Tag Archives: American Revolution

Alabama Attorney Lowell A. (“Larry”) Becraft addresses the Lunatic Fringe of the Patriot Movement

MYTHOLOGY & LAW in MODERN AMERICA

I am a great advocate of historical revisionism, but only when the revised history will be more accurate than currently “generally accepted” history….  But sometimes historical revisions are proposed which go the other way—alternative history is not always BETTER….it’s just different…. but so is smoking crack…..

Earlier this month, I had the privilege of meeting Alabama Attorney Lowell A. Becraft in person for the very first time.  He and I had exchanged e-mails before on the general subject of patriot mythology in regards to legal process and substantive.  Such mythology has horrendous consequences, including jail time, fines, and sanctions, for many good people I have known.   I have a Ph.D. from Harvard (1990) and my coursework and dissertation research spanned the fields of archaeology, anthropology, ethnology, history, mythology, religion and sociology (though not necessarily in that alphabetical order).  

One of the most basic and enduring lessons I ever learned (especially applicable to the field of law, was encapsulated in the title of a book by one of American AnthroSome myths have at least a weak basis in historical fact, even if no overarching purpose.  I learned with great interest several years ago about how principles of Admiralty Law were imported from England starting in the 1940s-50s to make off-shore oil fields insurable in Louisiana, and how these usages persist in Louisiana law even today—I had a large claim for household damage that which I sued on and settled after Hurricane Katrina.  I spend many hours with top Louisiana insurance lawyers and really enjoyed what I learned, because I was already familiar with both the British Control and Admiralty Law Mythologies of Modern American Patriot Movement. 

Basically, it seems that starting in 1930, the best land-based oil-wells in Louisiana and East Texas were already showing signs of being finite, limited, and exhaustable if not already exhausted, but everybody knew that the geology indicated more oilfields could be tapped and drilled offshore.  But in the 1920s and 1930s, nobody could drill off-shore because nobody would finance off-shore drilling, which was way more expensive than land drilling.  

And nobody would finance offshore oil-drilling until such operations could be insured, and nobody in the U.S. was willing to insure such constructions.  But the British (e.g. Lloyds of London) were willing to do so, and they imported the principles regarding the insurability of anchored ships out of port to do so.  So in a sense, the widespread myth among Southern Patriots that the British were still in charge as late as the mid-twentieth century, and that the British insisted on using Admiralty law, but both of these facts of modern history have been twisted beyond recognition. pology’s greatest figures, Marshall Sahlins of the University of Chicago (where I also studied, receiving a J.D. in law there in 1992): Historical Metaphors and Mythic Realities.  Quite simply, historical events are either selected and framed in the telling, or else sometimes engineered and staged, to create mythic realities as desired.   

There is another problem though—sometimes people just get wild ideas, and these wild ideas may be based in whole or in part on some sort of confusing real events— and the real events relevant here are: the two oldest institutions, or certainly two OF the oldest institutions, in all of Europe are (1) the Vatican (dating back to the arrival of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome, sometime in the mid-first Century A.D.) and (2) the British Monarch—dating back at least to King Alfred of Wessex, as the first to be called the “King of the English,” but really back to Cerdic or Cedric in 534 (Cerdic or Cedric stands as the first King of Anglo-Saxon Wessex from 519 to 534, in the chronological history described by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the founder of the Kingdom of Wessex and (at least symbolic and mythic ancestor of all its subsequent kings in the House of Wessex right up to Henry I (“Beauclerc”) after the Norman Conquest, who reigned 1100-1135.

In any event, I suppose to the modern American mind, weakly educated in history as it is, the persistence of any institution for very close to 2000 years in the case of the Vatican in Rome and 1200-1500 years in the case of the English/British Monarchy seems almost incredible as a historical fact—and it is to be admitted that these two institutions outshine almost all others in Europe in their longevity. It may seem almost mystical that the House of Wessex, which gve rise to the Kingdom of England, and ultimately Great Britain, had itslef replaced the Roman Empire in Britain. Less than 50 years having elapsed from the final collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 476 to the accession of Cerdic or Cedric in 519 or, his possible rise as a conqueror even earlier, at 490 A.D., as celebrated in the slightly racy 1951 novel Conscience of a King by Alfred L. Duggan among others.  

OR, it could be that the people who invent these historically fictitious mythologies are all generated and propagated by government agents planted to create chaos and dissent in the Conservative, Patriotic Movement—which they certainly do.

Concession of 15 May 1213             (by Lowell A. Becraft)

There is a baseless theory floating around that King John’s “Concession of 15 May 1213″ with the Pope means that, even today, the Vatican owns both England and the United States of America. Like many groundless ideas that get promoted, advocates of arguments like this one focus on a single fact and then draw wild conclusions.

