Happy Independence Day. Today we celebrate treason, treason that prospered, treason that flourished, treason that created what was for a while -- what might someday be again -- the living symbol of virtuous human liberty.
This nation came out of a long tradition of beneficial treason, good treason, treason in the name of the best of the human condition. It was born of the tradition that fought King John at Runnymede and compelled from him the Great Charter of Liberties, Manga Carta Libertatum. It is out of the tradition that produced the Declaration of Arbroath in Scotland, in defiance of yet another tyrannical English king, which stated that "It is not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom — for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself." The Scottish national motto was Nemo Me Impune Lacessit, which means, "No One Touches Me With Impunity," or if you like, "No One Messes With Me Without Getting Hurt." That sentiment was also given in Scotland, as later in Alabama, in the words of John 20:17: Noli Me Tangere, usually translated "Touch Me Not," but also:
The values of this new nation are rooted in the principle of rebellion against authority. They are the values of a people who do what they think is right, and will hand you your heads if you try to force them to kneel to your judgment instead of their own. The Founders considered the philosophy of the Greeks. They considered the history of the Romans. They took stock of their reflections on the righteous judgment of God. Then they pledged their fortunes and their lives, and their sacred honor, and did what they had decided was right without fear.
Today we celebrate men who fought underneath the American flag, but we celebrate them with the certain knowledge that the defiance -- the spirit of rebellion against any authority that transgresses its due and proper limits -- that the defiance of tyranny is the real thing to be celebrated. It is not the accidents but the essence of the American revolution that deserves our devotion.
That goes for this and for all administrations, all branches of government, all foreign tyrants and all wicked powers.
It may seem as if Americans are not still made of that stuff. The flag I started with is the flag of the old Veterans Exempt, a militia that fought in the War of 1812 even though it was made up of veterans of the American Revolution who were too old to be drafted. The last two images are from contemporary veterans' groups. I've seen each of them posted online in the last few days.
The right people should rejoice. The wrong should beware. You know who you are. You know where you stand.
Happy Independence Day.