American Conservatory Theater’s “1776 — The Musical”: a review (and a history lesson)

Last night, we went to see the American Conservative Conservatory Theater’s production of 1776 — The Musical.  It was a lovely production, with almost uniformly strong performances.  1776 hit Broadway in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam war and one year into Nixon’s first term.  Although ostensibly meant to record (musically) those Continental Congress deliberations that led to the signing of the Declaration of Independence (it starts on May 7, 1776, and concludes on July 4, 1776), the book’s writers couldn’t resist throwing in some pro-Democrat, anti-War politics along the way — but more on that later.

The play’s energy comes from John Adams, the explosive, deeply committed patriot who was, as the characters keep reminding him, “obnoxious and disliked,” but was nevertheless respected for his driving will.  The character is drawn as cantankerous, loyal, brilliant, and devoted to his wife, Abigail.  Credit goes to John Hickok for his solid performance.  He acted well, sang well, and danced well, which is always a good thing in musical theater.

Likewise, Andrew Boyer was a charming Benjamin Franklin, a genius, wit, patriot, and semi-faux dilettante who was, nevertheless, just as committed to the cause of liberty as was Adams.  Unlike Howard da Silva, the actor in the original stage version, who also starred in the 1972 movie of the same name, Boyer did not use a booming, deep voice for the part.  Instead, he opted for the slightly tremulous voice of an older man.  On rare occasions, his words seemed to slither down his neck and into his collar, but overall making it clear that Franklin had been around a while made for a smart performance.

Brandon Dahlquisit played Thomas Jefferson, and while he was occasionally too languid and passive for my taste, he had a lovely voice.

Although the three leads anchored the play, the star turns came from Jeff Parker, as John Dickinson, the landed Pennsylvanian who would not separate from England, and Jared Zimmerman, as Edward Rutledge, the slave-owning North South Carolina planter who would not tolerate Jefferson’s stand against slavery in the proposed Declaration of Independence and who, in a magnificently delivered performance of Molasses to Rum, about the “triangle trade“, reminded the assembled New Englanders that they too profited from slavery.  Both men fully inhabited their roles and their singing was better than the lead actors.  Parker also demonstrated true professionalism when he refused to let a bloody nose impair one of his key scenes defending the status quo.

The rest of the cast turned in equally fine performances.  There are only two female roles in the play, but both actresses carried them off well.  Abby Mueller, as Abigail Adams, couldn’t sing as well as she could act, but her acting was warm and immediate enough to overcome her occasional lapses into sour notes.  Andrea Prestinario, who had the one other female role, as Martha Jefferson, Thomas’s new bride, was pretty as a picture and could sing quite well.  She was a little too enthusiastic as Jefferson’s well-loved bride the morning after, but it was a charming performance.

As for the rest of the men portraying the delegates to the Continental Congress, military messengers, and pages, each fully carried his own weight.  Their performances were fluent and their singing was tuneful (always a good thing in a musical).

The production quality was as good as the acting.  The set was a simple one, never shifting from the interior of Constitution Hall (as it’s now known) in Philadelphia.  The men sat at and moved around tables set in tiers, with the highest point occupied by John Hancock, the Congress’s president, and the Congress’s secretary.  On the stage’s left, were those opposed to independence (southern slavers and northern landowners) and on the right were those who supported it (small northern farmers, laborers, and professionals).  The costumes were just right — neither too fancy, nor too plain — and the nine-pierce orchestra, which was hidden under a stage extension built over the pit, did a delightful and professional job.

All in all, it was as good a performance as one could ask for.  And yet, I still have quibbles.

Quibble number one:  The second act drags.  The first act has several cheerful, rousing, clever songs.  The second act is dominated by dirges about war and slavery.  The entire audience was getting very restless in the last half hour.  A man seated near me fell asleep, snoring loudly; another person kept burping; while a third man went on a knuckle-cracking binge.  I understand that the authors wanted us to have a sense of how fragile the alliance was between north and south, and landed and professional, but the second act should have been trimmed, either when written or when produced.