The “Concession” required payments from the English King to the Pope, but history shows that King John did not make the required payment for the following year. See:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John,_King_of_England

Where the following is found:

“Under mounting political pressure, John finally negotiated terms for a reconciliation, and the papal terms for submission were accepted in the presence of the papal legate Pandulph in May 1213 at the Templar Church at Dover.[177] As part of the deal, John offered to surrender the Kingdom of England to the papacy for a feudal service of 1,000 marks (equivalent to £666 at the time) annually: 700 marks (£466) for England and 300 marks (£200) for Ireland, as well as recompensing the church for revenue lost during the crisis.[178] The agreement was formalised in the Bulla Aurea, or Golden Bull. This resolution produced mixed responses. Although some chroniclers felt that John had been humiliated by the sequence of events, there was little public reaction.[179] Innocent benefited from the resolution of his long-standing English problem, but John probably gained more, as Innocent became a firm supporter of John for the rest of his reign, backing him in both domestic and continental policy issues.[180] Innocent immediately turned against Philip, calling upon him to reject plans to invade England and to sue for peace.[180] John paid some of the compensation money he had promised the church, but he ceased making payments in late 1214, leaving two-thirds of the sum unpaid; Innocent appears to have conveniently forgotten this debt for the good of the wider relationship.[181]”

Some payments to the Pope were made pursuant to this agreement off and on for a little more than the next 100 years, eventually ending. “The last payment ever recorded was a token £1,000 from Edward III in 1333, in expectation of papal favours.” See: http://www.historyextra.com/qa/when-did-pope-rule-england

It is alleged that this concession was a treaty, but if it was, it is subject to another fact regarding treaties: they are often broken. King Henry VIII broke with the Vatican and established the Church of England, seizing Catholic properties. See:   

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/reformation.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_VIII_of_England

History reveals that both Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell essentially ended the Papacy’s control over England. See:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_Reformation

The following is stated at the above link:

“The Act in Restraint of Appeals,” drafted by Cromwell, apart from outlawing appeals to Rome on ecclesiastical matters, declared that

 “This realm of England is an Empire, and so hath been accepted in the world, governed by one Supreme Head and King having the dignity and royal estate of the Imperial Crown of the same, unto whom a body politic compact of all sorts and degrees of people divided in terms and by names of Spirituality and Temporality, be bounden and owe to bear next to God a natural and humble obedience.[20]

This declared England an independent country in every respect.

The above (along with lots of other authority) demonstrates that certainly by the time of Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell, the Pope did not own or control England.  The above theory is thus a false, baseless contention.

But does the English Monarchy or England have any legal control over the United States of America? Please remember that there was indeed (contrary to contentions of the revisionists) an American Revolution. And both English and American courts long ago held that the Revolution severed all legal connections between our country and the English crown/England. 

I described these cases and other matters on my website as follows:

Simple facts regarding the “we are subjects of the British Crown” issue

   Several years ago, some folks developed an argument that “we are still subjects of the British crown” and started promoting it. You are free to believe that argument which will waste your time. Here is a simple refutation of that argument:

1. The Articles of Confederation provided as follows:

 “Article II. 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.”

2. On February 6,  1778, the United States entered into a Treaty of Alliance with France (8 Stat. 6).  On July 16, 1782,  we borrowed substantial sums from King Louis XVI of France, via anagreement signed by French Foreign Minister Charles Gravier de Vergennes. It must be noted that there are people who erroneously assert that this loan was really secured from the Brits instead of the French (you can be the judge of their honesty). 

3. Our country and the British Crown signed the Treaty of Peace on September 3, 1783 (8 Stat. 218), the first provision of which reads as follows:

“His Britannic Majesty acknowledges the said United States, viz, New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, South-Carolina, and Georgia, to  be free, sovereign and independent States; that he treats with them as such; and for himself, his heirs and successors, relinquishes all claims to the government, proprietary and  territorial rights of the same, and every part thereof.”

See also Nov. 30, 1782 Provisional Treaty and Jan. 20, 1783 Treaty of Cessation of Hostilities.

    Does this 1783 Peace Treaty still exist? All one needs to do to confirm this is to check out a government  publication entitled “Treaties in Force” which can be found in any good library, especially a university library. Under the list of our treaties with Great Britain and the United Kingdom, you will find that this 1783 treaty is still in effect, at least a part of it: “Only article 1 is in force.” Art.1 was the section of this treaty acknowledging our independence. The War of 1812 resulted in modifications of this treaty and so did later treaties.

4. The courts have not been silent regarding the effect of the Declaration of Independence and the Treaty of Peace. For example, the consequences of independence were explained inHarcourt v. Gaillard, 25 U.S. (12 Wheat.) 523, 526-27 (1827), where the Supreme Court stated:

 “There was no territory within the United States that was claimed in any other right than that of some one of the confederated states; therefore, there could be no acquisition of territory made by the United States distinct from, or independent of some one of the states.

