The Unz Review - Mobile
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
Email This Page to Someone

 Remember My Information

 TeasersSam Francis Blogview
Political Correctness

Bookmark Toggle AllToCAdd to LibraryRemove from Library • BShow CommentNext New CommentNext New Reply
🔊 Listen RSS

Back in the days when people believed in witches, there were folks who made a pretty good living by setting themselves up as professional “witch hunters.” They claimed to know all about what witches looked like and how to ferret them out — for a hefty fee, of course. The witch hunters of old were responsible for probably thousands of innocent people being tortured and executed on fake charges of witchcraft. Today, witch hunters are by no means extinct, but the ones in business now make those of the past seem rather attractive.

Today’s witch hunters don’t look for real witches, of course, but for “extremists,” mainly “extremists” on the far right. Though they often dredge up a good many nuts and sometimes even a really dangerous type, much of what they do is as unreliable and preposterous as the accusations against the poor old crones the early witch hunters dragged to the stake.

One hunter who has hunted down the witch hunters themselves is an independent journalist and researcher named Laird Wilcox, who, for decades, has studied both the right and the left, extreme and not-so extreme, simply for the purpose of analyzing it. Unlike the witch hunters, Wilcox doesn’t have a point to push, an agenda to peddle or a buck to snatch out of your pocket. Hence, he needs to be listened to.

Interviewed this week in The Washington Times, Wilcox discusses his recent monograph on witch hunters entitled “The Watchdogs,” (available through Editorial Research Service, P.O. Box 2047, Olathe, KS 66051), a 100-page study of the work and backgrounds of the major organizations that devote themselves to the pursuit of modern “extremism.” The organizations are the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Center for Democratic Renewal, and Political Research Associates.

Most of these groups and the chaps who run them have a political agenda — mainly drawn from the extreme left — though they like to posture as “objective” researchers. The Southern *Poverty Law Center, for example, was founded and continues to be run by Morris Dees, a fund raiser for leftist Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern and for other causes of the left as well.

The Center for Democratic Renewal, Wilcox writes, “has a fascinating history that reaches into the recesses of the American Marxist-Leninist left.” Wilcox identifies several of the staffers and associates of the CDR as having ties to the Communist Party. Yet both groups love to dote on the past “links” of the “right-wing extremists” they’re obsessed with.

The Anti-Defamation League is mainly just liberal in its orientation, but it still tends to blast anyone at all critical of Israel, liberal Jewish causes and organizations and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East as “anti-Semitic.” As ruinous as that charge often is, the ADL isn’t always right about it. Only last month it lost a $10.5 million lawsuit in Colorado for lobbing the “anti-Semitism” charge at a couple who lobbed back — and won.

These groups specialize in drumming the tune that Nazis and Klansmen are on the verge of taking over the country or at least that they’re a growing menace as terrorists. Wilcox says that in fact, there are probably only about 10,000 followers of such fringe groups in the whole country, but by playing on fear and ignorance the witch hunters grotesquely exaggerate their numbers and power.

The Center for Democratic Renewal, for example, claimed a few years ago that “a well-organized white-supremacist movement” was behind a series of black church-burnings. In fact, as responsible reporters and law enforcement officials soon showed, “church-burnings had actually declined, … racism was a motive in less than half of the arsons, and … white churches were more often targeted by arsonists,” as the Times reports. The Southern Poverty Law Center has been faulted by some of its own former employees as “a joke” and “evil,” while black former employees have accused it of racial discrimination against them.

The witch hunters wouldn’t be dangerous except for the fact that they’ve managed to con many in the press and government to take their political propaganda disguised as “research” seriously. An FBI report last year claiming that “right-wing extremists” would commit terrorist violence at the turn of the millennium on Jan. 1 showed the heavy influence of the thinking and writing of these groups. As we now know, the report was without merit.

Instead of simply swallowing whatever these self-appointed watchdogs bark up, the media and serious law enforcement need to take a long look at Wilcox’s valuable study of them and their work. They might find it’s the witch hunters themselves who are the real witches that need to be ferreted out.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Political Correctness 
🔊 Listen RSS

One of the distinguishing characteristics of a totalitarian system is that not only does the state impose an official ideology throughout society but so do other institutions, as well. The “totality” at which the regime aims means that every sector of the society — the economy, social and cultural institutions, as well as government — tries to make certain that no one and no thing deviates from the pattern of thought and behavior being imposed.

