May We Resurrect a Literary Genre


In ‘Downton Abbey’ there was a reference to the White Feather Girls. That was a famous hypocrisy. Lovely young girls would go up to men out of uniform and offer a symbol of cowardice. There was no quick, cogent response to these idiots. One fellow was hounded as a poltroon because he was out of uniform and obviously prime military material. He was. He was in formal dress on the way to the Queen to receive an award for valor in battle. Against such humorless passion there is little one can do. I humbly suggest the formal curse.

To a white feather lady I would say, ‘May you get your desire. May we join a war in which we have no national interest. May we lose a generation of young men for no purpose. We will pour our sons’ blood like water upon the sand. You and your generation of women will grow old with no men or offspring. May the loss of all credibility in the leaders you choose to enter this war cause the collapse of an entire culture and the Renaissance Civilization and a century of political chaos.’

This is a sort of judo based on assuming the success of their desires. If I fight one in the grip of passions I inspire not thought but a redoubling of his argument. If I support his passion, then he must try to decide how to fulfill his passion.

To an Arab who desires the whole world to submit to the Dar al Islam I say, ‘May your conquest of Europe go as well as your conquest of Persia. The chronic dyspepsia of Persia has split Islam in twain and caused a millennium of civil war. May you conquer the most advanced and heretical area of the world, and then try to control it when it is a full fledged islamic state. May you enjoy trying to impose the burka on the French and the Germans.’

May you clean your history of Confederate generals, and all other triggering thoughts. May the memory of Robert E. Lee and the terrible war in which he fought vanish from an Orwellian history. May all the painful lessons we have learned pass from mind so we may be forced to learn them again. May we be unaware that, even in the darkest hours, gallantry and nobility may shine from the least likely places and causes, and that we once learned to heal, and to grow, and to overcome, and to progress to greater things.’


2 comments on “May We Resurrect a Literary Genre

  1. Dan says:

    The mob has always been quick to crucify, no matter what century it is. Now that the mob has moved online, it crucifies at the speed of electrons, and its return to humanity, to compassion, is the inverse thereof. Where, in times past, it was one or two women handing a flower to perceived coward, now it would be multitudes of all sexes, self-righteously hiding behind their screens. Beware the principled person that remains steadfast, for cowardice is not their nature.

    I have never seen a willingness to fight as a sign of bravery, nor a refusal, to be one of cowardice. Heroism is not just the province of a warrior, and if we should seek heroes, let us look beyond a battlefield.

    I do not know if the removal of Confederate heroes is revisionist history, so much as moving on from our past. You will not see statues of Hitler or Stalin, but everyone knows who they are. I am undecided on the matter.
    I was visiting down south not too long ago and I was able to enjoy a meal with a friend. He was originally from Montana, but being a decorated soldier, he enrolled in West Point, first as a student and then a teacher. By necessity and curiosity, a student of history, he remarked on the education of his oldest daughter. It was interesting, he noted, that in the South, it seems schools teach a lot of what lead up to the civil war, and the oppression of the North, but they don’t discuss the ten year period known as the Reconstruction… Revisionist history indeed

    • feralplum says:

      I fear forgetting the lessons of the past. Grant and Lee were very imperfect beings, but the nobility of both is beyond doubt. Robert E. Lee, especially, was in many ways a paragon. Modest, intelligent, talented, and of great personal honor. That he could support such a regime teaches me not to trust to the personal qualities only of a man. In a few ways Grant was a disgrace, But his honor in victory was beyond all expectations.

      The election of Rutherford B. Hayes is even more illustrative. As a man whose great-grandfather was with Sherman on the March to the Sea, I won’t be singing Marching Through Georgia down south any time soon. Let the Old South have their memories. It is a small enough thing to remember such an expensive lesson, and to scourge the descendants of the vanquished does no man good.

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