SINCE I've been to enough Gay Pride parades to last me half a dozen lifetimes, I decided to give this year's exercise in public deviance a miss.
As a Catholic, you can take only so many spectacles like the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, the grotesque mockery of the pope, cardinal and church, the celebration of perversion, and displays of unimaginable vulgarity before you call enough.
Television's lying, dishonest, double-standard coverage is even worse. Every year, the city's TV stations send their cameras, producers and reporters out - and they all come back with glowing accounts.
With almost conspiratorial censorship, all six stations automatically delete the lewdness, nudity, profanity and blasphemy that are the intrinsic ingredients of the parade.
They block out the dirty placards, the insulting banners, the violent, anti-religious themes.
Instead, they present the parade as a fun festival, rich in color, pageantry and pride. The distortion is a criminal abuse of truth.
The TV propagandists were at it again Sunday night after the 29th parade down Fifth Avenue.
Here's WNBC/Channel 4's intro: "They're celebrating with pride and parades, a rainbow of flags, floats and festivities ... They kicked off in high style ... and remained spectacular to its end."
The WABC/Channel 7 anchors could hardly contain their enthusiasm. "It was a wild and fun afternoon ... a fun affair."
None of them told of the reported half-dozen men who were stark naked except for their green condoms. None told of the bare-breasted women prancing down the avenue. None showed the lurid excesses of the drag queens and cross-dressers.
None find it offensive that this essentially obscene promenade starts at 52nd Street so it will pass the front doors of St. Patrick's Cathedral and dishonor the religion it represents.
The anti-Catholic thrust of the gay parade is recognized by the mayors (Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani) who invariably join the march at 48th Street, past the cathedral.
They wouldn't dare join this parade at any point if it insisted on passing and desecrating a sacred black church or synagogue. Indeed, if the media thought the Gay Pride Parade was racist or anti-Semitic in tone, they would pour the fires of hell on it. Let it be anti-Catholic, and it's suddenly fun and festive, a tribute to the First Amendment.
Public acceptance of the double-standard is part of the virulent Christian-bashing binge that seems to be sweeping the country.
It's in the movies, on television, on the stage, in art, in politics ... everywhere.
I'm tired of it. So is William Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. "Could you imagine, say, a pro-life demonstration with some lunatics going naked in the streets?" he asked. "It would be front page everywhere.
"Puerto Ricans, Irish, Italians, Jews, Poles, West Indians all have parades, but none feels compelled to disrobe. The Gay Pride Parade itself demonstrates it is genitally derived."
Donohue, one of the great lay defenders of the faith in this city, will celebrate his fifth year on the job tomorrow.
"In those years, I have seen an increase in the volume and in the intensity of the hate directed at the Catholic Church," he said. "Messages left for us every day and the threats on my life indicate a rising viciousness out there."
Why? What's behind it all?
"I believe it all comes down to sex," Donohue said. "The church teaches restraint, its opponents want to abandon restraint, so the church is an impediment to their libertine understanding of sexuality."
Donohue, ever the optimist, is encouraged by a corresponding rise in support. "The Orthodox Jewish community has been a great support in the "Corpus Christi' controversy," he said.
That's the play by Terrence McNally that depicts a Jesus-like character as a homosexual who has relations with gay apostles. As we all recognize, McNally and the social anarchists, freaks and theater nitwits who support him would not dare write a play depicting Dr. Martin Luther King in the same way. That would be racist. But Jesus and the Christians are fair game.
Advance insights into the play assure it is pure poison. Yet the only thing holding up its production, apparently, is finding a "name" actor to play the Jesus character.
The play is to be produced by the Manhattan Theater Club, whose major contributors include AT&T, American Express, Bell Atlantic, The New York Times and Reader's Digest.
Donohue is about to write them all and ask whether they want to be known as financial backers of one of the most vicious anti-Christian diatribes ever written. Perhaps they could find a worthier cause for their money.
Nearly all the major playwrights in America support "Corpus Christi" under the First Amendment umbrella. Donohue has challenged them to a TV debate. All have declined.
What would happen if a bigoted playwright concocted a theater piece ridiculing, say, the Holocaust? Would the Manhattan Theater Club produce it? Would big corporations contribute to it? Would social crackpots like Frank Rich defend it?
I don't think so.
But when Christianity is the target, free speech excuses everything. It's time the Christians stood up and fought back.
Their goal is to give formal direction to the general trend in which liberal, labor and socialist parties are abandoning government ownership of major industries and tax and spending programs that aggressively seek to redistribute income.
