L. Neil Smith's
THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE
Number 233, August 10, 2003
DAN WEINER MEDICAL FUND REPORT
Mountain of Lies
Exclusive to TLE
As one might conclude from two weeks of utter silence from me, my family has been on a much-needed vacation.
We spent the better part of the first week at my grandmother's cabin in rural South Dakota near the former town of Pedro. Ultimately, however, the heat got to be so bad (typically 105 or greater) that we were forced to retreat to the Black Hills. We hoped that the greater altitude would bring relief, but were disappointed. For the first time, the Celsius scale in my gas-guzzling SUV rose to an even forty degrees. My family and I resorted to the many Black Hills caves to keep cool: Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, Rushmore Cave. When the temperature dropped to below eighty, we'd return to our campsite at Palmer Gulch to sleep.
The second week was positively beautiful. One couldn't have asked for better camping weather, conducive to rock-climbing, hiking, and horseback riding.
Palmer Gulch is mere minutes' drive from Mount Rushmore. For the uninitiated, Mount Rushmore is a granite rock formation into which is carved the likeness of four American Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln.
According to myth, these four individuals brought greatness and power to the United States, which is now more free than it has ever been.
Unfortunately, even a cursory glance at historical fact conclusively shows that "myth" of Rushmore is more correctly a mountain of lies.
I make a point of visiting Mount Rushmore's evening lighting ceremony about every ten years or so. Last time, my eldest daughter was in a stroller, and the celluloid film shown as introduction to the ceremony was narrated by the late, great Burgess Meredith. While it certainly skirted the truth in favor of legend, it was a reasonably inoffensive twenty-minute reel.
Today, my oldest daughter is ten, the high-definition, Panavision DVD that's displayed is narrated by Avery Brooks of Deep Space Nine fame, and to a freedom-lover like myself, the entire affair is offensive from beginning to end.
First, you're subjected to a Park Ranger with delusions of grandeur. In somber tones, he waxes eloquent for five or ten minutes on the moving experience he had in Washington, DC that taught him how people have to sacrifice to maintain their freedom.
"Sacrifice" is just Governmentese for "give up your rights."
The ranger repeatedly proselytized us that now is a time of sacrifice to be free. He even went so far as to quote JFK's timeless Statism: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."
Since when was maintaining your freedom a daily sacrifice? It requires daily vigilance against government's encroachments, certainly. One needs to be ready to fight government's incessant interference with your life. But constant and unceasing sacrifice, up to and including dying on the battlefield?
I assume that the Ranger was referring to the Unconstitutional abuse of Federal power called the "Iraq War," and the daily victims offered up on the altar of "sacrifice" in the name of increasing Federal power.
Let's be clear and direct: the "Iraq War" was blatantly Unconstitutional and illegal because the President is prohibited from prosecuting a war in absence of a Declaration by Congress. Congress has made no such Declaration since December of 1941, and the "authorization to use military force" cited as the Declaration was no such thing. Just compare the wording of the two sometime, and you'll instantly discern the difference.
And yes, I'm aware that Congress Unconstitutionally passed something called the War Powers Act in 1973. I submit that the intent and clear wording of the Constitution is specifically intended to prohibit precisely what the War Powers Act cedes to the Presidency.
In a Constitutional America, no single branch of government has the power to make war. Had the Constitution been followed with respect to the Iraq Non-War, the President would have been required to produce enough proof of Iraq's danger to the United States to garner a Declaration of War. In Unconstitutionally delegating this authority, Congress CREATED the mess we have now.
But I digress. The Constitution is dead and has been so for a very long time.
In any case, at what point did the "Iraq Non-War" become about American Freedom? The last I knew, Americans were dying every day supposedly to secure the freedom of Iraqis. All the claims about Iraq having terrorist designs or connections that would impact the United States have yet to be borne out by concrete evidence, nor does anyone in government harbor any illusions that these claims were ever true.
When the Park Ranger was finished with his diatribe, the DVD started. Avery Brooks is the modern answer to James Earl Jones, and his beautiful baritone voice resonated lies and half-truths throughout the amphitheater beneath the carvings.
Let me be clear again: there's only one individual carved into Mount Rushmore who actually deserves to be there. In a Constitutional America, the others would be dynamited to make way for completion of a full bust of Thomas Jefferson.
George Washingtonfor all his military prowess as the General who led the American Revolution to victorywas a horrid President. He became such after the hijacking of the Constitutional Convention that was intended to revise the Articles of Confederation, but instead forced the Constitution down the throats of every American since. This paved the way for today's enormous central government, in which Statesas opposed to being a collection of sovereign nationsare nothing more than minor geographic boundaries.
