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31


THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 31, July 1, 1997

Some Passages Unlikely to be Read in Washington This Week

By Vin Suprynowicz
vin@lvrj.com

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

This "classic" column was originally filed for release on July 3, 1995.

         What an inconvenient holiday the Fourth of July must seem to Bill Clinton, who went to Michigan May 5, 1995 to warn that citizen militias represent "the forces of organized destruction and evil" in America, and that it is no longer permissible to "pretend" to love our country while opposing its government.
         "How dare you suggest that we in the freest nation on earth live in tyranny?" the president asked.
         On this date, of course, we celebrate the courage of men who risked hanging to sign a certain document on July the Third, 1776, men like Richard Henry Lee of Virginia and the young red-headed fellow who signed just just beneath him, "Ths. Jefferson." But the words for which they risked their lives were Jefferson's alone: "Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends (securing the unalienable rights with which men are endowed by their Creator), it is the Right of the People to alter or abolish it."
         When Mr. Clinton said in East Lansing that, "There is no right to kill people who are doing their duty," he was, of course, referring to the tragic, wrongful deaths of unarmed women and children in Oklahoma City.
         But we expect our presidents to voice principles beyond the emotion of the moment. What, for instance, would Mr. Clinton have us do with teen-ager Jim Monroe, who awakened a small group of government officials in Trenton, N.J. from a sound sleep one winter day not so very long ago, charged at them with a huge, machete-like weapon, and before they could even pull on all their clothes, slashed a number of them to death? The dead men, surely, were "only doing their duty," while young James was apparently under the absurd delusion that the government they served was operating as some kind of "tyranny."
         The teen-ager Monroe's astonishing actions, of course, occurred on Christmas Day, 1776, after he had crossed the icy Delaware with the leader of this nation's "forces of destruction and evil," co-founder of the Fairfax County Militia, a man who definitely loved his country but despised his government, George Washington.
         And the young lieutenant's crime did not go unpunished -- his own sentence in the White House lasted a full eight years, from 1817 to 1825.
         If Mr. Clinton hopes to remain as long, he might remember that the aforementioned Richard Henry Lee wrote in 1788, "A militia, when properly formed, are in fact the people themselves. ... To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms."
         But he was a piker next to Mr. Jefferson, who wrote to Madison: "I hold that a little rebellion, now and then, is a good thing." Later, writing to William S. Smith in 1787 -- six full years after the last Redcoat departed Yorktown in disgrace -- Mr. Jefferson went further: "What country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not warned from time to time that the people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. ... The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
         Why is it that I doubt these passages will be among the readings from the Founders at the White House this Fourth of July?
         But the world is very different now from those days so long ago, we're assured.
         Here is the most childlike of error of all, to assume that because we now have superhighways and personal computers, it must no longer be true that the best defense of a free nation is an armed populace. Ask the Afghans about that. Ask the North Vietnamese. Ask the Israelis, many of whose grandparents so willingly gave up their arms to prove they were "law-abiding Germans" in 1938, whether they would turn over their own rifles now to the Syrians, in exchange for smiling promises.
         "Americans have the habit of saying they're the freest nation in the world," says Canadian tax scholar Charles Adams, author of the current best-seller on the destructiveness of taxes through the ages, "but they should say 'used to be.' America of all the Western nations is the worst. No one else lets the government go through your bank records, no one else makes you file a form when you hire a baby-sitter."
         "He has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their Substance," wrote Mr. Jefferson in 1776. Oh, nothing like today.
         The problem is not that our current government is less tyrannical than King George's, which never jailed anyone for practicing medicine -- or self-medication -- without a license, which never would have dreamed of stacking juries by asking them in advance whether they agreed to convict if so ordered by the judge.
         No, I think Mary Wollstonecraft hit our problem on the head a century and a half ago, noting that men and women both "submit everywhere to oppression, where they have only to lift their heads to throw off the yoke," licking the dust instead of asserting their birthright until, "at last, they despise the freedom which they have not sufficient virtue to struggle to obtain."


Vin Suprynowicz is the assistant editorial page editor of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The web site for the Suprynowicz column is at http://www.nguworld.com/vindex/. The column is syndicated in the United States and Canada via Mountain Media Syndications, P.O. Box 4422, Las Vegas Nev. 89127.


"Every young American should be taught the joy and the duty of serving..."
-- President Clinton

The Liberty Round Table announces its first essay contest for students. The first prizes are $750 for college students and $500 for High School students, for the best essays on the topic: "Fighting Involuntary Servitude for Students." A $250 second prize will also be awarded in each category. The deadline for entries is July 4, 1997, and the winners will be announced on September 1, 1997. See http://home.lrt.org for more details.


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