“This Memorial Day, Honor Their Sacrifice.” Guest post by Allan Stevo
It was August 8, 2015. A US Senator and presidential hopeful was taking the stage at a packed event. His packed event. His stage. Two petulant children climbed on to his stage and tried to bully him off. Were they pulled off the stage in a manner befitting the show of disrespect? Were they shown the door? No. They were given the microphone, like honored guests. That was the day Bernie Sanders told the world he wasn’t serious about being President of the United States.
Reflecting on the cowardice of our political class, I queued up a video of that memorable Bernie Sanders rally to remind myself of what it looked like when a grown man let a group of children push him around. It had been just as I remembered. The disgrace had been accurately seared into my mind.
Waiting for that video to queue, a 15-second advertisement appeared, saying that “645,000 service members gave their lives for our freedom,“ and asking me to “This Memorial Day honor their sacrifice.”
All it took for the massive 2016 field of talent to be extinguished was for a guy with some media training and a Twitter following to stand up on a national stage and say what was on his mind.
That’s all Donald Trump did.
He ran a campaign, issue-wise, that was somewhere between Clinton 1992 and Clinton 1996.
He’s not exactly a Pat Buchanan or a Ron Paul or a Robert Taft. He’s more of a Clinton ‘92. When the political climate shifted, he maintained his consistency, right alongside the American dinner table, which has been saying the same things for the last thirty years, wondering when the heck Washington shifted its cluelessness into overdrive.
Plenty of Americans would be happy with a Washington DC that looked a lot more like the mid-1990s version, correspondingly plenty of Bill Clinton voters pulled that lever for Donald Trump.
In his approach, Trump gamed the system. He had the hated media calling him every name in the book. He had the most hated politicians of both parties calling for his ouster. He had the hated intellectuals calling him an idiot. The more they called him names, the better he polled. Americans hate these people. In a dearth of leadership, those people are the sorry excuse for leaders Americans ended up with.
Trump stepped into the dearth and said “I’ll tell it like it is, and I’ll give it my best for you,” and that was a better deal than many had been offered in decades.
Trump told it straight and kept his frame of mind consistent, no matter what they threw at him. He kept his frame until right about the Ides of March 2020, then he fell apart. The man kept his cool far longer than critics expected. Slightly off his game, isolated in the briefing room, cooped up in the White House, forbidden from interacting with crowds that energize him and welcome his spontaneity, the left finally found Donald Trump’s Achilles’ heel. He may recover yet.
Just by telling the truth, Donald Trump provoked such indignation, the likes of which have seldom been seen in America. Some accurately call it Trump Derangement Syndrome. And from the day of his June 16, 2015 announcement, he presented an instructive frame of reference: Freedom isn’t free.
Trump’s instruction, however, is different than how most people usually use that phrase.
You don’t need to fight and die.
You don’t need to give up riches.
You don’t need to give your time.
You don’t need to give up your job.
You don’t need to give up family.
You just need to tell the truth, as much as you can, as often as you can, as unapologetically as you can, in as many risky situations as you can.
That’s all you need to do in this era.
That means never wavering, never giving in, maintaining the disobedient exterior.
Henry David Thoreau wrote about disobedience and it’s role in protecting freedom: “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
That means living life on your terms. From face masks, to closing churches, to political correctness, to shuttering businesses, to honesty.
And these sound like simple matters, but the truth is, those simple matters mean everything. It wasn’t the virus that destroyed the economy. It was you complying with tyranny.
No one is asking you to get into a Higgins Boat and wade ashore on Omaha Beach or to spend your Christmas in some fetid French trench. For some personalities, that’s almost easier to do than telling the truth, because it can allow for a comfortable submission to society and authority. But submission to society and authority is what has brought our era so great to tyranny.
Truth is treason in the empire of lies.
All you need to do is to speak the truth.
In the early 1980s, author Allen Moore wrote the following:
“Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power.
“Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there?
“Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression.
“And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission.
“How did this happen?
“Who’s to blame?
“Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.
“I know why you did it.
“I know you were afraid.
“Who wouldn’t be?
“War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense.”
People have died for American freedom. People have died for free thought and free expression: from the early Christians of the Roman era, to the early scientists who claimed the earth was not at the center of the heavens, to the early academics who formed universities as a place to exchange ideas freely.
Science, religion, and the academy have all been turned on their heads as hiding places for dishonesty and submission. That must be rooted out.
But the world doesn’t change overnight.
One person at a time, we must resurrect freedom of expression. We must make it understood that truth is the norm, one person at a time.
It will shock some of the people in your life, but it will be a good shock.
All you need to do is 1.) recognize your boundaries, 2.) communicate your boundaries, and 3.) defend your boundaries.
That might be as simple as “I’m not going to work overtime,” or “I’m not going to accept you yelling at me,” or “I’m tired of wearing this face mask,” or “I’m not happy anymore at a church that preaches heresy from the pulpit.” I don’t know what it is, in your life, that would be an example of boundaries that you have allowed to be traversed, boundaries that instead deserve defending. Only you know.
But what I do know, is that by you no longer allowing those boundaries to be traversed, we are brought one step closer to a more honest world, a world where we really do honor the sacrifices of the past, rather than so carelessly throwing away our inheritance and leaving the next generation a great deal poorer.
I don’t mean monetarily poorer. That is a foregone conclusion. The baby boomers messed up and will leave their children worse off monetarily than they were. Good luck reversing that.
There’s something far more important that can be handed down. Because you know what? Children don’t need your wealth. They need your love, and they need your wisdom.
Not handed down through words, handed down through modeling. Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. Let them see you live life more truthfully. Let them see you identify, communicate, and defend your boundaries. Let them see you live a life that is as richly rewarded as can be when you model that. Because such behavior is rewarded, almost immediately, sometimes painfully rewarded when those who abhor truth refuse to deal with you and those who hunger for truth flock to you.
Trump approached a henpecked nation, cowed by political correctness, and bent dishonestly by identity politics and with his actions said “I won’t stand for that.” Was he relegated to the scrap heap, as Americans speaking freely had been for more than a generation? Quite the opposite. His certainty and fearlessness rendered his adversaries, the usual thought police, powerless. He emboldened the voiceless to speak up again, to speak truthfully. His time in the Oval Office will be evaluated by the history books. His impact on society had already proven itself even before election night 2016: he reminded America what it was like to stand up and speak honestly.
Much pain and blood has been shed to get us to a moment in history where battles don’t need to cost you your life, but in which the battles occupy painful psychological terrain in which your mind is the battlefield, the disputed territory.
This Memorial Day honor their sacrifice.
Identify your boundaries, communicate your boundaries, defend your boundaries. This is what speaking the truth entails. This is all that is asked of you, in order to continue moving the front line far enough to leave your children a better intellectual inheritance than the one left to you.
Allan Stevo writes about international politics and culture from a free market perspective at 52 Weeks in Slovakia. He is the author of How to Win America, The Bitcoin Manifesto, and numerous other books.
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