The ever-liberal New York Times can be relied upon to jump on any conservative who defends the Second Amendment and who offers historical arguments to support it. Most recently, the Times trotted out a respected scholar of the Holocaust from the University of Vermont to denounce Dr. Ben Carson. “Ben Carson is wrong about guns and the Holocaust,” writes Prof. Alan E. Steinweis. Let us stipulate that Vermont is a safe place in which to offer contrary opinions.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might beg to differ with the venerable Vermont prof. In his important 1993 book, Israel: A Place Among the Nations, Netanyahu showed that the Jews of Europe survived not because they were welcomed and protected by their neighbors. Far from it. They faced periodic outbreaks of anti-Semitic violence, often sparked by rumors and false witness against them. The reason the Jews survived the Middle Ages, Netanyahu argued, is that they were armed. And were known to be armed.
Only in the Enlightenment, with its hopeful view of human nature and of the brotherhood of rational men, did the idea of the disarmed Jew begin to take hold, Netanyahu showed. In his book, the future Prime Minister made the case that Israel must ever be able to deter aggression by force of arms, when necessary. Today, tragically, with a new wave of terrorist stabbings in Israel, Jews are once again forced to defend themselves by resorting to arms.
Dr. Carson might have anticipated the Times’ displeasure. Whenever anyone uses historical examples to buttress their case for Americans’ right to keep and bear arms, the editors of “the Gray Lady” get the vapors. There are numerous other examples, closer to home, that Dr. Carson might have cited making the same point.
American students used to study, even memorize Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere.”
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, “If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,–
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm.
Interesting, isn’t it, that the signal light — that beacon of liberty — was placed in the North Church tower? And that the country folk — our fabled Minutemen — were called upon to “be up and to arm.”
It’s too bad our young people don’t memorize this poem any longer. They should also know the story of Salem Poor, a free black man who fought for our freedom on Bunker Hill soon afterward.
It is also important to note that after the battles of Lexington and Concord, fought on the day following Paul Revere’s ride, the retreating redcoats returned to Boston. There, British Gen. Thomas Gage told the people of the occupied city they could depart to join their families and friend in the countryside only if they surrendered their weapons. As soon as the people of Boston complied with Gen. Gage’s order, however, he took them captive.
They had no means to resist his tyrannical rule at that point. This is the original reason for the Second Amendment to our Constitution. The story is carefully recorded in Stephen Halbrook’s The Founders’ Second Amendment. In those days, even the people of Boston understood. Perhaps there’s hope for the New York Times yet.
The Second Amendment reads: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
We need to defend Dr. Ben Carson in his spirited support for our constitutional rights. We all need to use our First Amendment liberties — freedom of religion, speech, and press — to defend our Second Amendment liberties. Let’s understand what even the Supreme Court has noted: The right to keep and bear arms is a fundamental right of the people, not just a power of the government.