By: Mark Glennon*

“I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility to every form of tyranny over the mind of man.”

-Thomas Jefferson

The Jefferson Memorial in Washington

Why should those words occupy the most prominent position in the Jefferson Memorial, circling its interior dome?

Why not some of his words from the Declaration of Independence? Or from the Bill of Rights that he principally authored?

I’ve wondered that since working as an intern in Washington, D.C. some forty years ago. Late on Washington’s humid, summer nights, at the time, you could drive up, park easily and sit safely and mostly alone in the memorial, which I often did.

Today, the answer is more clear and more frightening than ever before: Nothing in an open society means anything, including the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, if it submits to the tyranny to which Jefferson pledged hostility, because no thoughts or actions are truly protected if their very existence is cancelled at the outset by tyranny over the mind.

And the uprising America now faces, at its core, seeks to impose precisely that tyranny.

Perhaps tellingly, the Declaration of Independence says nothing about freedom of expression, which is really a corollary to freedom of thought, since thoughts are of no use if they cannot be shared. The Founders could probably have assumed it would be obvious that those freedoms were part of what they intended for America. By their time, the Age of Reason was well underway. Freedom of speech had been law in Britain since its 1689 Bill of Rights.

But we can make no such assumption today. America risks being overrun by a book-burning mob that no longer hides its goal of cancelling the thoughts and speech of its opponents.

Worse, we are inspiring those mobs around the world. “We export outrage, deplatforming, and social mobbing,” as a recent article in Quillette put it. “The fact that cancel culture has seeped into other countries is evidence that American soft power is alive and well. The way things are going, though, eventually the only culture left will be the one that has ‘cancel’ behind it.”

A toppled Jefferson statue

The mob seeks to undo the Age of Reason itself. Indiscriminate destruction of statues is hardly the problem. The true problem is the loss of reason which that indiscriminate destruction displays.

Insults, labeling and ad hominems suffice as their answers for most everything. Hypocrisy is for the other side to worry about, as the mob sees things, freeing it to contradict itself even from sentence to sentence. Race relations are being set back by fifty years thanks to its identity politics. They don’t really care about that result.

Presentism is the core of the mob’s existence – no person or issue is judged rationally based on historical context. No historical figure is safe. Mankind’s struggle over thousands of years to achieve something approaching civilization is of no interest to the mob.

Nobody today is safe. Not high schoolers facing grade penalties for political beliefs that differ from the orthodoxy they are taught. Not the nurse recently fired as dean of a nursing school for saying that all lives matter. Not the Boeing executive forced out of his job for writing 33 years earlier that women should not be in combat.

Most chilling is that two institutions on which we should rely to defy the mob have, for the most part, become part of the mob – higher education and the national media.

Universities produce little more than daily comedy fodder for Campus Reform and College Fix. Their science is so politicized that a “replication crisis” in the studies they produce now plagues even the most respected scientific journals. The University of Chicago stands nearly alone with a genuine commitment to the open and vigorous contest of ideas.

Most of the more prominent institutions in national media have tossed even a pretense of being anything but “resistance journalism,” which is now taught openly in leading journalism schools. They lie about the news and hide competing viewpoints. It’s that simple — they lie.

*****************

About a third of the population in the colonies supported the American Revolution at the time. Another third opposed it and the remainder was indifferent.

Those numbers seem roughly comparable today, with perhaps a third of America openly supporting the tyranny over the mind that Jefferson abhorred. They are organized, loud and often violent, or at least tolerant of violence on their behalf. That means they could win.

Members of Congress kneeling before the mob.

They will be defeated only if, like the signers of the Declaration of Independence, we “mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Stay silent no longer. Kneel to nobody. Rely “on the protection of divine Providence,” as the signers of the Declaration did, but remembering how John F. Kennedy concluded his inaugural address: “God’s work must truly be our own.”

*Mark Glennon is founder of Wirepoints.

33 Comments
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StvOh
3 months ago

Mark, that was an absolute tour-de-force. Touché my friend. There are so many aspects of the tyranny, it’s sad, and they must be defeated. Even the Magna Carta signed by King John in 1215, 805 years ago, has been shredded by govt over-reach. Your land, house and business belongs to the govt if you don’t pay their excessive and arbitrary taxes. And everyone’s financial future, wealth creation, quality of LIFE is greatly diminished by total govt taxation. Nothing is off limits for governmental intrusion into our lives. The Tea Party groups 10-15 yrs ago wanted the Republican Party to go… Read more »

David
3 months ago

Keep you powder dry!

3 months ago

Priests being relieved of their duties at MIT and in Indiana. The fight is on. Be ready to fight.

