“Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it simply be asked: Where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?”
President George Washington’s “Farewell Address” (1796), in Standard English Classics (C.R. Gaton ed.).
“We would build our Republican Party on a foundation of states’ rights, human rights, small government, and a strong national defense,” said Buchanan, “and leave it to the ‘party of Maddox, Mahoney, and Wallace to squeeze the last ounces of political juice out of the rotting fruit of racial injustice.'”
~ Pat Buchanan
~ “explained” ~
“We would build our Republican Party on a foundation of states’ rights, human rights, small government, and a strong national defense,” said Buchanan, “and leave it to the ‘party of [Democratic Georgia Gov. Lester] Maddox, [1966 Democratic challenger against Spiro Agnew for Maryland governor George] Mahoney, and [Democratic Alabama Gov. George] Wallace to squeeze the last ounces of political juice out of the rotting fruit of racial injustice.'” (Larry Elder)
“I would like to call upon America to be more careful with its trust and prevent those wise persons who are attempting to establish even finer degrees of justice and even finer legal shades of equality – some because of their distorted outlook, others because of short-sightedness and still others out of self-interest – from falsely using the struggle for peace and for social justice to lead you down a false road. Because they are trying to weaken you; they are trying to disarm your strong and magnificent country in the face of this fearful threat – one which has never been seen before in the history of the world.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn; found in Larry Elder’s book, Showdown: Confronting Bias, Lies and the Special Interests That Divide America (New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003), 64.
At North Platte we found a distinguished officer of the army in command, Colonel Dodge, one of the foremost frontier men of his time, and the descendant of officers who had prepared the road for the army of settlement in the West. He was a mighty hunter too, and had killed every variety of big game from the Rocky Mountains to the Missouri. We told him of the week’s hunting we had had on the Platte prairies. More than thirty buffalo bulls had been shot by us, and I could not but feel some qualms of conscience at the thought of the destruction of so much animal life ; but Colonel Dodge held different views. “Kill every buffalo you can,” he said; “every buffalo dead is an Indian gone.” It sounded hard then, and it seems hard now ; but seven years after this time I crossed by railway from California to New York, and looking out at this same Platte valley I saw it a-smilin’ plain of farms, waving crops, and neat homesteads. The hungry crowd from overcharged Europe had surged into settlement over the old buffalo pastures of the Platte. ‘ Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.’ It was right. These Crows, Cheyennes, Sioux, and Blackfeet Indians were no doubt splendid hunters, and fierce raiders, and crafty foemen, but no man could say they were meek.
[Lieut. General The Rt. Hon, G.G.B.] Sir W. F. Butler, Sir William Butler: An Autobiography, by (London, England: Constable And Company Ltd., 1911), 97. (The book can be found here. Take note I edited a word or two that the English then was not saying well. Gen. Butler spent a lot of time in Canada as well, so this surely influenced his word choice as well.)
Even so, constitutional government as we conceive it was not attained in England. On the contrary, the principal lesson English Whigs derived from struggling with the Stuarts was that Parliament should wield the supreme, unchecked authority that had been wrested from the crown. While constitutional-ism and the rule of law continued to be talked of, the British concluded, in so many words, that Parliament could do whatever it wished, up to and including making changes in the constitution. The king accordingly was “under the law,” but Parliament wasn’t—since law was whatever Parliament decided.
As we have seen, this idea was never accepted by the Americans, and it became the focus of bitter conflict with the English. In the American theory, all political power was subject to a higher law, and this included legislatures as well as monarchs. In constitutional terms, the War of Independence was fought about this issue, and the political arrangements arrived at in the aftermath of fighting reflected the identical thesis. “In all free states,” Sam Adams put it, “the constitution is fixed.” Hence the method of establishing and tightly controlling power through conventions, the written Constitution, federalism, the doctrine of “enumerated powers,” and other techniques for limiting all authority whatsoever.
Why the Americans arrived at these particular notions, as opposed to the purely common law approach, is an intriguing question, though one omitted in the usual treatment. Part of it no doubt is the “freezing” effect of colonial living, which tends to keep political (and other) thought close to the baseline at the era of departure. Also important was the reliance of the settlers on written documents: colonial charters, the New England compacts, the constitutions and bills of rights adopted in the revolutionary era. While certainly not immune to change, as we well know, a document defining government powers is less susceptible to slippage than an evolving scheme of precedents and customs.
Undergirding this reliance on written agreements, also, was the habit of consulting Scripture. And while this too is open to variant readings, the Scriptural-theological element was a major prop of “fixity” in colonial doctrine. By keeping the original sources of the tradition to the forefront, this axiomatic stress restrained the drift inherent in a purely common law approach, which goes wherever precedent leads it. “Fixity” thus became the distinguishing feature of our founding epoch, and in limited-government terms was as much an advance beyond the British system as that was beyond the absolutism of the French. Rather than affirming the “rule of law” as a sentiment or theory, the Americans made it a definite principle of statecraft, enforced and strengthened by as many devices as they could muster.
Viewed this way, American constitutional doctrine is the product of an immensely long development, unfolding over two millennia of Western thought and practice. It starts with the religious insight that there is a higher law above the state; finds backing for this stricture in the church, and thereafter in the feudal order; deduces from these a system of contractual statecraft, representative bodies, and written guarantees of freedom—all translated to our shores and undergirded by the methods we have examined. Taken as a whole, this history tracks a series of ever-narrowing and more definite limits on, the reach of secular power—of which the American Constitution is (or was) the ultimate expression.
So construed, the measures adopted at our founding were an extension of the medieval outlook—though modified by religious changes, the colonial setting, and years of struggle with the British. Self-professed traditionalists that they were, the framers were more conservative than they knew. They were in a sense the last survivors of the feudal-medieval order, insisting that all earthly power must be subject to some limit. And, like their medieval forebears, they backed this up with pluralist, decentralized arrangements that gave practical content to the doctrine.
If this reading be accepted, a number of important conclusions are in order. One is that the chief political tradition of our culture is, above all else, a tradition of limited government, in the interest of protecting personal freedom. Those who profess this view today accordingly defend a legacy passed down to us, at considerable hazard, through many generations. The oft-stated conflict between traditional values and libertarian practice in our politics is therefore an illusion—a misreading of the record, or an artifact of special pleading. In the Anglo-American context, “big government conservatism” is the oxymoron—whatever its vogue among paternalists in Europe.
Also, it is worth repeating that this tradition is rooted in religious faith, not secular abstraction. The very concepts of the limited state and personal liberty, and the institutions that gave these practical force, grew from the religious vision of the West. Likewise, the specific ideas and political methods of our republic were products of this background—as seen in the theology of the early settlers, the arrangements they derived from this, and the religious customs of the founding era. All this is irrespective of whether Americans have always lived up to their faith, whether religious people have resorted to oppression, and other charges brought (sometimes correctly) in the conventional treatment. The point is rather that the conceptual building blocks and main political features of the free society were derived from these religious sources.