Blair and Clinton have met twice this year -- once in this country and last month in England -- to discuss the so-called third way strategy that is neither the traditional right or left approach to governing. Clinton also explored the subject at a May meeting with Romano Prodi, the Italian prime minister, and on June 7 at a Camp David meeting with Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
While playing down any immediate organizational plans, some of those involved in the discussions suggest that the long-range aim would be to set up a middle-ground counterpart to the Socialist International on the left or the International Democrat Union on the right.
Any formal efforts to set up such an organization or forum would begin after the German elections in September. If Gerhard Schroeder, the Social Democratic candidate, wins, the German leadership would help Clinton and Blair counter some quiet opposition in the French and Portuguese left.
In place of direct state intervention, Clinton and Blair have been promoting a version of liberal-left politics that calls for competitive, free-market strategies while using government to prevent the market from devastating those least prepared to live without the protections of the welfare state.
"For the first time in all human history," Clinton told the 50th anniversary celebration of the World Trade Organization in Geneva last month, "the argument over which is better, free enterprise or state socialism, has been won, when people on every continent seek to join the free market system."
Clinton contended that the obligation of government is "to ensure that spirited economic competition among nations never becomes a race to the bottom, in environmental protections, consumer protections or labor standards. We should be leveling up, not leveling down."
Blair says the current political balance "is an historic opportunity, and we're seizing it. We are taking the historic values of the left -- our long commitment to fairness, democracy and freedom -- and we are applying them to our new world of dynamic markets."
Writing in the London Independent, Blair declared: "It is the center-left which holds the intellectual advantage; it is our agenda which will reshape people's lives. . . . [T]he right-wing agenda turns out to be hollow at the core."
The steady growth in international economic competition -- globalization -- has posed a three-decade-long dilemma for the Democratic Party in the United States and socialist-social democratic parties in Europe and other parts of the world.
These parties have depended on national high wage, pro-union, welfare spending policies -- and in some cases state ownership -- to maintain the support of working-class and poor voters. Faced with competition from low-wage countries, the center-left political parties have encountered severe difficulties maintaining widespread support for policies that are seen as costly liabilities in the international struggle for market shares.
"The recent record of socialist, social democratic and labor parties around the world" shows "that none of them are socialist. . . . Not one of the important left parties advocates widespread public ownership or extensive redistributionist policies involving progressive income taxes and entitlements," Seymour Martin Lipset and Gary Marks wrote in "It Didn't Happen Here: The Failure of Socialism in America."
"The British election in May 1997, won overwhelmingly by the Labour Party after it had rejected its historic emphasis on public ownership, basically puts a period, an end to a century of socialist efforts in Europe to eliminate private ownership of the economy. The party's leader, Tony Blair, has been deliberately following the free market, smaller government policies of Bill Clinton," Lipset and Marks wrote.
The Clinton-Blair "third way" approach claims to balance the inescapable power of competitive markets with policies seeking to provide workers with access to job training, health care and some pension security.
The de facto Clinton-Blair alliance, which the two leaders are conducting at both a personal and staff level, is viewed by some conservatives as simply a response or accommodation to the ideological upheavals initiated by President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
"One of the ironies of history is that left-of-center governments are presiding over the privatizing of Social Security and the introduction of market forces into the public sector," said William Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard. "Reagan and Thatcher and [German chancellor Helmut] Kohl will remain the giant figures of the late 20th century, not Clinton, Blair and Schroeder."
"Blair in many ways represents the consolidation of Thatcherism; Clinton represents an accommodation to many conservative ideas," said Adam Meyerson, editor of the Heritage Foundation's magazine, Policy Review.
Meyerson was more open to the possibility that Clinton and Blair could substantially change politics on a large scale, but said he has "not seen it yet. It's more talk than action." He contended that Clinton "had the potential to reshape politics much more so than he has done, while Blair has been much bolder on issues such as privatizing Social Security and school reform."
On the left, both here and in Europe, there are those who suspect that Blair, with Clinton's assistance, wants, in the words of one U.S. activist, "to put a knife into the heart of what remains of international socialism. There isn't much spirit in the Socialist International, and Blair is acting like he would like to see some kind of 'third way' organization replace it."
While disputing any goal of undermining the Socialist International, Adrian McMenamin, spokesman for Blair's Labor Party, said Blair has argued "that the party needs to enter into a dialogue with other center-left parties which might not be socialist." He said the moment is not ripe for the actual formation of an international organization, but Blair is interested in setting up some kind of "framework" or "loose organization," where representatives of center-left parties could discuss varying approaches to governance.
