If you are an American who is unhappy with way the United States has gone the past five decades (and what orthodox Catholic living in any Western country is happy with the way their nation has gone?), there is nothing better than to leave the internet behind you. Take a road trip – the longer, the better.

A friend’s daughter was graduating from Harvard, and he was intent on driving from Los Angeles to Boston and back to attend the ceremony. He asked if I would care to go with him, holding out the golden opportunity to visit all sorts of Civil War sites either way. I jumped at the chance.

Now, although I am of French Canadian descent, my father’s family has been in New England since the 1880s, and I myself shall be buried there. My mother, like my brother and me, was born in New York. The Hudson River Valley, with its charming colonial atmosphere and strange legends, is the place on Earth I feel most at home. Moreover, I have lived in Los Angeles most of my life. My parents were active at one time in the Civil Rights movement, and as far as any true-blue son of Dixie would be concerned, I am a Yankee’s Yankee.

For all of that, I have always have had a fascination with the Lost Cause of the Confederacy – as indeed I do with the Loyalists, Jacobites, Cavaliers, recusants and Yorkists. Had any of these triumphed, the Anglosphere would have been quite different, perhaps even better. In any case, with the exception of Virginia, I had not been in the Land of Cotton for any length of time in over 20 years.


The war on Confederate monuments goes on apace. The battle flag has been removed from National Park films, and the pillar in the middle of New Orleans’s Lee Circle stands empty. An increasingly annoyed populace is digging in to defend what remains, and not all of those to whom I spoke were white.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection