Charles Dickens (1812-1870) grew up in poverty in a Great Britain, a country where there was still very strong class destinations. If that were not enough of a shadow to live under his father had a stay in debtor’s prison. When Dickens’ wrote about the harsh conditions of work houses and the cruelties suffered by the working poor he was in fact writing about his own experiences as a boy. Having those experiences and having become something of the popular conscious of a nation he also surprised readers after his death when they learned he had thrown his wife out of their house – keeping the children. She had to go because he could no longer stand having her around. Does it matter what writers such as Charles Dickens, Flannery O’Connor or V.S. Naipaul were actually like in real life as compared to the impression we have of them from their writing – Good Writers. Bad Men. Does It Matter? Just as a warning against idolatry of public figures living or dead – I tend to think it does matter. Sometimes knowing a particular detail – such as Dickens kicking his wife to the curb may not tell the whole story. In that instance it was probably not justified but there may have been mitigating reasons – maybe she abused the children. Closed doors and so forth, so we’ll probably never know. As an adult I know that such situations require rising above base impulses and doing the right thing regardless of feelings of the moment. That Dickens or Naipal did not always behave as well as the ideals which they championed should not mean their work lacks literary or philosophical merit.
The governor of Mississippi joins the governor of Virginia in the celebration of Confederate Treason Month. Matthew Yglesias writes as succinctly as we are likely to find about the sudden surge to celebrate the confederacy , the 10th Amendment and the perverse view of state’s rights, White Nationalism.
As long as national institutions are substantially controlled by white southerners, the white south is a hotbed of patriotism. But as soon as an non-southern political coalition manages to win an election—as we saw in 1860 and in 2008—then suddenly the symbols of national authority become symbols of tyranny and the constitution is construed as granting conservative areas all kinds of alleged abilities to opt out of national political decisions. Even if you think opposition to the Affordable Care Act has nothing whatsoever to do with race, the underlying political philosophy by which a George W Bush or James Buchanan is a national president but an Abraham Lincoln or a Barack Obama merely a sectional one remains incoherent and pernicious.
Where was all this rage when Bush 43, Bush 41 or Reagan expanded government bureaucracy and power. In addition to billing the American people for the unqualified cronies they appointed to government jobs – some of which were invented just for them. It’s the bear rage. During those presidencies the nationalistic bear slept in cave and suddenly woke during the Clinton and Obama presidencies to notice the country was struggling – struggling to recover from the awful polices of the presidencies the white nationalists enabled, then slept through. It is not pure white as I read a black conservative today at Andrew Brietbart’s Big Government site and there is the always inane token black “intellectual” Thomas Sowell at National Review. I was going to do a post on the article at Big Government, but a rebuttal to a couple hundred words of senseless whining and distorted history is just is not worth the effort.