“Each declared itself sovereign and independent, according to the limits of its territory.

 “[T]he soil and sovereignty within their acknowledged limits were as much theirs at the declaration of independence as at this hour.”

In M’Ilvaine v. Coxe’s Lessee, 8 U.S. (4 Cranch) 209, 212 (1808), the Supreme Court  held:

“This opinion is predicated upon a principle which is believed to be undeniable, that the several states which composed this Union, so far at least as regarded their municipal regulations, became entitled, from the time when they declared themselves independent, to all the rights and powers of sovereign states, and that they did not derive them from concessions made by the British king. The treaty of peace contains a recognition of their independence, not a grant of it. From hence it results, that the laws of the several state governments were the laws of sovereign states, and as such were obligatory upon the people of such state, from the time they were enacted.”

In reference to the Treaty of Peace, this same court stated:

“It contains an acknowledgment of the independence and sovereignty of the United States, in their political capacities, and a relinquishment on the part of His Britannic Majesty, of all claim to the government, propriety and territorial rights of the same. These concessions amounted, no doubt, to a formal renunciation of all claim to the allegiance of the citizens of the United States.”

     Finally, in Inglis v. Trustees of the Sailor’s Snug Harbor, 28 U.S. (3 Peters) 99, 120-122 (1830), the question squarely arose as to whether Americans are “subjects of the crown,” a proposition flatly rejected by the Court:

“It is universally admitted both in English courts and in those of our own country, that all persons born within the colonies of North America, whilst subject to the crown of Great Britain, were natural born British subjects, and it must necessarily follow that that character was changed by the separation of the colonies from the parent State, and the acknowledgment of their independence.

 “The rule as to the point of time at which the American antenati ceased to be British subjects, differs in this country and in England, as established by the courts of justice in the respective countries. The English rule is to take the date of the Treaty of Peace in 1783. Our rule is to take the date of the Declaration of Independence.”

In support of the rule set forth in this case, the court cited an English case to demonstrate that the English courts had already decided that Americans were not subjects of the crown:

“The doctrine of perpetual allegiance is not applied by the British courts to the American antenati. This is fully shown by the late case of Doe v. Acklam, 2 Barn. & Cresw. 779. Chief Justice Abbott says: ‘James Ludlow, the father of Francis May, the lessor of the plaintiff, was undoubtedly born a subject of Great Britain. He was born in a part of America which was at the time of his birth a British colony, and parcel of the dominions of the crown of Great Britain; but upon the facts found, we are of opinion that he was not a subject of the crown of Great Britain at the time of the birth of his daughter. She was born after the independence of the colonies was recognized by the crown of Great Britain; after the colonies had become United States, and their inhabitants generally citizens of those States, and her father, by his continued residence in those States, manifestly became a citizen of them.’ He considered the Treaty of Peace as a release from their allegiance of all British subjects who remained there. A declaration, says he, that a State shall be free, sovereign and independent, is a declaration that the people composing the State shall no longer be considered as subjects of the sovereign by whom such a declaration is made.”

(Note: the linked copies of these cases highlight the important parts of these opinions for your convenience).    Notwithstanding the fact that English and American courts long ago rejected this argument, I still encounter e-mail from parties who contend that this argument is correct. For example, just recently I ran across this note which stated:

“In other words, the interstate system of banks is the private property of the King… This means that any profit or gain anyone experienced by a bank/thrift and loan/employee credit union ?? any regulated financial institution carries with it ?? as an operation of law ?? the identical same full force and effect as if the King himself created the gain. So as an operation of law, anyone who has a depository relationship, or a credit relationship, with a bank, such as checking, savings, CD’s, charge cards, car loans, real estate mortgages, etc., are experiencing profit and gain created by the King ?? so says the Supreme Court. At the present time, Mr. Condo, you have bank accounts (because you accept checks as payment for books and subscriptions), and you are very much in an EQUITY RELATIONSHIP with the King.

This note also alleged that George Mercier, who wrote an article apparently popular among those who believe the “contract theory” of government, was a retired judge, which is false. Just because you read it on the Net does not make it true.See:       http://home.hiwaay.net/~becraft/WeAintBrits.htm

 

The Democratic Republican Impulse to Individual Freedom, Liberty, and Responsibility is in our Blood—A Christian Conservative’s Answer to the Question, “Can Fascism be Critiqued from the Right?”

Response to Question: Can Fascism be Critiqued from the Right, published March 29, 2013, on American Renaissance at: http://www.amren.com/features/2013/03/can-fascism-be-critiqued-from-the-right/

I am a lifelong student of Ancient Greek and Roman Civilization and History, as well as a passionate admirer of the music, poetry, and prose philosophical writings of Richard Wagner, as well as a student of Anthropology, Biological and Cultural Evolution.  I have also studied Fascism and its relationship to Communism all my life, and I frankly conclude that there is no such thing as “Fascism”, really, as a political ideology, for the single reason stated above under “Orientations,” to wit: “Fascism did not have a formally elucidated doctrine.”  

