Tyranny is our foe

I am re-running this with permission. It’s from my good pal, Evan Wallach. Folks will remember him from his days in Las Vegas with Lionel, Sawyer and Collins. He was the Review-Journal’s outside attorney as well as the kick-ass attorney for the Nevada Press Association.

He’s now a federal judge somewhere back East. (Never let it be said I never said anything good about a Harry Reid appointment.)

Here it is. enjoy.

“My friends, I repost a speech I gave at my college in England, just after 9/11, as I assumed the chairmanship of the college’s alumni society. I think it is good to be reminded, from time to time, that tyranny is our foe.

“Speech, 21 September, 2001 Hughes Hall College, Cambridge

“It is good to be home. Whether it is because we as peoples share the same language and laws, value the same rights of humanity, and pray to the same God, or because I have developed so many ties and deep friendships since I first set foot in these halls some twenty-one years ago, I cannot feel myself a stranger in this house and in this fair land. It is good to be home and to share with you our common hopes and our common tragedy.

“When President Richards invited me to speak here some months past, I had in mind a few words about my personal history at Hughes, and some specific thoughts about how much Cambridge has meant to the cause of freedom. I meant to speak about how England stood alone and undaunted in those dark days of May and June, 1940, as the only bulwark between the free world and the dark night of unending barbarism. Long before we Americans were forced into the affair, even before her empire could effectively rally to the colors, this island held the line; and this small town, with its great university, was at the center of that resistance, providing many of its pilots, much of its intelligence apparatus, and a great deal of its military leadership.

“My original thought was to come here to thank you yet again, and to speak about the links forged in that crucible of war which bind us still.

“That was before Tuesday, September 11.

“On that morning I was talking to my secretary Linda Sue as she prepared coffee. When we heard the first explosion I thought it was a bomb. We were relieved when the television said it was an airplane. It had to be an accident. We watched the second aircraft fly into the WTC. In one second it changed everything. We knew we were at war.

“New Yorkers reacted very well. They reminded me so much of Londoners in the Blitz. Our court is exactly a half mile from the WTC. There was no panic. People helped someone when they stumbled, urged one another on, and were kind to strangers. It was as Dickens says, the best of times and the worst of times.

“We are much a family, we Americans, a very large, very extended and often very dysfunctional family. When our brothers and sisters come into harm’s way we react as does any family; we cry, we grieve, we pray, we hold each other close, and then we go on living.

“Make no mistake about it, we will go on. The continental Europeans have a conception of America which has a strong kernel of truth. We are still, somewhat, the vaguely isolationist, happy-go-lucky plough boy who can be insulted by foreign waiters, euchred by a sidewalk grifter, blow his month’s pay on a pretty bar girl, and still go home convinced he had a real nice time in the big city.

“But when you slap us across the face, we know we’ve been wronged and it is not in our nature to slap you in return. Rather, our national instinct is to destroy your armies, drive your population into exile, pillage your cities and plow salt into the ground where they stood; in short, to act like Europeans. Then, however, being Americans we pass out chewing gum and foreign aid to help rebuild what we just destroyed.

“That baser instinct, however, is fortunately also mitigated by one equally strong which we suckled at the breast of our mother country with the milk of Magna Carta. I refer, of course, to the sanctity of the rule of law. As Edmund Burke said in 1775:

In this character of the Americans a love of freedom is the predominating feature which marks and distinguishes the whole…This fierce spirit of liberty is stronger in the English colonies, probably, than in any other people of the earth [because] the people of the colonies are descendants of Englishmen.

“We learned our lessons well at your knee. We learned from Entick v. Carrington that though a citizen lives in the rudest hut with no door or window, though the wind may blow through and the rain may pour in, the King of England with all his armies may not pass over his thresh hold without an invitation to enter.

“We have taken the rights and liberties of Englishmen and extended them even further. We have enshrined them in a written Constitution, and from time to time, as we have done wrong to individuals and learned our lesson from that wrong doing, we have added additional protections.

We have been attacked by people from one particular part of the world. I am not an Arabist or a scholar of that region’s history to any great degree but I think I can say those who planned this attack are mistaken about the United States in many ways. I believe they thought to wound us deeply by attacking our national symbols, and that they viewed the WTC as one such symbol. They thought, I imagine, that as a capitalist state, worshiping the almighty dollar, we would reel back, shaken and demoralized, by the loss of this great temple of Mammon. Truly they mistake us.

We reel back, not at the loss of a building, because bricks and mortar can always be restacked; we usually tear down our great edifices every few decades or so anyway, to construct something larger and more modern. What wounded us, what cut us to our souls, what enraged us beyond the comprehension of these bombers, was the loss of five thousand of our sons and daughters, moms and dads, firemen, policemen, janitors, bankers, doctors and lawyers. For this we shall not forgive the perpetrators; this we shall never forget. They are sadly mistaken.

“If I could say one thing to those attackers and to their followers it would be this:

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits…Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire. Wherefore, by their fruits shall ye know them.

“I trust we will not again make the mistake of the Second World War and presume that because an individual or his forefathers came from that region or worships our common God in its way, that he is anything other than someone entitled to mutual rights and mutual respect. There will be no mass roundups based on race, there will be no mass internment camps based on religion. We are not the same people as we were in 1941, and thank God, we are not the same people as those with whom we are at war.

I take some pride, that as a member of the federal judiciary I have taken an oath to do equal justice to all who come before me, and I have great confidence that not only shall we honor that oath, but that the executive branch will equally honor its obligation to protect the rights of those who reside within our nation whatever their race or religion. If restrictions there are, and there will be, if some limitations arise on the freedom from government interference with our ability to travel, and there will be, they will be applied equally. If individual officials make mistakes simply because of someone’s color or creed, we will correct those mistakes as quickly as possible and apologize for the error. We will all face the burden together, we shall spread it as fairly as possible, and we shall bear it with quiet determination and good humor, for we are at war.

“Make no mistake about it, we are at war. It is a different war than those of the recent past, and we Americans tend to be so forward looking that we confine our vision only to the front, but there is historical precedent for what we are about to do. When our nation was still in its infancy we fought an undeclared war with your neighbors across the Channel, we sent our young navy to the Mediterranean to battle the corsairs of Barbary, and over the years we have chased bandits and pirates beyond our borders whenever our national interest required it. Often, and for many decades, we shared that job with the Royal Navy.

“I cannot, in this English language, say anything about this endeavor upon which we now embark in any way better than my hero who led your fight for civilization in the last world war. Let me quote from two speeches by Mr. Churchill:

“‘There shall be no halting or half measures, there shall be no compromise or parley. These gangs of bandits have sought to darken the light of the world; have sought to stand between the common people and their inheritance. They shall themselves be cast into the pit of death and shame, and only when the earth has been cleansed and purged of their crimes and villainy shall we turn from the task they have forced upon us, a task which we were reluctant to undertake, but which we shall now most faithfully and punctiliously discharge.’


“‘We do not war primarily with races as such. Tyranny is our foe, whatever trappings or disguise it wears, whatever language it speaks, be it external or internal, we must forever be on our guard, ever mobilized, ever vigilant, always ready to spring at its throat. In this, we march together.

In this indeed, I know we shall march together.’”

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