Home » Uncategorized » Those Puritans: popular misconceptions and lies

Those Puritans: popular misconceptions and lies

From someone whose origins and sympathies would be (and are being) vilified in 2015.
The words are from an address given by George Cheever in 1842. The title of the address was The Elements of National Greatness. Since our national greatness is now apparently a thing of the past, it might be helpful to read some words on what led to our former greatness.

We all recognise and venerate the New England privilege of speaking one’s mind. Sentire quid velis, et quod sentials dicere, to think what you please, and to speak what you think, we hope will ever be an element in the civil, social, and religious atmosphere of that beloved native region of ours[…]

Suffer me to close with the memory of our Pilgrim Fathers, and with the grateful recognition of the truth, that as they did what never had been done in Europe, founded an Empire in self-denial, suffering, and the most unwavering trust in God, so we, more than any other nation in the world, two hundred years after the landing of the Pilgrims, are thrown entirely upon the Spirit of God for the success and stability of our institutions. A Despotism may stand by the very misery of its subjects; a free and happy Republic can stand only by the blessing and help of God.”

Were Mr. Cheever alive today (lucky man; he lived in better times) he would be shocked at how the name of our ‘Pilgrim Fathers’ is being taken in vain, vilified, cursed. He would be dumbfounded to see that there are people on right and left who lay the blame for our cesspool of a society at the feet of the Puritan and/or Pilgrim forefathers. This libertine, antinomian, standards-rejecting mess of a society is the way it is because of the rigid moralism and ‘legalism’ of those old prudes, the Puritans. There’s been a long tradition of slandering Puritans, one earlier example being H.L. Mencken, a bitter, misanthropic man who loathed Puritans. This type generally does. People of a libertine disposition resent anyone to adheres to standards of any kind.
As C.S. Lewis wrote somewhere that that each age tends to warn against the very sins which it is least in danger. For instance, callous and cruel ages warn against sentimentality; dissipated and libertine ages are full of people denouncing the dangers of ‘puritanism’. As if we are under imminent threat of hordes of moralists putting an end to prostitution or sleazy entertainment.

Obviously there are no Puritans nowadays, but several bloggers have taken up a mantra that today’s leftist fanatics (or ‘SJWs’, if you insist on using newly-coined acronyms for everything) ARE the Puritans of old. There is apparently something called ‘Cultural DNA’ and apparently those who inhabit New England now, though they are in most cases no kin at all to the English Puritan founders of New England, somehow have picked up the ‘Puritan cultural DNA’ of those old-time Puritans and that is what made them deranged with their egalitarian, universalist, feminist, anti-White ideas. What? As if the Puritans of old were feminists, universalists, and Jacobin-style egalitarians. They were none of the above. Far from being ‘universalists’ in a Christian sense (meaning that all are children of God, all are equally loved of God and destined for heaven) they were particularists. Strait is the gate, narrow the way, few there be that find it. Does that sound universal? Whoever says otherwise is denying the plain sense of those words.

And they were not egalitarians. For some perspective, read some modern leftist textbook (is there any other kind?) on the subject of Anne Hutchinson, or read what the lefties at Wikipedia say about her.  She is now a feminist and leftist heroine because she stirred things up among the Puritans, preaching some sort of proto-New Age mysticism, thus defying the accepted teachings and promoting her proto-feminist ideas. She was exiled with her family and sympathizers, which of course outrages lefties because it shows how ‘misogynistic’ and intolerant the community fathers were. The Puritan fathers were not egalitarians, and we could argue about the rightness of their actions in expelling Hutchinson and other dissenters and pot-stirrers like here. I blogged about that some years ago, and I won’t rehash that here. The point is, if the people of New England had the ”cultural DNA” (whatever that is) of the Puritans, their part of the country would not be so far left.