Quibble number two:  The waltz did not exist in 1776, although it crops up in two musical numbers.  Just sayin’….

Quibble number three (and this is the big one):  When John Dickinson makes the case for staying loyal to England, the Mother Country that has served many well, and that offers tremendous opportunities in the new world for wealth and advancement, the scene ends with slave-0wners and the gentry singing “Cool, Cool Considerate Men.”  By the time the song begins, the audience fully understands that these are the “bad” guys  because they support slavery and big money at the expense of “the people.” Having established this premise, the song then goes on the attack against Republicans, circa 1969.  The men identify themselves as “conservative” and, in a repeated chorus, say that the country must move “to the right” and never “to the left.”

The audience in San Francisco loved this song, chortling every time the dandified 1 percenters moved “to the right.”  I, on the other hand, wanted to stand up and holler out, don’t you guys know any history?  The notion of conservative is as 19th century construct, while the ideas of Left and Right originated with French Revolution, in 1789, long after the events portrayed.

Speaking of the French Parliament, Baron de Gauville explained, “We began to recognize each other: those who were loyal to religion and the king took up positions to the right of the chair so as to avoid the shouts, oaths, and indecencies that enjoyed free rein in the opposing camp.” It’s worth keeping in mind that the ones on the Left eventually relied on the guillotine to make their point.

No one in the Continental Congress was moving either Left or Right.  Nor was the Revolution one of the “workers of the world,” since this was a pre-industralized era, versus “capitalists.”  The American revolution was a middle class revolution.  Middle class people in the north (farmers, tradesman, professionals) and middle class people in the south (plantation owners, tradesman, professionals) were yearning for economic freedom.  They actually had few problems with the British model for law and society.  They simply resented being bossed around from the other side of the Atlantic, often to their economic detriment.

For a song to imply that Republicans — the party that freed the slaves — are a bunch of Neanderthal racists is invariably irritating, and tends to blunt my enjoyment of 1776.  It also foments stupidity in the audience, blunting their ability to realize that Republicans, who value individual liberty, are the heirs of the Founders, as opposed to Democrats, the party of big government, who would have chosen, in 1776, to remain wedded to England, with everyone subordinate to the King.

If you’re in the Bay Area, and want to see a good performance of a Broadway classic, I can recommend this production.  Just keep in mind that, despite the strong often impressive reliance on historic events, it’s entertainment, not fact.

Happy July 4th!

So far, despite the efforts of some people who will go nameless in this post, we continue to be blessed to live in the United States of America.  Despite the constant nibbling away at the edges, we are still a land of free, brave, and prosperous people, and we can only hope that we stay that way.

The men who signed this great document did so knowing that, the moment their name appeared on that paper, they had the hangman’s rope around their neck.  It was win or die.

At many times over the next seven years, death seemed like a very real possibility to these patriots, and there were certainly man ordinary men — not statesmen, but farmers and shopkeepers, fathers, brothers, and sons — who freely gave their lives on the field of battle to the greater cause of individual liberty.

In the American of 2013, we too often look back and see America’s independence as a foregone conclusion.  There were no such comforting conclusions then.  Instead, there were many dark days when it looked as if freedom was illusory and impossible.  Those patriots never gave up their struggling for individual liberty and neither should we.

Happy July 4th!!

Declaration of Independence

And thanks to the men and women who have put themselves at the front line to preserve this liberty over the years.

Flag at Iwo Jima

Happy birthday, America!

statue_of_liberty_with_fireworks

Random thoughts about the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, Civil Rights, and ObamaCare

Fellow Weasel Watcher Greg, at Rhymes with Right, came up with a good poster likening every woman’s right to have a gun to a black woman’s right to sit anywhere she wants in the bus.  That poster, combined with a discussion I had with some young ‘uns about the Bill of Rights got me thinking about the expression “Civil Rights,” which is something the Left bandies about freely.

