American Patriot Defined
Patriots' Day: Their Sacred Honor in Defense of Liberty Endures
“Citizens by birth or choice of a common country, that country has a right to concentrate your affections. The name of American, which belongs to you, in your national capacity, must always exalt the just pride of patriotism, more than any appellation derived from local discriminations.” –George Washington
A young reader in the Czech Republic contacted me recently with a question. (Yes, The Patriot Post’s message of Liberty is global.)
She wrote, “We as a Czech family subscribe to The Patriot Post and read it with great interest. My homeland has been subject to the tyranny of Nationalist and Marxist Socialism. Could you please help me understand the difference between ‘patriotism’ and ‘nationalism’? In Europe, anyone who puts his country first is called a nationalist and this pejorative term is equated with patriotism.”
I responded, “Nationalism refers to a blind allegiance to the state, no matter what the nature of the state may be. American Patriotism refers to the steadfast devotion for the First Principles of our nation’s Founding, individual Liberty as ‘endowed by our Creator,’ and the extension of that legacy to our posterity. American Patriotic devotion to Liberty will always be in contest with allegiance to the state or its sovereigns, especially when it manifests in some form of Socialism.”
It is easy to understand how a Czech student might find it challenging to distinguish between patriotism and nationalism. Sadly most American students, heirs to the great legacy of Liberty bestowed upon them by generations of Patriots gone before, also can’t articulate the difference.
In the early morning hours of the first Patriots' Day, April 19th, 1775, farmers and laborers, landowners and statesmen alike, pledged through action what Thomas Jefferson would later frame in words as “our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor.” Thus began the great campaign to reject the predictable albeit tyrannical order of the state and to embrace the difficult toils of securing individual Liberty. It was this as-yet unwritten pledge by militiamen in the Battles of Lexington and Concord, which would delineate the distinction between Liberty and tyranny in Colonial America.
Why would the first generation of American Patriots forgo, in the inimitable words of Samuel Adams, “the tranquility of servitude” for “the animating contest of freedom”?
The answer to that question defined the spirit of American Patriotism at the dawn of the American Revolution, and to this day and for eternity, that spirit will serve as the first line of defense between Liberty and tyranny.
In the first months of the American Revolution, English author and lexicographer Samuel Johnson, a Tory loyalist, wrote that American Patriots' quest for liberty was nothing more than “the delirious dream of republican fanaticism” which would “put the axe to the roots of all government.” Johnson concluded famously, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”
Unlike King George’s partisans, however, American Patriots were unwaveringly loyal to something much larger than a mere man or geo-political institution. They pledged their sacred honor in support of Essential Liberty as “endowed by our Creator” and enshrined in our Declaration of Independence and its subordinate guidance, our Constitution.
It is this resolute devotion to the natural rights of man, the higher order of Liberty as endowed by God not government, which defines the spirit of American Patriots, and has obliged the animated contest of freedom from Lexington Green to this day.
In all the generations since the Revolution, and loudly again in the present era, the essence of Johnson’s denigration of patriotism has been repeated by all statists, who augment their disdain for Patriots with words like “fascist, nationalist and jingoist.”
These statists, Democratic Socialists in the current vernacular, would have you believe that they are the “true patriots,” and only they deserve to be the arbiters of Liberty. To grasp their extent of their distorted view of patriotism, consider Barack Hussein Obama’s rationale for higher taxes to fund more government growth this week. Obama had the audacity to suggest, “This sense of responsibility – to each other and to our country – isn’t a partisan feeling. It’s patriotism.”
Caveat emptor: As George Washington implored in his Farewell Address, “Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.”
Liberty, as affirmed through natural law, is an abject affront to Socialists, who can claim dominion over others only if they supplant Rule of Law with their own rule. For such statists, the notion of serving a higher purpose than oneself is enigmatic; consequently, there is a raging ideological battle between Democratic Socialists and Patriots across our nation today.
Our steadfast support for Liberty and limited government is diametrically opposed to the Socialist manifesto of the Democrat Party, as reframed by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1933, and renewed by every Democrat president since.
Regardless of how statists choose to promote Democratic Socialism, like Nationalist Socialism, it is nothing more than Marxist Socialism repackaged. Ultimately, it likewise seeks a centrally planned economy directed by a dominant-party state that controls economic production by way of taxation, regulation and income redistribution.
Mustering in response to the current threat of tyranny, the Tea Party movement is the latest incarnation in the lineage of American Patriots serving a cause much greater than our own self-interest. It is a direct ideological descendant of the Sons of Liberty who, in 1773, boarded three East India Company ships and threw 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbor, the first Tea Party.
According to the Democratic Socialists of Barack Obama’s ilk, the Tea Party rank and file are an “angry mob” who are “waving their little tea bags” while they “bitterly cling to guns and religion.” Indeed, the spirit of American Patriots is anathema to these statists.
In fact, today’s Patriots are much like those of previous generations.
We are mothers, fathers and other family members nurturing the next generation of young Patriots. We are farmers, craftsmen, tradesmen and industrial producers. We are small business owners, service providers and professionals in medicine and law. We are employees and employers. We are in ministry at home and missionaries abroad. We are students and professors at colleges and universities, often standing alone for what is good and right.
We are Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and public servants standing in harm’s way at home and around the world, who are loyal, first and foremost, to our revered oath to “support and defend” our Constitution.
We are consumers and taxpayers. We are voters.
We are not defined by race, creed, ethnicity, religion, wealth, education, geography or political affiliation, but by our devotion to our Creator, and the Liberty He has entrusted to us, one and all.
We are Patriot sons and daughters from all walks of life, heirs to the blessings of Liberty bequeathed to us at great personal cost by our Patriot forebears, confirmed in the opinion that it is our duty to God and Country to extend that blessing to our posterity, and avowed upon our sacred honor to that end. We are vigilant, strong, prepared and faithful.
In stark contrast to Samuel Johnson in 1775 and Obama today, John Adams wrote, “If men through fear, fraud or mistake, should in terms renounce and give up any essential natural right, the eternal law of reason and the great end of society, would absolutely vacate such renunciation; the right to freedom being the gift of God Almighty, it is not in the power of Man to alienate this gift, and voluntarily become a slave.”
To that end, Jefferson wrote, “The God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. … Can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever.”
In 1964, Ronald Reagan issued a clarion call for Liberty in his most famous speech, “A Time for Choosing.” He echoed the commands of Captain John Parker at Lexington Green in 1775: “There is a point beyond which they must not advance.” Reagan concluded, “You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.”
Now, on the eve of the next Patriots' Day, more than five decades after Reagan predicted that decline, we must choose between prosperity and poverty, between Liberty and tyranny.
Which will it be?
While contemplating that question, we should, in the words of Samuel Adams, “Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, ‘What should be the reward of such sacrifices?’ … If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or arms. Crouch down and lick the hands, which feed you. May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!”
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