Most decent people always feel some sympathy and perhaps even pity for those who make mistakes because they are not aware of their own ignorance of issues, people, and history and therefore cannot gauge the calamity their actions are courting. For those who consciously know the mistakes they are making, and so the fires of rebellion they are stoking, a decent person can only have a well-justified contempt as he or she prepares to resist. Today, Virginians are having to decide which of these is the proper emotion to assume in the face of recent events. It appears the latter will win hands down.
Last week in Virginia, two federal judges did the biding of President Obama and Attorney General Holder and ruled unconstitutional a properly adopted amendment to the state’s constitution in which Virginians defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, not one between two people of the same gender. Obama, Holder, and the federal judges told Virginians, in essence, that the Constitution’s guarantee of republican government does not apply to them; that their Christian faith is nothing less than flagrant, archaic bigotry and that their Savior too is a bigot; that their state government exists to follow the national government‘s orders; and that from now on they will be told what to believe about religion, as well as how to behave and speak about it, by those who rule in Washington.
This sort of direct, degrading, and enslaving national-level assault on the right of Virginians to (a) govern themselves; (b) apply as they see fit the faith they have believed since childhood; and (c) decide for themselves what is right and what is wrong, is a much more ominous and palpable threat than anything their fellow Virginians faced in the spring of 1861.
One great and enduring tragedy of America’s Civil War is that eleven southern states left the union in 1860-61 because they were afraid of what Mr. Lincoln and his newly elected administration might do to the South, not because of what he and it had done. Notwithstanding Mr. Lincoln’s pledge not to interfere in the southern states’ internal affairs, the South had no patience and would not go slow until Lincoln‘s word could be tested. The southern states left the Union because they were fearful for their future, and thereafter more than 620,000 Americans died in our country’s worst and bloodiest war.
Virginians of today face a much different and much harsher reality. Unlike the Virginians of 1861, no contemporary Virginian has to wonder what is coming from the national government. They all have seen what Mr. Obama and Mr. Holder intend to do, which is, moreover, probably a pale imitation — recall these are the he-men who attacked the Little Sisters of the Poor — of what Mrs. Clinton intends if she succeed to the present tyrant’s throne and pen.
The intentions of Obama’s Washington are crystal clear, and Virginians are seeing for themselves how it intends to “reform” their faith, their lifestyle, and their society by installing a religion of worshiping the all-knowing national government. They themselves are to be subjects on which Democratic social theorists experiment. What Virginians are seeing is what Mr. Jefferson described as the danger to religious liberty that would always emanate from
“the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others.…” (1)
Since 2009, Obama and his lieutenants — flush with “impious” assumptions — have sought to impose their supposedly secular but really national-government-worshiping religion on all of America. Here in the Old Dominion, Virginians have seen their absolute 1st Amendment right to religious liberty, and their right to live their lives and order their society accordingly, mocked and undermined by the all-knowing Democrat boys and girls from the Ivy League. They have been told what doctor they can see, and what their children can and cannot be taught in school. They have seen determined White House efforts to destroy conservative political groups and media outlets, and they have heard the president okay the use of drugs by children. They also have seen hundreds of thousands of unborn Virginians murdered in the name of “women’s rights,” and they have been told by New York’s Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo that pro-life, pro-Constitution, and Christian citizens are “extremists” who have no place in New York State and, by implication, in the United States.
They also have seen the Democratic Party repeatedly try to destroy the Constitution’s 2nd Amendment so that Virginians and all Americans cannot — if elections do not remove despotism — defend themselves against the national government’s clear intention to destroy Christianity’s role in U.S. society, the traditional American family, the right of Americans to arm, and the ability of Americans to keep what they earn through hard work and not have the national government forcibly “share” it with slackers, those poor creatures too discouraged to seek work, Holder’s reconstructed felons, illegal aliens, and foreign nations.
As they press ahead, Obama and his operatives seem to think that Virginians and other Americans will forever sit still and accept whatever the national government designates as their mute supporting role in its plan for an areligious, libertine, multicultural, and multiethnic America. In this, they are most mistaken. Virginians, at least, will fight for what they believe is morally right, as well as for what they know are their inalienable constitutional rights.