M. Stanton Evans, The Theme is Freedom: Religion, Politics, and the American Traditions (Washington, DC: Regnery, 1994), 310-313.
The cliché labeling Luther an anti-Semite ignores his 1523 treatise That Jesus Christ Was Born a Jew, in which he admonishes his fellow Christians: “If the apostles, who were also Jews, had dealt with us Gentiles as we Gentiles deal with the Jews, there would never have been a Christian among the Gentiles. Since they dealt with us Gentiles in such brotherly fashion, we in turn ought to treat the Jews in a brotherly manner in order that we might convert some of them … We should remember that we are but Gentiles, while the Jews are in the lineage of Christ?” Elsewhere in this treatise, Luther writes: “If I had been a Jew and had seen such dolts and blockheads govern and teach the Christian faith, I would sooner have become a hog than a Christian.”
It is noteworthy that in the early twentieth century, the Jewish Encyclopedia made a clear distinction between the “two Luthers”—the pro-Jewish younger Luther and the anti-Jewish older Luther. In this remarkable publication, Gotthard Deutsch melancholically observed about Luther in 1906 that the “totally different attitudes which he took at different times with regard to the Jews made him, during the anti-Semitic controversies of the end of the nineteenth century, an authority quoted alike by friends and enemies of the Jews?”
Alas, it is true that in 1543, shortly before his death, Luther published his venomous book On the Jews and Their Lies, a work that was to cause great embarrassment to future centuries of Lutheran church leaders. In this book, he gave the “sincere advice” to burn down the synagogues, destroy the Jews’ homes, take away their prayer books, forbid rabbinic teaching, abolish safe-conduct for Jewish travel, prohibit usury, and force Jews into manual labor.
Johannes Wallmann has shown, however, that Luther’s treatises against the Jews, though reprinted in the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth centuries, had limited impact in the general population. As the article in the Jewish Encyclopedia made clear, this and other appalling texts did not resurface until the late nineteenth century. In fact, in a devastating critique of German Protestant attitudes in the Hitler years, Richard Steigmann-Gall writes: “Not only did racialist anti-Semitism find a warmer reception among liberal Protestants than among confessional Lutherans, in many ways, racialist anti-Semitism was born of the theological crisis that liberal Protestantism represented..” Liberal Protestantism is a child of the nineteenth century. According to Steigmann-Gall, it provided the platform for Nazi ideologues to develop such theories as the one that Jesus was an Aryan. In other words, Protestants who were theologically closest to Luther’s teachings were more immune than liberals to one of the ugliest aspects of Nazism—racism. This observation could arguably also be made about deviant and sometimes lethal theologoumena that are currently rife in mainline churches in the United States and elsewhere in the West.
Uwe Siemon-Netto, The Fabricated Luther: Refuting Nazi Connections and Other Modern Myths, 2nd Edition (Saint Loiuse, MS: Concordia Publishing, 2007), 51-52. (see more)
Trust the threats of our enemies more than the promises of our friends.
…. Jefferson made frequent, positive use of Bible references and passages in his own writings.
Perhaps even more important, Jefferson was an active member of the Virginia Bible Society. This was an organization that distributed the full, unedited text of the Bible, including all its supernatural references. He also gave Bibles as gifts to members of his family, including his grandchildren,’ and contributed liberally to the distribution of the full Bible. In fact, during a period of personal economic crisis so severe that he arranged a personal loan and even offered to sell his own cherished private library to Congress to raise additional funds, he made a very generous contribution to the Virginia Bible Society, explaining:
I had not supposed there was a family in this State not possessing a Bible. . . . I therefore enclose you cheerfully an order… for the purposes of the Society.
Furthermore, in 1798 Jefferson personally helped finance the printing of one of America’s groundbreaking editions of the Bible. That Bible was a massive, two-volume folio set that was not only the largest Bible ever published in America to that time, but it was also America’s first hot-pressed Bible. President John Adams, several signers of the Constitution and Declaration, and other major Founders joined with Jefferson to help fund that Bible.
So This sheds some light onto statement like this by Jefferson’s that shows that he understood that God created nature in such a way to end here (at this moment in mankind understanding freedom) and that he expected God to still be involved in His creation in some judgment act:
“God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.”
Adapted from David Barton’s book on Jefferson
Jefferson did not believe that intelligent design was a religious doctrine. In a letter to John Adams on April 11, 1823, he declared:
I hold (without appeal to revelation) that when we take a view of the Universe, in its parts general or particular, it is impossible for the human mind not to perceive and feel a conviction of design, consummate skill, and indefinite power in every atom of its composition. (emphasis added)
By insisting that his defense of intelligent design was made “without appeal to revelation,” Jefferson clearly was arguing that the idea had a basis other than religion. What was that basis? He went on to explain:
The movements of the heavenly bodies, so exactly held in their course by the balance of centrifugal and centripetal forces, the structure of our earth itself, with its distribution of lands, waters and atmosphere, animal and vegetable bodies, examined in all their minutest particles, insects mere atoms of life, yet as perfectly organised as man or mammoth, the mineral substances, their generation and uses, it is impossible, I say, for the human mind not to believe that there is, in all this, design, cause and effect, up to an ultimate cause, a fabricator of all things from matter and motion, their preserver and regulator while permitted to exist in their present forms, and their regenerator into new and other forms.
In sum, Jefferson believed that empirical data from nature itself proved intelligent design by showing the natural world’s intricate organization from the level of plants and insects all the way up to the revolution of the planets.
…The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years. If some ghostly ship, some Flying Dutchman, were transported in time from the year 1600 into the present, the crew would be amazed by our technology and the sheer numbers of people on the globe, but the array of civilizations would be recognizable.
There is today, as there was then: a huge Chinese Empire run by an authoritarian but beleaguered bureaucracy; a homogeneous, anxious, suspicious Japan; a teeming crazy-quilt of Hindus and Muslims in India attempting to make a state of themselves; an amorphous Russian empire pulsing outward or inward in proportion to Muscovy’s projection of force; a vast Islamic crescent hostile to infidels but beset by rival centers of power; a dynamic, more-or-less Christian civilization in Europe aspiring to unity but vexed by its dense congeries of nations and tongues; and finally an Iberian/Amerindian culture in South America marked by relative poverty and strategic impotence.
The only continent that would astound the Renaissance time-travelers would be North America, which was primitive and nearly vacant as late as 1607, but which today hosts the mightiest, richest, most creative civilization on earth – a civilization, moreover, that perturbs the trajectories of all other civilizations just by existing.