In Italy, in Germany, in France, in Spain, and even under the most noble of all Fascist leaders, Oswald Moseley in the United Kingdom, “Fascism” was never more than a poorly formulated reaction to Communism, and yet in all its manifestations, it was too much like, had too much in common with Soviet Communism ever really to succeed as a distinct and successful movement.  The anti-Democratic impulse was fatal to Fascism.  The strength of Fascism arose from pure nostalgic romanticism—only this and nothing more.

At the root of all Indo-European Civilizations is a strong tendency towards forms of limited Republican Democracy, of Parliamentary Government.  This is obvious in the histories of Athens, the Roman Republic, and in all the Germanic and Celtic tribes, though it may be strongest (ironically enough) among the Germans and Anglo-Saxons, whose whole social organization was based upon the “Thinga” (although this may be just “Indo-European” preserved most perfectly in later history among the Norse and Vikings.

The rejection of the French Revolution (never mind the American Revolution) ignores the cultural imperative towards Freedom and Individual achievement, individual heroism, and individual responsibility apparent and inherent in all Indo-European myths.  If we compare Odysseus, for example, with his Eastern Semitic Epic Counterpart in Gilgamesh (King of Uruk), we see that from the earliest times, the Indo-European people rejected dictatorship and absolute monarchies as ways of governance.

To the ancient Germans, Celts, Greeks, Italians, and even the Ancient Indians, it was what a ruler DID or DID NOT DO that made him a great hero.  Gilgamesh’s status as a King made him important, but it was his “savage” friend Enkidu was much more like an individualist Indo-European Hero—and he was struck down by the Innana-Ishtar, the Semitic Goddess of Love, for failure to worship her and Obey…. Failure of Obedience to Divine Commandments is perhaps a key to understanding the divergence between Indo-European and Semitic Gods—and this is the skin of our teeth, the marrow of our bones—the origin of our Civilization.  Christianity became acceptable to (and definitive of) the Western two thirds of the Indo-European world PRECISELY because Christ preached liberation from law, liberation from obedience, and recognized Individual Freedom of Will and Freedom of Choice, as the paths to Righteousness.

This is our heritage, and it is why the Fascist Experiment Failed.

One thing we learn in anthropological study of cultural evolution and historical political process is that rebellions and revolutions are often Nativistic regenerations of past glory, even to the point of being quests to restore former orders based on lost freedoms and rights, rather than expressions of desire for something never before known (like communism and fascism).

The American Revolution of 1775-1783 was particularly expressly articulated as a demand to restore the ancient rights and Freedoms of Englishment.  It was (from  the perspective of an historical process of longue durée)  postively (and marvelously) atavistic in that it restored the three-part (Dumezilian) foundations of Indo-European Government between the Magical-Juridical Law (the Courts, Georges Dumézil’s First Function), the Physical force of Command (the Executive/Military Enforcers of the law, Dumézil’s Second Function), but empowered above all the Third Archaic Indo-European Segment of Society—the power of the food producers and the people who reproduce the human wealth of each polity (Dumézil’s Fonction Productrice—Fecondité et Abondance).

The French Revolution started with the reassertion of the Three Estates, but was rapidly overtaken by a radical minority who were forerunners of of Communism (led by the horribly ironically and prophetically named “Committee on Public Security”—the direct onomastic and terroristic ancestor of the Department of Homeland Security).

Napoleon essentially restored the religious authority of the Church and the Parliamentary function as adjuncts his military might in the short-lived (because of excessive and premature ambition for world conquest), but otherwise essentially brilliant, Bonapartist Empire.  I would suggest that any fans of Monarchy should look to Napoleon rather than the Bourbons as models of “how to organize and run an Empire.”

I see no point whatsoever in trying to rescue the early 20th Century Fascist movements from their abject failure.

Mussolini romantically (but impractically and perhaps rather ignorantly) looked and reached back to the Glories of Imperial Rome, but he had none of the practical sense that it was the Roman Republic which created the Empire, and the decline of the power of the (originally) Republican Senate, the abdication of parliamentary power to the Emperor’s “imperium”, which foreshadowed (and essentially caused) the fall of that same Empire.

Hitler claimed that to understand the Third Reich, one had to understand the music and philosophy of Richard Wagner.  I have devoted a large part of my life to listening to and reading Richard Wagner’s works, and I have concluded that Hitler’s Reich failed to understand that Love, almost a completely Christian notion of sacrificial love, underlay all of Wagner’s music, poetry, and prose, albeit that Wagner was heavily influenced by Buddhism which, aside from the adoption of the Swastika, hardly influenced the day-to-day policies of the Third Reich at all.

