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Best of

An Independence Day compendium.

A Fundamentally Important Question for Independence Day
It will determine whether we survive as a free people.

As the Fourth of July fast approaches and we consider the many alternatives available for recreation and entertainment, we should pause to ponder an important question tied closely to the deeper meaning of the day.

The question is deceptively simple, but it goes to the heart of our relationship with government and every significant policy issue that confronts us. And the answer to the question will determine whether we survive as a free people.

The question to ponder on Independence Day is, simply: Where do our rights come from?

That is indeed the Question of Questions, the most critical query of them all. It is exactly what distinguished the United States as Founded from the operational understanding which had held throughout Whypeepuh Civilization™ right up until the Founding Fathers stood the previous arrangement on its head with the barest handful of almighty words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Bold mine, of course, and wholly dispositive. It is to our great discredit that those sacred words are no longer drilled into the empty skulls of every schoolkid from early on, forcefully and verbatim. This lamentable gap in their education is probably the single greatest reason why we are where we are—the principal signpost demarcating the Progressivist victory. It’s been a long, slow degenerative process that began with guess who? Three only, first two don’t count.

With their property and person protected by a Constitution enacted to secure the natural rights affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, the creative genius of a free American people produced unparalleled progress and prosperity.

However, as the twentieth century unfolded, certain politicians and intellectuals – with Woodrow Wilson the embodiment of both – thought that the principles of natural rights, individual liberty, and law-limited government embodied in the Declaration and Constitution were outdated relics of a simpler agricultural past that dangerously undercut to ability of the government to deal effectively with the complex challenges of industrialization and urbanization that confronted the nation in the new century.

Wilson and others believed that they had more “progressive” ideas for the updated and radically altered form of government they thought America needed. With the American economy and society becoming more and more complex, the progressives argued that founding assumptions about popular sovereignty and self-government needed to be rethought and the role of the people in the functioning of their government narrowed significantly.

For government to function efficiently in the “new republic” of the progressives, controlling authority needed to be consolidated in the executive branch where it would be exercised by credentialled technocrats who, insulated from the pressures of democratic accountability, would be free to use their expertise to regulate the affairs of Americans and modify private sector arrangements as needed to produce the results desired by the regulators. So was born the administrative state.

To justify and facilitate this massive anti-democratic concentration of power in the executive branch bureaucracy, progressives sought, and still seek, to discredit the concept of natural rights and replace it with the age-old authoritarian concept of malleable rights that are created by the government and then distributed and redistributed by the government according to its evolving policies and the needs of its supportive constituencies. And so were spawned the abuses of the administrative state.

Indeed so. It’s long been my sincere belief that Woodrow Wilson, curse his black soul, was the most loathsome, insidious threat to America As Founded ever to befoul the White House with his noxious presence.

Now, on to our next Best Of candidate.

Never Forget How Covid Controls Corrupted Independence Day

Fret not, James, I for one have absolutely no intention of ever doing so.

America was founded by rowdy folks who enjoyed nothing better than applying tar and feathers to British tax collectors. For a couple centuries, Independence Day was a day for raising a ruckus with firecrackers and plenty of other friendly detonations.

But in recent times, the Fourth of July has been downgraded to simply another victory lap for our political masters. We are still permitted to celebrate Independence Day but unfortunately, federal, state, and local governments routinely trample the rights that the Founding Fathers sought to make sacrosanct.

The Fourth of July in Washington has been going downhill ever since 9/11. In his first draft of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson scratched out the word “subjects” and replaced it with “citizens.” But on Independence Day 2003, I wondered whether that had been an editing error. I saw long lines of people waiting outside government checkpoints around the National Mall, kowtowing for permission to celebrate independence according to the latest edicts. Police and security agents continue to have a far heavier holiday presence in Washington and many other places than in earlier times.

How many Americans recall that the Fourth of July originally consecrated independence achieved thanks to resistance to a corrupt, oppressive regime? In 2018, Facebook, auditioning for a Federal Censorship Medal of Honor, deleted a Texas newspaper’s reposting of a portion of the Declaration of Independence because it went against Facebook standards on hate speech. Facebook used the same standard to suppress photos of the Branch Davidian home in flames after the FBI tank assault.

In 2019, when President Trump ordered the Pentagon to bring out of mothballs some World War II-era Sherman tanks, the media was indignant. The Washington Post condemned Trump’s “gaudy display of military hardware that is more in keeping with a banana republic than the world’s oldest democracy.” But the real problem was not the military relics. It was exalting government power and politicians on a day meant to celebrate individual liberty.

In 2020, politicians in most areas effectively canceled Independence Day. Governors and mayors had quickly imposed “stay at home” orders restricting 300 million people after the Covid pandemic erupted. Most of the media ignored the fact that Independence Day occurred under the most dictatorial restrictions of the modern era. Crowds were banned from watching fireworks that governments often chose not to ignite.

The Maryland Office of Tourism offered residents consolation prizes – the opportunity to watch a “virtual pet parade” online or see a “virtual Independence Day Tour” of the National Museum of Health and Medicine.

Could Independence Day ever become more servile? “Hold my beer,” announced Team Biden.

And then Faux Jaux proceeded to get busy showing us all how it’s DONE. More rich, buttery goodness, same tasty source.