In the United States, Sidney Blumenthal is the Clinton aide working most closely with the Blair government and with center-left parties in France, Germany, Italy and Brazil. "We are sharing our experiences on the issues that confront us in all advanced industrial nations," Blumenthal said, describing the discussions as informal.
"With Great Britain, we have forged a new special relationship, a 21st-century alliance, as the president called it, based not only on all our traditional mutual interests, but on our common conviction of the necessity for a new social contract," Blumenthal said in a speech last month at the World Policy Institute.
"Many of the criticisms of Blair," Blumenthal said, "from both the left and the right, are exactly similar to those of the president. Blair is accused of spin and waffling, lacking conviction, offering up a blur, just conservatism in disguise. But the emergence of trans-Atlantic, one-nation politics of a new third way makes it increasingly clear that far more than personality is at stake."
Within the feuding wings of the Democratic Party, the "third way" approach has won support from traditional adversaries. On the Democratic Party's right flank, Al From, head of the Democratic Leadership Council, and one of his long-term critics, Robert Kuttner, editor of the liberal, pro-labor American Prospect magazine, both agreed that the "third way" offers mechanisms for the Democratic Party and other left parties to remain competitive in a global economy.
Throughout the end years of the Cold War, the United States adhered to a China policy rooted in the idea that a limited friendship between two adversaries was not a bad thing when it served to trouble a third, more dangerous, enemy. This rationale disappeared with the Soviet Union. Since then, American policy has attempted to deal with China as it was -- a Communist totalitarian state guided by an ideology inimical to American interests and repugnant to American values -- but to also encourage China's evolution toward a more democratic society. The principal element of this policy was to link the blessings of trade and international recognition that Beijing coveted to Beijing's behavior in the areas of human rights, free trade and nuclear weapons proliferation.
This is the course that the White House says triumphed in Beijing. Actually, it died there, finally, and a new China policy was born. The extraordinary evolution that Berger noted was not China's but ours. As critics have warned would happen, we did not change China; China changed us.
Our new policy is to regard China and the United States as "partners, not adversaries," in the words of President Jiang Zemin. In this policy, what Clinton called "partnership and honest friendship" with China is of such immense importance "for the future sake of the world" that the United States must accept China as it is. The desired end of the old, linkage-based policy was to force improvements in the behavior of the Chinese government. Under the new policy, the United States will no longer presume to force change, only to speak its mind. "We do not," the president assured his hosts, "seek to impose our vision on others."
No, we don't. We agree, as friends do, to disagree. Agreeing to disagree is an end in itself. We will, from time to time, forthrightly express our disagreement with some of Beijing's practices, and Beijing will forthrightly express its disagreement with our disagreement, and we will all get on with our business, which is mainly business.
The clearest illustration of this policy at work occurred when Clinton addressed the delicate subject of Tiananmen Square. "For all our agreements, we still disagree about the meaning of what happened then," said Clinton with exquisite tact. Yes, we do disagree. We say that "what happened then," nine years ago, was that the tanks of the People's Liberation Army murdered unarmed students whose only crime was to gather in a cry for democracy. The People's Republic of China says, as Jiang informed Clinton, that "had the Chinese government not taken the resolute measures, then we could not have enjoyed the stability that we are enjoying today."
And that is that. 'Nuff said. Let's move on. How do we move on? Clinton offered two steps by which the United States and China might "deal with such disagreements" as that which arose over the late unpleasantness at Tiananmen, "and still succeed in the important work of deepening our friendship and our sense of mutual respect."
First, he said, Americans must "acknowledge the painful moments in our own history when fundamental human rights were denied," and "we must say that we know still we have to continue to work to advance the dignity and freedom and equality of our own people." Second, he said, "we must understand and respect the enormous challenges China has faced in trying to move forward against great odds, with a clear memory of the setbacks suffered in periods of instability."
So. The lesson of Tiananmen Square is not that China's dictators must change. It is that Americans must change. We must be more sensitive. We must acknowledge our sins. We must be patient. We must not judge lest we be judged. And what must the People's Republic of China do? About this, the president said not a word.
What happened in Beijing was that the men who rule China learned that they may do as they wish. Linkage is dead. The United States will no longer seek to force change in China. China's government may deal with democracy's advocates as it sees fit. It may continue to require its female citizens to undergo forced abortions. It may continue its armed occupation of Tibet and press forward with its goal of enfolding Taiwan.