Lately, the Left has taken to calling government control of American health care a Civil Right. We all know that’s wrong, but it’s worth understanding precisely why it’s wrong.  I’m still trying to organize my thoughts here, so please bear with me as a waffle my way through this.

United States Declaration of Independence

The beginning of any discussion of civil rights must be the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This single sentence is the “whereas” the precedes the Constitution.  Without this acknowledgement of God-given human status and dignity, the explicitly listed Rights in the Bill of Rights are meaningless.  These unalienable rights are the abstract predicates that justify a citizen’s more concrete “right” to have certain areas of functioning upon which the government cannot impinge.  Unless we acknowledge that humans — all humans — are equal and deserving of Life, Liberty, and the ability to make their way in the world, all the other bulwarks against government overreach are meaningless.

Second Amendment

Which gets us to the Bill of Rights.  What exactly is it?  I mean, we all know what’s in it, but I don’t think most people stop and think about what it is.

The Constitution is a contract between the People (acting through their state-elected representatives) and the government.  Its sole purpose is to describe what form the federal government will take.  It’s a rather dull document that’s given over to defining the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch, and then apportioning power and responsibilities between the three of them.

The main body of the Constitution has nothing to do with the People, and everything to do with defining a functioning government.  Thus, while it seeks to make sure that the executive can’t overwhelm the legislature or that the courts can’t overwhelm the executive, there’s nothing in it about whether the government as a whole can overwhelm the citizens under its rule.

What the Founders realized in the wake of the Constitution’s ratification is that creating a government is not the same as protecting the People’s declared rights under that government.  “Rights” aren’t things that the government gives people and that it can take away from people.  Things that the government can “giveth and taketh away” are merely privileges.  Rights, on the other hand, belong to the People outside of the government.  Rights have nothing to do with government control over people, and everything to do with the People’s right to control government.  They preexist the government and will continue to exist long after the government is gone.  Rights are independent of government.

That rights are independent of government does not mean that the government cannot use its aggregated power to destroy those rights.  That they are destructible, despite being unalienable, is what concerned the Founding generation and what led them to create the Bill of Rights.

The first ten amendments to the Constitution recognize that the rights described are fundamental rights that transcend government, but that a tyrannical government can nevertheless destroy these fundamental rights.  Rather than assuming that a beneficent government will automatically protect these rights, the Founders erred on the side of caution and warned the government that it had (and has) no power to touch rights that exist in the People, irrespective of the government.

Combined, that extraordinary sentence in the Declaration of Independence and of the first ten amendments to the Constitution create a bright line of human inviolability into which government cannot intrude.  For example, from the Declaration of Independence, we have a controlling principle that explains why, even though sitting in the front of the bus isn’t set out explicitly or even implicitly in the Bill of Rights, it is still a fundamental Right that is a necessary predicate to the Bill of Rights.  Rights must be applied equally to all humankind, because humankind is created equally.

Freedom to speak, worship, and assemble are unalienable rights.  The right to be armed, for whatever the heck reason you want, is an unalienable right.  The right to have your home free from American troops in an unalienable right.  The right to be protected from torture and coercion aimed at forcing you to convict yourself out of your own mouth is an unalienable right.  The state has the right to execute you if a properly constituted trial finds you guilty of a capital crime, but you have the right to an execution that is neither cruel (death by torture) nor unusual (death by bizarre forms of torture).  There are other unalienable rights.

Let me say again what these rights are:  They are a bright line of human inviolability and power that the government, despite its concentrated strength (police forces, armies, taxing powers, etc.) cannot attack or abridge.

Once one understands the difference between Rights (which are unalienable) and privileges (which depend on the government we elect) we can see why it’s so ridiculous when the Left describes health care as a “civil right.”  It’s not.  True civil rights recognize that citizens and the government are adversaries:  the government constantly attempts to impose itself on the citizens, and the citizens have as their bulwark the Declaration and the Bill of Rights to protect them from this government overreach.  Good health is not a matter of government overreach — except, of course, when the government uses health as a means of undermining the Bill of Rights.