Independence Day is a time to recall the past crimes of officialdom. The Founding Fathers carved the First Amendment to ensure freedom of the press after the crown’s appointees muzzled criticism of King George’s regime. The Second Amendment, recognizing the right to keep and bear arms, was spurred by British troops seeking to seize firearms at Lexington and Concord, Massachusetts. The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches because British agents with general warrants would ransack any colonist’s house. The Fifth Amendment’s eminent domain provision was written after British agents claimed a right to seize without compensation any pine tree in New England for British navy ship masts.

But the battles our forefathers fought to secure our rights have long since been forgotten amidst a deluge of abuses at the federal, state and local government level. There are good reasons why barely 20 percent of Americans trust the federal government nowadays.

Americans should take their Fourth of July to higher ground. What matters is not what politicians say on any given day but the principles and values by which Americans live. Regardless of how often government agents violate the Constitution, citizens retain all the rights for which our forefathers fought.

Not if they aren’t willing to fight to defend them, they won’t—really, truly, literally fight. As in for-real, honest-to-Jeebus, all-caps WAR-type stuff. As the incomparable Confederate cavalry officer Bedford Forrest so memorably opined: war means fighting, and fighting means killing. Key quote: When the people fear the government, there is tyranny. When the government fears the people, there is liberty. ‘Nuff said.

For me, then, the pivotal question was never whether Real Americans are prepared to die for their freedom, but whether they’re prepared to kill for it.

Our final chapter in this Best Of collection comes from Bruce Thornton.

Patriotism Under Siege
But we still have much to celebrate this Fourth of July.

This year’s Fourth of July arrives at a time of doubt and even disdain for our nation’s birth and foundational principles. For most of our history this day has celebrated the bold, epochal Declaration of Independence that staked a claim to self-government and freedom from the world’s most powerful empire. The nation that followed after eight years of war went on to become, and still is, the freest, most prosperous, and, for all its all-too-human betrayals of those principles, the most generous great power in all of history.

The heart of our affection does not come from blood and soil, but from truly revolutionary ideals expressed in the Declaration’s preamble: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The new nation was created to “secure these rights,” not to bestow or create them, and it “derives [its] just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Such obvious truths, however, have been for decades contested by some of our country’s most privileged beneficiaries, and the patriotism that expresses our country’s goodness disparaged and mocked. In its place a fashionable oikophobia ––the hatred of one’s country, principles, virtues, history, and the fellow citizens who still believe in our civic ideals and their goodness––preens morally and embraces the impossible utopias that such oikophobes promote.

Patriotism, the beating heart of our “unum” that binds the “pluribus,” is besieged at a time when we face dangerous developments like enormous debt, open borders, and assaults on our Constitutional order and Bill of Rights at home, and abroad totalitarian rivals “filled with passionate intensity” to supplant our global power, and diminish our freedom.

This sensibility was widespread among intellectuals, causing George Orwell to observe in 1940 that “England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution.” Worse, they were “trying to spread an outlook that (is) sometimes squashily pacifist, sometimes violently pro-Russian, but always anti-British.”

Obviously, these attitudes affected morale during the interwar years and contributed to the popularity of appeasement, as Winston Churchill said in 1933: “Our difficulties come from the mood of unwarrantable self-abasement into which we have cast by a powerful section of our own intellectuals…But what have they to offer but a vague internationalism, a squalid materialism, and the promise of impossible Utopias?”

Orwell’s and Churchill’s evaluations have turned out to be some of the best descriptions of our own country’s decades of anti-patriotic intellectuals, writers, and professors. And just as in England, Marxism has been the virus that has spread this dangerous fashion, especially among the so-called “woke.” Starting in the Twenties, variations of Marxist collectivism and anti-nationalism began to permeate American culture both high and low. The reason is obvious: The United States’ freedom, individualism, and entrepreneurial genius are all diametrically opposed to Marx’s “scientific history,” and collectivism’s bloody failures.

That’s just about the size of it, yeah. The battle lines couldn’t possibly be more clearly drawn, the enemies of freedom now out in the open and exposed—loud, proud, and all too obvious—the stakes for all of us of the highest imaginable sort. Which raises another of those age-old questions that have confronted Mankind since at least the glorious American Revolution, perhaps before: Will there be liberty, or will there be tyranny? There is no third option here, no honorable compromise that isn’t tantamount to defeat and surrender. Our Founding Fathers knew it; contemporary Americans urgently need to reacquaint themselves with the cold, hard facts before it’s too late, and we are well, truly, and forever lost.

All the above-excerpted essays are worth reading in full.

Update! if y’all will forgive the self-indulgence, it might be a good time to remind everyone of my own Independence Day essay, posted over at the Eyrie yesterday. Worth a look too, if I do say so myself.

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3 thoughts on “Best of

  1. For me, then, the pivotal question was never whether Real Americans are prepared to die for their freedom, but whether they’re prepared to kill for it.

    That’s the best question regarding freedom and liberty I have seen.

    Well done, Mike!

    1. No sonofabitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making some other poor dumb sonofabitch die for his country.” G. S. Patton, Jr.

  2. Progressivism started long before FDR, or even Wilson.

    They had to get the idiots in place before they could vote in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th Amendments.

    “Started with”?!?

    That would be countless assholes in the late 19th century.
    Including pretty much the entirety of the South.
    Even Teddy Roosevelt (the “good” Roosevelt) was not immune to the Progressive virus either.

    Look at electoral maps from 1868-1900, and get back to me.

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