We will express our disagreements, and then move on, in partnership and honest friendship. We have our vision and the men whom Bill Clinton once called "aging rulers with undisguised contempt for democracy" have their vision, and we do not seek to impose.
Friday's leak through the Washington Post that the FBI has known since 1991 that the Democrat Party is infiltrated by Chinese agents is a seminal event. For it offers sufficient detail to complete the picture of how the entire Chinese intelligence penetration succeeded. When combining it with other leaks, intelligence reports, and congressional investigation results, the following picture can be put together:
In the 1980s, the People's Republic of China made a decision to build the most powerful military force in the world. In less than a decade, China's annual military spending tripled. In terms of manpower, it already had the largest army in the world. But to project force, it needed a modern Navy as well. To rival the U.S. military, it needed advanced U.S. military technology, and it needed U.S. dollars to purchase such technology. Republican administrations had permitted trade with China that produced hard currency, but had employed tight export controls to prevent advanced U.S. military technology from falling into the hands of Communists. So the Chinese government bet its money on two Southern Democrats with an expressed and desperate desire to ascend to the U.S. Presidency.
THE INGENIOUS DIVERSION
It is against the law for a foreign government to support U.S. politicians, and movement inside U.S. borders of Communist China agents is watched closely by FBI counterintelligence.
So Communist China set up a diversion so ingenious that it has confused reporters for years, but has been known to and kept secret by the FBI. Mainland China used its archrival Taiwan, as well as Hong Kong, as conduits for the funds paid to Clinton and Gore. Democratic Taiwan and Hong Kong are the last places you would look for Communist agents, and the many U.S. subsidiaries of Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and Indonesian companies and organizations offered convenient footholds through which to launder money and buy influence with U.S. politicians.
China Resources bought into Lippo Bank of Hong Kong and Indonesia and placed its officers John Huang and James Riady in Arkansas. John Huang was born in Mainland China, but had served in the Taiwanese air force. Ya Long Economic Trading of the Chinese Hainan province sought influence and legitimacy through the Hsi Lai temple of Taiwan, through its representative Maria Hsia, born in Taiwan.
Both John Huang and Maria Hsia are known by the FBI to be agents of Communist China. Together with James Riady, they formed the Pacific Leadership Council, and invited none other than then-Senator Al Gore to the Hsi Lai temple headquarters in Taiwan in 1989. On behalf of the Chinese government, Maria Hsia promised Al Gore that she would persuade all her colleagues "in the future to play a leader role in your presidential race." When Al Gore entered the Hsi Lai temple of Los Angeles seven years later to facilitate the laundry of donations in a "fund-raiser," he must have known it came from the Chinese government.
Well, Gore didn't make it to the presidential race a second time, because of another promising candidate that the Chinese government had bet even more money on: Bill Clinton, then- Governor of Arkansas.
THE BAG MEN
To help Clinton's election for president, enormous amounts of money was needed. The money flowed primarily through three channels. Money needed for legitimate spending by the Clinton campaign flowed through the Lippo- controlled Worthen Bank of Little Rock, which among other cash transfers granted Clinton a crucial $3.5 million "loan" to bring him over the top in the New York primary. Money needed for legitimate spending by the Democrat National Committee was laundered primarily through the Pacific Leadership Council. For Clinton's 1996 re-election, additional money for the DNC and for various committees and funds operating on behalf of Bill Clinton was laundered though individual bag men like Charlie Trie and Johnny Chung, who had the money wired to them directly from the Bank of China.
But in 1992, the most significant use of funds, we suspect, was illegitimate. A campaign such as that of Bill Clinton cannot succeed without the availability of unlimited cash to buy off bank regulators and public officials to look the other way. To pay local, state, and federal police officers to block investigations and grand jury proceedings. To pay newspaper reporters and editors to avert their gaze and stop investigating sensitive issues. To throw around in vote-buying efforts, in the Clinton campaign referred to as "walking-around money."
All these illegitimate uses of campaign money have one thing in common. The money need not be laundered. It need only be brought in from the donor. And brought in it was. In planeloads of cash, brought in through the remote Mena airport and transferred to the trunk of the Cadillac of bag man Jerry Parks who, according to the London Telegraph, together with Vince Foster transported the illegal cash to Little Rock. Both Foster and Parks are now dead, and we have no idea how much cash was brought in through this route, though we suspect it surpassed the amount of money that was laundered into legitimate political spending.
Of all the bag men discovered so far, six are now dead, 36 have pleaded the Fifth Amendment, eleven have fled the country, and eleven are living in foreign countries and refuse to cooperate.