Bob Out of Here
3 months ago

The virtue signalling is getting laughable. Now the Washington Redskins are considering a name change, as are the Cleveland Indians. This is after Eskimo Pies said they are changing names. In light of the fact most former Presidents were either slave owners, or in the case of Lincoln made disparaging racial comments, the best way to support BLM is quit paying taxes and demand retailers let you walk out of the store for free since money is racist.
I treat everyone with respect, unless you prove by your actions you don’t deserve it, regardless of skin color.

Last edited 3 months ago by Bob Out of Here
s and p 500
3 months ago

I saw this piece in the WP, about hard times in Russia. The Mob hasn’t explained what kind of society they are working towards. If they overthrow the US govt. then will all of our national and state debts be defaulted on like Russian debts were after their revolution in 1917? What about pensions owed to the teachers and professors who are brainwashing our kids? Will they give those up for the good of the new order?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2020/07/02/we-feel-absolutely-abandoned-how-pandemic-russia-tanked-economy-plunged-families-into-crisis/?arc404=true

debtsor
3 months ago
Reply to  s and p 500

I don’t click wapo links. They are not a news organization.

StvOh
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

Exactly Mark, such as the breaking fake story last week about Russia paying bounties to terrorists to kill US soldiers . There were zero facts/evidence they cited, moreover prob the opposite IS true— Iranian govt paying and supporting terrorists to kill our soldiers, and Obama gave the mullahs $150BILLION that had been frozen since ‘79, and didn’t even put conditions on how they could spend it. Can’t make this up, how dangerous the NYT is. As for this WaPo piece, it’s actually a sympathy piece for Russians who’ve lost their jobs. Which is odd because the Dems hated the Russians… Read more »

StvOh
3 months ago
Reply to  StvOh

And VERY telling about the WaPo article, are the Comments, I sorted by Likes to get the most popular and it was a doozy: A typical delusional and factually-incorrect Comment, saying that the 3 hardest hit countries by the virus are US, Russia and Brazil, and they happen to each have a Leader who lies and is a fascist . THAT got the most upvotes.
Again, stunning.

Mike Williams
3 months ago

I fear that my value of “live and let live” won’t be possible much longer. That value only works if it’s also generally accepted by the rest of society. Since it’s obviously being rejected, the only sane response is a new value, “kill or be killed”. Again, this is not my preference, and for the first time in my life I am considering owning a gun. I expect there are many others with similar thoughts.

Christo
3 months ago
Reply to  Mike Williams

Nope, about 50% have already done so. But I suggest if you have no experience with guns, to go buy several cans of mace/cs gas and learn how they work and go find a self defense course

3 months ago

Great article, Mark!

Kenneth Bradley Cooley Jr.
3 months ago

If we won’t bow, we won’t burn.

Never bow to man.

JimBob
3 months ago

What’s interesting to me and ironically supports your excellent piece is the degree to which many of us use pseudonyms on Wirepoints. Each presumably has his/her own reasons. One of mine is the fear of ostracization and retaliation. Additionally, I am affiliated with a law firm that does public finance and school district work. Additionally, I may be a paranoid fool. Of course ours is not the first country or civilization to restrict or inhibit open expression of one’s views. And perhaps it’s a comfort to realize that one doesn’t read about many duels these days. “Freedom of speech is… Read more »

debtsor
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

It will unfortunately take violence to end this all. A civil war is not realistic. But a couple of high profile incidents of the left engaging in actual lynchings and purging of suspected Trump voters might cause the sane part of the country to outright reject extreme leftist values. Or, it will be the right killing the left in some high profile battles of antifa getting mowed down by some right militia defending their ground. The violence will be widely condemned, but the left will realize that they don’t stand a chance against the police, the military and the side… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by debtsor
JimBob
3 months ago
Reply to  debtsor

Reminds me of the reasons Thomas Merton decided to become a Trappist. It also brings to mind the seeming impossibility of meeting halfway, such as the abortion issue. With those at the left and right fringes, it’s all or nothing. E.g. Fred Klonsky. Of course Fred’s an old union guy and saying no with a loud voice is a negotiation tactic to be used during collective bargaining. The problem is that Fred’s ideological progeny don’t understand political theatre. Accordingly, infliction of serious pain will be needed. Understanding and tough love didn’t work in Seattle any more than it worked in… Read more »

JimBob
3 months ago
Reply to  Mark Glennon

Those who have time might benefit from a 30 minute presentation by an artist and writer who comments on the changes during the years that elapsed between getting her bachelor’s and her master’s degrees. https://www.thinkspot.com/online_content/J0uQQG/detail?category=event

Illinois Entrepreneur
3 months ago
Reply to  JimBob

Thank you for sharing that link. Vesper is a very talented woman! This should be a requirement for every “journalist”, artist and big tech oligarch who would rather give in to their inner control freak than allow for discourse to take its proper course.

