It’s OK to Love America

The Flag of the U.S.A.

A recent Gallup poll shows that only 47% of those polled were “extremely proud” of their country. This is disturbing, but not surprising, given that public schools, colleges, and political leaders constantly talk down America. Students today are fed a version of history that accentuates the negative while downplaying or completely ignoring the positive. The Left tells us that conservatives are fascists while shutting down the free speech of others they don’t agree with. They fear that if a majority of Supreme Court justices actually follow the Constitution as written, a whole host of “rights” will disappear into thin air. They are unaware apparently of the irony of what they say, as the Constitution was written precisely to codify into law our rights. We live in a country where laws are fine if enforced by one president, but not another. Most of the lack of pride in America stems from a very skewed version of history, the malleable definition of certain words like fascist, racist, sexist, etc., and a near zero knowledge of civics. There are plenty of things that Americans can be proud of, things that paint a better, and indeed, a more accurate picture of America. The fact is, that Americans have many reasons to love their country. Listed here are just a few:

We beat the most powerful empire at the time, Britain through a combination of sheer determination, imagination, and just plain luck. The courage, valor, and determination of the American patriots should not be overlooked. Our Revolution could have been lost in so many ways, yet we pulled off the upset of the century. Read just about any book on the American Revolution and you’ll see just how amazing and improbable our victory actually was. Some, such as George Washington have even attributed our nation’s birth to divine providence.

We freed the slaves. Yes, unfortunately, we had them in the first place, but the matter of slavery was a contentious one since the founding of our republic. Slavery was abolished in Pennsylvania even before the Battle of Yorktown was fought. Though slavery lost support in the North early, it was only ended in the rest of the country at tremendous cost. Imagine a war that was not only the bloodiest in the nation’s history but one where all of the casualties were citizens of the same country. Imagine a war fought not over territory or religion, but over the freedom of people.

We invented stuff, lots of cool stuff. We invented a lot of things the world would have a lot of trouble getting along without. Basic stuff, like light bulbs, the telephone, wireless communication, the internet, zippers, the airplane. Nothing too important.

Your map looks the way it does mainly due to America. Once there were two German states, we helped get that number down to one and a rather ugly wall was torn down in the process. There is a Russia, but not a U.S.S.R., again, mainly thanks to us. We had some help of course, from leaders like Margaret Thatcher, Lech Walesa, and Pope (now Saint) John Paul II, but it was the visionary leadership of a certain American president named Reagan that finally broke the stalemate. There are two Korea’s, one we kept free, a few countries that used to comprise Yugoslavia, and a few more that were either Soviet republics or vassal states. America’s influence has literally been global.

We helped win two world wars and the Cold War. Countries once former enemies are now either allies or important trading partners, or both. Hundreds of millions of people are free due to our willingness to sacrifice for their freedom. Millions more have a chance if they can resist the temptation to revert back to authoritarianism.

We sent a man to the moon. In fact, several of them. To date, the only human beings to ever walk on the moon have been American. Every single human being to take a selfie on the moon has been an American. Every single human being to ever drive a cool dune buggy on the moon has been an American. Every single human being ever to drive a golf ball on the moon, you guessed it– has been an American.

We help people. Anytime there is a major catastrophe anywhere in the world, America offers aid. Be it after an earthquake in Haiti, tsunamis in Indonesia and Japan, or hurricanes in the Caribbean, or any number of other disasters you can name, America is always one of the first countries to offer humanitarian assistance. Were also generous, The United States consistently rates high among all nations in charitable giving, both in terms of total dollar amounts and dollars per capita. Just google: “charitable giving by country” and you’ll see.