Hitler would have erased all of traditional Germany, it’s architecture and its institutions, in constructing his thousand year Reich.  This was not the Wagnerian way—this was pretty much the same plan as the Communists, except the Communists were much better organized and much more practical.

True Conservative Romanticism for resuscitation of dying or even dead traditions and values requires the democratic process of argument, persuasion, and acceptance.

It is that process on which we, if we are to be the truest conservatives of our time, should focus rather than falling for the false lure of the romanticist failures of Fascism.

God Save the Indo-European People and their Traditions of individual freedom and collective parliamentary debate and decision-making, by through the Gospel and Love of Jesus Christ.  That is what I would advocate.

Fascism Failed because of its Kinship with Communism, and that’s why all the original American fans of Fascism (the Bushes and the Kennedys, for example) ultimately turned to World Communism, disguised as Corporate Socialism….

Bastille Day 2012: Civilized Memories of the Moonrise Kingdom in a Savage Land

No day on the calendar more appropriately juxtaposes civilization and savagery than July 14, Bastille Day.  If any nation in the world epitomizes the height of human civilization, well, I suppose that would be England until Tony Blair became PM, but both before the insertion of “Great” in the title of the United Kingdom of England & Scotland was added to “Britain” by the Act of Union in 1707 and since that word is no longer really warranted, especially since the House of Lords no longer has any hereditary peers or judicial functions, there has been and still remains “La France.”  

Much moreso than the American Revolution which preceded it barely by 24 years, hardly a generation, the French Revolution really marked the beginning of the Modern World, of truly modern history in all its blood and gore relating to ideological warfare.   The great ideals of the scientific and philosophical enlightenment coupled with the barbaric rejection of Christianity; the concepts of liberté, egalité, fraternité, however unrealistic they are, coupled with massive official murder and senseless bloodshed—all of those things are commemorated on July 14—the greatest of all the remaining Midsummer Fires that Sir James G. Frazer described as the Aryan heritage of Europe in the Golden Bough (whose brilliant Third and final original Edition Celebrates its centennial this year).

So last weekend and this, I listened to my gendarme and lieutenant (both appropriately Francophone titles) Peyton Yates Freiman, who told me that I had to see Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom with Bill Murray because it was the most “relevant” film of the year.  Last weekend I had the misfortune to see the movie paired with Oliver Stone’s Savages and the contrast was almost too great.

Savages—set in Southern California where I now spend most of my time and in Orange County in particular, which I associate with the Savagery of Orly Taitz and her husband Yosef, not to mention Steven D. Silverstein, among many others—is so “relevant” to the modern world as to be deeply depressing.  Oliver Stone artfully created a dual ending to blunt the nightmarish effect of the plot in its most obvious line—which led directly into bloody death and destruction of all the major characters—into a pro-establishment (if hardly credible) pean to the weak-minded DEA Agent credibly played by John Travolta.  Savages was a “Brave New World” movie, regardless of which ending you choose to believe as the most realistic—it is amoral, devoid of decency of any kind on the part of any person—it does not exactly “glorify” the drug traffic but it doesn’t raise any standards of—anything.  Savages belongs to the “Reign of Terror” aspect of the quatorze juillet.   

Yesterday, I reproduced on these pages Guillaume Faye’s depressing commentary on the role of the sexual revolution in the death and decay of modern Western Civilization.  Savages was an extraordinary movie (in some significant part) about the end product of the sexual revolution: total sexual liberation, specifically a romantic threesome which might pass as “polyamory” in Huxley’s Brave New World and modern 1980s and afterward sense.

By contrast, Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom pledges allegiance to a world that is all but gone, vanished, which has essentially been murdered by the sexual revolution and liberation epitomized in Savages.  The first time I saw Moonrise, last week, was in the company of my rather sentimental and deeply feminine friend Min, who passed out/knocked herself out (intentionally fainted?) during Savages (because it “came to close to home” for her comfort) and she focused on the warming and endearing feel of Moonrise Kingdom.

This week, for a second viewing, I was alone and finally I realized what Peyton meant by “relevance”: Unlike Oliver Stone’s work Moonrise Kingdom is TOTALLY SUBVERSIVE.

Now there was a time when Oliver Stone made people think and challenged the status quo, but I think that phase of his life ended in 1991 with his magnificent JFK.  The transformation of Stone into a supporter of the establishment and status quo was already apparent in the final entry of his Vietnam Trilogy Heaven and Earth (1993) but his W. kowtowed so cravenly to the 43rd President that it made me ill and I had to leave the theatre when I saw it.

