I sometimes feel foolish writing to defend this country. Why do I even
bother? Last Thursday I quoted George Washington’s Farewell Address, in which
he asked his countrymen to indignantly frown “upon the first dawning of every
attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble
the sacred ties which now link together the various parts.”
One would think I had quoted the devil, given the negative mail I received in
response. Only one correspondent appeared to agree. The rest were of the
opinion that quoting Washington was a “bogus” thing to do. After all, we’re
not a country. We’re a shopping mall composed of 280 million sovereign
Who cares about the country?
If U.S. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld dismantles our MX missiles in 2002, if
he also eliminates a large number of strategic bombers, there is little
outrage. The shoppers yawn and continue on their spree. But quote George
Washington on the subject of national unity and you get an avalanche of hate
In this way you discover where people’s heads are.
National unity is apparently controversial. Some people out there want to
refight the Civil War. Has the country broken up underneath the surface,
with 280 million sovereign individuals each going his or her own way? I suppose some
of you have heard the expression “divide and conquer”? Besides the obvious
dangers of disunity, those without a nation can only look forward to what the
Jews experienced in Germany during the 1940s. I believe the expression which
Hannah Arendt used to describe this condition was “stateless persons.”
Those who revile the state do not fully understand what they revile. The
Jews at Auschwitz were exterminated with ease because they were “stateless
persons.” The state is a thing, both terrible and necessary, that protects
us against our most organized enemies. As such, the state is a thing that
defends a people, that commands them in time of war and crisis. But the
atomized shoppers of our hedonistic land imagine themselves magically immune
to what stateless persons the world over have suffered through the centuries.
Got nukes, Mr. Libertarian? If you don’t, how will you deter the Russians and
the Chinese, the North Koreans and the Iranians? Evidently, the shoppers’
version of freedom hopes to stand against the sage advice of liberty’s
American author (George Washington). But let us ask a visiting Chechen or
Tibetan what it means to be overrun by Russian or Chinese soldiers, who
happen to consider us their final target (aiming the bulk of their nuclear
weapons our way). Let us ask what murderous campaigns continue, today – at
this very moment – against stateless persons in the Northern Caucasus
(Russia’s test-ground for World War III).
You think military disaster cannot overwhelm us? But the conceit of
invincibility is the arrogance of a rich and spoiled people. You may despise
Washington, D.C., as a tyranny, but try living in Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea,
Sudan. You want to see real tyranny?
The police in Russia do not respect any rights at all, unless a citizen is
politically connected. In Russia the main investigative tool of the police
is torture. Yes, there are abuses of power in America. Yes, we are sliding
toward totalitarianism. But we still have a lot of liberty to defend.
And we are the envy of the world.
In fact, it is the poverty of Russia and China that motivates a definite
hatred toward Americans. After all, without destructive war Americans will
continue to enjoy more of the good things life has to offer. Russians and
Chinese will continue to struggle, regardless. Therefore America’s success,
more than anything, is resented. We must not forget that communism is a
feeling first and a system afterwards. It is an excuse for taking revenge
and spilling blood – an excuse which became a system. Here is the acme of
the murderous impulse in those countries best known for mass murder.
National security is not a phony phrase meant to scare you into building up
the evil “military-industrial complex.” National security in an age of mass
destruction weapons refers to the machinery required for your continued
existence, in safety and liberty. And that machinery belongs to the national
It is not right to despise our national unity. And as someone who writes on
this subject, I will not be bullied by those who want to refight the civil
war. Go and fly your Confederate flag and dream of some other country which
does not exist. My concern is for the country of my birth, the country
created by Washington and adorned by the Constitution. I want this country
to survive, and that has always been my message.
My advocacy of America, of our country, is not based on blind or shallow
considerations. What you have can be destroyed in a matter of hours. The
bombs and missiles are sitting in Russia, on a hair trigger. The lives of
your sons and daughters, of your grandchildren and great grandchildren depend
on the unity of our country. Would you therefore be blameless if your
disunifying themes contributed to a future catastrophe?
And do not try and associate me with those abuses of power which attend the
very existence of government. In opposing anarchy I do not advocate abuses.
I only advocate what Washington proposed: a united national government for
the common defense.