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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

American Culture: The Flies of a Summer (Part I)

“Civil war and the Emancipation Proclamation of Abraham Lincoln followed, freeing nearly four million slaves, many of whom hardly knew their right hand from the left.”—Fernando G. Cartland, Southern Heroes: The Friends in War Time (Cambridge, Riverside Press 1895).

“The Court was in the process of sowing a wind, with the whirlwind to be reaped years later.”—William H. Rehnquist, The Supreme Court 115 (rev. ed. 2002).

I wonder how many history teachers today—even at the university level—and all those others who would transmit our American cultural heritage and civilization to the next generation—would understand the literary tradition used here by Cartland and by Rehnquist? And if that heritage is not transmitted, then this generation may become “little better than the flies of a summer.” [In a better world, my using quotation marks here would not be necessary.]

FYI: Cartland’s book is a treat. You can find it on Internet Archive. It turns out that much of the “business” of the underground railroad, particularly after the Emancipation Proclamation, was helping Unionist whites escape secessionist drafts. It makes good sense, but it was news to me.

Twitter:  ( @SethBTillman )

PS: My prior post is: Seth Barrett Tillman, Why Punish Wrongdoing?, The New Reform Club (Sept. 26, 2015, 6:24 PM),

PPS: Seth Barrett Tillman, The Decline of American Martial Culture—Flies of a Summer (Part III), The New Reform Club (Oct. 23, 2015, 8:23 AM),;


Seth Barrett Tillman, Teaching the History of the American Civil War: Flies of a Summer (Part II), The New Reform Club (Oct. 9, 2015, 4:01 AM), 


Tim Kowal said...

But I fear it is not neglect but contempt that strangles the transmission of our cultural inheritance, steeped such as it is in religion -- nay, worse: Christianity.

Tom Van Dyke said...

I know a philosophy prof who never studied Aquinas because he's "heard" Aquinas had been refuted.

I've also come across a lot of American history teachers who clearly have little knowledge of the foundations of our Founding principles, such as Aquinas/natural law, Calvinist political resistance theory,

England's civil wars and the "Glorious Revolution" of 1688 that presaged our own. The problem is one of specialization, that becoming the world's leading expert on the lesbian Zoroastrians of frontier Wisconsin somehow makes one "an historian." [And of course that historians are also therefore "public intellectuals."]

So I quite agree, Seth, that for many or most these days--starting with our teachers--our theo-philosophical, Biblical cultural heritage is a foreign country. The worst part is that few even give a damn.

Tim Kowal said...

"I know a philosophy prof who never studied Aquinas because he's "heard" Aquinas had been refuted."

And when that old Marley rattles his chains about the lessons from the past so as not to repeat them, hear him well! For the folly of these undead minds is wisdom to the living -- that we may avoid the rotting ideas these carrion intellectuals feast upon. For so feasted the atheist Antony Flew until nigh the end of his career when, for the first time, the eminent philosopher finally asked what he was eating: “I was not a specialist on Aristotle,” Flew explained, “so I was reading parts of his philosophy for the first time.”

"Not a specialist," so not even more than a thumbing through The Philosopher on the preeminent philosophical question until age 81. Little hope, then, for the Wisconsin-frontier-lesbian-Zoroastrian specialist, I fear.

Tom Van Dyke said...

For the folly of these undead minds is wisdom to the living


◄ 1 Corinthians 1:25 ►

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.