By Jim Davidson
Special to The Libertarian Enterprise
There will come a time when the American people have had enough (again) of tyrants and decide to do something about it. I do not suggest that such a time is upon us, nor even immediately within our sight. After all, there is much we are trying and can yet try to obtain redress for our grievances.
However, in reviewing the facts of the Branch Davidian massacre as presented in Vin Suprynowicz's recent essay (The Libertarian Enterprise #14, Mid-September 1996) I couldn't help be reminded of fine words spoken over 200 years ago as a call to arms. The day is approaching when it will be necessary to issue such a call again, though one may hope to postpone the need for as long as possible.
Here then, is a slightly modified version of Patrick Henry's most famous speech. The bracketed text is my own.
"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 the future but by the past. And, judging by the past [the Waco massacre, Ruby Ridge, the Scott Ranch], I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the [government] for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves....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 argument 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 motive for it? Has [our government] any enemy in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of [force]? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us: they can be meant for no other. They are sent to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the [IRS, ATF, DEA, NASA et al] 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 upon 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 [president], and have implored [his] interposition to arrest the tyrranical hands of the [bureaucracy] and [Congress]. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult [eg, the sentencing of the Davidians]; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned with contempt from [our government].
"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 ... 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 this 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 those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.... 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 [with] 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 [Waco]. 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 [or wherever the government strikes again] 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!"
You probably were given a significantly abbreviated version of this speech in school, or none at all if you went to a public school. So, here it is in its full-bodied flavor.
You will notice that Henry takes time to review the alternatives to violence. He commends his audience for arguing for 10 years before doing battle. He notes that his fellow countrymen did not initiate force. They did, however, make damn sure to use it when necessary, until its use had achieved the desired objective.
Don't mistake me. I'm not calling for battle, or war. I don't need to. The incipient re-election of Bill Clinton and the renewed lease on power for his minions like Janet Reno assures me that I won't have to.
When the time comes, you will recognize that war has started. You will notice the pervasive signs, the house-to-house searches, the quartering of troops (funny how we forget the 3rd Amendment), the imposition of martial law.
And it might not come. We might yet "indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation." We may win in the courts, in the legislatures, in the press. But I'm not holding my breath.
In the meantime, keep your vehicles fueled, your weapons cleaned, and your vicinity mapped. Think about what you will have to do, and who you can count if need be. Remember that war makes it difficult to obtain important resources like fuel, ammunition, food, electricity, and water. Have a plan for where to go if your neighborhood falls.
After all, if you plan for the worst and it never happens, you can be pleasantly relieved. If the fecal matter hits the rotating atmosphere redistribution mechanism, you'll be glad you followed the Boy Scouts motto. Be prepared.
Jim Davidson has always been a liberty minded individualist, but got very serious about it after the state shut down his space tourism company, Space Travel Services, in 1991. Jim has a bachelor's in history from Columbia (1985), an MBA in marketing from Rice (1987), has worked in aerospace, software, banking, real estate, and is currently Chief Operating Officer of a $3 million revenues medical company. Among his other interests, Jim has been president of the Houston Space Society and scubas whenever he can.
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