of the adjacent counties, you are greeted with a sign that reads: “Welcome to Appomattox County, Where Our Nation Reunited”.

To an unreconstructed Southerner, this upbeat sentiment seems inaccurate. A more apposite greeting would be: “Welcome to Appomattox County, Where Sovereignty Was Destroyed, and the Southern States Became Vassals of the Federal Behemoth”.

But I guess that’s too long and wordy to be euphonious.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *   *

I’ve been trying to write this post for almost three months. I kept thinking of new things I wanted to say, and amassed more material than would readily fit into a single essay. I’ve decided to break it up into bite-sized chunks to make it easier to write, and easier for the reader to digest.

This introduction to the topic concerns the proximate cause of my decision to finally become an official member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans: the removal of the Confederate rifleman who had stood sentinel for almost 120 years in a little park on High Street in Farmville, Virginia. There was never a referendum on whether the town’s inhabitants wanted the statue taken down, and the city council’s decision to do so was taken behind closed doors, with no public input.

I asked one of the members of the local SCV camp what prompted the council’s action, and he said, “Some a**hole at Longwood [University] complained about it.”

The removal of the statue occurred during the height of the George Floyd craze, when monuments, Confederate and otherwise, were being taken down all over the country. Farmville’s Confederate fared better than many others, which were broken up and/or melted down (presumably so that George Floyd statues could be cast from the metal).

Last year the Sentinel was relocated to the Confederate cemetery just across the Appomattox River, where he is safely out of sight of everyone except those who choose to visit the site to pay their respects to the 300-400 Confederate fallen who are buried there in unmarked graves.

Back in May I posted about the Memorial Day observance organized by the United Daughters of the Confederacy and the Sons of Confederate Veterans in that same cemetery. Last year the Sentinel was relocated there, and stands on his reconstructed plinth behind the honor guard in the photo below:

Those who attended the ceremony came to honor the soldiers who died defending Virginia in the Civil War, and their ancestors who fought in the conflict.

I say “defending Virginia”, because Virginia was understood to be a sovereign state until 1865, when state sovereignty was overthrown, and modernity began. And also because Virginia was invaded. In 1861 a hostile foreign force invaded the Commonwealth from the north and the east, intending to capture Richmond and put an end to the nascent Confederacy. Thanks to the skill, determination, and courage of the forces commanded by Generals Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, inter alia, that final reckoning was put off for four years, after which the former Confederate states were reduced to poverty and vassalage under the federal government of the United States.

The photo below shows Appomattox Courthouse being guarded by Union soldiers:

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Eyeballing It

I went to the retinal specialist’s office this afternoon to get the latest in a series of periodic injections in my left eye, to treat the chronic condition of wet macular degeneration. As a result, my blogging activities will be somewhat subdued this evening. However, I expect to get at least one additional post up before I do the news feed.

As a matter of interest, my eye seems to be doing very well. It has been stable for the past eighteen months or so, and the horrible splotch that marred the center of my vision has receded. It’s still there, but I don’t notice it very much, and I experience “white-outs” less frequently. The overall acuity in the eye is still quite bad, but as long as it is fairly uniform, the right eye can do all the important work, and I don’t experience significant discomfort.

My condition has made me more aware of the fragility of vision, so that I tend to spend a lot of time just looking at things, soaking up the beauty of the colors and patterns while I still can.

For example, first thing this morning I went out to look at the morning glories growing over the side porch adjacent to the sun room:

I planted them there in honor of Dymphna, who used to grow them in the same location. She put them where they could grow over the lilac, one of the rose bushes, and the Fig Tree o’ Doom.

She always planted Heavenly Blues, but I prefer the multicolored variety.

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Blood and Horror

Daniel Greenfield on 9/11:

Before 9/11, I had a sense of a dimly understood future rushing toward us. I still have that sense now.

Islamic terrorism is not the only thing that matters. It’s not the only thing that will determine our survival. But it is one of those things. And it’s the one that we’ve forgotten. And one of these days we will once again wake up to blood and horror and mass death. Let us hope that this time we stay awake.