This then, is the problem with ObamaCare: Rather than upholding a civil right, it is created to undermine people’s civil rights.  Its death panels contravene the unalienable right to Life.  Its abortion and contraception mandates directly impinge upon the unalienable right to freedom of worship.  It’s proposed requirements that doctors ask prying questions about guns infringes upon the unalienable right to keep and bear arms.  And Justice Roberts’ decision to the contract, its penalties for inaction are a direct infringement to people’s liberty.

As I said, this is a work in progress, so I don’t have a rousing or neat conclusion.  I’m not even sure what to do with these thoughts, but I did want to get them down while they were still swirling in my head.  Please feel free to add to or refine upon what I’ve written.

Elizabeth Warren — mob boss *UPDATED*

I woke up this morning to find that my Leftist friends literally plastered Facebook with the above poster.  (Since I grew up and still live in the Bay Area, I have lots of Leftist friends.)  If the text on the image is unclear, this is what it says:

There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own.  Nobody.  You built a factory out there — good for you.

But I want to be clear.  You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for.  You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate.  You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for.  You didn’t have to worry that marauding bands would come and seize everything at your factory.  [Bookworm note:  Warren must have made this statement before the Gibson Guitar factory raid, when marauding bands of government agents did precisely that to a factory that forgot to pay off the Democrats.]

Now look.  You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless!  Keep a big hunk of it.  But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.

There are so many things wrong with Warren’s statement that I really don’t know where to begin.  Tonestaple sent me an email that certainly gets the tone right (which led to my post’s title):

They [meaning the middle class Leftists who applaud the above statement] seem to think it is the ne plus ultra of common sense.  I think it sounds like a gangster saying, “Nice factory you’ve got here – be a shame if anything happened to it.”

As my interlineation about Gibson Guitar shows, Tonestaple perfectly nailed the reality behind Warren’s cutesy, nursery school-esque, “God blessy” statement that everybody should share with everybody else.”  The reality is that, in Obama world, if you don’t make nice with the government, the government is not going to make nice with you.  (The cutesy tone, incidentally, is classic Warren. She was one of my law school profs, and I found her invariably sweet in word, unintelligible in substance, and vaguely vicious in action.)

Tone aside, there are two major problems with Warren’s factory parable.  The first is the assumption that the factory owner contributed nothing to roads, education, police and fire forces, etc.  In Warren’s world, the factory owner is a pure parasite.  Warren conveniently forgets that the factory owner pays taxes (hugely more taxes than all those people whom she posits paying for roads, education, etc.); that the factory owner provides work for and pays the salary of those employees who then pay taxes; and that a successful factory owner makes a product that provides a benefit to people.

The second problem with Warren’s statement is actually a much more profound one than her “forgetting” that it’s the employers who provide the goods, services and salaries that make all those useful taxes possible.  Warren’s statement turns the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and everything else the Founders stood for upside down.

In Warren’s world, a socialist world, the government owns everything.  (And don’t you love it when well paid Harvard professors advocate socialism?)  The Founders would have been horrified by Warren’s pronouncement.  As their writings demonstrate, they believed that natural rights, the rights that ought to govern any righteous nation, mandate that ownership is vested in the individual.  The government is merely a servant of the people.  We, the people, pay its salary (taxes) so that it can provide services for us.  That’s all.

You don’t have to go very far to understand that the Founders wouldn’t have agreed with Warren that the government allows people to own things, provided that they then make nice with the government.  Our seminal document, the Declaration of Independence, spells out the master-servant relationship, and it is the people who are masters and the government the servant, not vice versa:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

These were the principles on which our nation was founded, and they provided the guiding paradigm for our Constitution.  When my children ask me what the Constitution is, I have a very simple answer:  It’s a contract under which the federal government promises to provide certain limited services for the American people and, further, promises not to abuse the power that the people hand the government to enable it to carry out those services.  Elizabeth Warren clearly has no use for our nation’s contract.