No such worry about Moonrise Kingdom—it brilliantly pits the vitality of youth and young love against the wooden and legalistic stupidity of elders.  Yet the young love in this kingdom is as moral and Christian as Romeo and Juliet. Love comes first and foremost and all hints of sexuality are wonderfully awkward and childishly mishandled in very credible, realistic ways.  Min appreciated this innocence the first time round but I didn’t realize just how deeply ethical, romantic, and moral it all was until seeing it alone on Friday the 13th.

I’m just overwhelmed now that I realize how well this movie really did show the brilliance and triumph of true love over law in a manner that Richard Wagner would have appreciated and congratulated.  The marriage ceremony is patently and admittedly ILLEGAL—but the fact that it takes place at all—in front of a cross in a camp chapel no less—for a pre-teen couple who met during a Church production of “Noah’s Flood” is in this day and age counter-revolutionary for sure. (The Church called “St. Jack” is a major setting of critical moments in the movie.  It is operated in part by white-robed nuns who might be Episcopalian [e.g. in the Anglican Order of Saint Helena] or RC, albeit they operate a whitewashed wood-framed “Puritan” Church with a bell tower of the type so typical of the fictionalized New England setting—a mythic Island of “New Penzance” whose map ever so slightly resembles the layout of Nantucket).

One need only compare and contrast this with the apparently, at least architecturally, authentic Gothic Church which played a key part at the beginning and end of Snow White and the Huntsman.  This Church not only lacked even a single cross but did not allow to its (again, classically dressed) Christian Clergy the utterance any prayers which made any mention of the people I admire most (the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, who had apparently taken the last train to the coast).  I would have to examine the film frame-by-frame but I think there was even something resembling a menorah in the Church—slightly horrifying considering there was no cross.  (In all fairness, Kirsten Stewart is allowed to recite the “short version” of the Lord’s Prayer and Thor, I mean Chris Hemsworth, as the Huntsman all but expressly compares Snow White (while he believes her dead) to the Virgin Mary when he predicts that she will “be a Queen in Heaven and sit among the Angels”—but overall, overt Christianity is shockingly suppressed EVEN in portrayals of obviously Christian Churches!).

But Moonrise Kingdom was all about real moral optimism and virtuous rebellion against stifling legality and convention.  It is a movie which I think could be shown for young teen viewers and discussed for its ethical stance everywhere that White American Christians still live and cherish the values of….well, an America that increasingly seems not to exist anymore.

It remains to be seen whether Moonrise Kingdom is an epitaph on a world that is as “Gone with the Wind” as the Confederate world of the Old South or whether it symbolizes the existence of a real resistance to the Brave New World with a live heartbeat in America.

Either way—directly contrary to Mark Anthony—I stand here to praise the values embodied in Wes Anderson’s film, not to bury them.   The young Kara Hayward actually IS a brilliant new actress, from Massachusetts, and a member of Mensa they say.   The credits also indicate that this is her, and her “Romeo” Jared Gilman’s, first appearance on what they used to call the “celluloid screen” but is now apparently just pixels like everything else.  Even the music of Moonrise Kingdom starting and ending with Henry Purcell, reminds us that “restoration” of a moral and constitutional regime is possible even after the disastrous dislocations of civil war politically motivated ideological  savagery.   Only a very small amount of 1960s music (French at that) insinuates its way into the world of Suzy Bishop and Sam Shakusky—most of it is Classical and reminiscent of everything that I grew up with—a bizarre bipolarity of Restoration Baroque and Hank Williams which I thought was oddly out of place in New England—but then my parents loved the Kingston Trio and brought Northern “Folk” from Massachusetts to New Orleans for their wedding.

The reality of the world on this July 14, 2012, is that it IS a savage place. The English Civil War (prior to the Restoration of Charles II and the “Cavalier” music and poetry of Henry Purcell and those who came with it) was certainly savage, although not as bad as the French Revolution.  The American Revolution was strangely quiet and conservative, certainly there were a few martyrs and senseless killings on both sides, but in a muted way, nothing as extravagantly awful as the Show Trial of Charles I and his execution, nor anything even remotely like the French Revolutionary bloodbath.

 La Marseillaise celebrates both the beauty of the dreams of the French Revolutionary Patriots and the gore of the war and terror of 1789-1799, when Napoleon Bonaparte took charge as First Consul and thus ended both the revolution and the terror.   The pair of movies, Savages and Moonrise Kingdom portrays the same dichotomy in the world—the real world and the ideal world, and their joint appearance in theaters this summer reminds us of the short time from 1965-2012—a mere 47 years, and how much can go wrong in the world in such a short time.