One might object that the most salient features of modern history have not been territorial and demographic, but intellectual and political: the invention and spread of enlightened ideas of human rights and democratic self-government on the one hand, and the scientific and technological explosions in human power on the other hand. That is so, but the rise of America goes far to explain the rapidity and scale of their triumphs…
An excerpt from the book, Freedom Just Around the Corner: A New American History: 1585-1828 (found here), by Walter A. McDougall. (H/T Michael Medved)
A recent comprehensive compilation of the history of human warfare, Encyclopedia of Wars by Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod documents 1763 wars, of which 123 have been classified to involve a religious conflict. So, what atheists have considered to be “most” really amounts to less than 7% of all wars. It is interesting to note that 66 of these wars (more than 50%) involved Islam, which did not even exist as a religion for the first 3,000 years of recorded human warfare. Even the Seven Years’ War, widely recognized to be “religious” in motivation, noting that the warring factions were not necessarily split along confessional lines as much as along secular interests. (Adaptation from two sources)
- Alan Axelrod & Charles Phillips, Encyclopedia of Wars, Facts on File, November 2004
- John Entick, The General History of the Later War, Volume 3, 1763, p. 110.
“How dreadful are the curses which Mohammedanism lays on its votaries! Besides the fanatical frenzy, which is as dangerous in a man as hydrophobia in a dog, there is this fearful fatalistic apathy. The effects are apparent in many countries. Improvident habits, slovenly systems of agriculture, sluggish methods of commerce, and insecurity of property exist wherever the followers of the Prophet rule or live. A degraded sensualism deprives this life of its grace and refinement; the next of its dignity and sanctity. The fact that in Mohammedan law every woman must belong to some man as his absolute property – either as a child, a wife, or a concubine – must delay the final extinction of slavery until the faith of Islam has ceased to be a great power among men. Thousands become the brave and loyal soldiers of the faith: all know how to die but the influence of the religion paralyses the social development of those who follow it. No stronger retrograde force exists in the world. Far from being moribund, Mohammedanism is a militant and proselytizing faith.”
“Tradition means giving a vote to most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead”
“…we have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
John Adams, first (1789–1797) Vice President of the United States, and the second (1797–1801) President of the United States. Letter to the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts, 11 October 1798, in Revolutionary Services and Civil Life of General William Hull (New York, 1848), pp 265-6.
My own affections have been deeply wounded by some of the martyrs to this cause [the French Revolution], but rather than it should have failed, I would have seen half the earth desolated.
Thomas Jefferson, Letter of January 3, 1793, The Portable Thomas Jefferson, ed. Merrill D. Peterson (New York: Penguin Books, 1975), p. 465; from, Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (New York, NY: basic Books, 2007), 29.
Chirping about “change” may produce a giddy sense of excitement or of personal exaltation but, as the devil is in the details. Even despotic countries that have embraced sweeping changes have often found that these were changes for the worse. The czars in Russia, the shah of Iran, the Batista regime in Cuba, were all despotic. [Read here Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.] But they look like sweetharts compared to the regimes that followed. For example, the czars never executed as many people in half a century as Stalin did in one day.
Thomas Sowell, The Thomas Sowell Reader (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2011), 7.
Vietnam represents the cornerstone of the Free World in Southeast Asia, the Keystone to the arch, the finger in the dike. Burma, Thailand, India, Japan, the Philippines and, obviously, Laos and Cambodia are among those whose security would be threatened if the red tide of Communism overflowed into Vietnam… Moreover, the independence of Free Vietnam is crucial to the free world in fields other than the military. Her economy is essential to the economy of all of Southeast Asia; and her political liberty is an inspiration to those seeking to obtain or maintain their liberty in all parts of Asia — and indeed the world. The fundamental tenets of this nation’s foreign policy, in short, depend in considerable measure upon a strong and free Vietnamese nation.
Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy at the Conference on Vietnam Luncheon in the Willard Hotel, Washington, D.C., June 1, 1956. Phillip Jennings, The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Vietnam War (New York, NY: Regnery, 2010), appendix A.
The surge of religious evangelism inspired hope and optimism in blacks. Instead of folding their arms in resignation, or succumbing to fatalistic ethos, or even escaping to Canada or some safe haven abroad, blacks portrayed themselves as a people with the capacity to assist in transforming America. As white abolitionists including William Lloyd Garrison, the Tappan brothers, Arthur and Lewis, Simeon S. Joycelin, Benjamin Lundy, and John Greenleaf Whittier armed themselves with the weapon of moral suasion [the act of advising, urging, or attempting to persuade; persuasion] and nonviolence, and mounted frontal attacks against slavery, blacks felt encouraged to invoke the long-tried tradition of self-help, cooperative activities, and economy that had shaped the reform efforts of eighteenth-century free blacks in New York and Pennsylvania. They officially launched the convention movement and proclaimed moral suasion as their guiding principle. Since the prevailing ideology exalted the individual, blacks, individually and collectively, became actively energized and projected themselves as active agents of change. They hoped to accomplish this, however, by first changing themselves and their communities with the weapon of moral suasion….
…. By the 1800s, the vast majority of the black American population was American-born, with little recollection of Africa. Whatever knowledge or consciousness of Africa that existed was colored by pro-slavery propaganda and values, which served to alienate many blacks from, rather than endear them to, the continent. Africa was not a place to cherish or with which to desire identification. Many blacks perceived themselves as “negative Americans” or “aliened Americans,” people denied any positive self-definition and knowledge.” The need to define and assert an identity, therefore, became a central focus of the black abolitionist crusade.
Though brought together by the desire to organize and fight back in the face of overwhelming adversity, the platform that black abolitionists produced betrayed a deep sense of wanting to be acknowledged as Americans. These early conventions clearly revealed a strong integrationist consciousness. Though some blacks embraced emigration and colonization as avenues of escaping the ugly and harsh realities of their lives, the vast majority refused to give up. Delegates overwhelmingly rejected and condemned colonization and invoked passages of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence in justification of their claims to American citizenship. For most blacks, colonization or permanent relocation to another country was anathema. It was tantamount to a voluntary relinquishing of identity.
Tunde Adeleke, The Case Against Afrocentrism (Jackson, MS: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2009), 36, 38.
