Friday, July 5, 2019


     Independence Day is frequently celebrated as the birthday of our country. The analogy isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough. I’ve used it myself. But it ought to stimulate a few questions:

  • What sort of creature was born on July 4, 1776?
  • What did it need to grow and flourish?
  • Does it need those same things today?
  • Is it getting them?

     The Gettysburg Address, celebrated for a century and a half as one of the greatest items of oratory in the history of the world, said of the United States that it was “conceived in liberty.” The soil of North America was fertilized by men who came here seeking to be out from under the British Crown and Parliament. Those powers attempted to cross the Atlantic and reimpose themselves on the colonists. I trust I need not tell my Gentle Readers what resulted.

     Liberty – political freedom – was the aim. Migration was the instrument. Pursuit by jealous power was one consequence; revolution was another. But note this: liberty was not guaranteed to follow...and developments soon demonstrated that those who desire power will never let an assertion of liberty go unchallenged.

     I once attended a talk by the late, great Milton Friedman at which he told of an incident few Americans are aware of. It occurred shortly after the British conceded defeat and the independence of the American colonies. Apparently, in the turmoil that followed revolutionary success, a group among the officers of the Army of the Potomac conferred and decided that an acceptable degree of order could only be restored by General Washington – with the assistance of his troops, of course. They approached Washington and offered to make him the king of the freshly liberated colonies...and he declined. He refused to allow his men to set a crown upon his head.

     The United States would have been a monarchy, at least for a while, had George Washington not resisted the temptations of power. It’s been said that one of his motives was to return to private life as swiftly as possible, like Cincinnatus. His elevation to the presidency in 1788 might cast some doubt on that, but in the aftermath of his successful campaign, there is no doubt that he, and he alone, prevented the installation of a monarchy in America, by sheer force of character.

     The insistence on individual freedom – on doing as one pleases with what is rightfully one’s own – has been an American trait for centuries. It expresses itself most piercingly in the familiar mantras “Mind your own business” and “Live and let live.” Those two phrases are the quintessential expressions of the American virtues of defiance and tolerance.

     Tolerance is a badly abused concept. While it is right and proper to defy and repel those who would intrude into one’s private affairs, nevertheless there are intolerable behaviors as well: aggressive violence, fraud, abuse of the innocent, the fomenting of disorder in public places. Yet today there are persons demanding tolerance for those things, and other ugly, utterly anti-American things as well.

     More such persons are among us today than there have been for quite a long time. Some of them hold public offices. All of them are enemies of a republic conceived in liberty – your enemies, and mine. Should they become politically dominant, it will be war to the knife.

     At various times in the past I’ve urged community readiness as the countermeasure. It has its drawbacks; it’s not an invulnerable shield. More, the State has been chipping away at the possibility of mounting such a shield for decades, most especially with anti-Second Amendment laws and incentives offered to private citizens to tattle on their neighbors. But I’ve come up with nothing else that might counter the threats Americans face to what remains of our freedom.

     The willingness of the Left to use violence and intimidation has made some sort of countermeasure imperative in the present, not at some shadowy future time after the telescreens go up. Even as the Nazis rose, decent Germans of the Weimar years waited, and waited, and waited...and then discovered that their options had expired. God grant that Americans don’t do the same.

     The maintenance of a tolerably free society requires men determined to be free against any and all opposition: defiant men, who respond to castigation with equal or more severe castigation, and to violence with equal or greater violence. Damn anyone who clucks at them for “incivility.” The only way to know whether we have a sufficiency of such men is to participate in their emergence...or succumb to tyranny and despair.

     Let's ensure that America as we know and love her will have more joyous birthdays.

     “Let us not talk falsely now. The hour is getting late.” -- Bob Dylan

1 comment:

Ed Bonderenka said...

The struggle is real.
We are pushing back.
In the polls, in the press, in interaction with family, friends and fellow citizens, in the courts.
I wonder if in Wiemar Germany, weapons confiscation had been resisted, who would have shot who to resist the Nazis.