People constantly ask me, “What can I do?”
You can start by celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas however you want in defiance of irrational government edicts
To say that we are passing through a period that is unique to the American experience is a bit of an understatement. I am not referring to the pandemic. That is not unique to this country or, for that matter, any other. I am referring to a seismic shift in how Americans view their government and how their government views them.
While a graduate student in history, it was my great good fortune that famed historian Forrest McDonald, then in the autumn of his life, selected me to be one of his students. Such was his reputation by that time that the university let him do whatever he wanted, and for McDonald that meant writing and teaching only a handful of grad students of his own choosing. A conservative constitutional historian of considerable eminence, he made a habit, as the NYT put it, of “puncturing liberal notions.” Most of those notions dealt with the Left’s understanding—no, that is too generous: their deliberate mischaracterization—of the Constitution.
With exacting historical accuracy, McDonald argued in multiple books that the Constitution was not intended to “grant freedoms.” That, the Framers believed, was not within the scope of government. Those rights were, in the words of the Declaration of Independence, “inalienable”—that is, they are “natural,” as Locke had put it, or, as the Declaration itself puts it, they are given by the Creator. Rather, the purpose of the Constitution was to restrain government by defining its boundaries in order to prevent it from infringing upon those inalienable rights.
McDonald relentlessly celebrated America’s uniqueness, yes, its exceptionalism, among nations that oscillated between anarchy and oppression without finding the golden mean. In his seminal work E Pluribus Unum, he wrote:
“The French, the Russians, the Italians, the Germans, all the planet’s peoples in their turn, would become so unrestrained as to lose contact with sanity. The Americans might have suffered a similar history, had they followed the lead of those who, in 1787 and 1788, spoke in the name of the people and of popular ‘rights.’ But there were giants in the earth in those days, and they spoke in the name of the nation, and the people followed them. As a result, the Americans were, despite themselves, doomed forever to be free.”
Were my old mentor alive today, I might quibble with a singular word in the last clause: forever. Today, American freedom is imperiled not simply because of the massive government overreach to which we are all being subjected, but by the ignorance of the American people themselves. Hosea 4:6 says, “My people were destroyed from lack of knowledge.” We may add Americans to that text.
The Lord commanded the Israelites to commemorate their history, to tell the stories of their national heroes to their children and of their deliverance, and to reflect upon all that the Lord had done for them. A nation dies when its history, its mythology, its symbols are no longer passed from one generation to the next. We now have multiple generations of Americans who have been inculcated with ideas that are antithetical to the principles—largely Judeo-Christian principles, mind you—upon which this great nation was founded, and if they are not opposed, they will destroy all that was bequeathed to us.
The great Russian historian Richard Pipes argued that the so-called “Russian Revolution” is a historical fiction. A revolution is, by definition, a popular rebellion, and that is not what happened in 1917 Russia. That idea is a bit of Bolshevik propaganda magic. Instead, says Pipes, it was a coup d’état. That is, a seizure of power by a relatively small group of determined militants.
This, I believe, is what we are witnessing. Whether you believe the presidential election was stolen or not, you’d have to be a fool if you don’t think radical elements within the Democrat Party will do anything—absolutely anything—to gain power and enact a radical and utterly godless agenda.
It is the nature of governments to test boundaries the way a thief tests door handles: if they are unlocked, the thief will go in. Right now, we are seeing cities and states controlled by Democrats testing any number of door handles, and, finding little or no resistance, they have been emboldened to swing the door wide and make themselves at home.
Democrats now embrace censorship, intimidation tactics, Critical Race Theory, Marxism, and post-inauguration purges. The militia elements of their party, Antifa and Black Lives Matter, act with impunity in our streets the way Hitler’s notorious “Brown Shirts” once did on behalf of party interests. In a manner consistent with a socialist mentality that views mankind as just so much raw material for the building of the utopian state, the lives of decent, hardworking Americans are being destroyed by policies that are hostile to their interests. This is to say nothing of lockdowns, mask mandates, proposed travel restrictions, and the edicts on how families will be permitted to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. And this is just the beginning.
The founders of this country went to war for far less. Indeed, illegal seizures of property, billeting soldiers in their homes, and taxation without representation were enough to provoke them to rise up and fight. How much more do we tolerate?
We must be worthy of their legacy. Daily I am asked, “What can we do?” I always say pray. That is not nothing. We serve a sovereign God. But it is time to give those same people something that is actionable. Am I suggesting war? No. Not yet anyway. But I think that we need to try to start a mass movement to promote a conservative view of freedom and to peacefully protest irrational—and massive—government overreach.
To that end, let’s encourage Americans to celebrate Thanksgiving & Christmas however they choose to do it, and if that is in defiance of unconstitutional Big Government edicts about large gatherings, so be it. If millions—or even thousands—join our movement, government is powerless to stop it. But it can be so much more. It may drive the thief from the house and be a step toward returning power to the people.
The Left sees freedom as anarchy, thus they want to destroy it. A conservative view of freedom means just the opposite: individuals assume responsibility for themselves. A thoughtful conservative, for instance, believes that it is not the role of government to tell him what he can or cannot do in his own home. But he would never knowingly expose others to danger from a virus if he knows he is infected with it. This is as true of the flu as it is of coronavirus. A thoughtful conservative honors the rights of others to wear a mask; to social distance; to quarantine—or to do none of the aforementioned.
But we must be clear in our messaging. We are not saying the virus is a “hoax.” We are not saying people can’t get sick or even die from it. We are saying enough is enough and we will make these choices for ourselves. My mother, for example, falls into a vulnerable category and will not be joining us for Thanksgiving. That is her choice, not that of a bureaucrat. We are saying the utter destruction of our economy and social order is a price we are unwilling to pay to remain “safe” as government would define it. And we are saying we will not tolerate this kind of creeping tyranny.
While our movement requires no leader, it does require unity. So, I have given it a name: #LockdownHoliday. The idea here is that Americans need a holiday from these lockdowns.
To get the ball rolling, today (Monday 23 November) I made an appearance on The Eric Metaxas Radio Show. Eric shares my passion on this subject, and together we invited Americans to join us in this protest. Now I invite you.
Perhaps this will lead to nothing but cold turkey. Who knows? Then again, perhaps it will be the beginning, the seedling, of something both good and powerful. Regardless, this much I know:
“Happiness depends on freedom. And freedom depends on courage.”
Larry Alex Taunton is the Executive Director of the Fixed Point Foundation and a freelance columnist contributing to USA Today, Fox News, First Things, The Atlantic, CNN, Daily Caller, and The American Spectator. He is also the author of The Grace Effect, The Gospel Coalition Book of the Year The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, and the soon-to-be-released Around the World in (More Than) 80 Days. (Available for pre-order now) You can subscribe to his blog at larryalextaunton.com and find him on Twitter @larrytaunton.
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