John Kerry, European Tory versus George Bush and Abraham Lincoln, democrats

Background — Kerry as an Old World Aristocrat

John Kerry is an old-world conservative, an aristocrat, well-bred and educated, with a thorough conviction of his superiority. He does not believe freedom is for everybody, at least right away (NYT):

Bush crystallized the new incarnation of this idea in his convention speech last month, notable for the unapologetic sweep and clarity of its vision. ”The terrorists know that a vibrant, successful democracy at the heart of the Middle East will discredit their radical ideology of hate,” the president said. ”I believe in the transformational power of liberty. As the citizens of Afghanistan and Iraq seize the moment, their example will send a message of hope throughout a vital region. Palestinians will hear the message that democracy and reform are within their reach, and so is peace with our good friend Israel. Young women across the Middle East will hear the message that their day of equality and justice is coming. Young men will hear the message that national progress and dignity are found in liberty, not tyranny and terror.”

Kerry, too, envisions a freer and more democratic Middle East. But he flatly rejects the premise of viral democracy, particularly when the virus is introduced at gunpoint. ”In this administration, the approach is that democracy is the automatic, easily embraced alternative to every ill in the region,” he told me. Kerry disagreed. ”You can’t impose it on people,” he said. ”You have to bring them to it. You have to invite them to it. You have to nurture the process.”

Those who know Kerry say this belief is in part a reaction to his own experience in Vietnam, where one understanding of the domino theory (”if Vietnam goes communist, all of Asia will fall”) led to the death of 58,000 Americans, and another (”the South Vietnamese crave democracy”) ran up against the realities of life in a poor, long-war-ravaged country. The people of Vietnam, Kerry found, were susceptible neither to the dogma of communism nor the persuasiveness of American ”liberation.” As the young Kerry said during his 1971 testimony to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: ”We found most people didn’t even know the difference between communism and democracy. They only wanted to work in rice paddies without helicopters strafing them and bombs with napalm burning their villages and tearing their country apart. They wanted everything to do with the war, particularly with this foreign presence of the United States of America, to leave them alone in peace.”

Abraham Lincoln on Liberty and King-craft

Let us compare Mr. Kerry’s thoughts with those of Abe Lincoln on July 10, 1858, his electric cord of Independence Day speech, via Powerline. See if you can be unmoved:

“Now, sirs, for the purpose of squaring things with this idea of ‘don’t care if slavery is voted up or voted down,’ for sustaining the Dred Scott decision [A voice—‘Hit him again’], for holding that the Declaration of Independence did not mean anything at all, we have Judge Douglas giving his exposition of what the Declaration of Independence means, and we have him saying that the people of America are equal to the people of England. According to his construction, you Germans are not connected with it. Now I ask you in all soberness, if all these things, if indulged in, if ratified, if confirmed and endorsed, if taught to our children, and repeated to them, do not tend to rub out the sentiment of liberty in the country, and to transform this Government into a government of some other form.

Those arguments that are made, that the inferior race are to be treated with as much allowance as they are capable of enjoying; that as much is to be done for them as their condition will allow. What are these arguments? They are the arguments that kings have made for enslaving the people in all ages of the world. You will find that all the arguments in favor of king-craft were of this class; they always bestrode the necks of the people, not that they wanted to do it, but because the people were better off for being ridden. That is their argument, and this argument of the Judge is the same old serpent that says you work and I eat, you toil and I will enjoy the fruits of it. Turn in whatever way you will—whether it come from the mouth of a King, an excuse for enslaving the people of his country, or from the mouth of men of one race as a reason for enslaving the men of another race, it is all the same old serpent, and I hold if that course of argumentation that is made for the purpose of convincing the public mind that we should not care about this, should be granted, it does not stop with the negro. I should like to know if taking this old Declaration of Independence, which declares that all men are equal upon principle and making exceptions to it where will it stop.

If one man says it does not mean a negro, why not another say it does not mean some other man? If that declaration is not the truth, let us get the Statute book, in which we find it and tear it out! Who is so bold as to do it! [Voices—‘me’ ‘no one,’ &c.] If it is not true let us tear it out! [cries of ‘no, no,’] let us stick to it then, [cheers] let us stand firmly by it then. [Applause.]”

Americans begin with the Declaration of Independence or they begin…….where exactly?

That old Declaration of Independence really beings with the second paragraph, you know. The first paragraph says that we’re going to lay out our reasons for declaring our independence, and those reasons begin with paragraph two.

Paragraph Two, giving the first and most important reason that we could shuck off the rule of kings begins: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

It’s certainly true that liberty has some battles to fight with submission and Islam. But tell me: what ideology do you begin with? The transformational power of liberty, so precious in our history, or….what, exactly? What the heck does “nurture the process” mean, except to defer, delay and obscure? I think that old Abe would see phrases like “nurture the process,” “invite them to it” or the belief that people are not “susceptible….to the persuasiveness of American ”liberation”” as more of the same old king-craft — that people who were not free were neither ready or worthy to be free. Tyranny can shackle a man’s body or a man’s mind, but it is tyranny just the same, and it is among our highest duties as free men to oppose it.

I know what side I fall on in the debate. See Roger Simon, Scott Johnson and Hugh Hewitt, though I rather suspect you know where they come out on this issue as well.

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