UPDATEJoshuaPundit comments too on Warren’s dangerous economic ignorance and class warfare.

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The Declaration of Independence and . . . chickens?!

John Trumbulls Declaration of Independence

John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence

On July 4, 1776, American citizens made their Declaration of Independence known to the world.  Although the bulk of the document is a catalog of very specific grievances against George III, the document is remembered for its stirring beginning, describing “unalienable” rights inherent in all human beings, as well as describing a government’s role in ensuring those rights:

When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

The enunciation of those core rights — “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” — was an almost staggering statement in 1776, when most of the world labored under the rule of despots.

In the 21st century, however, we tend to be rather blase about those same rights.  We can no longer envision a world in which citizens had no say in the government, although their (heavy) taxes supported it; in which people were constrained to work in jobs by government diktat; and in which ultimate power rested in the government, not the people.  Our representative democracy, coupled with the enormous freedoms of our daily lives, seem so natural, as if preordained.  The result of this unthinking acceptance of these rights is that many of us are not even grateful for the blessings they confer, viewing the rights more as burdens, than benefits.

Why do I say this last?  Because more and more people resent the fact that one has to work for the basic freedoms the Founders risked their lives to institute.  Sometimes one has to fight and die for them.  In a life wrapped in comforts (heated and air conditioned homes and cars, endless supplies of food, gadgets for every purpose), we’ve come to the point where we resent even the necessity of working hard and, perhaps, suffering a little to ensure those blessings in our lives.

“But,” I hear you ask, “what about those chickens?  Where do chickens come into this?”

Before any feathers get ruffled, let me explain that the chickens I’m thinking of have nothing to do with cowardice.  Instead, I’m thinking of the way in which chickens are raised in this country — factory farming versus free range (or cage free).

Factory farmed chickens do not live a good chicken life, and this despite the fact (or, perhaps, because of the fact) that all their basic needs are fulfilled.  They are provided with all the food they need, which many might think is a good thing.  They are protected from all dangers during the short chicken lives which, again, many might think is a good thing.  They are doused with antibiotics to ensure their health.  They need not fear any chicken hawks or foxes.  Indeed, so protected are they that their beaks and claws are cut off to make sure they don’t injure either themselves or others.  They even have private housing, one home per bird, if you consider housing decent when it is a teeny cage in which they cannot move.  These chickens exist and are fully cared for, not to fulfill their own chicken destinies, but to enrich the farmer and feed the consumer.

If one were to apply a political-systems label to the factory farmed chickens, one would have to say that they live in a totalitarian state.  While their basic needs are fulfilled (food, shelter and even health care), they have no freedom.  Each of their liberties is constrained for the benefit of the state.  They live, but they live without chicken joy.

Cage free (or free range chickens) live under a very different philosophy.  Although they ultimately benefit the farmer and the consumer (with eggs and chicken flesh), the fact remains that, during their lives, they are allowed to fulfill their real destinies as chickens.  They wander around, they scratch the ground, they flap their wings.  They are fed, but they have to fight with the other chickens for access to the feed.  They have access to shelter but, when the hawk comes, it’s their decision (and ability) to seek it.  They are not stripped of their beaks and claws because they need those to live a chicken life.  The farmer is responsible for protecting them against predators but, given the chicken’s freedom, it’s not always possible.  Their lives are a bit riskier but, for chickens, infinitely more fulfilling.

Applying a political-systems label to the free range chickens is a bit more difficult, because they have freedom but (being chickens) no representation.  Nevertheless, I’d say that their lives are more akin to the type of democracy the Founders envisioned, because they are given the means to live their lives to the fullest extent but, beyond that, they are subject to minimal farmer control.  It is true that they are taxed (the farmer gets their eggs) and that their lives ultimately enrich the state (once they hit the chicken pot), but they are free in chicken terms.