With Bill Clinton elected president and John Huang placed with a top secret clearance (without examination) in the Commerce Department, the Chinese got what they wanted: unlimited access to the military, civilian and dual-use technology that had been denied them during Republican administrations:
(*) F-16 fighter jets
(*) Cray supercomputers for weapons development
(*) Machine tools for cruise missile construction
(*) Global Positioning System technology for missile guidance
(*) Satellites and satellite technology
(*) The entire U.S. Patent database.
(*) Nuclear Power plants
John Huang used his top secret clearance to gain access to classified U.S. military and industrial secrets on encryption technology and its relationship to intelligence gathering and software marketing across the world. He then took the documents across the street, to an office run by Riady partner Stephens' of Little Rock, where he dropped the documents so they could be collected by Chinese intelligence.
And when Chinese military and intelligence wanted a foothold in America, President Clinton personally met twice with Long Beach officials to push through a deal to lease the former naval base to the Chinese COSCO front company on extremely favorable terms despite vocal national security concerns.
THWARTING THE INVESTIGATION
The most shocking and devastating revelation made by Bob Woodward's story Friday is that after Chairman Thompson announced two weeks ago that he was suspending his public hearings, the FBI obtained intelligence showing that the Ministry of State Security in Beijing -- the Chinese equivalent of the CIA -- boasted it had been successful in "thwarting" the congressional inquiry.
How could Chinese agents be able to "thwart" an inquiry by the U.S. congress? The answer is not hard to find. One need only look at those who irrationally attacked Chairman Fred Thompson for his opening statement, where he revealed that there was a Chinese plot to influence the election. His statement was deliberately non-partisan, so there would be no partisan reasons to counterattack. But the interests of the Chinese intelligence agency would be served. Senator John Glenn said: "I think I have seen everything the chairman has seen, and I recall nothing to document allegations that China had done anything illegal." After the FBI offered to show the classified evidence to any Senator who wished to see it, Senator Glenn fell strangely silent. Even more shocking was Senator Glenn's offer to negotiate an immunity agreement on behalf of John Huang. How did John Glenn end up representing a Communist agent whom Senate staffers had been unable to locate?
Senators Carl Levin and Robert Toricelli displayed similar behavior. Both having accepted cash from John Huang, they too spoke the case of the Chinese intelligence agency: "I find the fact that Mr. Huang would maintain an arrangement where he would make phone calls outside the Department of Commerce not in and of itself suspicious," Senator Toricelli said of the secret Stephens' office where Huang dropped his stolen state secrets.
We can add to this list Senate Minority leader Tom Daschle, who has accepted cash from Maria Hsia, and who personally recommended John Huang to be placed in the Commerce department. He later was instrumental in imposing a fixed deadline on Thompson's inquiry, so it could be stalled by Democrat Senators and by the White House.
Chairman Thompson's landmark opening statement included a reference to the U.S. media. He referred to intelligence showing Chinese agents "attempting to communicate Beijing's views through media channels in the United States."
It comes as no surprise, then, that network and cable news anchors took the position of Senator Glenn in ridiculing Thompson's allegation. And the Boston Globe wrote: "Does anybody really think little Clinton, raised in that tar-shingled shack in Hope, Ark., with his gutsy mom going out to nurse the poor for short money, trying to find a life for herself and her two boys, marrying four times along the way, learning to take her small pleasures where she could, at the race track or the cigarette counter, do you really think that her boy grows up to become president only to sell out the USA to Chinese spies laundering cash through Buddhist nuns? I don't." [Violin music off]
Whether they know it or not, all of those listed above have been used as instruments of a successful disinformation and propaganda campaign by a foreign Communist government.
Fortunately, the Chinese haven't gotten to Bob Woodward or to William Safire, or to Tim Russert who repeatedly has invited them both on NBC's "Meet the Press" to tell what they know about the Chinese penetration of the U.S. government. Chris Matthews is another of the few mainstream media commentators who has had an ear for the gravity of this scandal. And there is at least one FBI counterintelligence agent who is so outraged by the cover-up of his superiors that he is now leaking to Bob Woodward.
Neither have the Chinese government gotten to Dan Burton or Bob Barr, the only Congressmen left to take seriously the threat of Chinese infiltration. Burton, a fervent anti-Communist, and Barr, a former CIA employee, now form the last line of defense against a People's Republic of China already occupying the White House.
[ For more details of the Chinese penetration, its bag men, and its reporting and non-reporting since 1995, see the new Washington Weekly archive "Chinagate," available to the public at http://www.federal.com ]
Jefferson Davis, the last American president to preside over a constitutional republic (the Confederate States of America) had this to say about the Constitution and the Union.