This whole notion of cultural DNA being passed on from long-ago departed former inhabitants of a place sounds a bit like the popular superstition that ghosts of long-past eras hang around their former home and ”possess” the people who later inhabit their haunted territory. So if I understand it right, the WASPs and Puritans of old New England are now possessing the bodies of all the diversities who live in Boston and New Haven or Manchester, N.H., and  maybe even those Somalis that live in Lewiston, Maine. I suppose if that’s how it works, the Somalis in Minneapolis will be possessed by the spirits of all the left-wing Scandinavians who settled that place, or perhaps some will get the cultural DNA of all the German anarchists who lived in the Midwest and Great Plains. Now I get the hang of it: the people in Seattle are liberal because there were WASP descendants of Puritans who first pioneered in the Northwest. And Scandinavians too.

Honestly, though, if you honestly desire to explain the egalitarianism that ultimately led to the War Between the States and the racial strife that persists to this day, look across the ocean to the European continent, and the ‘Enlightenment’. Those few intellectual New Englanders like Emerson, Thoreau, Lowell, and their ilk were not harking back to their fairly recent Puritan ancestors, nor were they drawing on their own (by then liberal) Christian culture. No; as cosmopolitan-minded intellectuals they slighted their spartan Puritan roots and looked to sophisticated Europe for their inspiration. Europe, jaded Europe, had already seen the Jacobin revolution in Europe, and had lost faith in the veracity of the Bible. Man is the measure of all things, said the Enlightenment mantra, and they looked to agnostic and atheistic ‘philosophers’ in Europe as their guides. And that not satisfying their urge for new ideas, they began to look, by the 19th century, to the supposed ‘ancient wisdom of the Orient’, to Hindu ‘gurus’ and other Eastern religions, which promoted monism and animism, or the ‘god within’. This mish-mash of ideas, plus Quakerism, made up much  of the New England Transcendentalist movement, which was the most influential among the New England ‘intellectual elite.’ It was these people who spearheaded abolitionism, stirred mostly by one of their own, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and her fictional book about slavery, meant to stir gullible readers to a pitch of outrage.

It’s wrong to blame WASPs as such, or to blame Anglo-Saxon ‘altruism’ or Puritan ‘cultural DNA’ for the present political leanings of New England or of the North or of America in general.

So where did all this Puritan-blaming get started? From what I can ascertain, it’s mainly the work of a few influential bloggers who have been belaboring this subject for some time, and who have managed to convince much of the ethnonationalist right that WASPs, specifically ‘Puritans’ are to blame for most if not all of what is wrong with our world. I can think of a couple of Jewish writers who are part of the paleo-right intelligentsia who have also tried to deflect blame onto WASPs, saying that if there is undue Jewish influence, it is somehow the fault of the WASP elites for ‘letting this happen.’ So WASPs are to blame for being too yielding, and also for being xenophobic and unwelcoming. My observation is that Jews generally resent WASPs as those who kept them out of the exclusive country clubs and who were their main competition and rivals, quite honestly. So they saw WASPs, Anglo-Saxon Protestants, as the Enemy to be neutralized.

I wonder how much of Puritan-obsession is in fact the result of an effort to make Anglo-Saxon Americans the primary scapegoat; one can’t get into trouble for vilifying WASPs. It’s popular and it’s politically correct, and virtually no one will oppose you if you lambaste WASPs. No one wants to come to the defense of the Anglo-Saxon. So it takes no courage to go after WASPs; there is no price to be paid. Nobody will doxx you, or try to get you fired from your job, or call you a name if you profess to loathe WASPs. And as Puritans are all dead these many years, you can safely blame them for everything; they can’t answer you back or take a poke at you. Insulting and maligning Anglo-Saxons is a sport now, not a hate crime.

My longtime readers know that I have New England ancestry on one side, and Southron on the other. My identification and allegiance is with the South, where I have roots going back to the founding of Jamestown.
And though there are just as many misconceptions about the South, as compared to the North, I won’t address those here. Suffice it to say that the South, contrary to what some say, was not ‘secular’; the original colonists were mostly Christian and definitely not godless or libertine. So it is creating a false contrast to say that the South was easygoing where morality was concerned, unlike the prudish, uptight Puritanical North. Southern society didn’t hold with people who lived openly immoral lives (adultery, fornication, buggery). It was not like today’s anything-goes America, though it was not Puritanical in religious terms.