To hear it from some people, you’d think that America was a terrible place with a terrible history with few redeeming qualities. Some of their points are valid, but they do not give a balanced perspective on our nation. Our Founding Fathers were men of wisdom and courage who sacrificed much and were prepared to give even more, even their lives if necessary for us to gain our independence. That spirit of sacrifice, of putting liberty and freedom above our own lives and fortunes carries on to this day. No country has done more to further the cause of liberty than the United States. Our influence is global, literally, we’ve helped rewrite atlases, we’ve helped oppressive countries disappear and be replaced with more liberal ones. From freeing black Americans from slavery to freeing other nations from tyranny and oppression, America has always taken a lead role. We make and do cool stuff, like build the Panama Canal and send cars into space. We help the less fortunate in our own county and across the globe. Even when it comes to countries that we don’t exactly see eye-to-eye with politically, we offer them help in their time of need. In short, there is an awful lot to be proud of if you’re an American. That doesn’t mean we ignore the bad, or not continue to correct injustices, it means that our positive contributions and achievements far outweigh the negative, and for that, we should be proud.

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Colin Kaepernick and friends continue a misguided protest

For another week, Colin Keapernick and his misguided friends have continued their protest by taking a knee during the national anthem during this week’s NFL games.  It is a protest they say against oppression, police brutality, and a suite of other social justice grievances.  There’s no question that any police brutality is too much. There is no argument that if police cross that line that they should be held to account.  Oppression? Oppression is in the eye of the beholder, but perhaps Kaepernick and the others might like to compare notes with women, Christians, or gays from any number of Muslim countries.  They might want to talk to some of the very few people who have escaped persecution from places like China or North Korea.  The question is whether or not their chosen protest is disrespectful.  If you deliberately withhold a sign of respect, that is by definition disrespectful.

There are all sorts of things that occur within this country’s borders that we don’t approve of.  The simple ceremony of standing for the national anthem has nothing to do with approval, it has to do with honor and respect, not just for the flag, but for the country it represents.  If approval for everything that a country does were the measure, then no one in any country ought to stand for their national anthem.  No country is spotless and free of any civil strife.  No place in the world if totally free of injustice. Some counties though, are worthy of respect from all of its citizens.

The United States more than most deserves respect.  Not blind respect, but the kind of respect that comes with the recognition of what it has done throughout its history to further certain ideals. The kind of respect that comes from seeing not the bad, but the good of a country and its decided preference for the latter.  It also genuine respect for the great, even astounding achievements of its citizens.  Here are but a few:  We freed a continent not our own from brutal oppression. We defeated another oppressive regime that dominated Eastern Europe for well over a half a century without firing a shot.  We sent men to the moon and returned them safely back to earth.  That was us, we did that, not some other country, we did.  Because of America, diseases that once plagues mankind have been made extinct.  We gave the world the electric light, the telephone, the computer.  The list of America’s achievements is long, longer arguably than many other countries centuries older than us.  Every single citizen of this country has more freedom that every single citizen in most of the countries in the world.  Every single person in this country has more freedom of religion than every single person living in China, Iran, and numerous other countries.  Such a country, despite its many faults deserves respect.

Are there issues facing this country that Kaepernick, his fellow athletes, and the rest of America should rightly speak out about?  Of course.  Protesting by taking a knee during the national anthem is their unquestioned right.  The irony is the country that offers them that right ought to be respected for it.  A further irony is that these professional athletes are rewarded for work in their chosen professions at a level that is far disproportionate to that of those who protect their rights.  Their chosen form of protest does not show respect; it shows a fundamental misunderstanding of why Americans honor their country by standing for the Star Spangled Banner.  The object is not to show total approval for their country, but to honor what it has been at its best, the great accomplishments of its people, and what it strives to be.

Maintain Liberty

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  the Declaration of Independence 

Those who would trade liberty for security should get neither
Ben Franklin knew there’d be times like these.

140 years ago today, America declared its independence from Great Britain. A few years later, after tremendous sacrifice, we won that independence and gained a great amount of freedom. Today, we still have that independence, but sadly very little of that freedom.  Over two centuries, but mostly in the fifty or so years, we have either traded away or sold our freedoms in the name of security and comfort.  Even as we would not consciously give up our liberty, our government has found subtle ways to take it.  It takes it in the form of a huge, unwieldy bureaucracy, unelected and accountable to virtually no one.