"I love the Union and the Constitution," he said, "but I would rather leave the Union with the Constitution than remain in the Union without it."
I would guess many Americans have no idea what Davis meant, because they have no idea what the original intent of the Constitution was. Many today, I suspect, think that the Constitution is what allows people to burn flags and dance naked in bars. In fact, the Founding Fathers had a rather more serious purpose in mind.
The first step in understanding the original intent is to recall that Colonial America existed for about 169 years before the American Revolution. These colonies existed separately and independent of each other. When they seceded from the British Empire, they did so separately and independently.
The Declaration of Independence is clear on this point. It states, "We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, ... solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, Free and Independent States" (note the plural) "... and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all the other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do ..."
They called themselves the United States because of the Articles of Confederation. Article II of that document states, "Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled."
Many people today seem to think that the federal government created the states when it was the reverse. The states created the federal government as a stronger form of confederation by delegating certain of their powers to it. Thus, the purpose of the Constitution of 1787, like the Articles of Confederation, was to create a voluntary union to accomplish specific purposes, mainly to ensure a domestic free market, to provide for the common defense of the states and to deal with foreign countries with one voice.
In the original Constitution, people were not American citizens per se but were instead citizens of their respective states. The Constitution stipulated that each state would grant to the citizens of other states the rights and privileges it granted to its own. It's difficult to understand the War Between the States without understanding the loyalty Americans -- North and South -- felt for their respective states.
But what is relevant for us today is that the people in the American Republic (1787-1860) understand that the powers of the federal government were strictly limited to those spelled out in the Constitution and that the Constitution would be interpreted literally and narrowly. And, most important, that the states themselves would be the final judge of the federal government's actions.
In the North, however, there arose new feelings of nationalism and a belief that a strong central government should provide economic benefits -- protective tariffs and infrastructure, for example. Southerners disagreed; hence the split. Because the North prevailed and amended the Constitution to expand the powers of the federal government, that's what we live under today.
But Davis also said that questions that are settled by force and violence remain forever unsettled and will arise again. And so, today, we are seeing more and more people object to an unlimited central government. It seems sometimes that human "progress" travels in a circle rather than a straight line.
This Fourth of July will commemorate the 222nd year since the Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia, at the Second Continental Congress. A new nation was thereupon born into the world, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the enduring principle that legitimate government exists solely through the consent of those being governed.
The immortal words of that Declaration will deservedly be read in many places across our land, in whole or in part, as Americans celebrate Independence Day once again, this year. "We hold these truths to be self-evident..." still stirs the heart, and brings a tear to the eye, of all those who hold Freedom dear.
Yet before pen ever set those words on paper, many had died, in a country already at war. Their love of Liberty was no less than Jefferson's, or Franklin's, or Henry's... and though history may judge those later assembled in Philadelphia as the 'Founding Fathers' of our nation, we need to remember this greater truth:
SPRING HAD COME EARLY, after a mild winter, to the countryside around Boston. By April, the leaves were budding a month earlier than usual, and the grass in the meadows was thick and green. Farmers were already sowing their fields, and their wives were feeding poultry, and milking the family's cow.
But all was not peaceful across New England, in that spring of 1775. In every village, you could see men shouldering arms and marching back & forth across the Green, while an old man played the fife and a boy beat the drum. Committees of Safety had been formed in all the towns, and everywhere arms and ammunition were being collected, and stored.
For whatever their eminent leaders might, or might not say, the mass of people believed in the immediate possibility of a war with England.
Massachusetts had been declared to be in a state of rebellion, and Boston had been occupied since the year before, by a British army under General Thomas Gage. Soldiers and ships were his, aplenty, and he talked of arresting Patriots for treason, to be tried in England. Parliament had just passed an act relieving him and his men from any and all responsibility for killings, or other outrages, done upon Americans.
In Lexington and Concord, lying fourteen and twenty miles from Boston along the high road, quantities of powder and muskets, and two small cannon had been accumulated. No offensive operations were contem- plated, nor was it known what form British aggression might take, but if trouble should occur they intended to be ready.
On the 18th of April, mysterious conferences among British officers in Boston had been noted, along with movements among the troops quartered there. It was assumed by Patriots keeping watch that some hostile act might be forthcoming, and plans were made to give warning inland.
