4th of July Reflections: Freedom is Not for the Faint-Hearted
"How do they do that?" I asked to no one in particular. I was driving across Massachusetts yesterday. While reveling in the lush beauty of the countryside and listening to Ray Charles sing America The Beautiful, I tried to imagine how it must have looked to inhabitants of the state, having won their independence from Great Britain, to emerge as free people. How boundless the possibilities must have seemed to those who had risked everything for their freedom, and won a victory that went directly against the strong tide of history where man is subjugated by other men. How open the world must have seemed to these people, the only boundaries being those of the imagination. But that didn't answer the question immediately at hand, which was, …how the heck do those little bushes grow straight up out of the giant rocks on the hillside? I mean, it was all I could do to stay in my lane while staring at those stupid boulders with stuff growing out of them!
But nature has unyielding determination, as did the people of Massachusetts who jealously guarded their liberty, becoming the 6th state to ratify the Constitution, on February 6, 1788, and the first state whose ratification included a list of proposed amendments to further protect against federal encroachment. The state that would become infamous as a breeding ground of evangelists for bigger government, listed as its first suggested amendment; "That it be explicitly declared that all powers not expressly delegated by the aforesaid Constitution are reserved to the several states, to be by them exercised."
How far we've come. How far, exactly? Compare some of the grievances listed in the Declaration of Independence, whose signing we commemorate, with recent news items:
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
Obama Announces Dramatic Immigration Policy Change: "The election-year move amounts to President Barack Obama's administration essentially enacting a version of the Dream Act, legislation that Congress has been deadlocked on for years."
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 dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
"US in Contempt Over Gulf Drill Ban, Judge Rules," reads the headline. US District Judge Martin Feldman wrote, “Such dismissive conduct, viewed in tandem with the re-imposition of a second blanket and substantively identical moratorium, and in light of the national importance of this case, provide this court with clear and convincing evidence of the government’s contempt.”
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
Tombstone, Arizona: “The National Forest Service refuses to allow repair crews to use heavy equipment because of an endangered Mexican Spotted Owl. Using only hand tools, crews may not be able to repair the pipeline in time to cause Tombstone to run out of water..."
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies, without the Consent of our legislatures.
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 imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
"Arizona has moved to protect its sovereignty—not in contradiction of federal law, but in complete compliance with it. The laws under challenge here do not extend or revise federal immigration restrictions, but merely enforce those restrictions more effectively. If securing its territory in this fashion is not within the power of Arizona, we should cease referring to it as a sovereign State. …" Justice Antonin Scalia
Had enough yet? And just what is the federal government doing with all this newfound power? For starters, it's teaching Border Patrol agents that when confronted with an "active shooter," (that is, a rogue shooter in a public place such as a mall for instance) they have three options: 1) Run. 2) Hide 3) As a last resort, confront the shooter by throwing things at him (things such as chairs, shoes, anything but bullets). Not to worry, though. The feds may be losing their infernal minds, but what little local authority remains is being used wisely, so all is quiet on the local front, right? Too quiet, actually because the town of Depoe Bay, Oregon, for example, has cancelled it's 4th of July fireworks display under pressure from federal wildlife managers (do the animals have to file taxes too?) who maintain that the bombs bursting in air will rattle the sea birds.
Come to think of it, sea birds aren't the only ones frightened of the rockets red glare. Channeling his inner sea bird, Bill Press recently expressed his misgivings about our National Anthem, saying, "I mean when you think about it, it's bombs bursting in air rocket's red glare it's all kinds of, you know a lot of national anthems are that way, all kinds of military jargon and the land there's only phrase 'the land of the free' which is kind of nice and 'the home of the brave?' I don't know." I do, Bill. Were it not the home of the brave, it wouldn't be the land of the free, and for that you may thank the people who dispatch the bombs and the rockets.
Surveying the above list, however, and knowing that many more items could be added to it, the question arises; is this still the land of the free? Regretfully, I don't think so. Would any of the states who ratified the Constitution have done so had they known that the federal government would prohibit them from defending their own borders? Would Massachusetts have ratified it if they had known that the first amendment they proposed, which later became the 10th Amendment, would become meaningless? Would the people who fought and bled in the American Revolution have joined the union knowing that an American President would later issue one dictate after another in direct contravention of the law of the land, the law which he took an oath to uphold? Would Abraham Lincoln have preferred to destroy his Bible rather than see a future President desecrate it by placing his hand on it to take an oath that he had no intention of upholding? Are we worthy heirs of liberty purchased with the blood of generations of patriots?
The hour is late, and the moment urgent. Moderates didn't risk their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor by signing the Declaration of Independence. The men who signed that document went, as they say, "all in." The weak of heart didn't storm the beaches at Normandy. There was no compromise at Iwa Jima. Liberty isn't cheap, and can be lost much more easily than earned. Do we have the heart to reclaim liberty in America? The answer lies in the heart of the free man, if there are enough of us left. Life, Liberty, the Pursuit of Happiness, …these are the gifts of "Nature's God," and nature has unyielding determination.