Jared Taylor, American Renaissance, March 2007
Peter Gemma (ed.), Shots Fired: Sam Francis on America’s Culture War, FGF Books, 2006, 364 pp.
“Sam Francis was born with three great gifts: one of the finest minds of his generation, wit and humor, and a brave heart to pursue and tell the truth.” So begins Patrick Buchanan’s generous and affectionate foreword to the best collection of Sam Francis articles now available, Shots Fired. Mr. Buchanan was right, of course, and even people who never met Sam know it. Few writers express themselves as fully and authentically as Sam did, and to loyal fans across the country, Sam was a vivid presence without even leaving the page. Even a cursory dip into this volume will show why.
Sam’s friend, colleague, and posthumous editor Peter Gemma, who undertook the difficult job of choosing which of Sam’s hundreds of columns and articles to include, has organized this book into 16 different sections with themes like Lincolns Legacy, Symbols — Southern and Otherwise, the Second Amendment, Education, History, and The Grand Old Stupid Party. By the time of his unexpected death almost exactly two years ago on Feb. 15, 2005, however, it was clear that of all the subjects on which Sam wrote so forcefully none was more important to him than the fate of the West. As Mr. Buchanan writes:
“Sam Francis believed Western Civilization was superior, that it was the unique achievement of European peoples, that they alone could have done it. And he would defend it and the race and people he believed would alone sustain it, no matter the cost.”
Sam also recognized that whites everywhere — not just in the United States but in Europe, Canada and Australia — had lost faith in themselves and were ripe for dispossession. He feared that if Third-Worlders kept swarming into traditional white homelands, a great and ancient civilization would be disfigured or even lost.
And this leads to the question readers of this magazine will ask about Shots Fired: Why does it include nothing from American Renaissance? Sam’s by-line appeared 14 times in AR — usually on the cover — and this does not include his pseudonymous writing. It was in AR that Sam wrote about race at greatest length and with greatest candor, and it is no coincidence that it was a lecture at the first AR conference in 1994 that finally lead to his dismissal from the Washington Times.
For people who are already familiar with his writing in AR, however, the absence of Sam’s pieces is, if anything, an advantage because it makes more room for his trenchant observations on other subjects. Not in AR would he have loosed this blast against the people who get the National Endowment for the Arts to subsidize their genius:
“Unable to peddle its garbage on the market, incapable of duping or flattering wealthy patrons into supporting it, and despising the prospect of working for a living like everyone else, the cultural elite has no other recourse but to rely on bureaucratic mechanisms to sustain itself, its privileges, its productions, and its power.”
Nor, of course, could race be entirely absent from a Sam Francis collection unless it were deliberately sanitized. One essay begins: “Black History Month, previously known as ‘February,’ . . . will be a month-long wallow in white guilt and anti-white hatred.” Shots Fired also contains a number of observations on the perverted purpose to which liberals put the notion of “equality.”
The egalitarian ethic, Sam wrote, “starts from the premises that human beings are fundamentally identical, that variations and inequalities among them are due to an artificial environment, and that that environment can be molded, manipulated, and reconstructed to make of men what you will.” It was clear to Sam that this great hoax had one purpose: to blame whites for the failures of others and thereby soften them up for endless and ultimately fatal demands from blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and Asians.
As he wrote: “The irony — not to say the hypocrisy — of modern egalitarianism is that it is used not, as its proponents claim, to restrain or reduce the power of all but to get rid of the power of some while at the same time perpetuating the power of others.”
Sam also tried repeatedly to explain to whites the true purpose of attacks on Southern heroes and symbols. Northerners must understand, he wrote, that demonizing Lee and Jackson or banning the Confederate Battle Flag is just the opening salvo in a war on all whites. Even George Washington’s name, he pointed out, has been removed from a black Louisiana elementary school because the father of his country owned slaves. Whites should realize, he argued, that “We are all Southerners now.”
Shots Fired will give readers a better-rounded view of what was perhaps Sam’s second-favorite subject: the doltishness of Republicans and the duplicity of the neoconservatives who have repeatedly bamboozled them. For 15 years or more, Sam had been calling on real conservatives to shuck the Republicans, who court their votes and their money only to betray them. Here is the problem as only Sam could have put it:
“At least since the nomination of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, the real Right in the United States has voted for the Republican ticket on the grounds that it was choosing the lesser of two evils, and every four years we hear the same refrain from the ticket’s apologists — that the country just can’t survive Adlai Stevenson, John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, or Bill Clinton. But the truth is that of course it does survive, and that the victories of the centrist Republicans who are these villains’ foes never make any difference anyway. Conservatives, having worked themselves into a dither over the iniquity of the Democrats, fall for this argument in every election, and then, within a few years or a few weeks are amazed to find that the centrist Republican candidates whom they have put in power have betrayed and ignored them once again.”