Soon after 10 o'clock that night, a man was sent riding past Medford Town, heading west. He had been rowed cross the Charles River, and landed on the Charlestown shore, only a few minutes before an order to let no one pass had reached the sentry there. Turning, with but one foot in the stirrup, he had seen two lights in the North Church tower, then galloped off.
At Medford, he paused to give the alarm - the British are marching by night, on Lexington and Concord! - and did the same at the twenty or so farmhouses along his way. At a thatched-roof cottage in Lexington, he meets with John Hancock and Sam Adams. While they speak together, young Jonas Parker - the best wrestler in the village - has drawn a bucket of water from the well, and holds it under the nose of Revere's horse. A little later, Revere asks him, "Well, my lad. Are you ready to fight, tomorrow?"
"I won't run, I promise you that," Parker replied. Five hours later, he was dead with a bullet through his young body, and a British bayonet wound in his breast, having kept his word.
Joined by two others, William Dawes and Sam Prescott, Revere pressed-on to take the word to Lincoln. In the black of the night, they run into a dozen English soldiers, and Dawes and Revere are arrested. But Prescott is too quick for them, jumping his horse over a low stone wall in the melee, and takes off across the meadows which he has known since childhood, to Concord.
He arrives at two o'clock in the morning, and the bell of the meeting-house is soon pealing. Now, the Concord Minutemen are running towards the Green, muskets in hand. Barrett, their captain, forms them into a double rank in the cool night air, and calls the roll: Blanchard, Brown, Butterick, Parson Emerson, Hosmer, and all the rest. They have known each other all their lives. Now, the time has come for action, to make good all the bold words spoken at many a town meeting, and in private conversations over the past weeks and months. And though death may be marching towards them from the east, they are ready.
Back at Lexington, death has arrived. Major Pitcairn, of His Majesty's Royal Marines, has arrived with 800 grenadiers and light infantry, shortly before dawn. Facing him, assembled on the village common in their scanty ranks, stand fewer than 70 militiamen. Young men and old are there, in their well-worn shirts and breeches, cut and sown by the faithful toil of wives and daughters. Each has a flintlock in his hands, and they stand there silent and motionless, protesting with their lives against the march of tyranny.
There in front of the little church, where each of them had often prayed, they stood shoulder to shoulder, gazing at the might of England, waiting for what was to come. They stood protecting their homes, their families and loved ones, and that most precious of all gifts, their Liberty. With fear in their hearts, and prayers choking their throats - they stood.
The British commander rode to the front of his renadiers, and called out in a harsh, commanding voice, "Disperse, ye villains! Ye rebels - lay down your arms and disperse!" And then, snatching a pistol from his belt, he leveled and discharged it, shouting "Fire!", at the same moment.
The volley came, and down went Jonas Parker, to be stabbed before he could reload. There fell old Munroe, the veteran of Louisburg. Harrington, killed at his own doorstep. Muzzey, Hadley, and Brown... before the stars had faded in the light of dawn, sixteen New Englanders lay dead or wounded on the Lexington green.
And after giving three cheers, the British army marched on towards Concord, leaving a small force to deal with the fleeing and demoralized Lexington militia. It was seven o'clock when Pitcairn's forces came over the base of the small hill that lies east of Concord. All through the early morning hours, parties of men from Lincoln, Acton, and other nearby hamlets and villages had gradually reinforced the Concord Minutemen, and now they were about 200 strong. Still badly out-numbered, they fell back northward, to just beyond the bridge over the Muskataquid River.
The British, finding Concord to be deserted, amused themselves by making bonfires of the Liberty Pole, and some gun-carriages, on the village green. They also fired the Courthouse. Pitcairn divided his forces into thirds - one part sent south of town, another remaining in Concord itself, and the third to the north & Concord Bridge.
Men continued to show up from other neighboring towns... Carlisle, Bedford, Woburn, Westford, Littleton, Chelmsford... the militiamen now numbered nearly 400 men. Vague rumors of the bloodshed at Lexington were being heard, passed from mouth to mouth. After conferring, Captain Barrett gave the order, "Advance across the bridge... don't fire, unless they fire at you."
Immediately, several shots rang out from the British, and two Americans fell. Then a volley, and now Isaac Davis was down, and moved no more. Abner Hosmer fell dead near him... and still, the Minutemen had not fired. Butterick, leading one company of men, shouted "Fire, fellow soldiers! For God's sake, fire!" and they did. English soldiers fell, and as the Americans continued to advance, panic gripped the rest who began to retreat in disorder, back towards Concord.
