Friday, January 29, 2010

Can't Kill the Buzz of Liberty: Thoughts on Independence Hall

Actually, this seems like a comment from folks like snark-ass JBW:

Dear Dr Douglas: If you want to see the Liberty Bell, or the place where the Declaration of Independence was debated and signed, we have the originals here in Pennsylvania; you don't have to see faux copies.
But actually, that's from Dana at Common Sense Political Thought. I read his blog, and I admire is daughter, PFC Pico, and I link to him often - and most of all I wish I could have coffee with him in Philly. So, God bless him, why he was moved to post a little put down like that is beyond me. But it does serve as a catalyst to write about yesterday's event at further length.

I noted a couple of days ago that I hadn't been to Independence Hall at Knott's Berry Farm since I was in 5th grade. My class went there on a field trip. It's interesting that I've never forgotten the experience. I especially enjoyed seeing the replica of the Liberty Bell. As a local tourist website notes, "Walter Knott's deep love of country and home drove him to build the country's only brick-by-brick replica of Independence Hall." And that's the thing. Why would a Southern California entrepreneur spend his own money, in the 1960s, to build an exact version of the Pennsylvania State House, where our founding documents were signed? It's one of the most powerful affirmations of American exceptional one can make. Other people sure haven't taken that contribution for granted, as the Knott's Wikipedia entry notes, "Independence Hall was so well recreated that it was used in the 2004 film 'National Treasure'." And because admission is free, the facility is a phenomenal historical resource for our local communities. No doubt untold numbers of Southern California children have toured Independence Hall with their families and with their teachers and classmates. And I know many of those with less advantage -- and thus without the financial ability to travel to Philadelphia -- would never ridicule this fabulous historical recreation as a cheap "faux" copy. We're are blessed to have so cherished a replica here at home.

Of course, I'm sure Representative Royce knew exactly what he was doing when he invited Representative Bachmann to attend a rally at Knott's Independence Hall. The tea parties, and our few congressional leaders who really understand them, reflect the spirit of 1776. When I met Opus yesterday I told her and her friends that I've never participated as much in American politics as I have in the last year. I've been a political junkie for 25 years, and a political scientist almost as long. But I've learned more about our political system this last year -- and especially about the mass media! -- than I ever did inside a classroom.

And going to Knott's Berry Farm yesterday felt like I'd gone full circle from my childhood. That was forty years ago, and never would I have thought back then how much I'd come to love and appreciate our institutions so much. I teach the meaning of the Declaration of Independence every semester, and I can guarantee you that way too many students don't appreciate the fundamental philosophical foundations embedded in that piece of parchment. Many of them don't know that Jefferson's handiwork ties together a long line of Western political thought, handiwork that at that time was preserved for the ages in the founding of a new nation. They certainly don't know that later freedom fighters, like those fighting for liberty in Eastern Europe during the Cold War, would read the Declaration of Independence at their own revolutions from tyranny (e.g., Prague in 1989).

So, when we rally at events like this, no one takes for granted the real Independence Hall in Philadelphia. We wish we could be there with our fellow patriots. Michele Bachmann was so powerful yesterday in her effusive thanks to all the people who took time out from their busy lives to reaffirm the founding principles of our nation. She noted that it's going to take people like this to take the country back. David Horowitz, who gave a brief speech before Representative Bachmann was introduced, argued that the November 2010 elections were the most important elections in his lifetime. He even had to stop himself and admit, that yes, all elections seem like they're the most important ever. But he noted that the congressional midterms this year are an unmatched epic moment for Americans to apply the brakes, to slow the real push to Democratic-socialism in this country. This is not hyperbole. This is from a man who was one of the leading 1960s activists, one who knows real communist agitators and one who doesn't apply a lot of spin in his analysis (Horowitz rejects the "birther" talk and all that).

In any case, I just needed to vent about this -- since you can't kill the buzz of liberty! I told my good friend Jan at Vinegar and Honey that next to my family, I'm most happy when I'm with my fellow tea party patriots. I've been so enriched and strengthened this last year, with all the activism and comaraderie, I can't express how meaningful it's all been. My faith in America is constantly renewed. My hope is that my friend Dana at Common Sense Political Thought will keep these words in mind as we move forward in 2010 and work to rekindle the promise of events that took place nearly 235 years ago in his home state of Pennsylvania.


Dana said...

It seems that my attempted snarky comment, which falls within my sense of humor, falls outside of our esteemed host's. It was not my intention at all to offend him, and for that offense, I apologize.