Fighting for Freedom

We celebrated Memorial Day last Monday, and the 30th will be the traditional observance, so this seems appropriate. PJ Media’s Claudia Rossett tells us:

Not since the eve of the 1989 Tiananmen slaughter have we seen China’s communist regime more clearly girding to demolish a vibrant democracy movement. Thirty-one years ago, China’s Communist Party shut down democracy protesters in Beijing by shooting them in the streets. This time the CCP’s target is the former British colony of Hong Kong, where protesters turned out in huge numbers last year to defend the rights and freedoms that China promised them for at least 50 years after the 1997 British handover. Now, while the world grapples with the China-spawned coronavirus pandemic, China is preparing a national security law that would override Hong Kong’s semi-autonomous system. Under this law, as previewed by China’s authorities, Beijing could criminalize any activity in Hong Kong it deems a threat, and send mainland security operatives into Hong Kong as enforcers. Hong Kongers have richly demonstrated that they are a freedom-loving people, unlikely to bow down en masse and obey. The stage is set for a nightmare showdown.

Precisely how that’s likely to play out is a sickening question. Over the past year, Beijing’s quisling administration in Hong Kong has made copious use of tear gas, water cannon, threats, bans, beatings, and arrests (more than 8,000 to date). All this has failed to quell Hong Kong’s democracy movement. Is it likely that China’s dictator, President Xi Jinping, brandishing his new security law, would go so far as to reprise in Hong Kong his Communist Party’s 1989 Tiananmen tactics, and default to wholesale gunfire? Don’t rule it out.

Last year, especially among those with vivid memories of Tiananmen on June 4, 1989 (myself among them) there was plenty of worry that a Hong Kong massacre was in the cards. But perhaps it was a serious deterrent to Xi that the world was watching, bigtime, and he was in no hurry to sponsor a bloodbath so horrifying that it might end Hong Kong’s role as China’s chief financial portal to world markets.

And American authorities have indeed said that if China suppresses the freedom of Hong Kongers, both China and Hong Kong will come under American sanctions, as will their political leaders. Not a happy prospect, but what has really changed since John Kennedy stood on the platform on the east front of the Capitol on January 20, 1961, and said this:

For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.

The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.

Later on, in his address, he also said this:

Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.

And so today, as on that cold and snowy day, that I and many of you remember clearly, he laid out what it means to be “the keeper of the flame of liberty”, and that is the mission of America in this century as it was in the last.

But today, many of us see much of America in the same position as the Hong Kongers, beset by totalitarian administrations. Well, we’ve been there before too. The first time against the foremost empire in the world, and with God’s help we won through.

And so, perhaps, we look weak to China and others, but what I see our citizens doing, even as the Hong Kongers are, is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of strength that will win through

This post will continue in a day or so, but Bruce Springsteen has a very clear idea of how freedom is won.

Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the barrel of a gun
Had a brother in Iraq, he didn’t come back
I ask why oh why do soldiers gotta die
Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the blood of someone’s son

Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the barrel of a gun
Daddy died in Vietnam, he was killed at Khe Sahn
I ask why oh why do soldiers gotta die
Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the blood of someone’s son

Some say freedom is free, but I tend to disagree
I say freedom is won through the barrel of a gun
Had a brother in Iraq, he didn’t come back
I ask why oh why do soldiers gotta die

Hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm, hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm hmm.

From an excellent article at: The Imaginative Conservative.

Defending the Dream

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gett...

Monument to the 1st Minnesota Infantry at Gettysburg National Battlefield, Gettysburg, PA, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know, as do I, that America has never been a pile of rocks and dirt between the oceans. Whether your ancestors came over the Bering land bridge time out of memory ago, came on the Mayflower, came to escape starvation in Ireland to see the sign “No Irish need Apply”, came from old Mexico to work at a meat-packing plant, or got off a 777 last night; You are here because of a dream. Bevin Alexander said it as well as anybody.