As he concluded in a different essay in this collection, “as long as rank and file conservatives are content to allow themselves to be stampeded into the Republican corral by the red flag of a Democratic victory, they can expect the Republicans they elect and re-elect to betray them.”
Sam also explained that Republicans are, ultimately, no defense against Democrat mischief because Republicans do not have the spine to fight assumptions that will ultimately send them the way of the dinosaur. In an essay called “Neo-conned Republicans,” he writes of the real capitulation that lay behind the Republican flirtation with multiculturalism at the party’s 2000 convention.
“There was Colin Powell, a black man (sort of) whom the Stupid Party actually let enter through the front door and sit at the dinner table, denouncing the conservative critics of affirmative action. There was Condoleezza Rice, soon to be the Bush administration’s black hood ornament at the National Security Council. There was Linda Chavez, smirking fetchingly as the GOP’s pet wetback . . .”
All this was to give the impression of up-to-the-minute multi-whatever, but Sam warned that not everyone was taken in: “The multicultural mask is not really intended to fool blacks, Hispanics, women, and homosexuals so much as it is supposed to fool other Republicans and make them feel comfortable . . . When the nation’s first Republican president said you can fool some of the people all of the time, he was undoubtedly thinking of the members of his own party.
“As for multiculturalism itself, the pretty little tokens sprinkled strategically about the GOP convention floor and podium like children’s Easter eggs hardly rate. If it’s real multiculturalism you want, give us Arab slave drivers from the Sudan who castrate 12-year-old boys kidnapped to be sold as catamites; give us Ubangi concubines with lip plates like Thanksgiving dinner platters . . . or Kalahari Bushmen who spend their days sniffing the desert for underground roots to eat. That is what different cultures really are, and that is what a real multiculturalism would really be (and will be, once such colorful characters make it across our borders), but don’t tell us Gen. Powell, Chancellor Rice, Miss Chavez, and all their well-scrubbed cohorts really represent ‘diversity.’ No one — absolutely no one, except Republicans — is dumb enough to believe that.”
Nor is this just harmless eyewash: “By going to the trouble of sticking non-whites and tame drag-queens onto their convention program at conveniently visible points and places and drafting the odd rabbi or mullah to recite the ceremonial prayers, the Republicans are acknowledging their agreement with what ideological multiculturalism preaches — that there is something wrong with being too white, too male, too Christian, and too straight.”
Once again, Republicans have made a fatal mistake, because “granting the premises of your enemy is the key to his victory.”
Elsewhere, Sam completely takes the stuffing out of the Republican mania for proposing amendments to the Constitution that not even a single chamber ever manages to pass — amendments to support school prayer, ban abortion, criminalize flag-burning, or balance the budget. “Amending the Constitution to correct flaws conservative politicians are unwilling to confront in serious ways,” he writes, “is a cheap and easy way to make everybody happy and make sure nothing is done.”
He concludes: “You amend the Constitution when there is something wrong with the Constitution. But there is nothing wrong with the Constitution. What is wrong is with the American political class and especially the judges it keeps appointing and refuses to control.” He notes that Congress has the power to keep cases in certain areas from going to the Supreme Court on appeal, but Congress is too timid to assert itself, and Republicans are content to preen over amendments they know will go nowhere. Sam was among the first to warn Republicans to stop their futile wooing of non-whites and start cultivating their natural allies — white people — before they shrivel into irrelevancy.
Sam shows considerable sympathy to the religious right, whom he saw as defenders of deeply-felt convictions our rulers despise. However, in other respects they were no better than Republicans, and he urged Christian leaders to look beyond strictly religious goals:
“If they ever ended abortion, restored school prayer, outlawed sodomy and banned pornography, I suspect, most of their followers would simply declare victory and retire. But having accomplished all that, the Christian Right would have done absolutely nothing to strip the federal government of the power it has seized throughout this century, restore a proper understanding and enforcement of the Constitution and of republican government, prevent the inundation of the country by anti-Western immigrants, stop the cultural and racial dispossession of the historic American people, or resist the absorption of the American nation into a multicultural and multiracial globalist regime.”
If, in Sam’s view, Republicans have conned and neutered real conservatives, neoconservatives have conned and neutered the Republicans. He laughs bitterly at the frauds who brag about living in a “creedal” or “proposition” nation: “no society and certainly not America is ever founded on anything as abstract and anemic as a mere proposition.” Also, he asks, if America is nothing but a creed, it can presumably crop up anywhere, so long as enough Cambodians or Haitians — or Martians, for that matter — can be got to mouth the creed.