The Founding Fathers started this quest for freedom and it is one we have inherited.  Freedom did not just happen to them, they had to take it.  It will not just continue to happen for us, to keep it we will have to join that long line of patriots that began with Washington, Franklin, Adams, and the rest.  To the extent we fight to keep ourselves free, we find ourselves in their distinguished company.  The put their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor on the line. Most of us are called upon merely to keep ourselves educated, remain vigilant, and vote.  Maybe because it’s so much easier for us, we assume everyone or someone else will do it for us.  Staying free will require our participation as individuals and collectively.

Those liberties that were hard-won by others are too easily lost by us. We should with that fact in mind, repurpose the fourth of July.  Independence Day needs to be a day not just to celebrate our independence, but one that reminds us to recommit ourselves to those freedoms that this country gained by the Revolution, and all those won since. Maintaining these liberties is a constant struggle, and that sacred struggle is one that all Americans ought to take part in. We can do it in different ways, by activism, voting, sometimes just by letting those in power know we’re watching and paying attention.  When you celebrate America’s independence, remember why it was in the first place that 140 years ago it was so important that so many risked so much for it.  Remember and resolve to keep those American ideals alive in your thoughts and deeds for another year.

Memorial Days of our Possible Future

Memorial day 2016 has passed.  The picnics and barbecues are over.  The wreath laying ceremonies have been completed.    Many Americans, perhaps more in recent years keep Memorial Day sacred, and well they should.  Many, many American heroes left their homes for war and never returned.  They gave the ultimate sacrifice.  The loved ones they left behind morn their loss.  From that darkest day, and especially on Memorial Day, they are reminded that their loved ones gave their lives that we could be free. Our freedom, liberty, democracy are those ideals that they gave their lives for.  Their deaths are not considered in vain, we say, because of these gifts their sacrifice has secured for us.  In many ways, this is a distinction not shared by all fallen warriors throughout history, as not all of the fallen died for these things.  They fought for king and country, maybe to protect their families, but nothing more noble than that. Will they day ever come that Americans of some future era, in some future conflict fight for little more?

DSCN0407_2263
Victory in WWII

The NAZI’s did not fight for freedom, quite the opposite.  The Russians fought for Rodina, the motherland and their comrades.  Napoleon won scores of battles, his soldiers won victory after victory for the glory of France all across Europe, and freed nary a soul from oppression in the process.  Japan spent a century at war during the middle ages, the samurai fought for honor and for their lord, but never for liberty.  What of the next generation of Americans?  Will the era of fighting for real freedom have ended?

One by one our liberties have fallen or are in danger of falling by the wayside—our right to privacy traded for security, our right to free speech ceded to militant progressives at the college campus, the rights of the states to self-governance ground into nothingness by an overbearing federal government.  The courts now dictate which religious customs we are free to follow.  Likewise, the Supreme Court has determined that Americans don’t have the right to choose their own healthcare, or none at all.  Thanks to EPA regulations, farmers and ranchers are not free to manage their land as they see fit.  The examples go on and on.  If this is where we are now at this rate, imagine how little liberty there will be left for our brave service members serving in the not-so-distant future will actually to give their lives for.

What then will we tell the families of future fallen warriors?  Will they be told their loved ones died for freedom?  Perhaps, if the enemy they fought against has markedly less freedom even then us.  It certainly wouldn’t, couldn’t be said that they died for the same freedom our Revolutionary War, Civil War Union soldiers, or WWII heroes did.  The surviving family members might be consoled by the fact that their loved ones died for their county, for honor, even to protect them, but not freedom as once existed on this continent.  On that sad day, our fallen will make the ultimate sacrifice in the name of nationalism, the homeland, perhaps even Socialism.  On that day, may it never come, our war dead will have given their last breath for no more a cause than a piece of land, some natural resources, or a border on a map.  Memorial Day will be a much different day, a day to mourn more than the loss of American heroes, but of a free country that once existed that was worthy of their sacrifice.