And yes, it is possible to be pro-South without having to drag the old Puritans out of their graves and hanging them in effigy over and over again — somewhat like the real-life fate of Oliver Cromwell after his enemies regained control.

And P.S.: the Yankee soldiers who killed my great-great-grandfather and other kin were not more likely to be New England men than they were to be Irish or German immigrants who filled out the ranks of the Union Army and who were glad to kill men with whom they had no real quarrel or dispute.  It’s those soldiers, essentially mercenaries, who get the least respect from me.

But I suppose since one can’t mention certain enemies of our folk, it’s better to go after people of our own blood, people who are the least likely to complain. Especially if we tell ourselves that North and South were not fellow Englishmen but ‘two different peoples.’  Rationalizing works pretty well if we don’t think too much about it.

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Those Puritans: popular misconceptions and lies

  1. “No one wants to come to the defense of the Anglo-Saxon.”

    That’s the whole problem really in one short sentence. The United States is being de-anglofied and much of the racially/ethnically aware white population is only too happy to help because they have no love for the history of America.

    I myself have no love for any of the radical liberalism that has come out of the North over the years but as far as the generalized Englishness that was part of the identity of the original New England colonists that needs to be defended. I am 100% against attacks on the blood and history of the English and British colonists that settled here in America. I am 100% for making sure that the blood and culture of those people continues to make up as much of a component of the current society here in the United States as possible.

    As you mentioned Protestantism is under assault as well. Hardly surprising I guess if you consider the origins of many people who live in the North and other parts of the US. They are attempting to “put right” what they see as having gone wrong 500 years ago. They I fear have some willing allies in a small group of individuals in the South who are attempting to promote Jacobitism and call that being a “Tory.”
    Of course the English Tories in 1688 chose the Church of England over James II who was trying to subvert the Church on behalf of the Roman Church. Some people are enamored with absolute monarchy thinking that passive obedience to a king is the correct course of action no matter what. Well what if the King told them that miscegenation or mass immigration was correct or you should submit to a foreign people because he decreed it? Would they passively obey then? I’m sure these people would miraculously find “God’s permission” to justify a revolt then.

    As far as New England Liberalism and the Puritans go you need go no further than the Unitarian Universalists, probably the closest thing to ideological descendants the transcendentalists have today, to get it straight from the horse’s mouth that it wasn’t Puritanism that was motivating them.

    http://www.uuworld.org/ideas/articles/108013.shtml

    http://uudb.org/articles/unitariancontroversy.html

    One of the above articles is entitled “The Unitarian Controversy and Its Puritan Roots” but if you read it you quickly note that the Puritan connection is actually the DECLINE of Puritanism influenced by many things including mercantile considerations and outside influence.

    One other thing I thought you would find interesting if you haven’t seen it yet is a quote from William Ellery Channing. Channing was a Unitarian and had a big influence on the development of Transcendentalism so he was a pretty liberal guy himself. Still Channing’s description of Harvard College in the late 18th Century reveals that something else besides John Calvin was very much the spirt of the day by that time,

    “College was never in a worse state than when I entered it. Society was passing through a most critical stage. The French Revolution had diseased the imagination and unsettled the understanding of men everywhere. The old foundations of social order, loyalty, tradition, habit, reverence for antiquity, were everywhere shaken, if not subverted. The authority of the past was gone. The old forms were outgrown, and new ones had not taken their place. The tone of books and conversation was presumptuous and daring. The tendency of all classes was to scepticism.”

    Like

  2. There is one sentence in the second Unitarian linked article that describes the true downfall of old New England and eventually the rest of the USA.

    “The interest of the merchants in promoting free movement of people and goods conflicted with the desire of the Puritan leaders to keep New England isolated and free from foreign influence.”

    Wow.

    Like

  3. VA,I ran across VA II by accident yesterday.

    I'm so glad you've come back from the blogging dead. I truly missed your excellent insights.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s