“We hold these truths to be self-evident…”

As we approach this particular July 4th, I feel it is time to pause and reflect upon what has become of our American experiment.

Land of the Free and Home of the Brave…

We use this moniker to describe ourselves.  It seems bold and speaks to the bravado that is America.  We are brash, self-confident, loud, we exhibit a belief of global entitlement, and we believe that our country came about through Divine Providence.  We love loud music, social and economic mobility and, while we acknowledge the existence of “class” in America, we also know that our status is not a birthright nor a lifetime sentence.  What is also interesting is that we participate in the same cultural and recreational activities regardless of class.  The poorest among us can, and do, rub elbows with the richest at the same baseball games, car races, and Broadway shows. 

We have, quite literally, saved the world multiple times.  We have also, incidentally, liberated more people on this planet from oppression than any other country in the history of the nation-state system.  We are rough, scrappy, aggressive, boorish, entrepreneurial, emotional, tribal, and, at times, I dare say we show evidence or nuanced intellectualism. 

Our national icon, the quintessential “American image”, is a migrant agricultural worker who wears a gun and funny-looking hat.  It is no accident that the cowboy has been looked up to both philosophically as well as culturally.  Alone, on the open field he is romanticized to have a ridged stoic moral code, occasionally following the law when it suits him, breaking it when it doesn’t.  He speaks little and, when he does, each word is measured and has symbolic meaning.  He drinks too much, he stays out too late, he works too hard, and he has a tendency to swear too much… in short… he is an American. 

Yet is that where we are today? 

When Judge Benitez issued his decision in Duncan v Becerra, we had a brief period of time where Californians could pretend to be like the rest of America and purchase standard-capacity magazines

I was inundated with phone calls from CCW holders asking if this meant that we could carry said magazines. 

“Of course, there is no penal code statute stating otherwise, and there is no written policy issued by your issuing agency limiting you to diminished-capacity mags.”

“Yeah… but I called the Sheriff’s Department and the person I talked to on the phone said no.”

“Really… you called a magistrate to seek permission to do something?   That is not how we do things in America!  We don’t beg a state actor for permission to perform an act.  We do it!  If we have questions on the legality of said act we consult an attorney… we never, ever, ever ask for permission to do anything!  That is fundamentally contradictory to our very unique American character!”

Or, at least it was.

Perhaps the romanticized view of the patriot, the cowboy, the frontiersman, the true “freeman”…  (excuse the masculine language… I know it’s sexist and outdated but, honestly, I couldn’t give a crap right now)… never was really 100% accurate.  Maybe many of us are in fact sheep, and we look at the wild ram with awe… we would like to be him, we realize that he is magnificent, beautiful, free and violent… we also know that we share similar DNA to him… but living with the farmer and being protected by the sheep dog seems so much more… civilized now, doesn’t it?  Besides, as I understand it, the farmer is so much smarter than the sheep.  Surely he will take the best of care of them, at least until he sells the farm to a developer, or the sheep to the butcher.

(If you have arrived here from our newsletter, continue reading here…)

Statues, Monuments, and Morons

No discussion about the Fourth of July would be complete without a reflection on what has been happening around our country.  In this instance, I want to focus on the passions of the mob to tear down statues and monuments in a wholesale attempt to erase (or perhaps purge?) our nation’s history to satiate current political imperatives.

As you can imagine, I think this is both wholly misguided and potentially dangerous.  Not only does it rob those of us in the present of our collective history, it also prevents future generations from understanding the American Experience… the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

We are not a nation of perfection… quite the opposite really. 

We are a nation, however, that lurches towards a “more perfect union”, sometimes through slow, organic growth, other times through great, explosive leaps.  Sometimes our actions bring us closer to the goal of ultimate equality.  Other times, our actions, while motivated by the loftiest ideals, actually create more barriers to full-throated equal protection. 

I am not in favor of tearing down monuments or statues.  Some Civil War statues were erected 100 years after the Civil War for the sole purpose of “responding” to the civil rights legislation in the 1960s.  While their purpose may have been malignant, these statutes should not be torn down!  They should have a statue or plaque erected next to it explaining why the statute was erected in the first place.  In short… they should be explained.

Speech… or art… should never be censored by the mob or the State.  The best, most definitive, answer to false or inflammatory speech, is more speech from the other side. 

No… I call for more monuments, not less.  Let future generations see the entire pageant that has been the American Experience.  Let us not erase from our memory the sad tragedies of our treatment of Native Americans.  Let us not erase from our memory the misguided racists who used enslaved humans to build an Antebellum South.  Let us not erase from our memory the tragic nobility of our southern brothers (and sisters) who saw their state as their country, and fought to defend it against what they perceived to be northern aggression.  Let us not erase from our memory the image of Martin Luther King, Jr.,  who taught us so eloquently to put race behind us and move on to a deeper introspection of a person’s character. 

