“Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”
Hugh Latimer, 1554.
Sacrifice. Everyone in the Alt Right will be familiar with it to some degree. Many of us, particularly those most publicly engaged, carry personal, professional, and financial scars that bear witness to a tour of duty in the war of ideas. Even success can be punishing. Our leaders know only too well that every push deeper into the public consciousness will be met with a more bitter and more personal response from our panicked and ruthless opponents.
The recent targeting of Richard Spencer’s family in Whitefish, Montana, is a testament to both the moral bankruptcy of the corrupt interests we position ourselves against, and the myriad threats posed not only to ourselves, but to our loved ones also. Simply by adopting a position of ideological dissent from the status quo, our comrades near and far invite variants of social, financial, and physical violence including imprisonment, unemployment, social ostracism, the targeting of material assets, media smearing, and threats and incidences of assault. It is because of these often devastating aftershocks that “doxing” is for us so much more than a stripping away of anonymity. Doxing is instead, by virtue of its accompaniments, the post-modern equivalent of being placed in the docks, or in its worst expressions, being burned at the stake.
Dealing with sacrifice, or the threat of it, is perhaps so commonplace that it rarely provokes conscious thought. This is probably for the good, since it is never healthy to brood on sacrifice for too long when one is trying to push on toward goals and aspirations. But I believe that some reflection on sacrifice can be healthy, both in terms of inspiring a more aggressive pursuit of one’s goals, and also for the reinforcement it can bring to one’s ideological, indeed spiritual, connection with the cause.
Before proceeding any further, I should lay some cards on the table. Although writing under a pen name, I’ve been relatively open about my political beliefs in the past, and I’ve endured sacrifices for even my most tangential ties to our movement. During spells in Europe I’ve been arrested and had my home raided by police. I’ve lost jobs. I’ve been ostracized by former friends and colleagues, and even my marriage has been placed under strain at various times. In the eye of these storms, the world can seem like a very lonely place, and on some occasions one crisis seems to dissipate just as the clouds of a new storm gather on the horizon. One lives under the shadow of these clouds, and I am certain that more sacrifices and tribulations await me. But I am not troubled.
I can thank an 85-year-old man for my ability to handle most of the things life has thrown at me during the last ten years or so. Or at least the man now buried in a beautiful farmstead in rural North Carolina was about that age when he imparted to me the advice that would help me become the man I am today. My wife’s grandfather was still hale and hearty in his 80s, standing in excess of six feet with only the slightest hint of a stoop. His blue eyes still shone brightly from beneath thick, white eyebrows. In his prime he had been a champion amateur wrestler, a master horseman, and had, during World War Two, flown “over the hump” in Burma as part of a Special Forces unit. In the immediate post-war period he carried out work for the Office of Strategic Services, an early incarnation of what would become the CIA, before finally venturing into business. He was successful, retiring in his 50s with millions in the bank. In short, he was a man who had witnessed much and, by any estimation, had truly lived. He was also a racially aware man with a deep feeling for his Anglo-Celtic ancestry and the Anglo-Celtic heritage of the Deep South. He was no friend of the Jew. He shed no crocodile tears for the African. His home was draped in the flags of the Confederacy, and the Coats of Arms of his sires.
I was a young lad of twenty when I met him for the first time. Like most young men that age the only thing I had going for me was potential and, well, not much else. His legend was such in the family that I approached the event of our first meeting with some trepidation, and I heard that he had the unsettling habit of pretending not to hear very well – just so that you would be all the more awkward in trying to communicate with him. In the event, he was polite and courteous, and expressed a deep interest in my own ancestry and heritage. It quickly emerged that we shared an interest in literature and poetry. This delighted the old man, who would relish the opportunity to impress his young guest by reciting entire poems by Kipling from memory.
In the year that followed we developed a warm friendship, and despite our ages he expressed his sincere blessing for the marriage between myself (then 20) and his granddaughter (then 19). It was shortly after the marriage that I started struggling with the pace of life. College was going well for both my wife and I, but there were financial concerns and some early plans for a new home went the way that they are wont to do when conceived by mice and men. Just as our bank balance was taking a nosedive, we discovered that my wife was pregnant with what would be our first son.
While the stresses mounted in my mind, I did a good job of concealing it. I retained a garrulous and easy-going demeanour. Almost everyone I encountered failed to pick up on the fact that, at the age of 21, I was weighed down with some very complex worries and challenges, and that not even I knew how much longer I could cope without breaking in some manner. I say almost everyone because, during one Sunday family gathering, I caught the old man looking at me with deep concern. A little while later, while attempting to engage him in small talk, he motioned for me to stop talking. He started telling me a story.
He told me that during the religious tumult that accompanied the reign of Tudors from Henry VIII to Mary I, one clergyman seemed to bear witness to every ebb and flow of English religious passion. Hugh Latimer (c. 1487 – 16 October 1555) began his career in the Church as an ardent Catholic. Indeed, his Bachelor of Divinity disputation was a refutation of the ideas central to the Reformation sweeping Europe. However, after an encounter with the recently converted Thomas Bilney, Latimer underwent a dramatic shift in perspective. He later became part of an influential group of Reformers in London, gaining further influence when Henry VIII broke with Rome.
Although his fortunes would waver under Henry once more, and again under Henry’s son Edward VI, Latimer’s fate would take its final turn during the reign of Edward VI’s Catholic sister, Mary I. Under examination by a panel of Catholic commissioners, Latimer was unable to be dissuaded from his beliefs. He was quickly sentenced to death, and it was here that the old man reached the point of his tale. Confronted with the prospect of being burned alive at an execution site in Oxford, Latimer was resolute, unmovable.
He was tied to the stake along with Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London. The base was set alight, and the flames began to rise. As the fire began to consume the pair, Ridley’s death agonies reverberated throughout Oxford. His screams became ever louder until Latimer was heard loudly but calmly uttering the immortal words: “Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”
Finishing his tale, the old man looked me in the eye and repeated the words, “Play the man.” He told me of times in his life when he too, in his own way, had had to play the man. Faced with death in Burma, with financial ruin on numerous occasions, or when trying to ascend the greasy pole of his career ladder, there had been times when, even if disaster loomed, it was crucial to play the man or, in more modern formulations, to ‘hold frame’; to ride the tiger.
I’ve never forgotten the example and final words of Hugh Latimer, and they have accompanied me on several of my own trials and tribulations. They have offered strength and inspiration, and have helped me cultivate a mentality of iron determination. In more recent years, however, I have come to dwell equally on the latter half of his immortal plea. In alluding to his own sacrifice and burning as the lighting of a candle, Latimer beautifully and bravely hit upon the deeper glory of sacrifice – the glory that it may inspire in others.
As our opponents bitterly strike at the family of Richard Spencer, as some of us try to find cheer in a time of unemployment, and as many of our comrades languish in prison this Christmas, I would like us to not only admire those who hold their resolve and ‘play the man,’ but also to take heart and inspiration from their example and their trials.
While our enemies believe they are scoring victories by destroying our businesses, smearing our loved ones, or jailing us, they are in fact lighting the candles that will guide us to victory. To paraphrase the poet William Henley, we will ultimately succeed in preserving a future for our people because our heads may be sometimes bloodied but will remain forever unbowed. We are the masters of our fate. And we thank whatever gods may be for our unconquerable souls.