The Land and Heritage

A major theme of this blog has been the restoration of rural America, and the promotion of the idea that the future of the United States rests in its rural areas and small towns.  I have often touted the affordability and the decency of the country as major selling points to those looking for a change of scenery.

So this piece at The Abbeville Insitute—Travis Holt’s “Thirty Pieces of Silver“—grabbed my attention.  Holt is a native son of the Ozarks in Arkansas, and he writes movingly about how his ancestors carved a livelihood out of the rough mountains of a challenging wilderness.  He details the sweat and toil that went into improving the land, and of gradually expanding small family plots.

Holt also describes a process all-too-familiar in the New South:  the commercialization of those hard-won family plots.  Holt does not denounce the sale of family lands in general, as he recognizes the economic hardships and the lure of better lives, but he does lament the sacrifice of heritage, history, and family to the whims of the market.  His essay grapples with the complexity of that loss, and his own determination to keep his familial lands.

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Memorable Monday: Happy Columbus Day!

I’m back from my third trip to Universal Studios this year, and I’m worn out.  Having nonstop fun in the central Florida sun for three days straight really takes it out of me—that, and driving nearly fourteen hours round trip.  I’ll be posting a delayed SubscribeStar post about the trip for subscribers later this evening, after taking a much-needed nap.

Today is Columbus Day, and outside of banks and the postal service, I’m one of the few people who doesn’t have to work today.  I’m thankful for that, and to Columbus for making his historic voyages to the New World.

The attempts of cancel culture to rewrite history have only intensified since I wrote this post one year ago.  The trend is heading into extreme territory, in which we absurdly demand people living four hundred years ago to have had the foresight to think and believe the way we do in 2020.  We pillory them and destroy their statues if they failed to genuflect properly.

The world in 1492 was a brutal place, especially in the New World.  The myth of the “noble savage” was just that—a myth.  The Native Americans were a vastly diverse array of tribes and confederations, often intensely at war with one another.  That doesn’t excuse some of the abuse they did receive at the hands of Europeans and, later, Americans, but it should dispel this notion that white people cruelly destroyed peaceful Earth worshippers.

That it doesn’t is a testament to the strength of progressive indoctrination in our schools.  We don’t name football teams, towns, and military weaponry after Native Americans because they were pagan hippies; we do so because we fought them for hundreds of years and admire their tenacity and warrior-spirit.  It’s the hard-won respect one has for a worthy opponent, even a defeated one.

So, I’ll repeat my call to preserve Columbus Day.  Here is 2019’s “Happy Columbus Day!“:

Today is Columbus Day in the United States, the day that commemorates Columbus’s voyage to the Americas in 1492.  It’s one of the most significant events in human history—as I tell my American History students, “we wouldn’t be here if Columbus hadn’t made his voyages”—yet the social justice, Cultural Marxist revisionist scolds want to do away with the holiday entirely, replacing it instead with “Indigenous People’s Day.”

The thrust of the proposed (or, as is the way with SJWs, demanded) name change is that Columbus was a genocidal, white male meanie who defrauded and murdered peace-loving Native Americans (who had the gall to mislabel Indians!), so instead we should celebrate the contributions of Stone Age cannibals.

Two States—Vermont and Maine (of course they’re in New England, the epicenter of neo-puritanical scolds)—have passed laws renaming the federal holiday to the SJW-approved Indigenous People’s Day.  One Maine mayor, however, refuses to bend, and has declared that in Waterville, Maine, Columbus will be honored.

Mayor Nick Isgro has garnered national attention for his stand to protect Columbus Day from the faddish winds of outrage culture:  “‘The history of mankind is not necessarily a nice one,’ he said. ‘With every great accomplishment, we could probably line up negative consequences as well as positive consequences and that goes across all peoples, all continents, all countries.’”

That’s probably one of the best, brief summaries of a proper historical perspective I’ve read recently:  we can find all sorts of nasty bits about every culture, country, and personality.  But that doesn’t detract from the greatness of their accomplishments.

