As Independence Day draws near, the nation is seemingly filled with more anti-American sentiment than celebration, or so the media would have you believe. Crowds of protesters have turned on the very nation that protects their right to assemble, speak, and petition the government. Now, they are even coming for President Abraham Lincoln.
Would the Great Emancipator even be surprised at today’s chaos? History tells us no.
After a mob attacked and murdered abolitionist Elijah Parish Lovejoy in 1836 for his opposition to slavery, Lincoln decried the lawlessness in an address to the Lyceum in Springfield, Illinois: “Whenever the vicious portion of population shall be permitted to gather in bands of hundreds and thousands, and burn churches, ravage and rob provision-stores, throw printing presses into rivers, shoot editors and hang and burn obnoxious persons at pleasure, and with impunity; depend on it, this government cannot last.”
Today’s insurrectionists have now targeted Honest Abe. Last week, protesters chose the Emancipation Memorial in Washington, D.C.’s Lincoln Park for destruction. The statue, two blocks away from where I once lived, is a celebration of emancipation, paid for by freed slaves after the war and commemorated by Frederick Douglass. But protesters, led by a Harvard University junior and steeped in Ivy League revisionism, decided the statue promotes white supremacy. This week, college students called for another Lincoln statue to come down.
The statue killers’ confused choice of target reveals how deeply restless our COVID-afflicted year has become.
After months of being locked up with no jobs, church, healthcare, or community, the nation erupted after the killing of George Floyd. To protest, thousands took to the streets, throwing out the lockdowns the left had spent so much time pushing. Lockdown violators, previously shamed as “grandma killers,” were lauded as heroes for racial justice. After conservatives had respected the effective lockdowns and sought to cautiously undo the ineffective ones by legal means, mayors and governors announced they would stop enforcing the orders — but only for those with the right politics.
When the protests became riots, the elites refused to denounce the violence. As leftists and anarchists took over our streets, creating zones of chaos from Washington state to Washington, D.C., the nation’s elites cheered them on. When President Donald Trump and Sen. Tom Cotton called to enforce the nation’s laws, they were censored and excoriated on Twitter and in the New York Times.
The final indignity came last week, when the anarchists decided the Founders were next. They started toppling statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Ulysses S. Grant, as well as lesser-known figures like Hans Christian Heg, a Norwegian abolitionist who helped lead the Union to victory in Gettysburg.
The turn should surprise few. The left has been looking to destroy American institutions and undo the Founding for years, and educating our youth to do the same.
What are Americans to do? It seems America is at a breaking point, and in certain circles, there’s an overwhelming pressure to decry and shame our history. If you live in certain parts of the country, this might feel like America’s last Independence Day.
But all isn’t lost, and we would be well-served to remember America has been here before. Our ability to overcome social unrest and restore law and order is what makes the great American experiment work. It’s what makes us great and proud.
What is required of us today is the same principled commitment required in the 1860s and at our founding in 1776. Washington and Lincoln were proud to be American and fight for equality, liberty, and unity. We should be too.
This Independence Day, every American should remind their neighbors, family and friends why they too are proud of our freedom and our Founding and exclaim that the forces of division, hatred, and anger cannot stand.
In his speech to the Lyceum, Lincoln also wrote: “If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.” The choice now comes to our generation as it’s come to so many before: live free or die. I choose to live. And to fight as a #ProudAmerican.