Subversive political propaganda typically consists of 1% truth and 99% information that is demonstrably untrue or decontextualized, all of which is then woven together in such a way as to lead the target audience to erroneous, often dangerous conclusions.
Such is the case with the Charlottesville Center for Peace & Justice’s (CCP&J) propaganda in rallying its supporters, and others, to protest President Bush when he speaks on Independence Day at Monticello’s annual naturalization ceremony.
If the above was all that one heard about Thomas Jefferson, he or she might come to the conclusion that Jefferson was a pacifist who would not resort to armed conflict in his position as President and Commander in Chief – except, perhaps, only when we were under direct military attack on our shores.
If you support the complaints against the first King George III enumerated on the first Fourth of July in the Declaration of Independence, I encourage you to attend the event. Go early. Wear an impeachment shirt. And bring a copy of our poor abused Constitution. This is not a time for fear and timidity. How dare this fascist blood-soaked murderer set foot in Charlottesville or on the grounds of Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson?
Thomas Jefferson who said: "As to myself, I love peace, and I am anxious that we should give the world still another useful lesson, by showing to them other modes of punishing injuries than by war, which is as much a punishment to the punisher as to the sufferer."
Thomas Jefferson who said: "If there be one principle more deeply rooted than any other in the mind of every American it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest."
Thomas Jefferson who said that to check "the dog of war'' we had to take the war-making power out of the hands of a single person, and give it to Congress.
The author of this missive, David Swanson, claims to have a Masters Degree in Philosophy from Jefferson’s University of Virginia (which he says he received without first having attained a Bachelor’s Degree?).
Such a “scholar” should know the truth about Jefferson. Swanson, however, clearly doesn’t – or he is in deep denial about it, and is using his skills as a communications functionary for some of the most leftist groups in America* to distort Jefferson's actual history. (*including the "Progressive Democrats Of America," a socialist front group, and "United For Peace & Justice," another thinly-cloaked assembly of Communists and other radical leftists; more here and here).
Unfortunately, most Americans have little to no knowledge of the real Thomas Jefferson – including those who are supposedly “educated,” even at the university that Jefferson himself designed and founded. And it is for this reason that activists like Swanson and his fellow travelers are able to propagate a variety of fundamental myths about Jefferson and our Founders to generations of our kids, and the general public.
The reality is that contrary to the above missive, Jefferson had an extremely forceful and unambiguous response to the first reign of terror that Islamists waged on Americans and others, occurring thousands of miles from our shores.
Those unfamiliar with the Barbary Wars can find background information on the savage, merciless murder, mayhem, rape, enslavement and henious violence perpetrated by Islamist thugs against unarmed civilians in the seas surrounding North Africa here and here (and here; warning: graphic descriptions).
In summary, for decades America's policy had been to not confront the Barbary Pirates militarily, but instead to pay the tribute (bribes) that these Islamist terrorists had demanded, in exchange for their promises of safe passage, or for return of the hostages they'd taken (and often tortured, or sexually terrorized or mutilated). And for just as long, Jefferson had been warning that this "peaceful" tact would not only not solve the problem, it would make it inestimably worse - because these "Barbarians" would be emboldened to commit greater acts of savagery, and demand higher and higher tributes.
Jefferson's admonitions fell on deaf ears, and his predictions came true. Yet year after year, the prevailing American foreign policy was to continue to obfuscate or downplay the problem, and to continue paying the demanded tributes.
But when Jefferson became President in 1801, he took a dramatically different course of action: He waged an unrelenting military action, until these first barbarian Islamist terrorists backed down. Here is the account of Jefferson's stance, from the Library of Congress:
And it was Jefferson's unrelenting military offensive against the unrelenting, murderous Islamist "barbarians," based in part in Tripoli, that led to the line in the Marine Corps' hymn:
As Jefferson wrote to Adams in a July 11, 1786, letter, "I acknolege [sic] I very early thought it would be best to effect a peace thro' the medium of war."
Paying tribute will merely invite more demands, and even if a coalition proves workable, the only solution is a strong navy that can reach the pirates, Jefferson argued in an August 18, 1786, letter to James Monroe: "The states must see the rod; perhaps it must be felt by some one of them. . . . Every national citizen must wish to see an effective instrument of coercion, and should fear to see it on any other element than the water. A naval force can never endanger our liberties, nor occasion bloodshed; a land force would do both."
"From what I learn from the temper of my countrymen and their tenaciousness of their money," Jefferson added in a December 26, 1786, letter to the president of Yale College, Ezra Stiles, "it will be more easy to raise ships and men to fight these pirates into reason, than money to bribe them."