May the Fourth be with You (and with thy Spirit)…. May 3rd was Day of the Holy Cross (in the Old BCP anyhow); Warnings from History about the Coming Dark Age: May 3 is also Polish Constitution of 1791 Day, and the 60th Anniversary of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company Petition for Certiorari

Yes, May the Fourth is international Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth be with You”—but watch out for the “Revenge of the Fifth”), and yesterday, all over Western Christendom, is or at least used to be called “the Day of the Holy Cross” (this construction of the Calendar is sometimes said to be a “Gallican” custom, involving the mixture of Celtic rites of Beltane [May Day] with Christianity, in the time of Saint Gregory of Tours and other such French sources predating the time of Charlamagne*, but even as a 20th century Anglican/Episcopalian, I grew up thinking that Constantine’s Mother the Empress Helen**  went to Jerusalem and found the “true Cross” fragments on May 3, and when I started traveling to and living in Mexico I found that the Mexicans [in “Veracruz” and elsewhere] still celebrate the 3rd, notwithstanding anything Pope John XXIII did the year I was born [1960], and the Maya of Yucatán—see my birthday greetings for Pedro Un Cen on May 1—still celebrate May 3 as the day that the Chaacs (the Ancient Maya Raingods) return to the land from the East to start the beginning of the rainy season, but Last things first:

POLISH CONSTITUTION OF 1791 Day: A Warning for our Time

Most Americans have heard of American Revolutionary War hero General  Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko (at least by the shorter version of his name: Tadeusz Kosciuszko).  He came to the United States to assist in the War of Independence for no reason other than he thought it was the right thing to do.  He was a volunteer Patriot in Founding a country 1/3 of the way around the world from his homeland.  

I have the feeling that Kosciuszko lived to feel even more defeated than John W. Davis….(see my adjoining post on the 60th Anniversary of the Youngstown Sheet & Tube Petition for Writ of Certiorari) possibly more like Jefferson Davis must have felt…..  

Kosciuszko lived long enough after the American Revolution to see first the French Revolution, then the final partition of his own homeland by three of the major powers OPPOSED to the French Revolution, the restoration of the core of his homeland (briefly) between 1807 and 1815, and then the final re-annexation of Poland by Russia after the Congress of Vienna in 1815—a situation which would endure for another 104 years….

After helping launch the American nation, with a career comparable and in some ways parallel to the actions of the Marquis de Lafayette in France, Kosciuszko went back to his native Poland where he tried to rebuild and save his own nation, and modernize its constitution in light of what he had learned and seen in America. I have previously, on this blog, mentioned the wonderful Polish Professor Wiktor Osiatynski under whom I was privileged to study at the University of Chicago 1990-1991 and my fascination with the Polish nation and constitutional history has never ceased since then.  Poland is a Phoenix-like nation having been consumed by fire into ashes and portioned by its neighbors Germany and Russia at least twice (and Austria once).  The metaphoric image of the mythical Phoenix arising from its flames parallels takes on added and appropriate meaning given Poland’s association with the City and University of Chicago, not least since Chicago is the largest Polish-speaking urban area anywhere outside of Poland and the City itself has at least once or twice in history arisen from the flames (after the Great Fire of 1871, but arguably again after the riots of 1968 also…).  

On May 3, Poland celebrated the 221st anniversary of the Constitution of 1791, the last Constitution before the two final (18th century) partitions of Poland 1793-1795.   The Twentieth Century Partition of Poland, between Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia was in a thousand ways much worse, more brutal, more destructive, but also much shorter in duration.  The 18th Century Partitions of Poland were reversed by the Emperor Napoleon I Bonaparte in 1807 as he vainly tried to restrict and limit the power of Prussia.  The Von Ribbentrop-Molotov (aka “Stalin-Hitler”) Pact of 1941 was reversed a mere four years later, but not before Poland had not only been savaged by Nazi occupation but by the Stalinist reprisal which, in terms of meaningful reality, involved much vaster forced migrations than any that history had ever seen, and comparable only to the forced internal migrations (poorly documented though they are) which took place in Maoist China during the “Cultural Revolution”.  

Now you might ask, why should an American care about learning the details of Polish Constitutional History?  As Professor Wiktor Osiatynski made us all aware in the two courses he taught that year at the University of Chicago, Poland’s constitutional history was a major source of its downfall.  Prior to meeting and studying with Wiktor, my primary familiarity with recent modern Poland had been a vague knowledge of the partitions of the late 18th century, the fact that Napoleon I had created the Duchy of Warsaw, and that Chopin and many other 19th century artists had gained fame for the culture of Poland and quietly advocated the restoration of Polish Sovereignty and Nationality.

Of course, I had also been very generally aware from a lifetime obsession with historical cartography, I was aware that Poland had once been the largest nation in Europe—a fact, again, which probably very few Americans must know.***  Yes, the combination of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland once not merely “dominated” but in effect “was” all of Eastern Europe—controlling during most of the 15th-early 18th Centuries all of the territory from the Baltic to the Black Seas, dwarfing “barbarous” Russian during most of that time, although Russia started climbing out of an inferior position in the 16th century, though it did not achieve “world nation” status until the 18th under Peter and Catherine the Great.  

