“The Land We Love: The South And Its Heritage”

A book review by Al Benson Jr.

Dr. Boyd D. Cathey, retired registrar of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, has written a book that can, and should, be embraced by every Southern patriot no matter where he lives. Its title is the title of this article.

The importance and tenor of Dr. Cathey’s book is described in a brief forward for the book, written by Dr. Clyde Wilson, Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History, University of South Carolina. Dr. Wilson has said: “We Southerners are blessed to have a rich story that is still powerful among us and also far beyond our borders. That history is envied and hated by postmodern Americans who have no story of their own and work to destroy the memory of ours. Defending our story is not backward or provincial but is a part of the defense of civilization as we have known it.” In reference to Dr. Cathey’s work he noted: “Herein he has erected a sturdy wall where we can gather to resist the barbarism of our time.” I have to say Amen to that. The anti-Christian and anti-Southern barbarism of our time needs to be resisted–and not only resisted but pushed back against. Dr. Cathey’s book gives us a sense of our history and heritage that will enable us to do that.

Dr. Cathey has divided his book into six parts: a defense of the South and its history; defending the symbols and monuments of our history; what the Nativity says to Southerners; eight Southern heroes and two demons; reviews of films and books; and a final brief part, with a Christian outlook, on the virtue of hope.

At the beginning of part one, Dr. Cathey notes what he called “a new reconstruction.” This is the current assault on Confederate heritage, well, not actually just current. It has been going on for some time now but has recently gotten even more rabid. He notes here, comments by Professor James McPherson, no friend of the South by any stretch of the imagination, and notes McPherson’s commentary in one of his books For Cause and Comrades: Why Men Fought in the Civil War. McPherson, possibly reluctantly, was forced to admit that the vast majority of Confederate soldiers felt they were fighting for liberty. After studying all kinds of manuscripts and thousands of letters, diaries, etc., McPherson wrote: “Southern recruits waxed most eloquently about their intention to fight against slavery than for it…that is, against their own enslavement to the North…Confederates professed to fight for liberty and independence from a tyrannical government.”

Dr. Cathey noted, on page 25, something I have written about several times–the cultural and theological difference between North and South in the 19th century. He says “In the South, orthodox, Trinitarian and Incarnational Christianity, in its various forms, has been and is still central to and pervasive in our society. This fact cannot be emphasized enough. While third and fourth generation Puritans of New England and various groups in New York and Ohio, began to veer into Unitarianism, transcendentalism, and heretical millenarian cults, the South’s popular orthodoxy inhibited deviations and hetrodoxy.”

He noted the tentative truce between North and South that lasted up until the 1950s. He observed “…the triumph of the ‘civil rights’ movement which in some ways was a frontal attack on constitutional republicanism and the rights of property, and the triumph of political correctness and cultural Marxism, all signaled the beginning of a ‘Second War of Northern Aggression’ aimed at totally reshaping and restructuring our culture and at rejecting the principles and beliefs of our ancestors.” He commented about the anti-South indoctrination in public schools and the entertainment media and through “virtual control of both political parties…” He took note of Jefferson Davis’ warning that “conflict between the South’s beliefs and victorious modernism had not ended with Appomattox.”

Dr. Cathey observed, quite astutely, that what passes today in this country for conservatism is actually what many of us refer to as “neo-conservatism” He referred to neo-conservatives as those who “made the pilgrimage from the Left into the conservative movement…” Unfortunately, with a little tweaking to make them sound more “conservative” they retained their Leftist worldview as they infiltrated the real conservative movement in this country. Today, neo-conservatives are closet globalists.

Starting on page 63 and continuing through page 74, Dr. Cathey deals with what he accurately labels “Merchants of hate” the Southern Poverty Law Center. Any Southern historian or patriot should be familiar with this group and its founder, Morris Dees. Dees and his group are infamous across the country and their checkered reputation is more than deserved.

Dr. Cathey demonstrates that he understands our problem when he titles chapter 15 in this book Taking Down Our Monuments is Part of the Marxist Campaign to Transform America. You can’t say it any plainer than that. Unfortunately today, it seems that many Southern patriots can’t seem to wrap their minds around this truth. If they are ever to be effective in standing up for their heritage they need to begin to grasp who their enemies really are!

In the middle of his book, after displaying examples of all the cultural Marxist agendas arrayed against us, lest we become weary in well doing, Dr. Cathey gives us commentary about the true hope of Southern Christian patriots when he notes the Nativity of our Lord. He says: “And although our Lord and Saviour indeed came first to the Jews, and offered them His reparative Grace and Salvation, it was by no means to be limited to them. Indeed, His message was universal (as it had been to Abraham). And those Hebrews who accepted the Messiah–and those gentiles who also joined them–became the Church, the ‘New’ Israel, receptor of God’s Grace and holder of His promises and carrier of His Light unto all the world.” In these often dark days of egregious cultural Marxist offenses against our heritage and culture we need to remember that our Lord is ultimately in control of all history and therefore, our efforts to preserve our culture and present the truth to our people and others are not in vain, even if we do not live to see the results of those efforts.