The revisionists are not incorrect about Columbus:  he did, in his own misguided way, commit what we would now consider atrocities against the Arawaks of the Caribbean.  But it’s foolish to believe that the Native Americans were peaceful, “noble” savages, living in a harmonious state of nature until the evil, exploitative Europeans showed up.  That version of history is a Leftist passion play, which casts history into shades of (literal and metaphorical) black and white—and any white person must possess a black soul.

The peoples of the late fifteenth-century Caribbean were no saints.  To quote from Samuel Eliot Morrison’s Admiral of the Ocean Sea (quotation c/o VDare.com):

The searching party found plentiful evidence of these unpleasant Carib habits which were responsible for a new word—cannibal—in the European languages. In the huts deserted by the warriors, who ungallantly fled, they found large cuts and joints of human flesh, shin bones set aside to make arrows of, caponized Arawak boy captives who were being fattened for the griddle, and girl captives who were mainly used to produce babies, which the Caribs regarded as a particularly toothsome morsel.

Clearly, the Arawaks weren’t polite simpletons (which is how they come across in progressive retellings) snookered by a wicked Italian.  They were fattening up little boys t be eaten, and impregnating young girls to eat their offspring!

I recently wrote about similar Native American atrocities regarding the Aztecs.  The Aztecs’ atrocities are far better understood—the massive, organized human sacrifices, for example—but there’s still this push among modern historians to cast the Spanish conquistadors as the villains.

Naturally, we have to understand these cultures and civilizations in their time and place—but we can do so without condoning their barbarism and cannibalism.  Similarly, if we’re willing to accord some historical wiggle room to baby-eaters, can’t we extend the same generosity to Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors?

Further, as I read the accounts of various Native American practices, I can see why Spanish and subsequent Europeans believed they were doing the Lord’s work to wipe out these practices:  some of them are downright demonic.  It’s fitting that the bloody temples of Tenochtitlan were dismantled and replaced with a Christian cathedral.  The Old Testament is rife with examples of pagan places of worship being destroyed and replaced with altars to Jehovah.

(Of course, if the Spanish were indeed part of God’s Divine judgment on the Aztecs, et. al., Americans should be very worried today, as we continue to participate in mass infanticide.  God is patient, but His patience does not endure forever.)

So, yes, let’s celebrate Columbus on Columbus Day.  I’m glad to be in the New World, and that we don’t line people up to be sacrificed to a sun god every day.

Columbus

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TBT: On Ghost Stories

Today marks the first day of October, perhaps my favorite month of the year.  We’re already getting that first crisp coolness in the air here in South Carolina, and it’s feeling more and more like autumn every day.

So with Halloween just thirty days away, I thought it would be fun to look back at a post from last “All Hallowe’s Eve Eve,” as I wrote at the time:  one all about ghost stories.

I finally finished slogging my way through The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories, thanks in no small part to quarantine.  It’s an excellent collection, and I stand by my recommendation from last October, but there are a handful of stories that are way too long—or dense.

I’m now reading through a more accessible, far lighter read:  the classic Tar Heel Ghosts by John Harden.  It’s a collection of North Carolina-based ghost stories published in the 1950s, so it has that pleasing sense of implicit patriotism and love of place that is now so sadly missing from our cynical, cosmopolitan writing of today.  Like The Story of Yankee Whaling, it possesses a refreshing innocence about and love for its subject:  no hand-wringing over now-unfashionable ideas, no condemnation of a lack of diversity, no talk of “marginalized” groups being “unrepresented.”

I picked up the book sometime in my childhood on a family trip, but I don’t think I ever finished the collection.  I’m rectifying that all these years later, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.  I also plan to reread Ray Bradbury’s The Halloween Tree, one of my favorites to pull out this time of year.

