A couple of thoughts about the American Revolution *UPDATED*
We finally received from Netflix HBO’s six-part production on the life of John Adams. It’s very good, although it tends to take itself a little bit too seriously, which reveals itself in the . . . very . . . slow . . . scenes . . . as . . . if . . . people . . . in . . . the . . . old . . . days . . . were . . . always . . . sedated. I also have a problem with Abigail Adams being portrayed as a dour, angry woman, which is not how I read her witty, informed letters. But those are small quibbles regarding an otherwise excellent show.
Watching the show, I came away with two thoughts, both of which I’ve had before, but both of which the show reinforced.
First, the show should remind us that not all fights are created equal, and that whether David is the good guy or the bad guy vis a vis Goliath depends upon the purpose behind his fight. What’s fascinating about the Revolutionaries, who took on the might of the English Empire, was what they were fighting for: liberty, freedom, self-determination. There is no doubt that slavery tainted those goals, but there is also no doubt that, as they said time, and time, and time again, those were, in fact, the goals at issue.
Contrast the purity of the Founders’ gaols to a few of the fighters the world today wishes to characterize as Davids. Let’s take Hamas, for example, which much of the world tries to characterize as a pure David fighting the evil Israeli Goliath. Certainly in terms of weaponry, it’s true that, at least now, Hamas is the little guy with the slingshot. That’s a cheap, shallow comparison, though. What one needs to do is look at Hamas’ goals in this fight.
What is Hamas fighting for? It’s easy to for us to say because, just as the Founders did, so too do the Hamas representatives tell us frequently and with clarity what their goals are: The destruction of Israel and the genocide of her citizens, the complete subjugation of women, the death of all homosexuals, and a worldwide Caliphate in which all are forced into submission to Allah and sharia law.
It’s equally instructive to look at the society Israel wishes to protect from the scrappy little “David” attacking her. Israel is a democratic republic that allows religious freedom and that provides equal rights to all citizens. She may be big, but she’s on the side of good.
All fights are not created equal. It doesn’t matter the relative size of the combatants. What matters is the cause behind the fight.
The other thing that became clear watching the show is that the Second Amendment must have been intended to protect citizens from an overreaching government. The American colonists could not have contemplated insurrection against a tyrannical government in the first instance if they were not armed to begin with.
This means that, when the Founders drafted the Second Amendment, they were not writing it to ensure that citizens could help the government engage in battle against a foreign power (although citizens arms would help). Instead, the Founders wrote the Second Amendment with a clear memory of the fact that citizens may be called upon to protect themselves against their own government.
As the Continental Congress had stated only a few years before enacting the Bill of Rights, “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.” This cannot be done unless the people have the ability to defend themselves against the government.
UPDATE: At Noisy Room, a couple of days before this post, Terresa put up reminders of the Founder’s own words about citizens and their guns.