Patrick Henry passionately appealed to his fellow colonists in 1775 to fight against Britain’s tyranny. He chastised his compatriots who believed the colonies too weak to win a war against the King’s army:
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 acquire the means of effectual resistance, by laying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot?
When Henry made this speech, the American colonies were stronger than their infantry would have indicated, and much stronger than many people thought. That strength came not from a standing army, but from a firm belief in the honorable principles for which they fought: freedom, liberty, the end of tyranny. Today we have reversed the equation: our military is second to none, but we waver in our belief of the principles on which the republic was founded. This lack of conviction to our founding precepts makes us weaker than we appear – and already we appear weak.
We are afraid to show our strength, let alone use it, for fear that it will anger and offend others. North Korea fires missiles and we do…nothing? Or request another harsh letter from the UN? Iran taunts the Israelis and we stand by silently? We worry more about what the world thinks of us than we do about protecting our own country and freedoms, and those of our allies. This is not the America of our forefathers.
Progressive sentiment today seems to have it that we are too powerful; that the world hates us because we are too strong, too dominant. That what we need to do is to show the rogue nations “an open hand instead of a closed fist.” We need to stop flaunting our power, stop being so arrogant. They would have us be weak so that others may be made strong. They would have us stop believing in American exceptionalism because we are no better than any other culture, any other nation. This is what multiculturalism has bought us; a wasteland of politically correct nihilism.
But nations and cultures are not all equal. Those that oppress their people either through government fiat(North Korea) or cultural edict (Saudi Arabia) or both (Iran) are not as good as free nations. We should not be embarrassed to say that those who deny their citizens the inalienable rights that America was founded on over 200 years ago are wrong, their ruling principles inferior and their governments evil. And yet we tacitly condone these rouges “by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope until our enemies have bound us hand and foot,” in the false belief that if we play nice with them they’ll see the error of their ways. It will never happen.
America, we are not evil because we are so strong. We are strong because we are free. And our enemies do not hate us simply because we are so strong; they hate us because we are free. They fear us because we’re strong. Let’s not confuse the issue.
Patrick Henry chided his fellow colonialists to push through their fear and trepidation because the alternative was untenable: subjugation and tyranny.
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 for me, give me liberty, or give me death!
Indeed, why do we stand here idle? What is it that we wish?
On this Fourth of July remember that the chains of tyranny are never more than one generation away. Our brave troops stand ready to protect us from external tyranny. We are all that stands guard against the tyranny from within.
Updated, July 4, 2012