July 4th With a Vengeance..

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An Instagram mini-spat, or why I don’t suffer fools, especially around Independence Day.

A few weeks ago, a reel was posted detailing all of the corporate restaurants that are closing down in 2024. Predictably, in an election year, political differences flared over why thousands of locations were being locked up. The lefties blamed corporate greed, unhealthy menus, and private equity.  Conservatives blamed soaring minimum wage laws, climate-scam gasoline prices, and the residual effect of the lockdowns.  It didn’t seem implausible, to me at least, that the lockdown policies which bankrupted hundreds of thousands of small restaurants, and instilled fear in the traveling public, would eventually catch up to the better capitalized restaurants.

Reasonable people can disagree, but a fellow named Karun Malhotra went straight for the Critical Race Theory jugular.  (See graphic).  Apparently, I criticized Dr. Fauci because I run a business that “celebrates white washing past events so white folks can feel good about themselves.”

Sometimes people warn me never to offend a potential customer, but, really, how could you ever please someone this racist, this rude, and this blindly devoted to proving his CRT fundamentalism?  Ponder how freely a total stranger feels entitled to claim a) I lie to my customers about American history (white wash it), and b) “white people” need someone to lie about it, so that they can feel better about their role in the American story.  This is the kind of racism that is freely allowed in polite company these days.

Guess what, folks?  If the human resources DEI/CRT crowd would stop having tantrums, they might look up and see around them the sort of people we see on Riley’s Farm EVERY DAY: people of all colors and creeds who LOVE AMERICA..

Celebrate This on July 4th:  Life Gets Better.  Really!

We don’t need to white wash anything.  On July 4th, we celebrate a plucky band of farmers and merchants and pastors who bled and died so that we might have a republic, not a monarchy.  In the 11th century BC, a fellow named Samuel of Ramah made it clear to his own people: a society that asks for a king, that clamors for a dictator, is spiritually and intellectually corrupt.  Instead of governing themselves, in the fear of God, they seek someone to protect, and feed, and rule over them.   For over a century, the American colonies had proven they could build roads, schools, cities, and colleges;  they could protect the realm with their small town militias;  they could enforce their own laws; they could create wealth and religious liberty.  Why would such people need a king?  Why, especially, did they need a king who fattened his ministerial sycophants at the expense of the Americans?  After years of petitioning the king for their charter rights, the king responded by attempting to take away their weapons — and the fighting began.  These part time soldiers defeated the greatest military force in the world.

That is worth celebrating.  It requires no white wash, Karun.  Americans don’t need someone to make them “feel good” about that history.  For anyone with eyes, with a soul, it’s a story worth celebrating.

Did everyone benefit from that victory equally?  No.  Were they aware that slavery diminished these accomplishments?  Yes.  Did corruption, vanity, and greed enter the picture?  Of course.

Name one single accomplishment in history that didn’t leave a lot of pure evil still writhing in the swamp.  Hundreds of thousands of men died bringing slavery to an end, but it took another century to confront Jim Crow.  Lyndon Johnson may have passed a major civil rights act, but he was taking bribes and stuffing ballot boxes and raping women all along the way.  We may have saved Western Europe from Nazism, but we left Eastern Europe to suffer under brutal, genocidal Communism as the price of alliance.

History isn’t a rocket ship.  It doesn’t speed you off, at warp speed, to the Lux-Star galaxy for a pampered vacation.  It’s more like a handcart you pull up and down hills on the way up the mountain.  The wheels fall off sometimes, but the view gets better and better, and the alpine meadows more pristine.   Anyone who looks at OUR LIVES NOW and believes we would be happier in pre-Columbian Mexico, wondering if we might get collared for the next human sacrifice, is either a drooling dolt or the sort of “artist” who draws unicorns in Disney animations.  You either have to be profoundly stupid, or an uniformed romantic, to prefer Comanche justice over the sort you might find in modern Kansas.  Honestly, some of you kids are very spoiled.  Abraham Lincoln, as a little boy, couldn’t even dream about your 4k drones, and your Peloton workouts, and your full-text, worldwide database.  Life gets better and it has been getting better.  Remember that.

Please Don’t Mess This Up..