With some Virginia Republicans, for example, the Roman Catholic bishops of Arlington and Richmond are pushing a legal challenge to the federal judges’ savage negation of Virginia’s sovereignty and their abuse of the 1st Amendment and of our Savior. What an unexpected but welcome sight to see Catholic prelates stand up for what they believe and, more important, for what the Lord teaches. Perhaps there is some fight left in the old church, even after seeing Notre Dame’s obsequious clergy welcome the abortion-crazed Obama to their campus; Georgetown’s appeasing Jesuits remove religious icons from a room so Obama would agree to speak at the university; and the foolish, publicity-seeking Cardinal of New York sit on the same dais with Obama on the eve of the 2012 election.
Encouraging though it is, the bishops’ challenge is not certain to overturn the decision of the national government’s judges that negates the rights of Virginians to self-government and to the free practice and application of their faith. How far will Obama and his fellow Ivy-League social theorists push Virginians toward slavery and resistance? How far will Virginians allow them to do so?
In one of the startling ironies often encountered in history, one of America’s greatest men, and by far its greatest and most successful traitor, General Robert Edward Lee, pretty accurately outlined in 1866 the substantive threat Virginians are witnessing today and the turning point it presents.
In the year after Appomattox, Lee, having surrendered the remnants of his magnificent army and begun working tirelessly to mend the South and the Union, reflected that there was no reason to believe that the result of the just concluded rebellion meant that Southerners or any other Americans would stand aside silently and allow the national government to do as it pleased in the future. “I can only say,” Lee wrote,
“”that while I have considered the preservation of the constitutional power of the General Government to be the foundation of peace and safety at home and abroad, I yet believe that the maintenance of the rights and authorities reserved to the states and to the people, not only essential to the adjustment and balance of the general system, but the safeguard to the continuance of free government. I consider it as the chief source of stability to our political system, whereas the consolidation of the states into one vast republic, sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home, will be the certain precursor to that ruin which has overwhelmed all those that preceded it.” (2)
The decision of the above-noted federal judges, and the actions and words of Obama, Holder, Cuomo, and others in the increasingly hot-for-tyranny Democratic Party fit exactly the pattern Lee feared would eventually appear, a pattern that features liberty-killing “administrative centralization” and leads to despotism. A quarter-century earlier, Alexis De Tocqueville also warned Americans of the danger to liberty posed by administrative centralization, and predicted it would be the tool of any politician aiming to install a despotism in the United States because it “contribute[s] admirably to the passing greatness of one man, [but] not to the lasting prosperity of the people.” (3)
And nearly as troubling as the illegal actions of Obama, his team, and most Democrats are their words, which are now, and for most of my sixty years have been intentionally demeaning toward those Americans who live by their faith; love their families, their country and its history; treasure the uniqueness and traditions of their region and locality; and believe that hard work, family, church, and a distant, barely active national government are the keys to a life well lived. Indeed, these are the Americans that Obama must suppress and eventually break because they are individuals “who resent being governed by anyone at all, and who are fully convinced that they are best equipped to manage their own affairs and control their own lives.” (4)
Listen to the words of Obama, Cuomo, Holder, Hillary Clinton and dozens of their arrogant Ivy League chums when they speak about “reforming” America, and what do you hear? Well, you hear male and female theorists of statism who have never worked a day in their life, who despise those who do, and who simply do not care what Americans think or want because they know — Harvard, Darwin, and Marx told them — what is best for all Americans. What these Democratic leaders cannot see is that Virginians and all other Americans who resist their tyranny already possess what matters most to them — liberty — and need nothing more from them; indeed, they want much less from such arrogant, soulless, and liberty-denying ideologues. “The big guys can hire armed men to defend their interests, lawyers to protect their wealth, and priests to sanctify it,” wrote the incisive and hard-edged Lee Harris in his indispensable book, The Next American Revolution.