In the New Order now being constructed in this country and in most of the world, Thought Control is enforced not just by the state (“hate crime” laws, public education and selective condemnation of dissident ideas), but also by the mammoth corporations of the “global economy.” Here are several examples of how it’s being done:

When the Supreme Court ruled recently that the Boy Scouts of America are not required to admit homosexuals as members, or hire homosexual scoutmasters, both local governments and “private” corporations immediately started retaliating by cutting off grants and access to important facilities. Several cities denied the Scouts use of parks and other public services, while Chase Manhattan Bank and Textron Corporation “have withdrawn hundreds of thousands of dollars in support to local and national scouting groups nationwide,” as the New York Times reported last month.

The rationale for this kind of ideological disciplining is, of course, “diversity,” in the Orwellian language of Thought Control. “Their (the Scouts’) position,” a Chase spokesman says, “is, on the face of it, in conflict with our commitment and our values on diversity.” Chase’s commitment to diversity apparently does not extend to respecting the Scouts’ different views of homosexuality. That’s why it’s Orwellian.

Go into a Barnes & Noble book store these days, and you’ll discover even more diversity. The giant book chain, which contributes to diversity by driving out of business smaller book stores across the country, now greets customers with a display entitled “Close the Book on Hate.”

The display is part of a joint project of Barnes and Noble and the Anti-Defamation League, which “have come together to help children better understand the richness and beauty of our multicultural society.” That’s sweet — except that the project assumes that anyone who disagrees with multiculturalism, and its agenda of subverting distinctively Western values and institutions, is imbued with “hate” and “intolerance.”

“Intolerance,” the display piously instructs us, “isn’t something children are born with. It’s learned. Therefore, it can be unlearned.” The way to “unlearn” it, of course, is to buy the books on the display table, which would just happen to be profitable for Barnes & Noble. Most of the books seem innocuous enough, mainly a lot of drippy moralism about the “Holocaust” and several kiddies’ books containing cute little lessons in cartoon versions of multiculturalism.

Nevertheless, the purpose is clear: to popularize the idea that insistence on maintaining the cultural integrity of American society is “hate” and “intolerance,” and that those who still believe in such integrity have something wrong with them that can and should be “unlearned.”

Yet, another lesson in how “tolerant” the corporate giants really are comes from the behemoth Wal-Mart. Recently in South Carolina, a gentleman named Maurice Bessinger, who owns a small barbecue restaurant chain and makes his own barbecue sauce, raised a South Carolina state flag outside one of his restaurants, along with the Confederate flag.

It’s not the government Bessinger needs to worry about, but Wal-Mart, which used to carry Bessinger’s barbecue sauce nationwide. Wal-Mart has suddenly dropped the sauce from its shelves. When I called the customer complaint number to ask why, I was told that Bessinger “was involved in activities with which Wal-Mart did not wish to be associated.”

The munchkin with whom I spoke refused to say what those “activities” were, why they were objectionable, or whether the chain also scrutinized the activities of other suppliers to evaluate their “activities” as well. He claimed the Confederate flag had nothing to do with it. My own bet is that you can find plenty of products at Wal-Mart made by slave labor, but slavery — at least the kind that really exists today as opposed to the kind that has been extinct in this country for more than a century — apparently is not “an activity with which Wal-Mart does not wish to be associated.”

Joseph Stalin and Mao Tse-tung could have learned something from these corporate leviathans. The tyranny over the mind that their governments imposed required secret police, death camps, genocide and state terror for generations, and still it failed. The Thought Control these titans of international capitalism are constructing is being imposed without firing a shot — and it may endure far longer than its communist cousins ever did.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Political Correctness 
🔊 Listen RSS

If there was ever any doubt, it’s now beyond question that the American Civil War settled nothing and never even ended. Not only is the NAACP still waging war against the Confederate flag but now the Clinton administration is also waddling into the breach to make sure the nation’s Civil War battlefields teach the right messages. You may be able to guess what the Clinton crowd thinks the right message is.