Worse, George Washington brought taxation to America. As seminal libertarian author L. Neil Smith has so brilliantly documented in his novel The Gallatin Divergence, Washington oversaw the conversion of private theft into public virtue, and America has been suffering the consequences ever since. Modern readers may find this hard to believe, but until Washington imposed a tax on Pennsylvania farmers who manufactured corn whiskey, there was no taxation in America as we think of it.
Nowthanks to the precedent set by Washingtontaxation at every level adds some 800% to the cost of every good and service on every shelf in America while simultaneously stealing half of what every American earns.
George Washington doesn't deserve to have his likeness carved into a mountain: he deserves to be burned in effigy.
It's hard to even know where to begin with Abraham Lincoln. Apparently a wife-beater whose mind was impaired by Syphilis, Lincoln was called "Honest Abe" by his contemporaries with the same disgust that modern Americans call Bill Clinton "Slick Willy." One shudders at the thought that in 150 years, that appellation may be applied with pride to Bill Clinton. No doubt one of Lincoln's peers would be horrified to learn modern Americans are so poorly-educated that they use "Honest Abe" as an honorific.
Acclaimed as the "Great Emancipator," Lincoln is credited with freeing the slaves. In fact he freed absolutely none. The Emancipation Proclamation held no more sway than if George Bush were to proclaim Muslim women were now free to remove their burqas and go to work alongside their husbands.
Lincoln was in many ways comparable to Lenin. He was the first great violator of the Constitution, serving as a role model for all Presidents who followedup to and including George W. Bush. Lincoln destroyed the presses of Northern newspapers whose editors disagreed with his handling of the War Between the States. He imprisoned his political enemies. He brought the concept of the midnight knock at the door and political prisoners to North America.
Lincoln was a despot in the truest sense of the word. In a Constitutional America, Booth's cry of, "Sic semper tyrannis!" would ring in the ears of every American President as a warning to curb their antisocial tendencies.
Lincoln doesn't deserved a gigantic carving in a rock, nor a Memorial in Washington, D.C. His bust on Mount Rushmore should be dynamited, the Memorial destroyed by an angry mob, all five-dollar bills burned in a blaze to light the sky, and the presses that print them smashed beyond repair.
Teddy Roosevelt, in addition to being a political successor to Lincoln, is a political predecessor to Clinton. He is documented to have been one of the worst shots to ever safari in Africa, yet there are books on the subject that bear his name. He was heir to the same fortune that later brought his relative and political successor, Franklin Roosevelt, to power.
Teddy Roosevelt was a self-aggrandizing liar who fabricated all kinds of information about himselfup to and including his famous charge up San Juan Hill. He was a firm believer in American military might and interventionism, and brought the country to several unnecessary conflicts.
Perhaps most damaging was Roosevelt's violations of the Constitution in the name of "conservationism." Having at one time been a South Dakota cattle rancher and observing that the free range cowboy was a vanishing breed, Roosevelt was inspired to use Federal force to "conserve" that which no one at the time wished to conserve. He violated the Constitution by adding to the Federal coffers millions of acres of land for a National Park system. These included (among hundreds of other locations) the Black Hills in which his face is carved.
There is absolutely no provision in the Constitution for the Federal Government to establish a park system. Roosevelt's success in doing so has made possible every Federal environmental agency that came into existence since.
Small wonder that sculptor Gutson Borglum would include Teddy's bust on Mount Rushmore at a time when Roosevelt was still in office. His inclusion is nothing more than a gigantic political payoff. Imagine a sculptor offering to put President Bush's face on a mountain, if only Bush will help get Federal funding for the project.
Roosevelt does not deserve a bust on Mount Rushmore. It should be dynamited into oblivion to the cheering of crowds. The land his Unconstitutional departments stole should be immediately sold to the highest bidder as the final act of those agencies.
What President remains? Thomas Jeffersonthe only individual on Mount Rushmore who truly deserves to be carved into a mountain.
Jeffersonthe author of the Declaration of Independencewas in today's parlance a geek. He was a thinker, an author, and utterly dedicated to the cause of individual liberty, often in sharp contrast to many of his contemporaries.
However, even Jefferson had his faults and made political mistakes. He kept slaves during his lifetime, clearly in violation of the principles of freedom that he expounded for white men. If it were possible, many libertarians would ask Jefferson how he could carry on such a hypocrisy.
