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Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death


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!

That is an excerpt from Patrick Henry’s 1775, “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death.” Read it all and you’ll see the full speech is much worse.

What do I mean by “much worse?” Henry continuously cites God, mixing his citations of Providence with martial language. Henry even has the audacity to cite Him as an aid to Revolution.

This is noteworthy because if Henry had given his speech today he wouldn’t have inspired his fellow Americans and helped lead to the Declaration of Independence. Instead, we’d have no end of Americans denouncing him by saying something like, “He’s a fanatic whom the Right should reject! He’s a fundamental, warmongering, religious radical who is dangerously similar to the most extreme Islamic adherent!” And that, of course, would only be what the Right would say. The left would offer something far worse.

Conservatism has three pillars: social (aka: moral), economic, and national defense. And we hold positive positions on these three pillars because our Founding Fathers did the same–and were correct for doing so. Yet those who have co-opted the Right have ejected God and the moral component of conservatism, and now aggressively push in the other direction even as they demand a dropping of the social issues. This is not conservatism and thus the Right no longer is conservative. The moral issues are fundamental to conservatism (they are inextricable from the other two pillars) and to what America is. Neither conservatism nor America can survive in their true forms without morality. Immoral nations have existed and survived for a time throughout history, but they all eventually collapse. It is even worse for nations that once embraced God but then rejected Him (see the Israelites of the Bible).

Nevertheless, as we commemorate Independence Day, I do not demand that the new Right return to the core principles of conservatism. But the new Right should at least end the pretense that it adheres to the beliefs of the Founding Fathers and conservatism, and that it instead, like the left, wants to remake America. Then it can openly work with the left in discarding the increasingly irrelevant Constitution and begin anew. Such action will be favorable to the new Right, and it will also be fair to conservatives, allowing us to see where allegiances truly lie.

The U.S. started abandoning values long ago and the consequences are striking (if one wishes to acknowledge them): the U.S. no longer has the moral will to win wars, it no longer has the moral will to stop a Mexican invasion and colonization, and it no longer has the moral will to stave off economic disaster. Things will only become worse as we reject even more of what Patrick Henry and our Founding Fathers believed and established.


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