Last year, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. managed to insert language in an appropriations bill requiring Civil War battlefield parks to “encourage” discussions of the role of slavery in causing the war. This year, Jackson and a platoon of left-leaning historians showed up at a National Park Service symposium to flap their jaws about the forthcoming discussions.

Kate Stevenson, the Park Service’s Associate Director for Cultural Resource Stewardship and Partnerships, and one of the Clinton administration’s major policy-makers on the battlefield issue, pronounces that “I don’t want to hear about battles when I go to a Civil War battlefield. I don’t care about battles.” She is by no means alone in her indifference to the history that really did take place on the battlefields and her passion for a history that never happened.

What John Latschar, superintendent at the Gettysburg battlefield park, wants visitors to learn is definitely not history. “I’m just absolutely convinced that we have a far more compelling need to move into the 21st century,” he told the Washington Times last week, “to give people the basic understanding of why the Civil War was fought, and the meaning of it all. … We can find that meaning in the words of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, which is the new birth of freedom.” That’s much more important, he says, than “remembering the names of Union and Confederate generals.”

Of course, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address had nothing to do with why the war was fought; it was delivered two years after the war began, and Lincoln’s war aims had far less to do with the “new birth of freedom” his speech announced than clobbering the seceding Southerners and “preserving the union” at the point of the bayonet.

Nor did abolishing slavery have much to do with the war. Lincoln many times denied that was his aim, and slavery continued to exist in the North throughout the war and until the 13th Amendment after the war abolished it.

Latschar offers what he says is a “proper” way to tell the story of the war without stepping on any of the toes that still wiggle over it in both North and South. The only problem is that his account, as reported by the Times, is just plain wrong. “When 11 states seceded,” the Times reports Latschar’s version, “Lincoln responded by raising an army to invade the South to put down the rebellion.”

Well, not exactly. Only seven states seceded at first, and Lincoln didn’t raise an army to invade them. Only after the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter did Lincoln call for troops and the other four states secede. Whether the secession was really an act of “rebellion” is a question that cannot and could not be resolved by war or by historical scholarship; it’s a matter of constitutional interpretation, whether the states had the right to secede or not.

Given the demonization of the South and all things connected to the Confederacy in recent years, it’s pretty clear what characters like the junior Jackson and his squad of leftish historians and pet bureaucrats want to do. They want to use the immense interest that Americans really feel for the Civil War to push their propaganda down the American throat, to preach about the evils of slavery and racism back then and then preach some more about the evils of slavery and racism today that the war failed to wipe off the face of the earth.

Shelby Foote, probably the most distinguished living historian of the Civil War, who conspicuously was not at the tame symposium put together by the Park Service, says, “We could argue that kind of stuff till doomsday,” and that’s probably the wisest thing to say about the whole issue. Some 600,000 Americans died in the Civil War when the arguments that started it failed to resolve the conflict, and no one has discovered any better ones since.

The battlefields are not the proper places to teach the causes of the war, let alone which side, if either, was right, nor is the National Park Service the proper teacher. The 11 million Americans who visit these fields every year are entirely capable of figuring out why the war was fought and who was right and who was wrong. If they’re wise, they won’t let the central event in their nation’s history be hijacked by propagandists.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Civil War, Political Correctness 
🔊 Listen RSS

Just because no federal buildings have been blown up in the last five years doesn’t mean that extremists aren’t still out there. A recent issue of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin carried an article on how to recognize them. It’s too bad the Bulletin isn’t on your coffee table, because, according to the article, you’re probably an extremist yourself. The article, “Vehicle Stops Involving Extremist Group Members,” by James Kobolt, tells us it’s important to be able to tell who’s an extremist because when the cops pull over a vehicle in a routine traffic stop, it may well be packing extremists and the extremists may be packing lead. “Sadly, most officers can recall a traffic stop in their state that involved a member of an extremist group and ended in a surprise fight for survival,” the article avows, offering no support whatsoever for that statement.

In any case, the way to recognize an extremist is fairly easy. First, we’re told, “extremists’ vehicles may sport bumper stickers with antigovernment or pro-gun sentiments,” among other signs. Well, like what? The article offers two hypothetical examples of “bumper stickers with antigovernment or pro-gun sentiments.” These are “Know Your Enemies: They Are Your Leaders,” and “Joe McCarthy Was Right.” You’re probably catching the article’s drift by now.