Here’s hoping you find some spooky tales of your own to curl up with on these cold, October nights.  Here’s October 2019’s “On Ghost Stories“:

It’s Halloween!  Well, at least it’s All Hallow’s Eve Eve, but that’s close enough for some ghoulishly delicious ghost stories.

I love a good ghost story.  The Victorians did the genre best, but many writers since have honed it further, adding their own unique twists and scares.  Even Russell Kirk, the great conservative philosopher, was a fan of ghost stories.  Indeed, his bestselling book was a ghost story.

For the Victorians, ghost stories were told at Christmastime.  This timing, while peculiar to modern readers, makes sense intuitively—Christmas is a time for remembering the past, in part (perhaps especially) our honored dead (just ask Washington Irvingif he comes by to haunt you).  The “ghosts” of departed loved ones linger closely during those long, frosty nights.  The inherent nostalgia of Christmas and the winter season—and bundling up next to a crackling fire—sets the perfect mood for ghostly tales.

Nevertheless, what other time of year can beat Halloween for a good tale of witches and werewolves; of monsters and mummies; of ghouls, goblins, and ghosts?

As such, I’d encourage readers to check out “Nocturne of All Hallow’s Eve,” a deliciously frightening, blood-soaked tale of the supernatural and the macabre from Irish-American author Greg Patrick.  Alternative fiction website Terror House Magazine posted it back in September, and I’ve been saving it to share on the blog until now.

Patrick’s style conjures the dense verbiage of Edgar Allan Poe.  Indeed, he overdoes it a bit (see his more recently published “The Familiar“).  But his subject matter is pure Halloween—the tenuous space between the natural and the supernatural, the mysterious rituals, and on and on.

If you’re still in search of some ghostly reads, check out The Penguin Book of Ghost Stories.  It’s the collection I’ve been reading since my trip to New Jersey this summer.  It’s a truly spine-tingling collection that covers some of the great—and many of the undeservedly unsung—writers of the genre, the men and women who truly created and molded what makes a good ghost story.

So wherever you find yourself the next couple of nights, curl up with a good book, a warm fire, and a good ghost story (and maybe someone else, if you’re so inclined).  You and the ghosts will be glad you did!

Ghost

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Anti-Court Packing

As of right now, it looks like Amy Coney Barrett will get confirmed to the Supreme Court before the election, even if she’ll be seated under the wire.  A plurality of Americans want Barrett seated, according to a Rasmussen poll.  Conservatives shouldn’t take anything for granted; to quote Marcus Cato Censorius, “many things can come between the mouth and a morsel of food.”  But it does seem that ACB will soon be Justice Barrett, and America will be better off for it.

Of course, the Democrats are in high dudgeon, and are already threatening to pack the Court should they win the presidency and gain a senatorial majority this November.  Conservatives have anticipated this potential move for some time, but haven’t done much to stymie it.  Our focus has been, understandably, affixed on merely gaining a solid constitutionalist majority on the Court, but today’s Left will do anything to demolish a conservative Court.

Just as Democrats threatened to impeach Trump [thanks to jonolan for sharing that post with his readers, too —TPP] for making a constitutional appointment, they’re not seeking to dilute the Supreme Court, cheapening its gravity and significance, by adding additional justices.  Their solution is to expand the Court enough enough to make the potentially 6-3 conservative majority irrelevant.

After all, with the Democrats, if the rules favor your opponents, change them.  If the people don’t want your ideology, force it on them via judicial or executive fiat.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: The Supreme Court and Power

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The death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg eight days ago has opened up another power struggle in D.C.  Democrats have spent decades perverting the function of the courts from that of constitutional referee into that of constitution interpreter, a role that places the Supreme Court above Congress and the presidency.

The result is rule by nine unelected officials who serve for life.  Congress has gleefully passed the difficulty of legislative activity and the push and pull of debate onto the Supreme Court, trusting it to clarify anything Congress may have forgotten to write into law.  Presidents have passively executed Supreme Court verdicts, and even signed legislation they believed to be unconstitutional, on the premise that the Supreme Court would make the ultimate decision.

