Discover more from A Pilgrim’s Progress
The Sting of Battle
Courage means fighting and inevitable scars, but fight we must.
“Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time.”
— General George S. Patton, May 1944, in a speech constructed by soldiers and recorded by historian Terry Brighton.
Americans do love to fight. And when we fight, we fight to win. Right now, we are in a war for the survival of a nation. And right now, we are in this fight without the overt support of our elected leaders and public figures. America’s enemies are my enemies. We are in this fight against people who would rather destroy a statue of Frederick Douglass than listen to his words which became a defining moment in the fight to end slavery. This is a blatant example of erasing history to cast it in the darkness of evil from which there can be no comparison. The present is oppressive. The past is privilege.
I will not mourn for America. This isn’t a nation of mourners; it’s a nation of fighters for freedom and liberty, and the rule of law for everyone who seeks it. Democrats fed the radical beast since the 1960s when it was useful to advance their agenda and ride a rising tide of youthful unrest and a war-weary nation. But then they realized what would happen if they stopped. Eventually, the radicals would be at their doorstep, like rabid raccoons, angry when the garbage cans are locked away. The Democrats had no choice but to give in; the beasts they created were no longer content with waiting for their chance at power. Now they want to take it, and no amount of appeasement will spare their ire.
For most of the “leaders” on the Right, the war is lost by fearing the fight. For decades, conservatives have been busy with white papers published by Washington think tanks that gladly take donations and turn around and reduce our lives to statistics and economic numbers. Drug-riddled Middle America and gutted rust-belt cities are the cost of trade with China. The Cold Warriors, who once sided with President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John Paul II against the Evil Empire, turned silent at the Chinese Communist oppressive regime, slave labor, and anti-American propaganda. We are thirsting for leaders who will defend us against radicals storming the gates, setting fire to our history, and mocking the rule of law.
Our institutions and our leaders failed us. Our religious leaders unmoored the churches from moral objectivism, deciding to capitulate to a self-centered culture to gain popularity. Our culture, then our politics, were sent adrift. Moral relativism and a consequence-free society opened the door to the destruction of the importance of the nuclear family, community cohesion, and common values. When anything goes, chaos follows. After decades of letting the left shape the narrative through radical feminism, identity warfare, and controlling higher education, the Right mostly retreated, choosing to engage in interparty skirmishes and pouring energy into a self-contained, isolated policy ecosystem. The left honed their skills at targeted character assassination and overtaking the news media to advance their liberal progressive agenda. When conservatives finally made feeble attempts to fight back and reach Main Street conservatives, the left had an iron fist around academia, public schools, major media outlets, and pop culture.
We have seen this struggle session and white flag waving before. In the aftermath of the counterculture of the 1960s, churches such as my own Evangelical Lutheran Church (ELCA) caved to the demands of liberal social-justice peddlers and virtue scolds who made inclusivity demands of Protestant churches. In a vain and cowardly attempt to try and win temporary favor, church leaders caved to the demands. It was the end of the ELCA’s reason for being. If it didn’t believe in its own beliefs and Gospels, why would anyone else? And the outcome was foreseeable and very dire. It did nothing to attract those lost sheep looking for leadership and moral stewardship within communities. Those social justice warriors ironically asking, “What Would Jesus Do?” and the contemporary “All Are Welcome Here” would never be loyal church members. They could get the same inclusivity indoctrination sermons at their coffee shop, spin class, or drag queen story hour. Their inclusivity demands were a ruse to force the dissolution of societal norms and erase objective moral truths.
What ended up happening to church attendance and fellowship was another win for progressives: faith in organized religion dropped with attendance and membership. Churchgoers looking for a strong faith community upholding traditional values and Protestant ideals turned away from a weak, inclusive “spirituality” representative church. Organized religion agreed to a suicide pact, but the agreement was completely one-sided.
The same is happening with cancel culture. To shield themselves from being labeled bigots, fascists, sexists, homophobes, or generally hatemongers, Republicans let liberals determine the social and cultural boundaries (or lack thereof) and disengaged from the fight over language and free speech. But as soon as our political leaders and corporate business executives capitulated on any one issue, the Left kept marching like ants over fresh meat. Conservatives are left undefended from radicals’ insatiable appetite while we starve for strong leadership to stop America’s unraveling. We are waiting to fight, but we cannot do it alone. We know America is good. We believe in our Founders’ vision and our standing as the world’s best hope for freedom and liberty. We are anxious for the battle against an upside-down narrative in which victimhood and identity politics have replaced patriotism, free expression, and the marketplace of ideas.
Conservatives need to take unconditional, unapologetic ownership of these American ideals. The Left will never be satisfied with any concessions and will not make any apologies. Instead, for the progressives and their propagandists in the media, the only “good” Republican – let alone conservative – either is out of politics, has a gig on CNN, or is dead. We have plenty of gutless wonders roaming the halls of Congress, making empty promises in the glare of television cameras. We need more Pattons. We need to be eager for Theodore Roosevelt’s Arena. We need more mavericks who aren’t afraid of — perhaps even relish — the opportunity to make people in both ideological camps uncomfortable and ashamed. We need to be the Americans who love to fight, and we will follow a strong leader into the fire of battle for a just cause. America and our Constitutional freedoms are worth that fight.
In that same 1944 speech, Patton proclaims, “Every single man in the army plays a role. So don’t ever let up. Don’t ever think that your job is unimportant.” We are all owners of America’s legacy. Let us be on the side of a legacy of virtue, goodness, and freedom.