Have a blessed Memorial Day 2016

 

Memorial Day 2016
Pray for those who gave their lives that we may be free, and for the future of our country.  Appreciate every bit of that freedom and guard it jealously.

Many have made the ultimate sacrifice for us to live in freedom.  Do not squander it.  Do not sell it cheaply. Let us strive to be worthy of their sacrifice.   This is what we owe them, that and our eternal gratitude.

The Liberty Relearned Voting Guide: Super Tuesday Edition

 

Election 2016

Voting in the primaries?

The ConstitutionI won’t tell you who to vote for in the primaries, except to say that you should vote for a candidate that speaks of supporting the Constitution at least once in every stump speech.   If a candidate talks a lot about how much money they’ll get for you, and very little of how much of your freedom they’ll protect, you should think twice before you vote for them.  Just sayin’.

Quick thoughts on 2016 election strategy.

Before we know it, the Republican debates will be upon us and we will be made to choose sides.  The debate over the PATRIOT Act has defined those sides. Will we choose the one that promises greater security, or the one that promises greater liberty?  Both are worthy goals.  Chris Christie is right when he says you can’t exercise your civil liberties from a coffin.  Without life, there cannot be any liberty or pursuit of happiness, but nor can you exercise your civil liberties when you have traded them all for security.  It’s a fool’s bargain as Ben Franklin warned us.  It’s an issue that reasonable people can disagree on.

Those who would trade liberty for security should get neither
Ben Franklin knew there’d be times like these.

Given that Republicans will probably remain divided on the issue, the only real question is which one resonates with the voter, and is the best counter for what the Democrats will have to offer.  They (the Democrats) will try to offer us security. No one seriously thinks they will offer us liberty, certainly not as the Founders understood the concept.  The security argument is based on fear, and fear is what the Democrats are good at.  Fear that granny will be thrown off the cliff (metaphorically speaking), fear that the rich will get richer at everyone else’s expense, fear that women will be denied contraception, on and on it goes.

Part of the counter ironically, has been suggested by President himself, or at least his campaign slogan : Hope.  I think we should co-opt the idea.  Where they sell fear, we should sell hope.  Not the emptiness of hoping for more money, should you fit the right constituent group, but hope tied to the one thing needed to bring it life and meaning:  Liberty.

If we follow a strict security line without including liberty in the deal somewhere, we have to out fear monger the professional fear mongers of the left.  That’s not a strategy that provides a viable alternative to what the other side is offering.  Whoever the eventual Republican candidate may be, they must at every turn explain in simple turns what freedoms we Americans have given up in the name of the Liberal vision over the last eight years.  The Republicans need to remind the voters that they no longer have the freedom to engage in commerce or not when it comes to their healthcare.  They cannot chose what elements of healthcare they wish to pay for and which they don’t.  They will not have the freedom to choose what their school’s curriculum is.  Farmers will no longer have the freedom to choose how to manage their land, at least not if there is any water on it.  The freedom to buy cheaper energy created from coal will disappear.

President Reagan’s famous question to the American voter was:  “Are you better off now than you were four years ago?”

freedom qstn
Are you freer than you were eight years ago?

Along those same lines, for this next election I suggest this question:  “Are you freer that you were eight years ago?”

As for the security plank in the platform; let it stand, but not alone.  It must stand along one for libertarian agenda.  Our security will come through our strength and our willingness to support our allies in the war on terror.  It will come when energy can no longer be used as a weapon against us, the Ukrainians, or any of our friends in Europe.  As Rick Perry recently put it:  “If energy is to be used as a weapon, America is going to have the largest arsenal.” Security is necessary, even critical, but only as a means to an end, that end being greater liberty for all Americans.