America has shown stout heart needed to survive
September 7, 2011 · 10:13 AM
In last week’s paper, Edward Neil appropriated to himself the role of Chicken Little in the latest version of “The Sky is Falling,” the 19th century cautionary fable which warned against irrational panic in the face of difficulties.
I will accept the premise of the letter if, and only if, the American people have become defeatist followers of the doom and gloom purveyors who aver that destruction is inevitable. I believe, on the other hand, that we still have the stout heart and iron will to not only survive but to prevail against any obstacles we face.
Contrary to Mr. Neil’s predicted disintegration, not one single inch of American territory or sovereignty will be abandoned without the spilling of blood and treasure on an unprecedented scale. Long before he ever ran for president, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech that should still resonate with us today. He said in 1838, “At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. 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 suicide Lincoln referred to is that belief among some in this country that other Americans are the enemy and must be destroyed because of their unacceptable opinions. It has practically become holy writ among some that anyone who disagrees with them is evil or mentally ill and must be crushed. This is indeed the path of national suicide.
The history of America, inarguably the richest and most admired place in the world, is one of loud and angry disagreement leading to compromise and unity of effort. This healthy debate between contending points of view has made us stronger and has led us to become, again in the words of Lincoln, “the encouragement of the world.” We will only fail if those voices of disunion and defeat, those voices who tell us to despise one another, become our national voice; in place of that we have to heed those voices which call us to work and overcome obstacles together and remain out of many, one (e pluribus unum).