Belle of Liberty

Letting Freedom Ring

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Washington's Birthday

Political correctness being what it is we haven’t, for many years, celebrated individual president’s birthdays. Only two presidents were ever considered worthy of having their birthdays celebrated nationally – Abraham Lincoln, whose birthday is Feb. 12th and George Washington, who was born Feb. 22, 1732, on a farm in Westmoreland County, Virginia.

In the 1960s, the socialists melded all the presidents – worthy or not – into one collective, mass birthday and made it a Monday holiday. Washington was derided in schools as a slave-holding, incompetent leader whose sexual proclivities led to his death.  All lies or half-truths.  In so doing, individual merit was forced to take another step down off its pedestal.

Washington was much beloved in his time and by school children for centuries afterwards. He is scorned by modern historians for being a slaveholder and for losing nearly every battle he fought except the last one. These scholars do little research – or at least provide scant evidence – to understand Washington’s military strategies.

They do not consider the times and the environment under which Gen. Washington had to lead his campaigns, or the political and social obstacles he faced. His armies often went naked, with no shoes, no clothes, and only want food they could forage from the land or appropriate from the local natives.

We blame Congress for failing to provide for the needs of the army – including ammunition – but the states bore a great responsibility for this failure as well. Under the Articles of Confederation, the federal government could not force them to make contributions and the states were very slow to do so voluntarily, particularly New Jersey, where the main portion of the army was stationed, on the crossroads between the vital cities of New York and Philadelphia.

By the winter of 1781, the Continental Army regulars were ragged indeed, and unpaid. The militias, untrained and inexperienced in combat, tended to flee shamefully whenever fighting was heavy. America was waiting upon the assistance of France, the only country with a Navy that could match England’s.

Unable to endure their suffering any further, the army at Morristown mutinied. They assembled 1,300 men, and prepared to march towards Princeton for a redress of their grievances. In attempting to suppress the mutiny several were wounded on both sides. But the mutineers proceeded and succeeded in achieving negotiations to either be paid or released.

Another group of mutineers stationed at the camp in Pompton were not so fortunate. Attempting to do the same thing, they got no farther than Chatham when they were stopped and returned to the camp in Pompton. Washington couldn’t afford many more such displays. But this time, the army who caught them didn’t scuffle with the mutineers; they ordered the three leaders to be bound and executed by their own men.

Two were shot, reluctantly, and the third, begging for mercy, received a stay of execution. The site is along a rather barren, narrow stretch of busy road, marked by a road sign hard up against a steep hill. On the other side of the front is a field that must have been the site of the actual encampment.  What would today’s media have made of such an execution, which was a difficult decision for Washington? Would there be Cairo-style or Madison-style protests, camp-ins, calling for his resignation?

Washington never wanted to serve as president. After the war, he longed to go home to Mount Vernon and resume his life. But he knew it was his duty to heed the desires of the people. He even served a second term. Some even suggested that the office be made a lifetime position. To this, he absolutely disagreed and retired from public office.

Under the auspices of “emergency powers,” the Middle East’s dictators have overstayed their welcome, supported by a West that fears Islamic mob rule more than it does military tyrants. They are harsh; Muslim theocracy is even harsher. Sharia law is savage and demands cruel punishments that fit the definition of an eye-for-an-eye justice; the hand of a thief, the nose of a teenage girl who defies her father, the life of an adulterer or homosexual.

The demands of the protesters go far beyond the deposition of superannuated dictators, whose corruption hardly makes them sympathetic figures. This is about the destruction of the individual itself, whom the Muslims consider untrustworthy and sinful. The Communists certainly cheer them on and abet them in this attitude.

Under no circumstances, in this country, is the individual to be celebrated. The masses, the collective are all. This is the hour of the common man, who has no power by which he can be corrupted, but has as little in the way of accomplishment or greatness to recommend him to history. The leaders of the Middle East revolutions keep cannily in the background, letting the laurels fall upon the heads of those they lead, while quietly collecting up the fragments of power from the gutter for themselves and piecing them back together in a design which will yield the people even less power than they had before.

One man, one vote, not collective bargaining - that was the vision of a just society, according to the Founding Fathers. If an elected official failed, he could be voted out. Again and again, if necessary. Clearly, the Mubaraks and Khadafis obstructed that electoral process, which in America favored a republican rather than a democratic form of government.

Self-government takes educated, attentive citizens. In America, we have a system of checks and balances. Our president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, but it takes an act of Congress to declare war. We have a Constitution that prevents our armed forces from firing upon peaceful protesters, and allows local law enforcement to arrest those who disturb the peace and destroy property.

In Cairo, the police would have arrested and detained the protesters. Only a plea from our own president prevented them from establishing order. Instead, riots and looting and sexual assaults ruled Tahrir Square, not democracy. A complicit media tried to hide these things, but in the age of technological advances, the world learned of the violence anyway.

The Conservative West was repulsed; the East was inspired and now the flames of unrest have spread across the deserts of the Middle East from Morocco to Yemen and even to Beijing, China. Individual leaders are in peril everywhere, whether they deserve it or not.

George Soros has had the nerve to excoriate the Tea Parties. We rallied peacefully, though. We threatened no one, caused no destruction, obstructed no traffic or businesses, and certainly never called for any physical harm to anyone. The Tea Partiers marched on the Capitol and held up signs – and then went home, cleaning up after themselves when it was over.

We give tyrants no reason to exert a heavy hand upon us. We don’t need to and won’t need to, unless they threaten our freedoms. Initially, Washington wasn’t in favor of independence from Great Britain, until its repressive measures against the Colonies made rebellion inevitable.  Washington believed in a federal government that would unite the individual states. His experiences during the war taught him that left to themselves, they would not support national unity, without which the country would be defenseless against its enemies.

In 1787, Washington became chairman of the Constitutional Convention, ensuring that the Constitution – the laws that would serve as our country’s legal foundation – was ratified. He was elected unanimously by the Electoral College and hailed as a hero by nearly all Americans for leading a ragtag, untrained, poorly supplied army against a superior adversary to victory and freedom. Resource, disciplined, and dependable he was responsible for the uniting of the states of America.

Happy Birthday, Mr. President!

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