Mary and I drove back to Oklahoma a few weeks ago.  On the way home, through 107 degree Texas heat, we were kept a cool 72.  The cruise control, and the safety features, kept us at even speed, safely away from other vehicles, while we listened to podcasts. Earlier in the trip, when a tire blew out, the keep-driving technology, and a Google Maps search got us to a Discount Tire store in 4 minutes.  As a child, I remember flat tires being the occasion for sitting on the side of the highway, while dad wrestled with the spare, and then enduring a motel delay in places like Kanab, Utah.  This time, we were Ubered to a Charleston Restaurant, and we enjoyed buttered shrimp while the tire was being replaced.  All done — crisis to repair — in 90 minutes.

“Please,” I told Mary, “Please don’t let the next generation of voters mess all of this up.” (Except, forgive me, I did not use the word, ‘mess.’)

If you think I’m paranoid, ponder the Cuban experience: a thriving, capitalist country turned into a communist hell hole within a few years, and it is still frozen in its socialist squalor, sixty years later.  Ponder the two different Koreas.  Ponder the control-freak weirdos who don’t want you to buy, or raise, your own beef, who want you living in “smart city” prisons, who want you buying the absurd notion that fossil fuels are dangerous for the planet.  The sort of people who think gender confusion might have a reduced population benefit are lost, and you need to let them know that.

The 4th of July

When I ponder the 4th of July, I think of the sacrifices my ancestors made so that Mary and I could see our out-of-state children, without having to suffer the heat, and disease, and savagery of a 19th century style plains crossing.  I ponder the sort of engineers who built huge hydro-electric dams (instead of the sort who rip them down to protect minnows). I ponder the freezing souls at Valley Forge and Trenton, who were the last best hope of their country.  I ponder the First Amendment fight I believe I might finally win because many patriots knew the price of living in a silenced country.

There is a LOT to celebrate, but I’ll be honest about something..

When I first became a professional living historian, thirty years ago, whenever I did a media interview, I made this observation:  “It doesn’t matter if you’re left, right, or center.  Every American has affection for the Lexington Minuteman, for the story of Little Roundtop, for George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.”  These were our historical refence points, the men and the moments and the stories whose appreciation made us “American.”  I really had the sense, at Dodger stadium, that the people around me were of every different sort, every tribe, every religion, every ethnicity.  But I also had the sense there was something reverent in their observation of the National Anthem, that there were tears in their eyes–and that we might disagree over a thousand things, but that we had THIS–“land of the free and home of the brave”–in common.

I’m not quite as confident anymore.  I hope it’s just an embittered, orphaned minority, but there are people like Karun who see our history as a kind of uniform rot that just needs covering.  A few years ago, when Andrew Cuomo, former governor of New York, blurted out “[America] never really was that great,” I thought he would make an immediate apology for misspeaking, but that sort of sentiment actually has an audience.  There will always be a market for a message, and a political movement, justifying self-pity–and CRT is built for that.  I believe its creators knew that.  They want a citizenry who sees oppression around every corner.

In the 1990s, we would regularly field 300 or more people for battle re-enactments, but we have very few hobby living historians at Colonial Faire this year.  Many of them who share my view of American history have exited California for places like Tennessee and Kentucky and Texas.  (Guess why?)  There have always been, as well, much to my amazement, people who re-enact 18th century America and don’t really share many of its values.  Some of these types would have happily put me in jail for exercising my First Amendment rights on January 6.  Many of them would happily sacrifice your freedom of will if they thought an experimental “vaccine” would protect them even a little teeny bit.  Living history, for some folks, is just dressing the part.

July 4th With a Vengeance

Celebrate hard this year.  We would love to see you, but wherever you are, take the time to tell your version of our common, patriotic story.  Don’t let these weirdos define the future, or mangle the past, for your children.  (A good friend of ours has a big July 4th celebration every year.  Last year, she had a Betsy Ross flag out front and one of her guests warned her that our original national flag might be seen as hate speech.  My friend told her guest: “Can it.  Only weirdos would take it that way.”)

Ongoing, we need you to help us re-plant the flag, fire the muskets, tune the fiddles, sing the psalms, and celebrate — without apology — the greatest country on the face of the earth.  In American history, sometimes patriotism rises and falls.  Right now, it’s taking a beating, but when it comes to July 4th, I feel something like the master of ceremonies at the Banning Rodeo last year.  Paraphrasing..

“Folks, at this event, you’re going to hear us pray in Jesus’ name.  You are going to hear the National Anthem.  You are going to hear us celebrate manly demonstrations of courage .   You are going to see men who look like men and women who look like women.  If that bothers you, get your ass out of this stadium.”



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This post was written by Jim Riley


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