“They can even retain philosophers to explain that it is eternally right and just that their interests should prevail over the paltry and trifling interests of the little guys. That is why the only way the little guys can resist being bullied by the big guys is if they are willing to get down and personal, to make the fight not about ideals, but about the realest of all things in their eyes, namely, their own lives, their own liberty, their own things, their own pursuit of happiness. … When the little guys rebel against the big guys, they are forwarding the cause of liberty and dignity in the only way they know how.” (5)
For America’s sake, then, Obama and his secularizing, libertine statists ought to be silent for a while and listen and understand what their opponents are saying, which is basically: stay in Washington and keep out of our hair; stop constraining our liberties, trying to run our families, and defaming all we hold dear; and — for the Union’s sake and your own health and longevity — let us govern ourselves. If Obama, et. al keep talking and hectoring as they have — as is likely — these highly educated and oh so sophisticated folks may soon find their hands full of a rebellion being conducted by Americans who will no longer listen to those who have for decades preened as their betters.
This scenario has occurred at least once before in American history. “The heart of the matter,” wrote Judah P. Benjamin, a brilliant Jewish-American lawyer, a U.S. Senator from Louisiana, and later a Confederate cabinet member, “was not so much what the abolitionists and the Republicans had done or might do to the South, as it was the things they had said about the South — and the moral arrogance with which they had said them.” (6) Benjamin’s words explain why Lincoln’s 1860-61 pledge of non-interference was never heard by Southerners. They had stopped listening and begun arming, and, as Mr. Lincoln later said, “the war came.”
Will history repeat itself? Who knows. But what seems certain is that Obama and his fellow statists have not a clue that here in Virginia, as well as in many other states, there are ever-growing amounts of what the always acute and acerbic localist Bill Kauffman calls “the two essential ingredients of any successful secession movement — love of place and resentment of the [national] capital….” (7) They also clearly have never read De Tocqueville’s warning to any U.S. political leader bent on ruling rather than governing. “One can therefore say,” argued the Frenchman, “that in America man never obeys man, but justice and law. Thus he [the American] has conceived an often exaggerated but almost always salutary opinion of himself. He trusts fearlessly in his own forces, which appear to him to suffice for everything.” (8)
Thus, Obama, Clinton, Holder, their trained-seal-like judges, and the rest of our “enlightened elite” may yet find, as did America’s Founders, that they live in a country “overflowing with natural libertarians.” (9) It was this fact, Lee Harris writes,
“that led the Founding Fathers to devise a severely limited government for their new nation. They did not choose to have a limited to government — they simply recognized that this was the only form of government that would be tolerated by America’s natural libertarians, who instinctively resented any kind of interference in their own affairs by outsiders.” (10)
So please keep an ear close to the ground, Mr. President. And when you begin to faintly hear a Virginian’s soft drawl, a Mainer’s clipped accent, a Texan’s western twang, or a Mid-Westerner’s flat tones singing …
We are a band of brothers, native to the soil fighting for our liberty with treasure, blood and toil And when our rights were threatened, the cry rose near and far; hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag, that bears a single star.
… you had better wake up in one big hurry and focus on the same reality Mr. Lincoln encountered. Then you should quickly read a book or two about America — probably your first — describing the glories and errors of your country‘s history and the indelible, irascible, and fearless characteristics of her people. For this task, you could do no better than Walter McDougall’s brilliant, honest, and witty, Freedom Round the Corner, 1585-1828 (New York, 2005) and Throes of Democracy, 1829-1877 (New York, 2009).
With respect, Mr. President, because you did not get the straight skinny about America by listening to the scurrilous, America-hating Rev. Jeremiah Wright for twenty years, you are today headed straight toward a hell you are making for yourself and your country. Why not read Dr. McDougall’s books and begin to understand America? Better late than never … for all of us.
- Thomas Jefferson, Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, 1786, http://religious.freedom.lib.virginia.edu/sacred/vaact.html
- Robert E. Lee to Lord Acton, 15 December 1866, http://archive.lewrockwell.com/orig3/acton-lee.html
- Mansfield and Withtrop, eds., Democracy in America, (Chicago, 2000), p. 83.
- Lee Harris, The Next American Revolution, (New York, 2010), p. 88
- Ibid., p. 222
- Quoted in Don E. Fehrenbacher, Sectional Crisis and Southern Constitutionalism (Baton Rogue, 1995) p. 31
- Bill Kauffman, Bye, Bye, Miss American Empire, (White River Junction, Vermont, 2010), p. 91
- Mansfield and Withtrop, eds., Democracy in America, (Chicago, 2000), p. 90.
- Harris, op. cit., p. 50 —10.) Ibid.