The article offers one actual example of an incident involving extremists, when two “members of the neo-Nazi group Aryan Nations and white supremacist religion Christian Identity” fired at Ohio police after being stopped. We’re not told what “sentiments,” if any, the pair’s bumper stickers expressed, but the reason they were pulled over was that their license plates had expired.

There are, of course, other ways to detect extremists, especially if they don’t believe in drivers’ licenses or car registration. In that case “they may present handmade licenses, a copy of the Constitution, a Bible, or political literature.” No doubt the nuts who run around with the Constitution or the Bible in their vehicles are the most dangerous of all. You probably need to shoot them on sight.

Nevertheless, “Once officers decide a subject may hold extremist beliefs,” the article cautions, “they should develop a plan of action.” The rest simply regurgitates fairly routine security procedures that most street cops learn at the police academy; the article’s clear purpose is not to tell experienced law enforcement officers that kind of stuff but rather to wash their brains a bit.

What the article is injecting into the minds of the police officers who read it is that anyone who expresses support for the Second Amendment in a bumper sticker is an “extremist” and a likely killer. Similarly, anyone who expresses “antigovernment” sentiments is also probably an “extremist” and a killer.

But what, besides agreeing with Joe McCarthy, constitutes extremist “anti-government” sentiments exactly? “Abolish the IRS”? “Don’t Vote. It Only Encourages Them”? “Get US out of the UN”? All those are real bumper stickers that express “antigovernment” sentiments. Do those who display them need to be approached with caution?

Nowhere does the article offer any real instance of cops being harmed by people who displayed any kind of bumper sticker, and nowhere are there any other kinds of “extremist” sentiments offered. What about stickers praising Karl Marx, Fidel Castro, Mao Tse-tung, or Malcolm X? Do “extremists” include anti-white racists, Hispanic separatists, adherents of fringe religious cults like Santeria or any number of other oddballs? The article never mentions any of them.

The article itself is what’s really dangerous, and the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin needs to get itself a new editor who will refuse to publish garbage like this. What’s dangerous about it is that it teaches cops unlikely to know any better that anyone who expresses perfectly harmless and entirely legitimate political ideas drawn from the mainstream of American history and political culture is a violent crackpot who needs to be watched and will probably boil over at any moment.

There are indeed nutty people out there, and some of them may be dangerous and more or less say so on whatever bumper stickers they paste on whatever vehicles they drive. But there are other nuts as well whose ideas are far more extreme than anyone who’s against big government and gun control. Unfortunately, some of them seem to have wormed their way into the confidence of law enforcement in recent years and are busily trying to exploit state power to suppress ideas they don’t like.

It’s nuts like these, who never fire a shot or break a law, who are the really dangerous extremists, because they’re often able to gull well-meaning cops and their supervisors into swallowing their propaganda without understanding the hatred of freedom from which it comes or the destruction of freedom to which it’s intended to lead.

• Category: Ideology • Tags: Political Correctness 
Sam Francis
About Sam Francis

Dr. Samuel T. Francis (1947-2005) was a leading paleoconservative columnist and intellectual theorist, serving as an adviser to the presidential campaigns of Patrick Buchanan and as an editorial writer, columnist, and editor at The Washington Times. He received the Distinguished Writing Award for Editorial Writing of the American Society of Newspaper Editors (ASNE) in both 1989 and 1990, while being a finalist for the National Journalism Award (Walker Stone Prize) for Editorial Writing of the Scripps Howard Foundation those same years. His undergraduate education was at Johns Hopkins and he later earned his Ph.D. in modern history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

His books include The Soviet Strategy of Terror(1981, rev.1985), Power and History: The Political Thought of James Burnham (1984); Beautiful Losers: Essays on the Failure of American Conservatism (1993); Revolution from the Middle: Essays and Articles from Chronicles, 1989–1996 (1997); and Thinkers of Our Time: James Burnham (1999). His published articles or reviews appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, National Review, The Spectator (London), The New American, The Occidental Quarterly, and Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, of which he was political editor and for which he wrote a monthly column, “Principalities and Powers.”