Thus, the Court has emerged as the dominant force in American politics—and morality.  Not only does the Court tell us what the Constitution really says—even if the Constitution doesn’t say it at all—it also tells us the moral judgments of the Constitution (thanks to Z Man for that insight).  Thus, every cat lady and box wine auntie in America bemoans the death of RBG, their symbolic stand-in, who endorsed free and easy abortions and gay rights.

Now President Trump has the opportunity to shift the balance of the Supreme Court for a generation.  But will it be enough to reverse judicial supremacy and restore constitutional order?

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More Mountain Musings

I made it back from my weekend trip to the mountains near Burnsville, North Carolina.  I slammed that SubscribeStar Saturday post out after being up since 5:30 AM, two hundred miles of driving, and a full day of family fun in Asheville, so I skimped on some details, even if I hit the main points I wanted to address.

It was a very rushed trip, with my girlfriend and I departing around 11 AM Sunday to take in some sights before rushing back to prepare for our busy workweeks.  We managed to spend a little time in Burnsville, which is named for Captain Otway Burns, a sailor and hero of the War of 1812.  A statue of Captain Burns, erected in 1909, stands in the town square, with an inscription that reads, “He Guarded Well Our Seas, Let Our Mountains Honor Him.”

From there, we headed into the mountains, eventually reaching the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Our destination was Mount Mitchell State Park, which provides easy access to the summit of Mount Mitchell.  Mount Mitchell is the highest peak in the Appalachian Mountains, and the highest in the eastern continental United States.

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SubscribeStar Saturday: 9-11

Today’s post is a SubscribeStar Saturday exclusive.  To read the full post, subscribe to my SubscribeStar page for $1 a month or more.  For a full rundown of everything your subscription gets, click here.

Yesterday I launched Five Dollar Friday, a series of 2020 election series posts for $5 a month and higher subscribers.  Just another perk for my subscribers.

Nineteen years ago yesterday, Al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four passenger airliners, crashing them into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and—thanks to the bravery of Americans aboard Flight 93—a field in Pennsylvania.  2977 Americans lost their lives that day, with another 25,000 injured in the aftermath.

I was a junior in high school when the attacks occurred.  My classmates and I first heard about it during trigonometry class with our ancient math teacher, one of those public school double-dippers who was pulling a pension but still teaching (to her credit, she was a good math teacher).  The psychology teacher from across the hall—a large, red-faced woman—burst into the room, blubbering, “They’ve attacked the Pentagon!”

To my shame, the class erupted in laughter.  We weren’t laughing because we thought it was good news—like those Muslims partying on rooftops and those public school kids in New York cheering at the destruction.  We laughed because it was so absurd (it didn’t help that a very rotund, hysterical woman shouted it hysterically).  America, attacked?  Who would do something so foolish?  It was so beyond our comprehension, we couldn’t believe it.

As the day wore on, we realized pretty quickly that something terrible had happened.  I don’t remember if we watched news footage during the day, but we were not sent home early.  Indeed, we had marching band practice that afternoon.  But there were real fears:  would terrorists attempt an attack on the Savannah River Site, where we used to process tritium for nuclear weapons?

My dad was in Pennsylvania at the time at a work conference.  Of course, Flight 93 went down in Pennsylvania, and all air travel was shut down (my German teacher commented on how it was probably the first time since the rise of commercial aviation that no aircraft were in the skies).  Fortunately, he was safe, and road the rails back to South Carolina.  My grandparents were out in the Southwest, and rented a Toyota Camry to drive cross-country (they went on to purchase the vehicle).