In the end, it was a complete rout. Pitcairn started his troops back the twenty miles to Boston, and all along the way Patriots continued to rally to the fray... they peppered the British column from every side, and at every turn. 273 British men and officers died that day, and had not General Gage sent out 1500 additional reinforcements, to burn every barn and farmhouse along the Boston Road, it is likely that militia snipers would have annihilated Pitcairn's entire force. For by day's end, American forces numbered not in the hundreds, but the thousands, and Boston lay beseiged.
And although the Second Continental Congress would be called into session the next month, it would be another full year and more, before the Declaration of Independence was written and proclaimed.
WORDS UPON PAPER CAN BE FINE THINGS, BUT THAT IS NOT WHERE LIBERTY DWELLS... and though the British were driven from them over two hundred years ago, the battle for justice and freedom is not ended on these shores. Whenever tyranny and oppression raise their evil hands, the sound of those muskets at Lexington and Concord comes reverberating out of the past.... FOR THE BLOOD OF THOSE FARMERS, WHO STOOD AND DIED THAT MEN MIGHT LIVE FREE, STILL FLOWS IN OUR VEINS.
THEY were our fore-fathers, and the nation THEY FOUNDED still belongs to you and me.
His reply? "We've got fundamental issues to deal with that go beyond just the Year 2000 contingency planning. And I think you're right to bring that up."
Later, Bennett added ominously: "The world as a whole is almost doomed to have major problems because other countries are way behind, however badly prepared we are" to handle the problem. "It is entirely possible that every organization in America could get its own computers fixed ... and still have major problems. When people say to me, is the world going to come to an end, I say I don't know. I don't know whether this will be a bump in the road ... or whether this will in fact trigger a major worldwide recession with absolutely devastating economic consequences in some parts of the world."
What on Earth are these guys talking about? Martial law? Global economic collapse? The end of the world?
The government is getting nervous. To Washington, the Y2K bug threatens to be either the end of centralized control over the lives of Americans or an opportunity to extend government's power even further.
It is, no doubt, this kind of panicky and opportunistic thinking that led President Clinton to issue Presidential Decision Directive 63 -- one of the most ominous and least understood orders to emanate from a White House notorious for issuing such directives. It was released by the White House, like so many others, with little fanfare May 22.
Single-spaced, "The Clinton Administration's Policy on Critical Infrastructure Protection," prints out to some 15 pages. While it never explicitly mentions the Y2K bug, one can't help thinking it was in the mind of the authors, who dwell heavily on the importance of "cyber-based information systems."
"Critical infrastructures are those physical and cyber- based systems essential to the minimum operations of the economy and government," the white paper says. "They include, but are not limited to, telecommunications, energy, banking and finance, transportation, water systems and emergency services, both governmental and private. Many of the nation's critical infrastructures have historically been physically and logically separate systems that had little interdependence. As a result of advances in information technology and the necessity of improved efficiency, however, these infrastructures have become increasingly automated and interlinked. These same advances have created new vulnerabilities to equipment failures, human error, weather and other natural causes, and physical and cyber attacks. Addressing these vulnerabilities will necessarily require flexible, evolutionary approaches that span both the public and private sectors, and protect both domestic and international security."
So what does the White House have in mind?
Clinton is calling for a plan to ensure "essential national security missions" as well as general public health and safety by the year 2000. Interesting that he would pick that date. The plan must also provide ways for state and local governments to maintain order and deliver minimum essential services and the private sector to keep the economy humming.
Not interested in the federal plans? You may have to be. The document states that "it is preferred that participation by owners and operators in a national infrastructure protection system be voluntary." Note that word "preferred."
The president's national security adviser will serve as the clearinghouse for developing the plans. The first drafts from federal agencies is due on his desk this November. The military plays a big role in the plans. The Defense Department serves as the "executive agent" through the end of this fiscal year, after which, Clinton's favorite department, Commerce, takes over.
The directive also creates the "National Infrastructure Protection Center, which includes the FBI, the Secret Service, other federal law enforcement agencies, the Department of Defense and the intelligence agencies. All federal agencies are ordered to cooperate fully with NIPC. Private businesses involved in critical infrastructure will be "strongly encouraged" to share information with NIPC.
Depending on the nature of the threat, "NIPC may be placed in a direct support role to either DOD (Department of Defense) or the Intelligence Community," the document states.
Some of the immediate tasks for the national coordinator of this plan include studying "existing legal impediments to information sharing, with an eye to proposals to remove these impediments. ..." and "the necessity of information classification" -- read: "secret files."
Martial law anyone? Sounds like Sen. Bennett is on to something.
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