Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina

7 Responses

  1. Raymond Olson says:

    Thanks for blowing the smog away from the incident in Brooklyn Center, in which I grew up from 1953 to 1967. It may well be that there IS racial bias among the police. That shouldn’t constitute an excuse for utter foolhardiness on the part of those who don’t cooperate when they are stopped by them.

  2. Jacob Johnson says:

    The purpose of the media-enabled race disturbances, and the preposterously unfair reporting thereof, is to enrage whitey into the prophesied and much longed-for atrocity. After the syndicate of losers with nothing better to do with their lives than hold power in the least impressive empire to ever exist had their appetites whetted by the white pervert killing the mostly East Asian prostitutes, the subsequent episodes of random violence have featured the wrong type of perpetrator. What a downer. This explains the headline of the main Microsoft Bing page about the poor attendance of the weekend’s “White Lives Matter” rallies. Understandably, Phoebe was so upset that nobody showed up to her party that, today, there was another headline that there will be more “White Lives Matter” rallies in the future. Brer Rabbit hopes that they too are poorly attended.

  3. Michael Strenk says:

    Just a slight quibble, or, rather clarification. We “Ruthenians” (we use the terms Carpatho-Rusyn or just Rusyn, among other local or colloquial names) really are in a somewhat separate category from other Eastern Slavs. Samuel Hazard Cross gives us our Eastern Slavic component as being the ancient Ulichi and Tivertsi tribes that inhabited the delta areas north of the Black Sea, having them moving into the Carpathian Mountains under pressure in, I forget which century, subsequently mixing with the native proto-Slavic inhabitants. There is an important Vlach element in our mix and, almost undoubtedly some Dacian. Culturally and genetically (if this means anything) we are much more closely related to Romanians than to “Ukrainians” or Russians for that matter. In fact I am often shocked at how much some Romanians look like family members. Generally Romanians are predominantly of Slavic stock with a lot of Vlach and Dacian (I have met Romanians who, without prompting, have readily admitted to their Slavic background, but expect most to deny it vigorously) . Rusyns are more predominantly Slavic and we have kept our ancient language and culture, which has, as might be expected, been influenced by all of our neighbors. We had little if anything to do with Ukrainians or anything calling itself Ukraine until the 20th century when we were forced by them and others into more intimate (shall we say) contact, never to our benefit or with our well-being in mind.
    I can recommend With Their Backs to the Mountains: A History of Carpathian Rus’ and Carpatho-Rusyns by Paul Robert Magocsi. Magocsi, in many ways is a conventional Western academic in his loathing for Putin and Russia but some of this has to do with more justifiable resentments against a Rusyn tendency to look to Russia for patronage; a tendency that has often served us poorly in the past. There is, however noone living who is more knowledgeable in his subject than Magocsi, especially in regard to the period from the 19th century to the present (his peculiar prejudices notwithstanding).

  4. Thomas Fleming says:

    Mr. Strenk, I am happy to take your word for all this. I have first cousins who spent most of their lives thinking their father was Polish, when in fact, as they later discovered, he was sort of Ruthenian but found his background far too confusing. Where I have to part company is in the use of terms like Vlach and Dacian. Vlach is not so much an ethnic term as a linguistic and cultural one that refers to the Roman population–of whatever ethnicity–driven into the hills by Slavic invaders. Among most Slavs, Vlach is an insult applied to backward people and also to cowards, though the Vlachs could be pretty tough. The Dacians, at least according to the best guesses by ancient historians these days, were simply a northern branch of the Thracian peoples that stretched from Rumania through Bulgaria and parts of Greece and over to Turkey.

    My joking reference to Carpathians and Ruthenians, whom I have never been able to figure out–neither could my friend Joe Sobran who was descended from one of them–was only to indicate the ethnic stew that the fictive country On the Border comprises.

  5. Michael Strenk says:

    I took no offense from your comment and appreciate your considerate response. Many Rusyns do suffer from a bit of an identity crisis when they leave their villages, especially when they find themselves among largely hostile peoples such as the Poles, Hungarians or Ukrainians (and the Irish, I might add). I am aware that the term Vlach is often used in a derogatory sense, but that is not my intention here (the strikingly italianate look of some of my family forbids prejudice). Runciman, in his work on the crusades, in writing about the Seljuk and subsequent Ottoman invasions of the Middle East and Anatolia describes the mass of turkomen who followed in their wake driving their herds and families along and looting and occupying territory and sometimes fighting in the battles. I know that this is anything but an exact analogy (and please correct me if I am wrong) , but I see the Vlachs as being in a similar role in the sense of occupying pasture land in the wake of the Roman armies in Europe. I bow, of course, to your far superior knowledge of history but it seems to me illogical that the Vlachs are simply Latin-speaking Roman citizens driven from their homes by Slavs and forced to make a living in the mountains. Something that would seem to belie this is the fact that there must still have been large numbers of Vlachs in the Balkans long after the Slavic settlement as they were migrating north into the Carpathians in ever increasing numbers as the Turks took territory there. Also, transhumant agriculture is an extremely knowledge-dependent lifestyle not easily adapted to by flat-landers much less townsmen (I realize that you mention neither). After the destruction of the Hungarian army by the Mongols in the 13th century and having lost as much as 20 percent of their population in the struggle, the Hungarians were desperate to resettle the border areas, which suffered the most loss. They tried and succeeded with Germans in some places first, but the German settlers failed in many areas because their system of agriculture was not suitable to high mountain pastures. My own people settled our current villages in the Stara Lubovna area of Slovakia in the 14th century, coming up from Wallachia with many other Slavs and Vlachs, having been offered land and extended tax relief. This was accomplished according to the Vlach Laws of Hungary that facilitated this settlement. Germans had originally founded some of our villages, but they mostly died or left before we came.
    I was aware that the Dacians were most likely a northern Thracian kingdom. I used the term, perhaps incorrectly as I was speaking of cultures, to emphasize the location.

  6. Thomas Fleming says:

    I prefer not to speculate without evidence. We don’t at all know what sort of people took refuge in the hill country. Celts, Romanized or not, often thrived in the mountains, where they tended flocks, fought their internecine battles, and distilled whisky, rakija, grappa. It is no accident that the Celtics were settled in north Serbia–Singidunum, Belgrade, was a Celtic town–Italy north of the Po, and Slovakia. But the names applied to foreigners are often derogatory and misleading. Greco-Roman ethnic names in the later empire and throughout the Byzantine period are notoriously unreliable, partly because civilized people rarely take a detailed interest in the lives of primitives and partly because once they name a name like Scyth or Gete or Triballos, they continued to apply it, even after the population it designated had been replaced by invaders. Certainly, the most successful group of Vlachs, the Wallachians, spoke a Romance dialect. The trouble is that people who don’t write or build monumental structures leave behind only ruined huts and broken pots.

  7. Michael Strenk says:

    Agreed. Shepherds tend not to write history and their poetry tends to remain an oral tradition if it remains at all. Roger McGrath (I think it was he) wrote an excellent piece on the remnants of Basque way-stations, surviving (if they have indeed survived Covid) as restaurants and inns in the American West, which once catered to the thoroughly nomadic Basque shepherds that came west with the general flow of settlers. This adds some support to my theory, but it is, I admit, only a theory, however logical.