….History, however, has shown a consistent muddling of the color line. In order to sustain the line, its advocates suggest, blacks must exhibit cohesiveness built on shared feelings of love and confraternity. Some observers contend that the ascendance of racism and the problematic state of black America (measured by economic poverty, social and political subordination and marginalization, problems of drug addiction, teenage pregnancy, unemployment, the alarming rate of homicide, and so forth) accord legitimacy to the color line. In essence, these negative and destructive circumstances and factors have become unifying elements that authenticate the color line. It becomes incumbent on all blacks to rally behind the line. Actions or movements that seemed to efface the color line, or even compromise its authenticity, were often frowned at and vociferously opposed. For many, therefore, toeing the line, faithfully advancing, and defending, at all times and under all circumstances, the interests and problems of blacks became the litmus test of racial identity. It is this allegiance that establishes one’s authenticity as a black person. It is also what distinguishes an authentic black person from an “Uncle Tom.”
The conviction of confraternity evokes anger and resentment toward those who, either through actions or utterances, appear to compromise or undermine the interests and aspirations of the race. Racism is presumed to be of such potency as to obviate any basis for disrupting or muddling of the color line. Intraracial problems and contradictions are expected to be kept within rather than made issues of public discourses that could potentially damage the image of the race and thereby provide the other group (that is, the racial enemy on the other side of the color line) ammunition with which to further malign and mistreat the race. The mandate of racial solidarity stands indissoluble, even in circumstances when the conditions and complexities of the racial group clearly demand critical introspection and self-criticism. In this respect, the color line accents racial censorship and discourages actions or comments that are critical of blacks, especially if such criticisms could become subjects of public discourse. Such self-criticisms, however justified, are discouraged because they present the outside world with the image of a black community in crisis and disarray, thus compromising the struggle at critical moments when the entire race was expected to stand together in harmony and unison. A good illustration is the responses of some black nationalists and scholars to the publication of Keith Richburg’s Out of America: A Black Man Confronts Africa. Published in 1997, the book immediately provoked anger and resentment among black Americans and Africans. In radio and television talk shows and on network news, angry respondents lambasted Richburg, accusing him of maligning and misrepresenting Africa and of displaying ignorance of African history. Many called him a black racist, an Uncle Tom, someone who manifested profound self-hatred and confusion on identity.” Members of a group referred to as “mainstream African American middle class” dismissed Rich-burg as “a self-serving Uncle Tom looking to make good with his white bosses.” Former chair of the African American studies department, Temple University, Molefi K. Asante, found the book “offensive and obscene:’ He described Richburg as someone “caught in the spiral of psychic pain induced by … `Internal inferiorization”
Tunde Adeleke, The Case Against Afrocentrism (Jackson, MS: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2009), 7-8.
One ever feels his two-ness,—an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body… The history of the American Negro is the history of this strife,—this longing to attain self-conscious manhood, to merge his double self into a better and truer self. In this merging he wishes neither of the older selves to be lost. He would not Africanize America, for America has too much to teach the world and Africa. He would not bleach his Negro soul in a flood of white Americanism, for he knows that Negro blood has a message for the world. He simply wishes to make it possible for a man to be both a Negro and an American.
W.E.B. DuBoise, quoted in: Tunde Adeleke, The Case Against Afrocentrism (Jackson, MS: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2009), 4-5.
But it is the free individual who alone can provide sustenance for the group. For if there is no effort, no use (called “exploitation”), no reward for initiative (called “greed”), where will the food come from? Malthus, before the invention of the improved plow and before scientific agriculture, “proved” that the world must soon starve.
Socialist Europe is held up as a model of “just behavior”; but the Left forgets that for seventy-five years America defended Europe from the Communist threat, and bore the cost, which would have bankrupted Europe, and which, in the event, bankrupted Communism. The Left looks at the peace of Europe since World War II and forgets that it was not only ensured, but created by American military strength and determination.* And now the Left has elected a President who thinks it good to go to Europe and apologize for our “arrogance,” who proclaims the benefits of appeasement both at home and around the world.
This appeasement, called the antiwar movement, the antinuclear movement, One-Worldism, Code Pink, “the end to American Exceptionalism,” is, to the Left, another example of the Correct Thinking of the never-involved. They believe that our enemies, like the monsters in Where the Wild Things Are, will be so moved by some unnamable but real excellence on our part, that they will forswear their desire for our destruction (recognizing it, now, as an unnecessary expenditure of effort) and beat their swords into plowshares.
But the Left does not stop to consider that if we, the most prosperous country in the history of the world, choose neither to exploit nor to defend our property, someone else will take it, and if we announce, indeed, proclaim our passivity, we will only advance that bad day.
*And funded by the Marshall Plan, which is to say, by the surplus of American industrial wealth [I am adding here: “greed” and “exploitation”].
David Mamet, The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture(New York, NY: Sentinel Publishing, 2011), 44-45.
The Christian faith often served as a prelude to political reform. Just as it appeared that the reforming light was about to be extinguished” in early medieval Europe, missionaries from Ulster sailed and transplanted the faith. Democracy’s growth centuries later would come from the soil nourished by the Christian ethos. St. Patrick’s Ulster faith would blossom as much in Switzerland as anywhere else at the time. During the early sixteenth century, that same faith, greatly matured, would both fuel and be charged by Calvinism. Calvinism, in turn, contributed to revolutionizing the politics of England and eventually returned to Irish soil, from which many of the second wave of American settlers sailed. The faith that would transform Western political institutions spread contagiously—not always predictably or systematically, but irrepressibly. As it was recycled from Bangor to Geneva, then back to Donegal, it gathered force again in the massive Ulster Scot migration during the eighteenth century to America—still preserving the improvements of Genevan polity—through Scots-Irish missionaries like Francis Makemie.
David W. Hall, The Genevan Reformation and the American Founding (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2005), 37.
Why did he, [Thomas Jefferson], a man more closely associated with French Revolutionary philosophes than with Calvin’s Reformation thought, join with Ben Franklin in recommending an official seal for the United States emblazoned with biblical imagery from the Book of Exodus and encircled by the motto “Rebellion against Tyrants Is Obedience to God”?
That motto, with overt religious overtones, did not have its origin in the New World. The tyrants for New Englanders to overthrow were mainly distant ones, and the upstart revolutionary army eventually disposed of those troops. Considering that George III was not personally ranging around the countryside, arresting or killing dissenters, why, then, would this early American motto commemorate the overthrow of tyrants as a religious duty? That question is all the more important when one notes that the remaining biblical symbolism first proposed by Jefferson alluded to Moses, complete with a depiction of the Red Sea deluging the pursuing British army under the command of Pharaoh George HI. The symbolism was likely Jefferson’s mature reflection on a principle that stemmed from the Protestant Reformation. Calvin’s disciples were the ones (Theodore Beza after 1572 in Switzerland and John Knox in Scotland) who taught that it was not only permitted for Christians to oppose a tyrannical regime but also that in some cases it was required. It was merely living out the Golden Rule to do so, they argued. Jefferson apparently concurred that this was the irreducible minimum of good government, placarding “Rebellion to Tyrants Is Obedience to God” as a lasting imprint of the enduring Calvinistic philosophy of government.
