March 23, 2010

On Tyranny, And The Illusions Of Hope

No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope that it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen, if, entertaining as I do opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely and without reserve.

This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfill the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty towards the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.

Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation?

For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth -- to know the worst and to provide for it. I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House?

Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation -- the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motives for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies?

No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer on the subject? Nothing.

We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer.

Sir, we have done everything that could be done to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament.

Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope.

If we wish to be free -- if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending -- if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak -- unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?

Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us.

The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable -- and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!

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

Patrick Henry - March 23, 1775. 235 years ago, today.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at March 23, 2010 08:15 AM

That Patrick Henry person sounds like some right-wing extremist. I hope the Southern Poverty Law Center condemns him so good people won't listen to him.

Posted by: Old Rebel at March 23, 2010 09:02 AM

There is no way to get proper revenge for this.
Executive office betrayed us. Congress betrayed us. Justice betrays us by inaction. They sit and do nothing. I am sickened. There is no punishment.
There are no consequences. The liars rule the day. Wealthy men and women of low intelligence run our country. Corruption and power lust seem to eclipse all else from Washington to its sister city, Hollywood. The characters in both cities too much the same. This country deserves what it gets, I guess. I had thought better of it.

Posted by: Odins Acolyte at March 23, 2010 09:37 AM

Patrick Henry said it all. He even new the outcome. There is no getting even. There is only a resolve to understand and accept what will need to be done, why, and what our out will be on the other side of the event horizon.

Posted by: s4f at March 23, 2010 11:14 AM

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquilty of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.

Samuel Adams

Posted by: had enough at March 23, 2010 11:27 AM

You know who else sounds like a right wing extremist? Mike Vanderboegh & his Sipsey Street Irregulars.

Whose side are you on in the Window War?

Posted by: scalefree at March 23, 2010 04:25 PM

I'll invite you to look at that first 2 lines and note the comity, the civility and the decorum that Ptrick Henry displayed towards those with whom he did not agree.

Perhaps if the right were to try to adopt those tactics, instead of smear and burn at every corner, you would have gotten more of what you wanted in the bill.... (err...sorry) law.

Patrick Henry realized (as did David Frum on Sunday) that one must have a dialogue in order to reach accord. If you all cannot do that, then you're guilty of trying to do what you've cursed my side for supposedly doing.

I am not going to argue HR 3590 with you - we have little common ground and besides, it is now the law of the land. I am asking you to consider the lack of civility that has been present in the arguments leading up to it's passage. Perhaps, again, more dialogue and less ad hominem attacks would have yielded a bill more to your liking. Remember this as we pursue financial and immigration reform.

I'll also remind you that Patrick would laugh at you for invoking his name while living under the Constitution, a document that he hated, feared and worked against. unless of course, you're advocating for the overthrow of the government.

Posted by: CJ at March 23, 2010 06:02 PM

CJ's post above hits the nail on the head! Well said, Hear! Hear!

Posted by: Dude at March 23, 2010 09:38 PM

CJ, please spare us the calls for civility and dialogue as if the left possessed moral superiority in that regard. I didn't -- and still don't -- see very much retraint by the left in terms of ad hominem attacks on G.W. Bush and Republicans in general.

It is completely disingenuous on the one hand to give the louder voices on the left a pass as they castigate the right on a personal level when it suits them, and then on the other hand call for civility in dialogue when the right fires back with a tad too much fervor for your liking. Lions and tigers and ... conservatives, oh my!

It's much akin to witnessing the playground bully get comfortable beating on all the other kids, but when one kid steps up and punches him square in the nose, then the bully starts to demand, "Can we talk? Can't we all just get along?"

Uh-huh. Right.

Posted by: AtticusNC at March 24, 2010 06:08 AM

Atticus, the difference between the right & the left is we stop short of throwing actual bricks through your windows.