Imagine, if you will, the sense of awe that seized the first settlers at Jamestown in Virginia, in 1607, at Plymouth in Massachusetts, and at the other landings along the coast of North America in the early decades of the seventeenth century. Here were little English communities hacking out perch sites on the very edge of an unknown land. … But when they finally reached the great chain of mountains called the Appalachians and gazed out from its heights, they were utterly confounded-before them an even more boundless, more astonishing land stretched out to seeming infinity toward the setting sun.

This was the moment when the American character was formed. Whatever limits of class and status the settlers had brought with them from Britain would fall away to insignificance in this prodigious land. When astute individuals looked toward the limitless frontier that they now knew would beckon continuously on the western horizon, they realized that no king, no aristocracy, could crush them. At any time they could cross this frontier and put all of Europe’s restraints behind them. This had immense and overwhelming effects throughout the colonies. Americans, whether they crossed the frontier or not, were destined to be forever free.

But to make dreams come true is hard work. And there are people around whose dreams would preclude yours. So dreams have to be defended. So it is with the American Dream. From that day to this, the dream has demanded that men, ordinary men, defend it. But the defending of dreams creates extraordinary men, and so it has been here.

On 19 April 1775, a shot was fired in Lexington, MA, no one knows by whom. That shot has echoed down the corridors of time for 245 years, and its reverberations continue. For that shot was a warning that God meant men to be free, and with God’s help, men, and women would be free. A few weeks before, a member of the House of Burgesses, Patrick Henry, in Virginia said this:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace– but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!

And so was the lamp lit in that fabled city on the hill that John Winthrop had spoken of all the way back in 1630.

…for wee must Consider that wee shall be as a Citty upon a Hill, the eies of all people are uppon us; soe that if wee shall deale falsely with our god in this worke wee have undertaken and soe cause him to withdrawe his present help from us, wee shall be made a story and a byword through the world, wee shall open the mouthes of enemies to speake evill of the wayes of god and all professours for Gods sake; wee shall shame the faces of many of gods worthy servants, and cause theire prayers to be turned into Cursses upon us till wee be consumed out of the good land whether wee are going:…

And so it came to pass that America would be free. It would not be perfect, ever, for America is a dream of man, not a work of God. But it would continually try to be, and it would improve. And it would come to pass that the lamp lighted in that city upon a hill would become a beacon to the world, so that today the world itself is far more free than on that blustery March day when Mr. Henry spoke.

But in the middle of the 19th century the dream nearly foundered on the rocks of two different interpretations of that freedom.

Those armies of America, The Army of Northern Virginia, The Army of the Potomac, The Army of the Tennessee, have become part of the soul of America, the dusty columns still march in our hearts. And the battles they fought: 1st & 2d Manassas, the Seven Days, Champions Hill, The artillery hell of Antietam, the burning wounded in the Wilderness, the misery of the Mule Shoe, and Cold Harbor. The taking of Missionary Ridge without orders because the enlisted men decided to do it, and finally that heart-wrenching scene at Wilmer McLean’s house (where he had moved to get away from the armies at Bull Run) where General Grant met General Lee and Lee surrendered that most romantic of American Armies, the Army of Northern Virginia, under terms inspired by Lincoln’s advice to Grant to “Let ’em up easy”. And so the Army not so much surrendered as passed directly into legend for all Americans. An Army that fought until it was living on goober peas, knowing it couldn’t win, but fighting for its beliefs.

Who amongst us can forget the 1st Minnesota Volunteer Infantry, on the second day of Gettysburg (from the inscription on the monument.

On the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Sickles’ Third Corps, having advanced from this line to the Emmitsburg Road, eight companies of the First Minnesota Regiment, numbering 262 men were sent to this place to support a battery upon Sickles repulse.

As his men were passing here in confused retreat, two Confederate brigades in pursuit were crossing the swale. To gain time to bring up the reserves & save this position, Gen Hancock in person ordered the eight companies to charge the rapidly advancing enemy.