The motto that Jefferson borrowed from Knoxian Calvinists was not the only slogan that conveyed Calvin’s political philosophy. Samuel Rutherford (and other Calvinists active in America a full century before the Revolutionary War) advocated another synopsis of politics that was pregnant with meaning. Such influential Calvinist political thinkers like Rutherford and Johannes Althusius (see chapters 4 and 5) argued that one could not give relief if he were not authorized, nor govern if one did not rightly possess the authority to act. In practice that meant governments were circumscribed both in their authority to exact as well as their power to enact. They were prohibited from enacting in areas where they were not authorized, even if animated by good intentions or supported by referendum. Neither could citizens rightly delegate functions to other agencies or governors if God had not assigned those tasks to them. This post-Reformation slogan “One cannot give what he does not possess,” which was applicable in either church or state matters, cast a long shadow over American formulations.25 Certain areas were accordingly off-limits to government, thus frustrating authoritarian impulses. Only a climate that ignores appropriate limitations on governmental scope could imagine the far-ranging intrusions of government we witness in our own day. Earlier Calvinistic pioneers looked for less from, and gave less power to, human governments.
In contrast to Rousseau, Calvinistic political theory did not agree with the progressive idea, which asserted that the people may give themselves to the king as long as they voluntarily do so by social contract. It posited instead that government is limited regardless of the will of the people. Because of Calvin’s view of the nature of man, he viewed government as a divine creation, but one that nevertheless must not assume all prerogatives to itself, even if citizens wished to cede excessive authority to it. Whenever governors presumed authority over private realms, Calvinists and early Americans cried “Tyranny.”
The limitations placed on governors in both Madison’s America and Calvin’s Switzerland share an organic similarity that has been frequently noted by both historians and politicians. John Adams referred to the Swiss republic, which perpetuated many of Calvin’s political legacies, as a model for the American republic. In his 1787 Defense of the Constitution, Adams noted the benefits of a well-regulated militia and advocated the same right to vote on laws and possess arms as the citizens of the Swiss cantons enjoyed. Adams also noted the value of the decentralized cantonal spheres (already operative in the time of Calvin) and the courage of William Tell to resist tyranny. Adams thought these decentralized spheres provided an apt model for the American government in “fix[ing] the sacred rights of man.” American founding fathers George Mason, Patrick Henry, and others lauded the preservation of independence fostered by the Swiss republics, a form of government that would not have endured apart from Calvin’s strong philosophical commitment to limited government. From the earliest settling of America, a full century and a half before the Revolutionary War, Calvinistic thought suffused the political ruminations of the entire colonial period. Readers, of course, are free to accept or reject Calvinistic tenets in whole or in part, but all should benefit from turning over the ancient soil to examine our roots. Once unearthed. these divots reveal that Calvinism had a positive influence in keeping government from expanding too far or from interfering unduly with the private sector.
Numerous political concepts that reflect robust links back to Calvin are also readily apparent in some of the New World’s earliest writings, sermons, and constitutions. Much of America’s heritage grew out of the era that pre-dates 1776. After all, America did not spontaneously generate on a single humid morning in Philadelphia.
David W. Hall, The Genevan Reformation and the American Founding (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2005), 8-10.
Although there were some forms of democratic government in local areas in ancient and medieval history (such as ancient Athens), when the United States began as a representative democracy in 1776, it could be called the “American experiment,” because there were at that time no other functioning national democracies in the world. But after the founding of the United States, and especially in the twentieth century, the number of functioning national democracies grew remarkably. The World Forum on Democracy reports that in 1950 there were 22 democracies accounting for 31% of the world population and a further 21 states with restricted democratic practices, accounting for 11.9% of the globe’s population. Since the turn of the century, electoral democracies now represent 120 of the 192 existing countries and constitute 58.2% of the world’s population.
Therefore, when people today complain to me that they don’t want to get involved in politics because they think that politicians are too corrupt (or arrogant, greedy, power-hungry, and other forms of being “unspiritual”), I want to remind them that although democracy is messy, it still works quite well, and all the alternative forms of government are far worse. We should be thankful for those who are willing to be involved in it, often at great personal sacrifice.
Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010), 108-109.
Historian Alvin Schmidt points out how the spread of Christianity and Christian influence on government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today); prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries.
During the history of the church, Christians have had a decisive influence in opposing and often abolishing slavery in the Roman Empire, in Ireland, and in most of Europe (though Schmidt frankly notes that a minority of “erring” Christian teachers have supported slavery in various centuries). In England, William Wilberforce, a devout Christian, led the successful effort to abolish the slave trade and then slavery itself throughout the British Empire by 1840.
In the United States, though there were vocal defenders of slavery among Christians in the South, they were vastly outnumbered by the many Christians who were ardent abolitionists, speaking, writing, and agitating constantly for the abolition of slavery in the United States. Schmidt notes that two-thirds of the American abolitionists in the mid-1830s were Christian clergymen, and he gives numerous examples of the strong Christian commitment of several of the most influential of the antislavery crusaders, including Elijah Lovejoy (the first abolitionist martyr), Lyman Beecher, Edward Beecher, Harriet Beecher Stowe (author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin), Charles Finney, Charles T. Torrey, Theodore Weld, William Lloyd Garrison, “and others too numerous to mention.” The American civil rights movement that resulted in the outlawing of racial segregation and discrimination was led by Martin Luther King Jr., a Christian pastor, and supported by many Christian churches and groups.
There was also strong influence from Christian ideas and influential Christians in the formulation of the Magna Carta in England (1215) and of the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution (1787) in the United States. These are three of the most significant documents in the history of governments on the earth, and all three show the marks of significant Christian influence in the foundational ideas of how governments should function.
Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010], 49-50.
I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.
…Conservatives have excellent credentials to speak about human rights. By our efforts, and with precious little help from self-styled liberals, we were largely responsible for securing liberty for a substantial share of the world’s population and defending it for most of the rest.
The “Iron Lady”, Margaret Thatcher
As Isaiah Berlin noted, the terrible consequences of this thinking were foreseen as early as 1832 by the German poet Heinrich Heine. He warned that one day the Germans, fired by a combination of absolutist metaphysics, historical memories and resentments, fanaticism and savage fury, would destroy Western civilization. Berlin recorded Heine as predicting that [very thing]:
“Implacable Kantians … with axe and sword will uproot the soil of our European life in order to tear out the roots of the past. Armed Fichteans will appear… restrained neither by fear nor greed… like those early Christians whom neither physical torture nor physical pleasure could break.” And most terrible of all would be Schelling’s disciples, the Philosophers of Nature who, isolated and unapproachable beyond the barriers of their own obsessive ideas, will identify themselves with the elemental forces of “the demonic powers of ancient German pantheism.”