Lizard
3 months ago
Reply to  JimBob

Yes…I don’t use my name for this reason as well. While I believe in a fair election Trump beats Alzheimer Biden, we do not have assurance of fair elections. Enemies of our country and the Democrats fully believe that the ends justify the means. In other words, cheating is okay if you win.

debtsor
3 months ago
Reply to  Lizard

You’re missing a step in the logic. The left truly believes that Trump is a fascist Nazi. And he is a danger to civilization. Thus, it is a moral imperative to defeat him. And he be must be defeated by any means necessary, including cheating. Put another way, they will cheat at the ballot box, to defeat Trump, because he is a danger to civilization. Cheating and subverting democracy is OK in this instance because Trump is a Nazi. The logic is sound, of course, because no moral person wants a Nazi as president. The premise is flawed because Trump… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by debtsor
Mike
3 months ago

George Floyd protests are allowed with BLM flags flying resulting in riots and looting, but peaceful 4th of July celebrations are cancelled.

Win the Presidency at all costs features mayors across the country ceding control of their cities and allowing destruction of government property.

The political operatives have knowingly or not crossed the line.

2020, the year of insanity or a harbinger of things to come?

M.H.Deal
3 months ago

I recall that the Congressional leader of the Botox Brigade, Nancy Pelosi, needed assistance upon arising after 8 minutes of kneeling. As a legacy graduate (gasp) of the University of Chicago in its better days, I appreciate the distinction Hutchins made between “schooling” and “education”. The former is more common; the latter is a distillation of formal schooling tempered by thought and experience. An unappreciated, overlooked distinction valid still. As for the University, it’s debased itself of late by quietly agreeing to give $30 million to the Obama Foundation for unknown purposes. One would like to believe Zimmer’s declaration about… Read more »

Susan
3 months ago

I believe an essential identifiable hallmark of a free society is “equal protection under the law”.
If the new normal is to be unequal application of the law (exempting those who commit assault, battery, arson, and felony theft in the process of socially acceptable “looting”, i.e. ) according to terms not yet disclosed precisely but TBD ( to be determined) by Mob du jour, let us know.
What are the new rules of order? How should each individual configure lives so that we can each protect ourselves from each other?

NB-Chicago
3 months ago
Reply to  Susan

Susan, you nailed it–“the new normal is to be unequal application of the law”. The politicians stand back and do nothing (passively approving for political gain) to inforce the law & protect public property while the mob mindlessly tear down monuments deamed racist. All that has to happen by a very brave individual or organization (with some good lawyers) concerned with “equal protection under the law” or 1st amendment ,as an act of protest, is to publically announce a defacement of a mlk monument or other monument to civil rights past and see if the pols stand back and offer… Read more »

Joan
3 months ago

I have been thinking we need a new Thomas Paine but we already have one. It’s you, Mark. And I am so furious about nobody in our Illinois Republican Party speaking up about this. They are cowards. And the Dems really are just an ugly mob.

debtsor
3 months ago
Reply to  Joan

There is no Illinois Republican party. Just a small handful of elected politicians who call themselves republicans and occasionally solicit donations from me via email. They were wiped out in 2011-2012 with Madigan’s undemocratic gerrymandering map. Rauner was one last gasp of Republican left in IL and even his tens of millions couldn’t overcome the gerrymandering, the progressive machine and a billionaire competitor. This is happening nationwide to the Republican party in Blue states, as it is happening nationwide to the Democrat party in Red states.

P:K
3 months ago

Brilliant Mark… and right on point.

Mike M
3 months ago

Mark, I just came across an article on a passage to the Declaration of Independence that Jefferson wrote attacking slavery. It was deleted from the final document. Interesting article, as is the comment section. Happy 4th.

https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2020/07/the-deleted-clause-of-the-declaration-of-independence.html

Mr_Common_Sense
3 months ago

Very powerful, Mark.

UnclePugsly
3 months ago

Wow! Awesome! Thank you!!!

MikeH
3 months ago

Well stated, Mark. 10 years ago, Inddependence day meant something else for those of us in the 38th ID. That was the day we were released from active duty after our deployment to Afghanistan. A decade later, I mourn the country I once served. But that morning period will be brief. Let our mourning be replaced with a laser-guided sense of focus and righteous indignation at what has been done to the United States of America. The time for brave men is already upon us.