The order was instantly repeated by Col Wm Colvill. And the charge as instantly made down the slope at full speed through the concentrated fire of the two brigades breaking with the bayonet the enemy’s front line as it was crossing the small brook in the low ground there the remnant of the eight companies, nearly surrounded by the enemy held its entire force at bay for a considerable time & till it retired on the approach of the reserve the charge successfully accomplished its object. It saved this position & probably the battlefield. The loss of the eight companies in the charge was 215 killed & wounded. More than 83% percent. 47 men were still in line & no man missing. In self sacrificing desperate valor this charge has no parallel in any war. Among the severely wounded were Col Wm Colvill, Lt Col Chas P Adams & Maj Mark W. Downie. Among the killed Capt Joseph Periam, Capt Louis Muller & Lt Waldo Farrar. The next day the regiment participated in repelling Pickett’s charge losing 17 more men killed & wounded.

The very next day, for the very last time, was displayed the grim majesty and pomp of war in the old style, as the center of the Army of Northern Virginia attacked in close order under General Pickett, and was repulsed, the high tide bringing General Armistead to die with his hand on a Union gun.

There are many other actions that we could tell of equal bravery on either side. This was merely 150 years ago, and yet, many have not heard of the glory of these men who were willing to suffer more than 83% casualties in battle, and were in line the next day to receive the most famous of American charges.

These were the men that Decoration Day was instituted to honor. Now as Memorial Day it honors all of those who died in service to America, from Crispus Attucks on.

Also note that during the Seven Days battles in Virginia it was not possible to fire the volleys requisite to military funerals, a tradition going back to the Roman Legions shouting “Vale” three times in burying their comrades. A substitute had to be found, it was, Colonel Dan Butterfield wrote a new call for his buglers to sound. It has been sounded millions of times since to mark the end of the day and the burial of the soldier. This is it of course.

If you remember a few years ago, Madison Rising did a version of the national anthem that blew many of us away. A few days ago, for this strangest of all Memorial Days, they have released a new song, this is it.

 

God Bless America and remember those who died for us.

Sunday Funnies; Liberate America

Interesting that some of my English friends, especially in the original rebel province, East Anglia, went out of their way to tell me how much they enjoyed yesterday’s video. Well, Norfolk is sort of a prototype for the great plains, and it always amuses me that we have many buildings here in Nebraska built to English specs. What’s that? No the control towers on many of our airports are of a Royal Air Force design, and the aircrew that trained there, well many of them went on to Norfolk, to help free Europe. Many are still in England and we’ll remember them this weekend.

Now that is a proper salad bar.

Hi Tina!

And, of course

Special bonus video from Audre

‘Murica, F**k Yeah!

John Hinderaker at PowerLine asks the question, “Shutdowns, what is the point?” It’s a very valid question and no politician anywhere is answering it coherently.

John quotes Robert Skidelsky, a member of Britain’s House of Lords and Professor Emeritus of Political Economy at Warwick University.

The default policy response has been to slow the spread of natural immunity until a vaccine can be developed. What “flattening the curve” really means is spacing out the number of expected deaths over a period long enough for medical facilities to cope and a vaccine to kick in.

But this strategy has a terrible weakness: governments cannot keep their populations locked down until a vaccine arrives. Apart from anything else, the economic cost would be unthinkable. So, they have to ease the lockdown gradually.

Doing this, however, lifts the cap on non-exposure gained from the lockdown. That is why no government has an explicit exit strategy: what political leaders call the “controlled easing” of lockdowns actually means controlled progress toward herd immunity.

Read the linked article but I think that’s about right, and it leaves the politicians between a rock and a hard place. They have to back off, or the economy will die and/or the people will revolt. So they obfuscate and lie. It won’t serve much longer, at least in America.


To that last phrase, America is still America, at least outside the cities, PJ Media had an excellent story from Califonia last Wednesday. Jeff Reynolds reports that.

In a time of non-stop bad news coming from every corner of the media during the CCP pandemic, a reminder of the American spirit can encourage us out of the doldrums. That’s exactly what inspired former PJTV contributor Chris Burgard to create the new country song and video, “American Heart.” With the subtitle, “You can’t lock down an American Heart,” the video has caught fire, with more than 20,000 views in the first 48 hours since its release.

With good reason. The song came out of a desire to show that fear had kept America in shackles, and that we have the power to reject it.