But indeed, the Constitutional History of Poland and Lithuania together is very interesting, and historically relevant for Americans, especially in this day and age.  Lithuania, so it was forced to ally more closely with Poland, uniting with its western neighbor as the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (Commonwealth of Two Nations) in the Union of Lublin of 1569. According to the Union many of the territories formerly controlled by the Grand Duchy of Lithuania were transferred to the Crown of the Polish Kingdom, while the gradual process of Polonization slowly drew Lithuania itself under Polish domination. The Grand Duchy retained many rights in the federation (including a separate government, treasury and army) until the May 3 Constitution of Poland was passed in 1791. 

I submit to you, “my fellow Americans” that we today are much like Poland—because of the abrogation of our traditional Federal Union into a centralized dictatorship, we are weak and face extinction, division, and perhaps even partition between, say, China, Mexico, and a resurgent Europe.  

* Pope Adrian I between 784 and 791 sent Charlemagne, at the King of the Franks’ personal request, a copy of what was considered to be the Sacramentary of Saint Gregory, which certainly represented the Western Roman “Early Dark Ages” use of the end of the eighth century.  This book, far from complete, was edited and supplemented by the addition of a large amount of matter derived from the Gallican books and from the Roman book known as the Gelasian Sacramentary, which had been gradually supplanting the Gallican. The editor may well have been Charlemagne’s principal liturgical advisor, the  Englishman Alcuin. Copies were distributed throughout Charlemagne’s empire, and this “composite liturgy”, as Duchesne says, “from its source in the Imperial chapel spread throughout all the churches of the Frankish Empire and at length, finding its way to Rome gradually supplanted there the ancient use”. More than half a century later, when Charles the Bald wished to see what the ancient Gallican Rite had been like, it was necessary to import Hispanic priests to celebrate it in his presence, because the Gallican rite took root firmly in Toledo, Viscaya, Aragon, Catalunia, and elsewhere in the land of the Christian Visigoths of Hispania before the arrival of the Moors (and survived there ever after, even during the Caliphate of Cordoba—which resilience explains why May 3 remains the Day of the Holy Cross everywhere in Latin America).

The Luxeuil Lectionary, the Gothicum and Gallicum Missals, and the Gallican adaptations of the Hieronymian Martyrology are the chief authorities on this point, and to these may be added some information to be gathered from the regulations of the Councils of Agde (506), Orléans (541),Tours (567), and Mâcon (581), and from the “Historia Francorum” of St. Gregory of Tours, as to the Gallican practice in the sixth century.

** Constantine’s Mother the Empress Helen did a lot of traveling and established a lot of Churches.  Named after Helen of Troy, Empress Helen kept the name alive and popular among the Christians, and it was the Empress Helen, I am told, after whom were named both my Louisiana-born grandmother who raised me with love and my Greek-born wife who razed me with something else.

***For my lifelong obsession with maps, I have mostly my mother to blame, because she bought me so many Atlases–Shepard’s Historical Atlas, Oxford Historical Atlas, just for starters–when I was very small and for some reason decorated my boyhood room with a collection historical individually framed maps of almost every county in England, Wales, & Scotland—this led to my grandparents, somewhat later, always putting me in charge of studying the maps when we traveled and making reports on local geography as we did—Baedeker was almost like a family friend, and sometimes AAA and National Geographic.

Patrick Henry’s “Give me Liberty or Give me Death” speech—233 year and 5 months ago—lest we forget, lest we forget….

St. John’s Church, Richmond, Virginia
March 23, 1775.

MR. PRESIDENT: No man thinks more highly than I do of the patriotism, as well as abilities, of the very worthy gentlemen who have just addressed the House. But different men often see the same subject in different lights; and, therefore, I hope it will not be thought disrespectful to those gentlemen if, entertaining as I do, opinions of a character very opposite to theirs, I shall speak forth my sentiments freely, and without reserve. This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a question of freedom or slavery; and in proportion to the magnitude of the subject ought to be the freedom of the debate. It is only in this way that we can hope to arrive at truth, and fulfil the great responsibility which we hold to God and our country. Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offence, I should consider myself as guilty of treason towards my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the majesty of heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and, having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.

I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And judging by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves, and the House? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with these war-like preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation? Have we shown ourselves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugation; the last arguments to which kings resort. I ask, gentlemen, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years. Have we anything new to offer upon the subject? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capable; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to entreaty and humble supplication? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves. Sir, we have done everything that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated; we have supplicated; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its interposition to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and Parliament. Our petitions have been slighted; our remonstrances have produced additional violence and insult; our supplications have been disregarded; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne. In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free² if we mean to preserve inviolate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending²if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained, we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us!

They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance, by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power. Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable²and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come.

It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace²but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!