Perhaps the most dramatic long-term negative impact of his Presidency was the Louisiana Purchase. While at first glance purchasing the land from France for a song looked like an unbelievable opportunity, even Jefferson admitted that the transaction "strained the Constitution to the breaking point."
Jefferson was conflicted for good reason: there are no provisions in the Constitution for adding territory to the United States. The document defines the limited powers of the Federal Government, but never takes into account that there might be additional territories or States. There is literally no provision for dealing with adding them.
This might seem trivial, but consider: under the Constitution, the States are sovereign. They must defer to the Federal Government in certain limited circumstancesmost of which are intended to maintain the rights of the even more sovereign individual. States are otherwise free to make their own laws, customs, and governments. The laws of these governments need not conform to the laws of States.
This is a far cry from the way those in power today treat the Federal Government. They believe Federal power to be an all-encompassing bureaucracy, and that States are simply geographical boundaries.
This was not the case in Jefferson's day. There was no provision for adding territory, for creating and colonizing additional lands. By making the Louisiana Purchase, Jefferson established a precedent for the Federal Government to be superior to the State Governments. This began the erosion of State sovereignty that created the massive Federal Government we have today.
Regardless, Jefferson is still the only individual who deserves to have his bust on Mount Rushmore. We should immediately destroy the others in order to finish his.
That's right: FINISH his bust. Mount Rushmore was never actually finished.
Legend holds that after Lincoln's head was carved, the statue was finished and everyone congratulated themselves on a job well done. In reality, Congress simply decided to stop funding the program. A glance at the studio models used to guide the mountain work shows that all four Presidents were intended to be sculpted to the waist, and that the sudden halt at Lincoln's face represents a half-finished work. Indeed, when comparing the detail of Lincoln's face with that of Washington, it's quite obvious that Lincoln was barely complete.
Mount Rushmore will never be completedbut that's fine, because a half-hour's drive away is a TRUE monument to the principles of individual liberty: the Crazy Horse Memorial.
Crazy Horse was a legendary Oglala Sioux leader who led his people to victory against the American FedGov before finally being forced to surrender at Fort Robinson, Nebraska. When asked on his surrender where his lands were now, Crazy Horse replied, "My lands are where my people lie buried."
The carving at Crazy Horse Mountain (http://www.crazyhorse.org) is a three-dimensional, as opposed to Mount Rushmore's single face. When finished, it will be visible on all four sides. It is physically enormous: all of Mount Rushmore will fit into Crazy Horse's head.
The sculpture is an artist's conception, as it depicts Chief Crazy Horse astride his mount, left arm outstretched over the horse's head, pointing out across the southern Black Hills. The sculptors admit that no one knows what Crazy Horse looked like, nor that he ever pointed across his horse when answering, "My lands are where my people lie buried." However, as a monument to the American FedGov's massive initiation of force against the natives of North America, it's an astounding, moving undertaking.
Of particular interest to philosophers of the Zero Aggression Principle and to libertarians is that since its undertaking in 1948, the Crazy Horse sculptors have never accepted government funding.
The importance of this fact is obvious: unlike Mount Rushmorea memorial to three of the worst Statists in American historyCrazy Horse is being sculpted without resorting to theft. All funds are garnered from private donation, entrance, and tour fees.
Secondly, by only accepting private donation, Crazy Horse will ultimately be completed. Mount Rushmore was a public project that owed its continence to a capricious Congress. By remaining a private concern, Crazy Horse is assured of its ultimate completion.
Crazy Horse isn't finished, nor is it likely to be in my lifetime. Work proceeds apace, but it is a gigantic undertaking. Following completion of the sculpture, there are plans to develop the adjacent property into a University, Medical Center, and Cultural Center for the American Indian. It's a massive project already spanning several generations of scultor Korczak Ziolkowski's family. It's still a family business, with the majority of his large family having chosen to continue his work. If need be, it would outlive them and be carried on by other free individuals, working from monies voluntarily accepted from visitors and donors.
When I was a child, Crazy Horse's face was a shapeless mass of granite. Today, it is a recognizable Sioux warrior. Consider, however, that this represents the same amount of work necessary to bring Mount Rushmore to its present state, and that Mount Rushmore was never finished.
If you visit South Dakota's beautiful Black Hills, I would urge you to admire Mount Rushmore from the road. Take your pictures, but don't encourage the Federal Government by paying to approach its base. Rather, drive another half-hour to the much larger Crazy Horse and be inspired by what free individuals accomplish every day.
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