I asked Chris how this song came about, and he tells a very cool story. He says that the video shoot, which took place on his California horse ranch, met with strong skepticism at first. It took several weeks to put together a shoot, and at first it was just Chris and his guitar. Too many folks he invited declined, citing the virus as a reason to stay inside.

As he began setting up the video and the music, however, folks began to emerge. Soon, he had a full, professional, concert-quality country band at his ranch. Check below for the bios—there are a lot of big names in the industry that came together for this effort.

Viewers should not see this as a partisan issue, Chris told me, but rather a return to American values. Let’s leave behind fear and let’s return to the rugged sense of American freedom that we all inherited.

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/video.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Famericanmadeband2020%2Fvideos%2F2983395038423957%2F&show_text=0&width=560

Click that link! You know you want to and I can’t embed this one. You won’t regret it.

American Heart

Two months into COVID lockdown, we felt the country could use some inspiration.

Friends and neighbors agreed. So we started a band, recorded a song, and got the neighbors together to make this video.

We hope it makes folks happy and does a little bit to lift up our country. A portion of the proceeds from each download goes to COVID19 related charity, Meals For Heroes.

“Getting this many people to come out to do a nice Pro-American, Christian video is huge,” Burgard said. “The fact that you did it during Covid lockdown? You’re here because people are starting to figure out, yes we need to be cautious, yes we need to be smart, but we’re not frickin sheep. Ok? This country was founded on freedom. This country wasn’t founded on fear.”

Chris Burgard

So go download it already. What better way this year to start Memorial Day weekend!

 

As my neighbors out here in Nebraska would say:

Cowboy Up!

Reliving History

A few years ago a British American wrote something. In it he said this:

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the legislature; a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments;

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

If you are a properly educated American, you will recognize these from the ‘Bill of Particulars’ against King George III written by Thomas Jefferson into our Declaration of Independence. I think at least half of our governors need a refresher course. Because they appear to think we didn’t mean it. From Issues and Insights

Weary of more than two months of lockdowns, lost jobs, vanished income, and emotional distress, Americans are practicing a bit of Irish Democracy, shopping, dining out, gathering, and trying to carry on as before the pandemic arrived without approval from authorities. It was bound to happen. […]

We hate to use a cliche, but politicians have been moving the goalposts. Flattening the curve isn’t good enough. They want to keep people home until there’s a vaccine; or science, which has sadly become a loose term that means whatever the user wants it to, has established an effective treatment; or maybe until there are zero coronavirus cases.

You may have noticed this, I surely have.

Meanwhile, Michiganders are chafing under the boot of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who has issued arguably the harshest lockdown orders in the country, and has even extended to May 28 her initial closure order for some businesses. The capital in Lansing has been the site of demonstrations by some deeply restless, and in many cases angry, protesters.

We haven’t had any bloodshed yet,” one member of a Facebook group called Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine recently wrote.

Note that ‘yet’. It is no longer inconceivable as it has been since 1865 for there to be an armed rebellion in the United States, against several of the states.

By the way, Gov. Whitmer has ruled that while a gay sex club is essential, church is not. And she, like Governors Cuomo (NY), Murphy (NJ), Wolf (PA), and of course  Newsome (CA), and perhaps others, have taken the responsibility to kill thousands of elderly Americans by forcing them to live in close quarters with Coronavirus positive people, when they forced nursing homes to admit the contagious without testing or quarantine.

America has never been a safe space. We, all of us, take our chances, we always have, for we know that without risk there is no life. We are the people who believe (or once believed) that “the weak never started, the sick died along the way”. This country was built and maintained by people willing to risk ‘our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor’. all in the cause of Liberty. Many, perhaps most, of us still are

I fear that soon, we will hear, with Governor Patrick Henry:

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, “Peace! Peace!” — but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!”

In the war that came after that speech, this was one of the Hymns used as our national anthem.

Commencement and the ‘Pseudo Elites’

The other day, Purdue’s president, Mitch Daniels gave a noteworthy commencement address, which came to me via Emily Jashinsky at The Federalist. Let’s check it out but do read it all.