In part four of his book Dr. Cathey deals with eight Southern heroes and two demons. He presents to us commentary about each of these men, from Nathaniel Macon, who was instrumental in giving us our concept of states’ rights, to James Johnston Pettigrew, who fought at Gettysburg, and who said: “Local attachments are pronounced, by the modern school of social philosophers, to be relics of barbarism, ignorance and prejudice, forgetting that prejudices are given us by the all-wise Deity, as well as reasoning faculties, and equally for some beneficent purpose…Patriotism, an attachment to, a preference for one’s own home, is still a virtue prolific of measureless good, and for its foundation rests upon enlightened prejudice.”

Also included in this section are President Jefferson Davis and Robert Lewis Dabney. Dabney was probably one of the most prescient men of his time. He understood national issues and had the foresight to see where this country would logically go as a result of the Northern victory in the war. After the war he devoted much effort to writing about the problems with public education, the womens’ rights movement and many other controversial issue of that day. Reading Dabney’s comments in many of these critical areas and then checking out where some of those issues are at in our own day, I have to conclude that Dabney had a foresight in his day that few had. He wrote to warn people of where we were headed, but few listened to him. More’s the pity, for he was right on target.

Dr. Cathey continued on with commentary about Mel Bradford and Eugene Genovese, and Senator Sam Ervin. He even had comments about movie actor Randolph Scott, born in Virginia but raised in North Carolina. I recall him from my younger days, having seen many of his Western movies (Westerns have always been my favorites). Scott quit doing movies around 1960 because he saw the new trend in movies with all the nudity and rotten language and didn’t feel he wanted to be part of all that. Who can blame him?

Then, Dr. Cathey dealt with the two demons–Abraham Lincoln and Victor Davis Hanson. I won’t go into the sainted Mr. Lincoln here. Most who will read this already know where he was coming from and over the years I have written lots of stuff about him that was far from complimentary–but then he didn’t deserve any compliments. Victor Davis Hanson doesn’t deserve any either. I remember, years ago now, reading an article someone sent me that Hanson had written explaining how beneficial Sherman’s March had been for the South. I recall reading that and thinking “He’s has to be kidding, right?” I’ve read more than enough about Sherman’s March to know what it did to the South and anyone perverse enough to regard that atrocity as beneficial has to have a very unusual sense of “beneficial” in my estimation.

Included in Dr. Cathey’s book is a section on reviews of books and films contemporary to our day. Some of these were positive, but that was a few years ago. Nowadays anything positive about the South ends up on the “cutting room floor.” I recall reading reviews for Gods and Generals back in 2003. I felt it was a good movie. The reviewers trashed it. I don’t bother doing movies anymore–there is so little I like–but when I used to go I had one criteria I usually followed–if the reviewers all hate it then it’s probably worth going to see.

Dr. Cathey did take note of Dinesh D’Souza’s latest film Death of a Nation. D’Souza is another of those new film makers who seems to believe Lincoln was somewhat of a deity who gave his life to destroy slavery in the “racist” South. I’ve read enough of D’Souza’s tortured renditions of our history to know he doesn’t grasp it, has no feel for what really happened or how folks really felt about slavery or most other questions pertaining to the South and its heritage. So, unless you are one of those folks goes can knowledgeably critique D’Souza’s film work, don’t waste your money!

Dr. Cathey critiques several books in this section, one of them one I reviewed awhile back, Rekilling Lincoln, written by my good friend, and co-author of Lincoln’s Marxists with me, Donnie Kennedy. He points out many of the important points Donnie dealt with in Rekilling Lincoln.

There is so much more important material in Dr. Cathey’s book I cannot begin to cover it all. I had to skip many things I would have loved to have commented on that would have made this review ponderous enough that no one would have read it.
Dr. Cathey’s book is a must read for anyone who sees what goes on today in regard to our heritage and history. He realizes what is happening and yet, as a Christian, he encourages us to persevere and to have hope that what we do is not in vain. This is a message I needed to hear. After almost five decades of doing what I do, with political activism and Southern heritage, often with little positive result that I can see, I tend to get discouraged at times. I need to be reminded that “Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1).

This very readable book by Dr. Cathey has been published by The Scuppernong PressP O Box 1724,  Wake Forest, North Carolina  27588 http://www.scuppernongpress.com and sells for $28.00. I heartily recommend it.

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