I first heard it in an undergraduate Early American history class nearly three decades ago. The instructor, a devout Marxist and gifted lecturer out of Chicago, began the first day of instruction quoting the following with the utmost reverence, clarity, and drama: “All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”
He paused for effect. “Do you know the source of these immortal words?”
A few nodded. Many of the others, having only received twelve years of public education were probably thinking, “The words sound vaguely familiar,” or else, “Is he allowed to say Creator in the classroom?”
I was certain he was quoting The Declaration of Independence, and since no one seemed brave enough to raise their hand mine shot up – when he answered his own question. “It’s the first sentence, of the first paragraph, of the most sacred document of the people of North Vietnam, their Declaration of Independence from “French imperialists.”
He let it sink in. Some of us, I’m sure, were stunned and confused, not because our hearts were touched by this piece of anti-Capitalist, pro-Communist propaganda, but by something far more profound like: “Isn’t this supposed to be a class about America’s founding?”
Feeling his power over a bunch of state-educated freshmen, he nodded his head as if to say (which he in fact did say later and frequently), ‘Yes, Yes. They lied to you! Your government lied to you! Your parents lied to you! Your religion lied to you! Your puerile public education lied to you!’ And then without warning he thundered as if from Sinai his mighty exclamation point that closed the deal: “And we fought those guys in Vietnam?” End of argument, heh? He was ready for a fight, eyes ablaze with a wildness unique to himself, he hung it out there like a big dare. You know, ‘How dare any of you defend so ludicrous, so hypocritical, so evil an American war!’
This disgraceful defense of a mass-murdering regime, which promised, like all communist revolutions before it, everything only to deliver nothing but poverty, slavery, misery, and , set the theme for a semester of disinformation. Our Founders, he taught, were not unlike those modern communist revolutionaries: They were according to his curious and inventive historical sources: drunken, skirt-chasing, hotheaded, hypocritical “rebels” who would resort to whatever means necessary to achieve their “holy” self-serving ends. That is, they would lie, they would rabble-rouse, they would revolt, and they would kill, just so long as they took care of “number one” – to which he would loudly and sarcastically add, “But then the ends do justify the means! Don’t they?” By contrast, even though the Communists do all of these same things, which he would concede … they had an advantage: their cause was genuinely just: a spontaneous movement among the poor and persecuted for the poor and persecuted. This was, in summary, tax-funded scholarship at its best!
Talk about seditious speech aimed not just at the leaders currently in office — though he was also attacking those in office: this was 1984; anti-Communist, America-loving Ronald Reagan was in power; and this University was located in the most pro-Republican county of the most pro-Republican state in the country — no, this lecture, this entire semester was about attacking the entire Constitutional, social, and moral order of the country, laying the groundwork for its complete overthrow into the arms of our “real friends,” the “enlightened ones,” “the allies and defenders of the defenseless, the poor, the minority, and women everywhere.
But I have to tell you: he was a real patriot; he was the loyal opposition; he was motivated by a higher cause than mere party partisanship; his speech deserved to be protected, no, promoted, even preferred and mandated. Wouldn’t you say? And, well, it was.
Steve Farrell is one of the original pundits at Silver Eddy Award Winner, NewsMax.com (1999–2008), associate professor of political economy at George Wythe University, the author of the highly praised inspirational novel “Dark Rose,” and editor in chief of The Moral Liberal.