The American show of force quickly awed Tunis and Algiers into breaking their alliance with Tripoli. The humiliating loss of the frigate Philadelphia and the capture of her captain and crew in Tripoli in 1803, criticism from his political opponents, and even opposition within his own cabinet did not deter Jefferson from his chosen course during four years of war. The aggressive action of Commodore Edward Preble (1803-4) forced Morocco out of the fight and his five bombardments of Tripoli restored some order to the Mediterranean.
However, it was not until 1805, when an American fleet under Commodore John Rogers and a land force raised by an American naval agent to the Barbary powers, Captain William Eaton, threatened to capture Tripoli and install the brother of Tripoli's pasha on the throne, that a treaty brought an end to the hostilities.
"From the halls of Montezuma,This reality – documented from multiple sources – would position Thomas Jefferson, in the eyes of the CCP&J and its fellow travelers, as a “warmonger” who utilized “cowboy diplomacy,” instead of the more “enlightened” approach of dialogue, negotiation and compassion (translation: appeasement, denial and gradual surrender, if not suicide).
To the shores of Tripoli;
We fight our country's battles
In the air, on land, and sea;
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine..."
After all, who was Jefferson to employ military forces against a those who had never attacked our shores, and who were (to the American left) essentially "criminals" (or, as a CCP&J "friend" Cindy Sheehan, would say, "freedom fighters")? And what kind of President would proceed against the advice of his own cabinet, while refusing to listen to those who'd attempted to secure a "peaceful" resolution with these religiously-fanatical barbarians?
One thing Swanson mentions that is legitimate, though: Jefferson was vehemently against a President having the “unitary” power to go to war against another nation. That’s why our Founders designed our Constitution to require Congress to declare war and enact treaties.
Modern “scholars” such as Swanson, and his fellow activists within and beyond the CCP&J, would have us believe that George Bush was the first President to violate this Constitutional provision.
But like so much of the CCP&J’s propaganda, the truth is a very different story.
(Democrat) Harry Truman was the first to go to war without a declaration of such. He only had a Congressional resolution authorizing the use of force against Korea. Ditto for (Democrat) John F. Kennedy’s deployment of U.S. military forces in Vietnam. Ditto for (Democrat) Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of forces. Ditto for (Republican) George H.W. Bush’s deployment of U.S. forces in the first Gulf War. Ditto for (Democrat) Bill Clinton’s deployment of U.S. forces to Haiti, Bosnia and other nations around the world that had never threatened or attacked us.
Similarly, George W. Bush couldn’t have deployed a single soldier to Iraq (or Afghanistan) without Congressional authorization – which he received, with overwhelming, bipartisan support. Here was what one senior Congressional leader said, in 2002, justifying military action against Iraq:
Which “warmonger” said that? Why, none other than the current Majority Leader of the Senate, Harry Reid (D-NV). You can scroll through a long, long list of similarly “warmongering” statements by other Congressional Democrats - stretching all the way back to 1998 - here. Watch a video compilation of these statements here.
"We stopped the fighting [in 1991] on an agreement that Iraq would take steps to assure the world that it would not engage in further aggression and that it would destroy its weapons of mass destruction. It has refused to take those steps. That refusal constitutes a breach of the armistice which renders it void and justifies resumption of the armed conflict."
Given that George W. Bush didn't take office until 2001, it makes one wonder: Did such a long list of justifications for the need to deal with Iraq militarily help motivate Bush to finally do so, in the wake of 9/11? Just who was "lying" to whom? Who "misled" whom?
Ultimately, the CCP&J and its fellow travelers – within and beyond America’s newsrooms and classrooms – have so convinced Americans that Iraq was solely Bush’s action and responsibility that most of our fellow citizens have no idea of the reality. Instead, groups such as the CCP&J vomit up such glittering jewels as the following – from Swanson’s same missive:
"(America's) state militias have been put under control of the national government and sent overseas to kill or be killed committing crimes on behalf of the king."Those who are or were in the U.S. military, and anyone who genuinely knows something about them, their character and their actions, must decide for themselves the merit (or blood-libel) of the above statement - and the relevance to the fact that terrorists and tyrants around the world use the exact same argument to justify the carnage they perpetrate.
Let us hope that local journalists, pundits and citizens keep all this in mind the next time that David Swanson, the CCP&J or any similar propagandists start spouting off about Thomas Jefferson, George W. Bush, Iraq and America’s history of military conflicts.