The Only Way Losers Can Win
As the cultural revolution in this country approaches its climax, it is clear that the left is still reeling from the unthinkable disaster adherents suffered in November 2016 – when Donald Trump, widely dismissed as the joke candidate, actually and decisively defeated the state-approved candidate, Hillary Clinton. Continued leftist and statist discombobulation reveals itself in more ways than can here be counted – most recently in the strange desire of the left to enter the fray against historical opponents already long vanquished, using the recent "Unite the Right" rally and violence in Charlottesville as an excuse.
That the left may have actually organized the "Unite the Right" rally through a provocateur is not necessary to my treatment of this topic, so I leave that question for others to settle. It is not possible to maintain that the more obnoxious participants in the rally were all provocateurs – so the fact that they actually showed up does say something about the state of race relations in the U.S. As we shall see, though, it doesn't say quite what all the official commentators are eager to maintain.
From the left's point of view, the beautiful thing about the rally was that it featured two opponents who had long ago been beaten by others – the Confederacy, beaten in 1865, and the Hitlerian Reich, beaten in 1945. For the first time since November, it gave the left an assured set of victories.
Falsifying the nature of the opposition was a necessary and not a difficult step in preparing for glorious triumphs. The mainstream media – which fundamentally constitute the left – were only too happy to begin this process. And leftists on social media were eager to continue it.
I've actually been stunned by how much of this I've witnessed – not only from avowed leftists, but from ordinary people anxious to prove that they are not racists. There were, to be sure, the usual suspects. John Dingell, former Democrat congresscreature from Michigan, stormed Twitter in order to enlist anew, at age 91, in the campaign against the Nazis. His claim to have enlisted in the same cause when eligible does not exactly agree with his own earlier accounts, according to which he did not enlist, but was drafted to fight the non-white Japanese and was about to take part in the invasion of the Home Islands when Harry Truman nuked Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In context, these are mere trivial details – if you stop to consider that Hitler classified the Japanese amongst die Ehrenarier or "honorary Aryans." Obviously, the Japanese were white supremacists if Hitler considered them white supremacists.
What surprised me was that I witnessed similar resolutions from many strangers in supposedly conservative and Christian venues, and from some actual friends. It seemed that at least four out of five were in training to punch Nazis, to go to war with Nazis, to beat those accursed Nazis as they had beaten those accursed Nazis before. I expected to see them all in versions of Captain America's uniform.
And I had sad news for them. There were no Nazis to punch. The Nazis were defeated in 1945, and it was done not by John Dingell and Captain America alone. Oh, no, Marvel fans! It took the combined strength of the Western nations, plus the hordes of the Soviet Union, plus the Russian winter to defeat Hitler. Although it is offensive to patriotic sentiments, I mention in passing that the hordes of the Soviet Union were a telling element in this strategy. If the Nazis had not faced an Eastern Front, it is very unlikely that John Dingell could have outboxed Hitler the way he did.
Perhaps Dingell needs to send a brief tweet of thanks in the direction of Comrade Putin.
Not many of the people I encountered online were itching to fight the Army of Northern Virginia, perhaps because the memorabilia to be captured would not have been as cool as Nazi memorabilia. But many had been converted to the idea that statues honoring Confederate heroes have to come down. It's still an unpopular idea, but its appeal may be growing. In a way, knocking over Confederate monuments, as some communists did in Durham, North Carolina, is the only way of taking on the forces of the slaveholding South in pitched battle.
That's because, once again, the war was already fought – and won. The victory was secure when Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in 1865.
What about the Nazis in Charlottesville? What about the KKK members there? Didn't you see the same swastikas we saw? Didn't you see the Stars and Bars?
Yes, I did, gentle leftists – and, though the presence of Stars and Bars does not necessarily indicate the presence of the KKK, I am sure that representatives of the KKK, heirs to the legacy of Democrat Robert Byrd, were at the rally. I am also happy to denounce, denounce, denounce both Nazis and Klansmen. You're not satisfied? I'm not surprised.
One thing I am not happy to do is to say leftists are brave soldiers in a war against two vast and pernicious historical enemies. I am not happy to affirm their courage in the face of terrifying onslaughts from the the Waffen SS, Wehrmacht, and Luftwaffe. I am not happy to hail their valor in turning Lee back at Gettysburg. The so-called "Nazis" they want to fight are a tiny number of social misfits. The one who committed the greatest violence at the "Unite the Right" rally is reportedly schizophrenic, and his crime is something drunks do all across America every night. The KKK members these leftists are taking on are not soldiers of the Confederacy. They do not even represent the KKK as it once was – an influential organization led by Democrats. They are a bunch of maladjusted ne'er-do-wells in the process of being exploited by a few less than talented hucksters.
In short, the left's signals of virtue signal no virtue. Leftists are not taking a bold stand against evil. They are, instead, vainly exhaling mere words that have no real meaning at all.
The warriors who defeated the South made peace with Johnny Reb. The Northern veterans celebrated anniversaries with their Southern adversaries. The heroes of the Union, having rendered the emblems of secession harmless, did not strive to tear them down. But the left, members of whom fought and defeated nothing, now want to wage war against inanimate objects. Before long, they'll be wanting to unearth all the remains of the Confederate dead.
The American Civil War and World War II were won a long time ago. For sensible people, this fact militates against declaring these wars all over again.
But for the left, the exact opposite is true. These are the fights it longs for. Its bogus battlers truly need to fight someone else's old wars all over again. It's the only way that losers can win.
Tom Riley is widely known as a poet of the formalist school and is the author of Translations from the Ogrish.