Melanie Phillips, The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle Over God, Truth, and Power, p. 269; quoting from Isiah Berlin, The Crooked Timber of Humanity, p. 242.
I can imagine no man who will look with more horror on the End than a conscientious revolutionary who has, in a sense sincerely, been justifying cruelties and injustices inflicted on millions of his contemporaries by the benefits which he hopes to confer on future generations: generations who, as one terrible moment now reveals to him, were never going to exist. Then he will see the massacres, the faked trials, the deportations, to be all ineffaceably real, an essential part, his part, in the drama that has just ended: while the future Utopia had never been anything but a fantasy.
C.S. Lewis, The World’s Last Night, p. 131.
Nihilism can take more than one form. There is, for instance, passive nihilism, a pessimistic acquiescence in the absence of values and in the purposelessness of existence. But there is also active nihilism which seeks to destroy that in which it no longer believes. And Nietzsche prophesies the advent of an active nihilism, showing itself in world-shaking ideological wars. “There will be wars such as there have never been on earth before. Only from my time on will there be on earth politics on the grand scale.”
The advent of nihilism is in Nietzsche’s opinion inevitable. And it will mean the final overthrow of the decadent Christian civilization of Europe. At the same time it will clear the way for a new dawn, for the transvaluation of values, for the emergence of a higher type of man. For this reason “this most gruesome of all guests”, who stands at the door, is to be welcomed.”
Frederick Copleston, S.J., A History of Philosophy, Volume VII, pp. 404-405
This was to be the first of many times that an American president would plot to overthrow a foreign government—a dangerous game but one that the Jefferson administration found as hard to pass up as many of its successors would. Wrote Madison:
“Although it does not accord with the general sentiments or views of the United States to intermiddle in the domestic contests of other countries, it cannot be unfair, in the prosecution of a just war, or the accomplishment of a reasonable peace, to turn to their advantage, the enmity and pretensions of others against a common foe.”
Max Boot, The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, pp. 23-24.
…The Spanish influence on Mesoamerica is still to this day incredibly prevalent; much like the English fingerprint is on North America. The terms should almost be B.S., before Spain, and A.S., after Spain. Norton makes the point in fact that “[m]any of the folktales from Mexico, South and Central America, and southwestern part of the United States reflect a blending of cultures” (Norton et al, 2001, p. 146).
Who could not write of the clash of civilizations represented in the men of Cortez and Montezuma? Unfortunately much of this historical fiction is more fictionalized than history. An exemplary text used to illustrate this in the classroom would be Montezuma’s Daughter by Rider Haggard (1980), originally written in 1894. The myth had already started that the Spaniards were merely there for gold, and killed for it exclusively. While there is a place for literature to express cultural mores and values, even going so far as comforting people away from their homeland, it should still apply to history somewhat. Norton mentions that the “choices of materials to be read and discussed may reflect… moral messages” (Norton, p. 3). Some in the teaching profession can use Latino literature to paint history with broad strokes, thus passing moral messages on to the classroom, guiding, influencing them.
Rarely does one hear in the social studies class, literature class, or history class that Cortez’s small band of men (even with horses) couldn’t have defeated Montezuma’s large army, unless that is, there were defectors. Why would people want to defect from the Aztec culture and join with foreigners? Montezuma had this peculiar habit of taking areas over, grabbing the young men from said area, bringing them back to a temple and while still alive cut their hearts out and throw their bodies down the altar steps (rotten.com, used 4-14-06). This caused many to join the forces of Cortez, making him a more formidable force resulting in forcefully bringing to a halt Aztec pagan sacrifice and setting up Christian icons instead. Incan and Mayan cultures sacrificed humans as well, sometimes 200 children at once….
Papa Giorgio [me], from a portion of a paper for class entitled “Latino Literature & Life”
We are the happy Hitler Youth;
We have no need of Christian virtue;
For Adolf Hitler is our intercessor
And our redeemer.
No priest, no evil one
Can keep us
From feeling like Hitler’s children.
Not Christ do we follow, but Horst Wessel!
Away with incense and holy water pots.
Singing we follow Hitler’s banners;
Only then are we worthy of our ancestors.
I am no Christian and no Catholic.
I go with the SA through thick and thin.
The Church can be stolen from me for all I care.
The swastika makes me happy here on earth.
Him will I follow in marching step;
Baldur Von Schirach, take me along.
~ Hitler Youth Song
Gene Edward Veith, Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview [Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1993], 67; See Ernst Christian Helmreich, The German Churches Under Hitler: Background, Struggle, and Epilogue [Detroit, MI: Wayne State Univ. Press, 1979], 267; Horst Wessel was the composer of the party anthem. Baldur von Schirach was the Reich Youth Leader – See Hermann Glaser, The Cultural Roots of National Socialism [Austin, TX: Univ. Texas Press, 1978], 43, 56n.). This is posted to make sure that skeptics know Nazism and Hitler, and followers of such people and ideology were not Christians… if the three-million Catholics killed in Poland were not enough proof for you.
In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the person’s becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag… We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language.. And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.
Theodore Roosevelt’s ideas on Immigrants and being an American, 1907
An ardent believer in human depravity and the limitations of the goodness of man, Augustine saw the necessity of government as a restraining mechanism for the good society. Augustine did not expect unbelief to spawn good civil government or liberty:
Sinful man [actually] hates the equality of all men under God and, as though he were God, loves to impose his sovereignty on his fellow men. He hates the peace of God which is just and prefers his own peace which is unjust. However, he is powerless not to love peace of some sort. For, no man’s sin is so unnatural as to wipe out all traces whatsoever of human nature (City of God [New York, NY: Doubleday, 1958], 454).
One can see from these early aphorisms why Calvin thought of himself as Augustinian. The Reformation was, in the main, a return to Augustinianism. The state was remedial, protective, and ‘a corrective device for the restraint of self-centered human beings.’ Augustine saw the state as an institution erected primarily to restrain sin after Eden’s Fall. Human government, for Augustine, had its root in the consequences of that Fall, not in the origin of creation. Viewing the Fall as the font of human governments limited both the successes and defeats that Christians might experience in political matters. Such a view necessarily de-emphasizes the political and restores it to its proper perspective, rendering it as less than all-encompassing. Christians during the fourth century needed the reminder that since government was established after the Fall, it should not be expected to achieve utopian goals. The reformers reemphasized these notions centuries later, as did the American founders as well
David W. Hall, Genevan Reformation and the American Founding [New York, NY: Lexington Books, 2003], 29.
Power kills; absolute power kills absolutely…. The more power a government has, the more it can act arbitrarily according to the whims and desires of the elite…
R. J. Rummel, Death by Government
The support which I receive from Germany is my chief ground for hoping that our views will ultimately prevail.