Now the fact that I referenced Dr. King is interesting, isn’t it?  From the releasing of secret audio recordings of Dr. King made by the FBI, we now know some ugly truths about him, parts of his own character that for some, calls into question the veracity of his message. 

Or does it?  Can we not divorce the words of the speaker from the speaker himself?

The Apostle Paul was a deeply flawed, complex man, (as was Moses, David, and Peter, the guy at the gas station who just chewed me out for taking his pump.)  Each of these individuals existed on a moral spectrum, and fluctuated upon it daily.  There were times they displayed incalculable egotism and, dare I say, evil… yet there were others where they offered a message from God to the world (and arguably themselves) that has inspired western civilization.

Has God ever bestowed His wisdom to a prophet who was not, by definition, a flawed human?

Should we distance ourselves from that message, regardless of its transformative power because of the mortal coil that gave animation to it?

Tear down that statue of Washington!  He was a slave owner!

Tear down that statue of Lincoln!  He did not do enough!

Tear down that statue of Lee!  He was a traitor!

Tear down that statue of Martin Luther King! He assaulted women!

Tear down that statue of Gandhi! He was sexist!

Tear down that statue of Jesus!  He looks too white!

History must be sanitized!  It must reflect a narrative of the current, and create the justification for a redress of grievances.  In short… history, as some would see it, needs to provide the gravamen for the politics of victimization. 

Yet, history… our history…  is not for us to decide upon or expunge.  What is… is and what was… was.  We must study where we came from to understand where we are… the editorial process bears us no fruit.

If we are to create a system that pillories those in the past for transgressions that would not be tolerated in the present, I fear that future generations will see us through the same lens… and we ourselves may, ultimately, wind up on the chopping block of history.

This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. I’ve heard it said that a passionate 2% of the population can dominate the impassionate 98% of the population, 100% of the time.
    Thanks Steve, we need more warriors like you.

  2. Very, Very well said..

  3. Very well stated. I wish our entire country could read and comprehend this message.

    I especially like the following:

    “Has God ever bestowed His wisdom to a prophet who was not, by definition, a flawed human?”

  4. Steve:

    Unbelievably well said! Kudos!

    RColgrove

  5. Well written!

  6. I’ve been saying this for weeks. You can’t judge the past by today’s standards. You have to examine a person’s conduct in the context of that day. As you summed up, in 50 years, the actions of the “woke” vocal rioters will be looked at and judge by the standards of the future, and they may not like how they are perceived.

  7. Found this posting to be particularly true and concerning. It scares me when I see an old saying become so profoundly current, “Those who do not learn from history, are doomed to relive it”!
    Dennis

  8. Amen!! Well said Steven.
    Please America, let’s not erase our history – good, bad, or ugly. We need it to learn from and to improve upon.

  9. That my friend is very powerful! Thank you

  10. I just had an opportunity to read this. Very well said! I pray for this turbulent propaganda to cease and for our communities and national monuments to experience peace again. I was explaining to my younger cousin the scenario of WW1 how Hitler spread his message and brainwashed the youth of the nation and used them to violently execute his agenda and massacre so many people. It seems like that is what is happening now in the United States of America.
    I pray for truth to be exposed and received and for peace to return to our beautiful country.

  11. Sorry for the late response, but I believe this is one of your best.

    When I was in college, I had a bumper sticker with a Confederate flag that read, “Heritage, not hate.” Of course, my classmates immediately branded me a racist, never stopping to question the meaning of those words, nevermind having an open and honest discussion with me. My initials are KK, so I actually had someone ask me what my middle name was, to which I immediately responded, “Katherine” and walked away. Of course, it is not, but I was sick of the implications.

    The image of the cowboy and the imperfect human used to deliver God’s message are vital to our understanding of humanity. There is the cliche’ saying, “Christians are not perfect, just forgiven.” There comes a continuum of how much perfection we can expect versus how many failures we can accept. This is very apparent in this election- Trump with his personality idiosyncrasies vs Biden and his difficulty with speech, clarity, and self-thought. What imperfections are acceptable and tolerable compared to their political agendas?

    Ultimately, I believe, as I was raised, it is not the social issues that are of the utmost importance. It is the fiscal. If you do not have the fiscal base for a strong economy to support the country now and into the future, not a single social concern matters. I grew up working for fiscally conservative, socially moderate (at that time) Republicans. Our premise was again, if you have the economic foundation, the social matters can be hashed out. There was room in the Republican party for those fiscally conservative environmentalists, gays, pro-abortionists, whatever. The bottom line was the economy.

    Today, I look around and see everything backward. It probably doesn’t help that I have deep Southern roots. I have tried to impress that to ignore or forget our past is the easiest way to repeat it. Most people do not understand the original primary reason for the Civil War was not slavery but believe that is the only reason for the war. Building upon that ignorant premise is what has lead us to today, regardless of who is leading us and what else is going on in the world.

    What has been even more devastating to my world? Merriam-Webster Dictionary has now recognized irregardless as a word.

    I now crumple into the fetal position.

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