In the coming days, we came to find out it was the work of radical Islamic terrorists.  I recall a conversation with friends in which I suggested we ban any travel and immigration from any countries with a majority Muslim population until we got this terrorism threat worked out.  It wasn’t long after that President Bush started in with the “Islam is a religion of peace” nonsense, but there was a brief, albeit very mild, nativist flare-up (when the French refused to join us in the Iraq War, restaurants changed French fries to “freedom fries” on their menus).

It felt like our Pearl Harbor.

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TBT: Remembering 1519

We’ve been back at school for one week now, and so far things seem to be going well, albeit very busy.  We’re slowly settling into a groove with our various safety protocols, and most of the schedule changes are solidified.  That should make for much smoother sailing going forward.

I’m mostly teaching music courses this year, but I still have a couple of sections of Honors US History.  That means it’s another year of telling the “grand narrative of American history.”  My main goal as a history teacher is to make sure students receive a balanced, analytical telling of our great nation’s history.  That means that while I point out the atrocities of, say, the Spanish conquistadors, I also discuss the wickedness of the Aztecs, who engaged in daily human sacrifices.  That the Spanish built a cathedral atop the old Aztec altar to their false gods is a fitting bit of divine judgment.

Of course, as an American I’m more interested in English colonization and settlement in British North America—what would become the United States—than I am in the vast empire of New Spain.  We should be getting into Roanoke, Jamestown, and Plymouth Rock today or tomorrow, and I’m quite excited about that.  For me, that’s when the story really starts cooking.  Naturally, the clash of Spanish conquistadors and Aztec and Inca warriors is cool, but those first saplings of a free country stir my heart.

All that said, this week’s TBT looks back at those cool conquistadors.  Here is 3 September 2019’s “Remembering 1519“:

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Lazy Sunday LXXX: Forgotten Posts, Volume IV

We’re continuing our dive into the B-sides and deep cuts of the TPP oeuvre.  For this Lazy Sunday, I decided to check out September 2019.

Whoa!  What a gold mine of hidden gems and nuggets, forgotten in the tide of events.  I didn’t realize how many good posts I generate during that first full month of the 2019-2020 school year.  There’s enough for a couple of weeks, but here are three forgotten posts to tide you over until next Sunday:

  • Remembering 1519” – With The New York Times‘s 1619 Project all the rage—a retelling of American history in which racism and slavery  are the only pertinent factors in our grand national story—this post examined a piece from The Federalist about Hernan Cortez’s conquest of the Aztecs in 1519.  Rather than framing it as evil Europeans callously destroying the peaceful natives (any fifth grader can tell you the Aztecs were anything but peaceful), he flips the script to something closer to the Truth:  the Catholic Christian Spaniards toppled a wicked regime built on human sacrifice and false gods.  The Spanish weren’t angels, but they destroyed a great evil.
  • Saturn: The Creepiest Planet?” – Quora inspired this post, and the site has now become a favorite of mine for people smarmily answering astronomy questions.  The Solar System has always fascinated me, and Saturn in particular is alluring—so mysterious and regal, with its massive rings.  I’ve even written a song, “The Rings of Saturn,” which I will hopefully record one day.  The Quora post in question asked “What is the creepiest planet in our solar system?”; the answer, per a recording of Saturn’s electromagnetic waves, is Saturn.  The embedded video to that recording is now, sadly, dead, but I’m sure some intrepid searching could turn it up.
  • A Tale of Two Cyclists” – One of my more frivolous and cantankerous posts, this short screed denounces “spandex-festooned cyclists riding in the middle of a busy lane during rush hour.”  Yet my sympathies are entirely with the second cyclist, “a black man of indeterminate age…. wearing street clothes, and riding what appeared to be a fairly rundown bike.”  I have no problem with folks who use a bike as their primary means of transportation, lacking any other options.  But these large groups of “cyclists” who ostentatiously hog entire lanes at 5 PM drive me batty.

That’s it for this Sunday!  We’ll continue our exploration for at least another week, as there are some more goodies from September 2019 to explore.

Happy Sunday!

—TPP

Other Lazy Sunday Installments: