The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Dear Tyler O’Neil …

Posted on | December 10, 2019 | Comments Off on Dear Tyler O’Neil …


Politics is about winning. I understand that, and one of the main reasons I support Donald Trump is that, unlike so many Republicans, our president understands that. All your finest policy ideas count for nothing if you cannot win elections, and a certain ruthlessness about tactics is necessary to defeat the Democrats, who are utterly unscrupulous.

Nevertheless, Mr. Tyler, there must be limits to how far we go in pursuit of partisan goals, and you went too far Monday. To attack Joe Biden by smearing the United Daughters of the Confederacy? No, sir, my sense of honor requires me to object to this. You are perhaps not old enough to remember the uproar created by Illinois Democrat Sen. Carol Moseley Braun’s attack on the UDC in 1993. Her chief antagonist in that fight was North Carolina Republican Sen. Jesse Helms. The squabble over the renewal of the UDC’s patent was one of the incidents in President Clinton’s first two years in office which awoke the nation to the fact that the radical Left had taken over the Democratic Party. A year later, voters swept Republicans into majorities in both Houses of Congress.

It is insulting to claim that the UDC, a bunch of polite old ladies who every Memorial Day decorate the graves of our ancestors who fought for Southern independence, is akin to the Ku Klux Klan, which became a terrorist organization that was denounced by Nathan Bedford Forrest (who, in case you didn’t know it, was legendarily the founder of the KKK and scarcely a “progressive” in politics). It is entirely respectable — the decent thing to do — for anyone to defend the good name of their ancestors, and as it would be dishonorable for me to malign my wife’s Yankee forebears for being on the other side of the Late Unpleasantness, I expect others to extend the same courtesy to me.

Now, Mr. Tyler, I understand what you were doing with your Biden article. As a senator from Delaware, Biden used the phrase “many fine people” to describe those “who continue to display the Confederate flag as a symbol” — which is exactly what Trump said in August 2017 about those defending the Robert E. Lee memorial in Charlottesville.


An excellent find, this video — and I am grateful to you for bringing it to public attention. However, I must object to your dragging the nice little old ladies of the UDC through the mud as part of your attack on Biden. This was an unnecessary insult. Every American ought to appreciate the work done by the UDC in defending the memory of our Confederate ancestors, who deserve remembrance in the same way a Scotsman remembers his ancestors who fought at Culloden Bridge.

That C-SPAN clip of Biden speaking of “many fine people” who are proud of their Confederate ancestry serves to expose Biden’s hypocrisy in his attack on Trump for saying the same thing, but of course all liberals are hypocrites — you should read what Malcolm X had to say about them, and if I don’t scruple to invoke Malcolm X for the sake of winning an argument, that shows you how devoted I am to winning, as a principle.

Mr. Tyler, you and I cover the same Culture War terrain of American politics, and I have long been grateful for your work. I assume, given your Irish surname, that you are a conservative Catholic. Because of my own staunch pro-life advocacy, some of my readers have occasionally mistaken me for a Catholic, which compels me to correct them, as I am proudly Protestant and abhor your Papist superstitions. (The drift toward “liberation theology” heresies by Jorge Mario Bergoglio have perhaps made some conservative Catholics aware of the dangers inherent to their system.) Despite our theological differences, however, I consider Humanae Vitae a valuable contribution to Christian understanding of human nature, and thus find myself in alliance with conservative Catholics in our continuing Culture War. Indeed, this recalls to memory Jefferson Davis’s affectionate relations with the Catholic Church. As a youth, Davis was the only Protestant student at a Catholic school in Kentucky; as Confederate president, he wrote a letter to Pope Pius IX expressing “our gratitude for such sentiments of Christian good feeling and love” as the pontiff had conveyed in a letter to Catholic clergy. When Davis was imprisoned by the Yankees in 1866, the Pope sent him an autographed photo inscribed with the Latin text of Matthew 11:28.

Given this history, Mr. Tyler, I would hope that in the future you would keep in mind that Southerners are among the most resolute combatants in our Culture War, in which we must have the unity that Henry V urged at Agincourt: “We few, we happy few, we band of brothers.”

Let us therefore be more considerate of each other in the future, as it is my fondest hope ever to remain

Your Most Humble and Obedient Servant,

Robert Stacy McCain





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