Purdue celebrated its own landmark this year, our 150th anniversary. Since it coincided with the 50th anniversary of the moon landing by our most famous alumnus, Neil Armstrong stories were abundant. My favorite claims that, later in life, Commander Armstrong took to telling corny, lame jokes about the moon, and when nobody laughed he would say, “Well, I guess you had to be there.”

A year or so ago, a major national journalist visited our campus and later wrote a gracious, complimentary article about what he saw here. While I enjoyed his accounts of the progress and successful results he thought he had witnessed, my favorite part of the column was a single phrase, basically a throwaway line. He described Purdue as “a happy place.”

That got me wondering how many college campuses these days would strike a visitor quite that way. I hope it’s been that kind of place for you.

That strikes me. Most of you know that while I am a Purdue Alum, I didn’t graduate. Mot Purdue’s fault other duties just intruded more than was compatible, but for all that, while I never considered going back, it does remain a happy memory for me. Like so many of us, it was my first chance to live on my own, and I loved it. A happy place indeed, even while the Vietnam war was disrupting so many campuses.

But one thing I never expected to worry about, but now do a little, is your being lonely. I have known you and met thousands of you personally in an environment that, despite our size, does a pretty good job of getting people together, creating bonds among them. A thousand clubs. Dozens of faith-based organizations. Our Greek system and, maybe our best examples of true communities, our co-op residential houses, where students not only live but cook, clean and do repairs together. And, most recently, the “learning communities,” where thousands of Boilermakers live in mutual support with others who are studying the same subject matter.

But elsewhere, the academic journals and lay periodicals are now filled with research about the “epidemic of loneliness” in our society. Surveys report record numbers of Americans living alone and suffering from strong feelings of isolation. Many view it as a new public health crisis, linked to rising rates of depression, anxiety, even suicide. A lack of strong social relationships has been found to raise the risk of premature death by 50%.

Obviously, the last few months have really made this worse, and while the liberty-loving people of America are fighting for the right to again associate with others, we have not got it done yet. But it is a real problem, too many of us live our lives staring at our screens. I know I do. But right now, as Audre alluded to yesterday, it is a lifeline, the ability to associate with others like ourselves pretty much anywhere in the world. But I, and I suspect a lot of you, miss the touch, feel, the smell of others, let alone a smile of welcome at our arrival. Soon, I hope.

One of the things Mitch is warning against here is something that  J.B. Shurk wrote about in American Thinker the other day …

When Governor Gretchen Whitmer or J.B. Pritzker or Jay Inslee or Gavin Newsom opens his mouth or any of the exhausting municipal Marxists like Bill de Blasio and Lori Lightfoot starts barking orders, more and more Americans only hear “womp, womp, womp.” That’s a good thing. When elected representatives confuse their “public service” with titles of nobility giving them license to make demands beyond their delegated authority, Americans have a duty to just “walk away.” America is a “safe place” from entrenched aristocracy. We rule ourselves here; elected “servants of the people” are meant to take care of the public chores we’re too busy to perform ourselves. We pay them for this. In America, we’re our own feudal lords and ladies.

For all their talk of the “little guy,” the left sure does gravitate toward nobility and special classes with extra-special privileges. It’s not just their obvious devotion before the altar of celebrity or fashionable “groupthink” causes. They are transfixed by titles of any kind. Because we kicked all the dukes and duchesses, barons and baronesses, earls and countesses back to the other side of the pond, the left confuses education with the “right to rule.” Affixing “Dr.” before their names has become the only opportunity for them to separate themselves from a sea of commoners. And after having spent decades trying to wean society from signaling simple respect by addressing each other as Mr., Mrs., Miss, or Ms., they are now often the only ones who demand verbal recognition of their special status. We have become a nation flooded with so many meaningless and laughable Ph.D.s, it seems, [interestingly at Purdue in my day, it was averred that Ph.D stands for  ‘Piled high and Deep’, something I still believe almost always] not because their holders consider education a path toward greater enlightenment, but so that they can become new members of a noble peerage class entitled to demand newfound privilege and respect nowhere else due.

He makes a lot of sense to me, so I think you should read it all.

And so, Hail Purdue, and our new Alums, and Liberate America.