Posted by: scalefree at March 24, 2010 06:55 AM

Actually, scalefree, the left enjoys throwing bricks through their own windows and then the blames the right for it.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at March 24, 2010 08:12 AM

You've got one kid, that everybody at the time totally disavowed. So far there's at least 5 separate, coordinated attacks in 4 days with no admission on the Right that it even happened let alone a single statement condemning it. One of these things is not like the others.

Posted by: scalefree at March 24, 2010 01:13 PM

Right Scalefree, calling for armed revolt and the slaughter of Congress is exactly the same as setting up camp down the road from Bush's place in Crawford.

This equivocating is embarassing. I feel sorry for you that you're so apparently bereft of logic that you cannot see the difference between dissent and calls for violence, and that, further, you seem to be able to justify those calls for criminal acts with "we're being enslaved" - as you drive off to your job in your car and drink your after-dinner drink and watch your big screen TV. Yes! SLAVERY!

You're an embarassment to the Fathers.

Posted by: CJ at March 24, 2010 01:22 PM

Severed gas line found at home of Perriello brother

Wanna take bets on whch side ends up being responsible for this one? You've cultivated a culture that condones political violence. It's time you were held accountable for it.

Posted by: scalefree at March 24, 2010 01:51 PM

"You've cultivated a culture that condones political violence. It's time you were held accountable for it."

This coming from someone who voted for a guy who started his political career in the home of two domestic terrorists.

Posted by: anon at March 24, 2010 01:57 PM

You've got allies who right now are committing political violence in support of your cause. Plotting to blow up members of Congress (and their families), explicitly threatening the lives of their children, vandalizing their offices - and that's just what they've already tried.

How is it remotely possible that everybody on the Right isn't jumping out of their skins in their haste to distance themselves from these inexcusable tactics? What kind of people are you?

Posted by: scalefree at March 24, 2010 02:20 PM

As noted before, it is just as likely that angry progressives threw bricks threw those windows (and considering their track record and angry at this legislation, that is probably more likely), so my advice to my "allies" (whoever you think they are) is denounce this violence right after Nancy Pelosi does.

Some on the right have condoned these isolated incidents, but the fact of the matter is that we have limited time and have far bigger fish to fry, you know, like a radical government usurping control over 1/6th of the economy, against the will of the people.

As for the gas line incident, that is worth of commentary, and I started writing an entry on that as soon as I heard the news.

Will be up later this afternoon.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at March 24, 2010 02:43 PM

We know (loosely) the people behind the so-called Window War; they're proud of it, they've taken credit for it. These are not tricksy Liberals smashing their own windows & trying to blame it on someone else. These are hadrcore Right-wing Second Amendment activists. On April 19 they'll be attending an Open Carry March at Ft. Hood, VA.

These are your allies.

Posted by: scalefree at March 24, 2010 03:07 PM

Get a clue. The guy who called for windows to be smashed did so the morning after the crimes had been committed. Check the posting time on the blog entry you cited.

As for their involvement in the open-carry movement open carry, that is a complete non sequitur, and utterly irrelevant to to the discussion at hand.

And for the record, they are having their completely-legal open carry meeting at a place called Fort Hunt in Virgina, not a military base of any sort, and certainly not Fort Hood.


Posted by: Confederate Yankee at March 24, 2010 03:36 PM

Wrong again, Smedley. Mike Vanderboegh actually wrote his call to political violence as a piece of fiction in Feb. 2009, more than a year ago.

The point of the Open Carry rally isn't intended as a charge against them, just to establish the group's Right wing credentials. Given your defensiveness on the subject, I'll take that as an admission of alliance with these people who advocate & commit political violence.

I will concede I got the name wrong of the Fort where the rally will happen, so you can tell your buds at the corner bar you got something right today.

Posted by: scalefree at March 24, 2010 04:34 PM

Before you cackle about how I'm wrong & therefore everything I say is wrong times infinity, Vanderboegh actually says he originally wrote his Window War manifesto in 1999 or 2000. He first posted it to his blog in Feb 2009. I'm sure this disproves everything I've ever said or will say, somehow or other.

Posted by: scalefree at March 24, 2010 04:57 PM