Among his choicest targets is Weekly Standard editor, Bill Kristol, whom he sees as one of the main impresarios of the idea that conservatism is compatible with big government, mass immigration, and spreading democracy by force. Mr. Kristol and his friends try to define neo-conservatism by gushing over Franklin Roosevelt and downplaying Goldwater, which prompted this retort from Sam: “Since the vast majority of Americans who have called themselves conservatives for the last 70 years regard Goldwater as a hero and Roosevelt as a villain, what it should tell you is that whatever else Mr. Kristol says neo-conservatism is, it’s not conservatism.”
Sam also qualifies as a sentiment “worthy of Leonid Brezhnev” Mr. Kristol’s question: “How can Americans love their nation if they hate its government?” Sam answers — with surprising patience: “Especially in the contemporary world, conservatives distinguish between the people, traditions, norms, and institutions that have defined and characterized the country — the nation — throughout its history, on the one hand, and the structures, ideas, and groups that embody forces that are inimical to the country but are at present dominant, on the other.” Neoconservatism, which Sam called the lap-dog opposition to Democratic idiocy, is, in his words, “merely a more ‘moderate’ or ‘pragmatic’ version of liberalism.”
Sam understood even the best government to be a barely necessary evil, to be watched constantly to make sure it does not follow its instincts and turn into tyranny. This lively suspicion was an important part of his defense of gun ownership: “The old saying that when guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns isn’t entirely true; it’s also true that when guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns, and that statement is just as important to remember as the first.”
In an extensive and learned account of gun ownership in Britain, he concludes: “It is meaningless to say that we have a republic unless we also have the right to keep arms, since the capacity of the people to protect and defend themselves — against criminals, foreign aggressors, or their own government — is also a condition of their capacity to rule themselves and to prevent others from ruling them.”
Sam’s critique of the political class — never our friends and always, potentially, our worst enemies — was a particularly pungent variant of his critique of all elites, whether academic, cultural, or economic. Traditional elites, he wrote, had a centuries-old stake in their nations. With the rise of big government and big industry, technocrats supplanted the old elites, and their loyalties are to themselves, their fashionable globalist causes, and their counterparts in other countries. “The New Class has no country,” Sam writes, and the privileged classes in Los Angeles “feel more kinship with their counterparts in Japan, Singapore, and Korea than with most of their own countrymen.”
“Corporations,” in particular, he added, “have no commitment to any particular country or culture, and it is in their interests to break down national borders and national cultures for the purpose of promoting a global economy, in which all human beings are merely producers and consumers and are bound only by economic relationships . . .”
The ruling class find real Americans — who are, to them, merely producers and consumers — as inscrutable as Trobriand Islanders. For example, “they fail to understand what the outlawing of private gun ownership would mean for those who do not and cannot rely on private security forces and high-rise apartment houses fortified like Hitler’s bunker.”
Sam quotes the president of NCR, who says “We at NCR think of ourselves as a globally competitive company that happens to be headquartered in the United States.” Sam adds: “I think many in the elite are not just indifferent to national decline but actually welcome it and encourage it all they can.”
Here I believe Sam was wrong. The president of NCR no doubt values profits over jobs for Americans, but I doubt he applauds our decline, for no other reason than that a barren and blasted America will yield fewer sales and fewer profits. Nor do I think American elites are quite as deracinated and international as Sam believed. Few of them speak foreign languages, which means Japan and Korea remain opaque to them, and they still care more about the Superbowl than the World Cup.
Sam was inclined to think globalists and liberals knew very well what damage they were doing their country and race, and reveled in it. I think vanity, self-deception, incompetence, and just plain selfishness explain far better than malevolence what the various Bushes and Clintons get themselves up to.
Sam was certainly right, though, to see American politics as no longer a battle between a genuine right and left but as a combined attack by outright liberals and crypto liberals on everything that is local, traditional, visceral, organic, and authentic.
Although race, Republicans, neocons, and elites are the subjects on which Sam wrote most forcefully and famously, Shots Fired contains many other sharp engagements in what has been called the culture wars. “The issue,” as Sam put it, “is simple: Who gets to define the norms by which the American people will live?” Needless to say, today the wrong people get to. “The psycho-doctors,” writes Sam, “have come full circle, from regarding homosexuality as a mental illness and something to be cured to regarding opposition to homosexuality as a pathology all by itself.” Schools are now full of “therapeutic voodoo masquerading as education.” Years of battering have taken their toll, and “what we have now in this country is a people that no longer wants a free republic or even knows what a free republic is, a people entirely prepared for their own enslavement.”
This, ultimately, is what Sam hated most: to see a great people — his people — reduced from the nobility and stature of the Founders and of his Confederate ancestors to that of cattle, content to be fattened and milked. His life’s work was a call to arms, and when that went unanswered a call at least to consciousness. Sam believed Americans still had the capacity to live as free men, to take back the culture and dignity their enemies within have worked so hard to undermine. The fight must now go on without him, but Shots Fired is an invaluable broadside against forces that never sleep.