Charles Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, vol. 2, p. 270.
Being a lover of freedom, when the [Nazi] revolution came, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities were immediately silenced. Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, whose flaming editorials in days gone had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks… Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing the truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly.
Albert Einstein–Albert Einstein Time Magazine, December 23, 1940 (page 38); Mackay, J. A. 1939. “The Titanic Twofold Challenge,” New York Times Magazine, May 7, p. 3.
Our Founders had an opportunity to establish a democracy in America but chose not to. In fact, they made very clear that we were not – and never to become – a democracy:
- James Madison (fourth President, co-author of the Federalist Papers and the “father” of the Constitution) – “Democracies have ever been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever been found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have, in general; been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”
- John Adams (American political philosopher, first vice President and second President) – “Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
- Benjamin Rush (signer of the Declaration) – “A simple democracy… is one of the greatest of evils.”
- Fisher Ames (American political thinker and leader of the federalists [he entered Harvard at twelve and graduated by sixteen], author of the House language for the First Amendment) – “A democracy is a volcano which conceals the fiery materials of its own destruction. These will provide an eruption and carry desolation in their way.´ / “The known propensity of a democracy is to licentiousness [excessive license] which the ambitious call, and the ignorant believe to be liberty.”
- Governor Morris (signer and penman of the Constitution) – “We have seen the tumult of democracy terminate… as [it has] everywhere terminated, in despotism…. Democracy! Savage and wild. Thou who wouldst bring down the virtous and wise to thy level of folly and guilt.”
- John Quincy Adams (sixth President, son of John Adams [see above]) – “The experience of all former ages had shown that of all human governments, democracy was the most unstable, fluctuating and short-lived.”
- Noah Webster (American educator and journalist as well as publishing the first dictionary) – “In democracy… there are commonly tumults and disorders….. therefore a pure democracy is generally a very bad government. It is often the most tyrannical government on earth.”
- John Witherspoon (signer of the Declaration of Independence) – “Pure democracy cannot subsist long nor be carried far into the departments of state – it is very subject to caprice and the madness of popular rage.”
- Zephaniah Swift (author of America’s first legal text) – “It may generally be remarked that the more a government [or state] resembles a pure democracy the more they abound with disorder and confusion.”
Take note that as well ArticleIV, Section4 of the Constitution reads:
“The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government…”
The stronger must dominate and not mate with the weaker, which would signify the sacrifice of its own higher nature. Only the born weakling can look upon this principle as cruel, and if he does so it is merely because he is of a feebler nature and narrower mind; for if such a law [natural selection] did not direct the process of evolution then the higher development of organic life would not be conceivable at all…. If Nature does not wish that weaker individuals should mate with the stronger, she wishes even less that a superior race should intermingle with an inferior one; because in such a case all her efforts, throughout hundreds of thousands of years, to establish an evolutionary higher stage of being, may thus be rendered futile.
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, translator/annotator, James Murphy [New York: Hurst and Blackett, 1942], pp. 161-162.
The Bible does not teach the horrible practices that some have committed in its name. It is true that it’s possible that religion can produce evil, and generally when we look closer at the details it produces evil because the individual people [Christians] are actually living in rejection of the tenets of Christianity and a rejection of the God that they are supposed to be following. So it [religion] can produce evil, but the historical fact is that outright rejection of God and institutionalizing of atheism (non-religious practices) actually does produce evil on incredible levels. We’re talking about tens of millions of people as a result of the rejection of God. For example: the Inquisitions, Crusades, Salem Witch Trials killed about anywhere from 40,000 to 80,000 persons combined (World Book Encyclopedia and Encyclopedia Americana), and the church is liable for the unjustified murder of about (taking the high number here) 300,000-women over about a 300 year period. A blight on Christianity? Certainly. Something wrong? Dismally wrong. A tragedy? Of course. Millions and millions of people killed? No. The numbers are tragic, but pale in comparison to the statistics of what non-religious criminals have committed); the Chinese regime of Mao Tse Tung, 60 million [+] dead (1945-1965), Stalin and Khrushchev, 66 million dead (USSR 1917-1959), Khmer Rouge (Cambodia 1975-1979) and Pol Pot, one-third of the populations dead, etc, etc. The difference here is that these non-God movements are merely living out their worldview, the struggle for power, survival of the fittest and all that, no evolutionary/naturalistic natural law is being violated in other words (as non-theists reduce everything to natural law — materialism). However, and this is key, when people have misused the Christian religion for personal gain, they are in direct violation to what Christ taught, as well as Natural Law.
A condensing of Gregory Koukl’s, “The Real Murderers: Atheism or Christianity?”
I am an historian, I am not a believer, but I must confess as a historian that this penniless preacher from Nazareth is irrevocably the very center of history. Jesus Christ is easily the most dominant figure in all history.
“Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander the Great, Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon; without science and learning, he shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of school, he spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since, and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, he set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, orations, discussions, learned volumes, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.”
Schaff, Phillip, “The Person of Christ,” American Tract Society, 1913.
I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.
If A can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B. — why not B. snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A.? …. You say A. is a white, and B. is black. It is –color–, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be the slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own. …. You do not mean color exactly? — You mean the whites are –intellectually– the superiors of the blacks, and therefore, have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own. …. But, say you, it is a question of –interest–; and, if you can make it your –interest–, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.
Abraham Lincoln, notes from the Lincoln / Douglas debate
We can learn from history how past generations thought and acted, how they responded to the demands of their time and how they solved their problems. We can learn by analogy, not by example, for our circumstances will always be different than theirs were. The main thing history can teach us is that human actions have consequences and that certain choices, once made, cannot be undone. They foreclose the possibility of making other choices and thus they determine future events
Lerner Gerda, Why History Matters, 117.
And I wish to be very clear about who the abolitionists were, they were classical-liberals, which are now known as conservatives.
Russell Kirk, The Conservative Mind: From Burke to Eliot
President Kennedy avoided engagement with the civil rights movement for as long as possible…. Tellingly, it had been Vice President Richard Nixon who fought for the 1957 Civil Rights Act in the Senate, not Kennedy.
Kenneth J. Heinman, God Is a Conservative: Religion, Politics, and Morality in Contemporary America, 34-35.