What is so interesting to consider this July 4, half way through the first year of the first (and, one hopes, last) term of President Barack Obama, is what kind of chicken-farmer-in-chief he is turning out to be.  Given his propensity for arugula-eating and Whole Food shopping, one would think that he would want to give the American people at least the same benefits he extends to his free range chickens:  A fairly safe environment within which free range Americans can live their lives as they see fit.

All signs, though, are that President Obama is trying to turn the American people into caged birds.  He wants us neatly boxed up, with the government/farmer dictating every aspect of our lives, right down to ensuring that we are unable to feed, house and defend ourselves without full government/farmer control.  As with caged bird chickens, the American citizen lives to serve the American state not (as the Founders demanded) vice versa.

The whole foodies constantly remind us that this totalitarian regime is bad news for chickens.  I would argue that it’s also bad news for Americans.

So this year, as you go to your fairs, watch your parades, have your barbeques, and delight in fire works, think about what the Declaration of Independence really means, and ask yourself this question:  Do I want my government to give me more rights than the average chicken?  If your answer is yes, spend the next year working hard to effect a change in the 2010 elections, and an Obama ouster in the 2012 elections.

An open letter to the Iranian people

People of Iran:

Traditionally, the president of the United States has been the spokesperson for the people of the United States — or, at least, for a majority of the people of the United States.  For the first time in modern history, however, we have a president who appears incapable of giving voice to the American people.  I therefore address this letter to you in the hope that, in the vacuum President Obama has created, you can hear our voices and know that we stand behind you in your brave fight against a government that has turned against you.

America was created based upon certain fundamental beliefs about the nature of man and man’s relationship to his government.  First, we believe that all people are born free, equal and, provided that they do not impinge too much on their fellow citizens, with the right to make their own lives as happy as possible.  Second, we believe that government exists to facilitate these fundamental rights.  And third, we believe that, when government fails in its responsibilities, the people may rebel.  Thus, our Declaration of Independence states:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

When Americans see you in the streets fighting for your freedom against a government that controls your every move, that makes a mockery of your votes and that, when you speak out, tortures and kills you, we feel in the very marrow of our being that you are fighting the good fight.  In homes and in offices, on blogs and in letters to the editor, and in the halls of government, Americans applaud your courage.  We want you to cast off the chains that deprive you of the liberty to which each person on earth (man and woman) is entitled.

We want you to live in a country in which all people can speak out freely, worship their God as their conscience demands, and move about without fear that their government will constrain or control them.  We recognize that, as an Islamic society, your concept of free speech, free worship, and free movement are almost certainly more narrow than ours.  Nevertheless, we believe that any limitations placed on speech, worship and movement should come from the people themselves, and not from a group of unelected rulers who brook no challenges to their power.

It is very painful, therefore, for many of us in America to watch President Barack Obama’s almost complete paralysis when it comes to speaking out for freedom.  Certainly, it’s unclear why he is so tongue-tied in the face of a rebellion that calls out to every American.  Is he silent because he thinks that the people of Iran cannot prevail?  If that’s the case, he shows a remarkably short memory, since the people of Iran were able to bring sweeping changes to their society a mere thirty years ago.  That was a revolution away from freedom.  I hope that this is a revolution towards freedom.

Or perhaps President Obama is silent because he believes that America has, at various times in her history, deviated from the path of freedom.  I hope that’s not the case either.  It would be a shocking thing if America, rather than constantly working to obtain freedom for all people, whether at home or abroad, instead decided that she was unworthy of the goal.  Even if Barack Obama thinks that America can no longer aspire towards a world “with liberty and justice for all,” I know that the majority of Americans do believe that liberty and justice are universal goals, and that we should always speak up for those who seek to obtain those national treasures.

Because President Obama’s silence is inconsistent with deeply held American values, I sincerely hope that you, the Iranian people, ignore him and listen to our voices.  Presidents come and Presidents go (one of the virtues of a truly free electoral system), but American values last.  We, the Americans, support your fight and wish you well.