The Corner

Stern Reproof

Noah Millman chides me for today’s column:

“The folks who think this country is nothing but a proposition are wrong; it

is a hearth and home, not merely an abstraction. But that it is more than a

proposition does not change the fact that it is a proposition. This country

stands for something. We are the largest Republic in history, among the

longest-lived, among the very few in history of democratic character. We are

the sterling example of ordered liberty and self-government in human

history. I do not think it is outrageous to assert that we are, as a great

President put it in a time of desperate national trial, the last best hope

of earth.

“You swore, not long ago, to ’support and defend the Constitution and laws

of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic.’

Do our laws, our Constitution lack for these? It seems to me your complaint

is that these very enemies have wearied you, and put you in mind of flight

if not surrender. That will not do. You undertook this obligation ‘freely

without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion’ and invoked the

Deity’s aid in fulfilling it. If you shuck it aside, what will you say when

you meet Him?

“In every land and age, there are men who cannot stomach the company of

their fellows and the petty constraints of civilization. They were satirized

quite effectively by Aristophanes some 2400 years ago (though I find it hard

to imagine that in your ideal city pedophilia would have quite the place of

honor that it had in Pisthetairos’). We are not talking about that. We are

talking about Freedom, its decay, and how that decay is to be reversed if

its stoutest partisans give up the fight for flight. By all means, move to

Alabama (though our dinners will be less frequent then). Save your pennies

for a beach house in that nice Chinese city; call it a hedge against

political risk, the kind of insurance the Hong Kong Chinese took out in

Vancouver before 1997. But please, the week before Thanksgiving, don’t talk

seriously about giving up on the U.S.A.

“I promise, if you are arrested for Bad Thoughts <a href="http://www.gideonsblog.blogspot.com/2003_07_01_gideonsblog_archive.html#105

786009125789441″>I will testify on your

behalf, as I have in the past before a far less awesome tribunal. And, should my eloquent testimony fail to persuade the

jury, I will visit you in prison.”

I am well chid. I’m going to keep that Chinese city in the back of my mind,

as a possible bolt-hole in case the darkness really does fall, but in the

meantime shall continue to fight the good fight, at least until the SWAT

team shows up in my driveway.

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