But it was the southern democrats who formed the line to defend Jim Crow. Georgia governor Lester Maddox famously brandished ax handles to prevent blacks from patronizing his restaurant. He was a democrat. Alabama governor George Wallace stood in front of the Alabama schoolhouse in 1963 and thundered, ‘Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.’ He was a democrat. Birmingham Public Safety commissioner Eugene ‘Bull’ Conner sicced dogs and turned fire hoses on black civil rights demonstrations [that were manned primarily by Christians]. He was a democrat. In 1954, Arkansas governor Orville Faubus tried to prevent the desegregation of a Little Rock public high school. He was Democrat. President Eisenhower, a Republican, sent in federal troops to prevent violence and enforce a court order desegregating the school. As a percentage of their respective parties, more republicans voted for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 than did Democrats! A Republican president, Richard Nixon, not John F. Kennedy or Lyndon B. Johnson, instituted the first affirmative action program with goals and timetables…. And it was during the Kennedy administration that FBI head J. Edgar Hoover sought and received permission to wiretap Martin Luther King. The person granting him permission? Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy.
Larry Elder, Ten Things You Can’t Say In America, 14-16.
What is it about Marx’s grand vision that inspired his disciples to clamber up the pile of corpses to have a better look?
Dr. Benjamin Wiker, 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn’t Help
This begs an answer to the question: So where did the Dixiecrats go? Contrary to legend, it makes no sense for them to join with the Republican Party whose history is replete with civil rights achievements. The answer is, they returned to the Democrat party and rejoined others such as George Wallace, Orval Faubus, Lester Maddox, and Ross Barnett. Interestingly, of the 26 known Dixiecrats (5 governors and 21 senators) only three ever became republicans: Strom Thurmond, Jesse Helms and Mills E. Godwind, Jr. The segregationists in the Senate, on the other hand, would return to their party and fight against the Civil Rights acts of 1957, 1960 and 1964. Republican President Dwight Eisenhower proffered the first two Acts.
Eric M. Wallce, “Urban Legends: The Dixicrats and the GOP“
Every segregationist who ever served in the Senate was a Democrat and remained a Democrat except one. Even Strom Thurmond—the only one who later became a Republican—remained a Democrat for eighteen years after running for president as a Dixiecrat. There’s a reason they were not called the “Dixiecans.”
Ann Coulter, Demonic: How the Liberal Mob Is Endangering America (New York: Crown Publishing, 2011), 174. (Emphasis added)
…can a nation rise above the injustices of its origins and, by its moral purpose and performance, atone for them? All nations are born in war, conquest, and crime, usually concealed by the obscurity of a distant past. The United States, from its earliest colonial times, won its title-deeds in the full blaze of recorded history, and the stains on them are there for all to see and censure: the dispossession of a indigenous people, and the securing of self-sufficiency through the sweat and pain of an enslaved race. In the judgmental scales of history, such grievous wrongs must be balanced by the erection of a society dedicated to justice and fairness.
Paul Johnson, A History of the American People, 3.
“One thing our Founding Fathers could not foresee…was a nation governed by professional politicians who had a vested interest in getting reelected. They probably envisioned a fellow serving a couple of hitches and then looking…forward to getting back to the farm.”
A crucial difference between the Western tradition and the others… [is that]…. The crimes of the West have produced their own antidotes. They have provoked great movements to end slavery, to raise the status of women, to abolish torture, to combat racism, to defend freedom of inquiry and expression, to advance personal liberty and human rights.
Arthur M. Schlesinger, The Disuniting of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society, 76.
We need historical perspective. Yes, slavery is America’s horror and shame. But slavery, unfortunately, appears throughout the whole of human history. Europeans enslaved Europeans. Asians enslaved Asians. Those we refer to as Native-Americans enslaved other Native-Americans. Black Africans enslaved other black Africans. Slave traders brought more African slaves to the Middle-East and to South America than to Colonial America. Yet this country fought a civil war that resulted in the eradication of slavery, no other nation can say that.
Larry Elder, Ten Things You Can’t Say In America, 9.
What are the distinctive sources for our beliefs about the past? Most of the beliefs we have about the past come to us by the testimony of other people. I wasn’t present at the signing of the Declaration of Independence. I didn’t see my father fight in the [S]econd [W]orld [W]ar. I have been told about these events by sources that I take to be reliable. The testimony of others is generally the main source of our beliefs about the past…. So all our beliefs about the past depend on testimony, or memory, or both.
Tom Morris, Philosophy for Dummies, pp. 57-58.
In advanced societies specialization in the gathering and production of knowledge and its wider dissemination through spoken and written testimony is a fundamental socio-epistemic fact, and a very large part of each persons body of knowledge and belief stems from testimony.
Edited by Robert Audi, The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy 2nd edition, p. 909.
But it is clear that most of what any given individual knows comes from others; palpably with knowledge of history, geography, or science, more subtly with knowledge about every day facts such as when we were born.
Edited by Ted Honderich, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, p. 869.
Roots has a white man leading a slave raid in West Africa, where the hero Kunta Kinte was captured, looking bewildered at the chains put on him as he was led away in bondage. The village elders were likewise bewildered as to what these white men were doing, carrying their people away. In reality, West Africa was a center of slave trading before the first white man arrived there — and slavery continues in parts of it to this very moment. Africans sold vast numbers of other Africans to Europeans. But they hardly let Europeans go running around in their territory, catching people willy-nilly. Because of the false picture of history presented by Roots and by other sources, last year we had the farce of the president of Nigeria making demands on the United States because of the enslavement of people whom his own countrymen had enslaved, and on behalf of a country where slavery still persists, more than a century after emancipation has occurred throughout the Western world. Roots also feeds the gross misconception that slavery was about white people enslaving black people. The tragedy of slavery was of a far greater magnitude than that. People of every race and color were both slaves and enslavers, for thousands of years, all around the world. Europeans enslaved other Europeans for centuries before the first African was brought across the Atlantic. Asians enslaved other Asians, as well as whatever Europeans they could get hold of. Slavery existed in the Western Hemisphere before Columbus ever got here.
In 1853, a group petitioned Congress to separate Christian principles from government. They desired a so-called “separation of church and state,” with chaplains being turned out of Congress, the military, etc.. Their petition was referred to the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees, which investigated for almost a year to see if it would be possible to separate Christian principles from government. Both the House and the Senate Judiciary Committees returned with their reports. The following are excerpts from the House report delivered on March 27, 1854 (the Senate report was very similar):
“Had the people [the Founding Fathers], during the Revolution, had a suspicion of any attempt to war against Christianity, that Revolution would have been strangled in its cradle. At the time of the adoption of the Constitution and the amendments, the universal sentiment was that Christianity should be encouraged, but not any one sect [denomination]…. In this age, there is no substitute for Christianity…. That was the religion of the founders of the republic, and they expected it to remain the religion of their descendants.”
Two months later, the Judiciary Committee made this strong declaration:
The great, vital, and conservative element in our system [the thing that holds our system together] is the belief of our people in the pure doctrines and divine truths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
David Barton, “Our Godley Heritage, PDF