America was born in revolution. A rag tag resist movement fought against the way things were, and against all odds, they won. Their revolutionary ideas forged a form of government never before attempted.
These were rebels who fought for the right things: individual freedom and self-rule, putting the rights of the people over the elected and the elites, all while respecting and revering the rule of law.
When the country was divided over the issue of slavery, the true American revolutionaries were the ones fighting and dying for the rights of the oppressed. While they fought to forcibly keep a nation of states together, they didn’t do it for power and control. They did it for freedom and justice.
The historical image of the Civil War “rebel” is of a soldier wearing Confederate grey, fighting to protect his right to property (in his view, including slaves).
But the true rebels back then were devoted to protecting and defending that original, radical idea of a united, free people of America. They were the real rebels, the ones who believed in the radical concepts of individual and equal rights for all.
In reality, all symbols of the Confederacy should be seen as memorials to a great victory for freedom over slavery. They are actually testaments to the countless thousands of Americans who fought and died to win freedom for people they didn’t even know. They just knew that they were Americans, too.
During the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the real rebels were the ones who said no to violence and hatred. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. was a revolutionary. He was a voice of reason and love in a wilderness of angst and frustration.
He fought for the same principles that motivated both the Colonial Army and the U.S. Union Army. He was fighting for the same equality, the same freedoms and the same justice under the law.
King’s situation was different, though. He lived when angry retribution and violence were the battle cry of most who were ready to fight for their own equal rights. The rebel reverend broke that mold by appealing to the higher character of everyone.
He represented the true resister of his day. Those who advocated violent revolution were only using age old tactics, not revolutionary ideas. King won that battle with peaceful resistance.
Today, revolution and resistance have taken on that familiar look of violent upheaval and overthrow. If they are fighting for anything, it’s to remake the country into something very common, something tried many times before.
At its best, this new revolution means restricting the rights of the individual. At worst, it means fascism or even anarchy. It’s the antithesis of that unique, original vision of the shining city on the hill.
Without a return to the nation’s original, righteous revolutionary ideals, the most successful experiment in history, one founded on individual rights and freedom of speech, will be in peril.
The notion that group identities and group rights now eclipse individual rights has taken hold in American culture. America is a nation flooded with grievance peddlers, class warfare promoters and race hustlers.
The term “revolutionary”, representing ideals won with real blood and real pain, has been (to use a popular new term) culturally appropriated by those to whom dividing and conquering appear more desirable.
Today’s so-called revolutionaries, radicals and resisters are just remade versions of oppressors we’ve seen along the timeline of world history. These new radical resisters don’t want their piece of the American Dream. They want a New America.
Every day, we are seeing this march to a New America more clearly for what it is: a nightmare in the making. Let’s hope we wake up soon.