Curtis Dahlgren
Culture war: From 'don't ask, don't tell' to DOO TELL!
By Curtis Dahlgren
December 24, 2010

"New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed without any other reason but because they are not already common . . . [but]

"All men are liable to error; and most men are, in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it."
John Locke (1632-1664); p. 315, Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

"What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?"
Abraham Lincoln (Cooper Institute address); p. 314, Oxford Dictionary of Quotations

PUT ME DOWN AS AGREEING WITH BOTH OF THEM. However, life is a paradox, and we must not over-simplify things.

[This is the column I never intended to write, but a friend asked me to comment on a column by Jamie Freeze in which she applauds 8 Republicans for voting to repeal "Don't ask, don't tell."]

I'm a sort-of John Stuart Mill conservative; I don't think speech or writing should be censored, but as we all know, the all-gay 364-days-a-year media believe that any criticism of the gay political agenda is "hate-speech" and should be OUTLAWED. "Homophobes" should be jailed (they think).

As for John Locke, he was a Puritan and therefore I highly suspect that while he defended what was "new" in 1660, he would have been shocked by the "new" ideas of 1860 (in the Confederacy and in Russia), and certainly the "new" things of America's "NINETEEN-SIXTIES."


Jamie, why are you pounding the keyboard so hard? I sense a lot of anger and "outrage" there (just a little joke as a comment on your "stereotyping" of what is the majority of conservatives). Your column also contains at least four strawmen you can "bully."

- You insinuate that we wouldn't "allow" anything that is outside the will of God if we had the power to ban it (but but, "DADT" DID "allow" it)).

- You say that the "divine" argument for DADT says that sin should not be "tolerated" — and that we think we were appointed to execute some sort of "cosmic justice" (but but, DADT DID tolerate it — "tolerate" means "to put up with").

- You say that our Founders realized that mandating church attendance and tithing were futile attempts in "changing the hearts of men" (the old "theocracy" red herring/straw dog; here you are misstating your opponents' position, which wouldn't be necessary if your own arguments were clear enough).

- Like many moderns, you don't seem to know the difference between the establishment of a State Relgion (denomination) and separation of Church and State (we do want a wall to protect the Church from the State, but not necessarily to isolate the State from non-denominational Christian "influences" in the public square).

Also, Jamie, you say that America was founded by Christians and non-Christians. Certainly there were a few Jews and Deists, but SO WHAT? Thomas Jefferson said that from the beginning of time believers had out-numbered non-believers a million-to-one.

Even though Deism was very, very insignificant in the second half of the 1700s, even those people lived under principles and morals far superior to the average "secularist" today. Jamie, you seem to accept decline as a given, but you could live another 70-some years or more, and in your heart, do you really think America as we know it can survive another 70 years of decline?

A strip in the funny papers once said, "You can't legislate morality, but IM-MORALITY is easy!" That's the main point here. Accusing us of "legislating morality" is Buncombe (and as a Carolinian, you ought to understand that word).

Jamie, you say that opponents of DADT repeal believe that homosexuality shouldn't be "tolerated or sanctioned." The operative word there is "sanctioned"! As we say of the media, just report the news, don't "ENCOURAGE" it. My tax dollars shouldn't be used to "encourage" anyone's sexual preferences, either.

Don't you realize that if the homosexual political agenda becomes fully "codified," you won'tbe able to SAY that you agree with the Bible's position on sin — or that sin even exists (that will be "hate speech').

Jamie, what is your priority, your main concern — the cultural decline of the West or whether certain GOP candidates are "electable"? A little history of the Whig party is in order. The Whigs were a "coalition-building party." They had supported the Gag Rules of 1835-44 which banned the mailing of anti-slavery materials, but by the late 1940s they didn't even talk about the slavery issue, because they thought it was a "wash" (nothing to be gained from it). They nominated Winfield Scott, a former POW, to run in 1852 (they thought he was "electable"). He lost. The Whigs never held another national convention.

In 1856 the Republicans ran General Fremont unsuccessfully, although sentiment against the spread of slavery was growing. The spread of slavery to the "Free Soil" was the real issue of the day, and even though few people thought Lincoln was "electable," he won by running on principle, not "tolerance" of the spread of slavery to the Territories.


Did you come up with that list of six arguments for DADT on your own? It almost sounds like a list you could have taken from your notes in a sociology class. Now the #7 argument for DADT is that the military isn't a democracy. Those in favor of repealing DADT counter that gays serve openly in other countries such as Europe.

O GREAT! The last thing we would want to do is model our military after the FRENCH! America is "different" and has been "different" from the beginning. Gays "openly" in the military are just another nail closing the coffin on American Exceptionalism.

No offence, Jamie, but I suspect that your perception of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson (and other Founders) may have been distorted by your university education. I would very highly recommend the book "Christianity and the Constitution; the Faith of Our Founding Fathers" by John Eidsmoe (Baker Books). Here are a couple of excerpts:

"Around 1800 Pierre Samuel Dupont de Nemours, founder of the famous Dupont lineage in America, conducted a study of education in America on behalf of Thomas Jefferson. He concluded: 'Most young Americans . . can readd, write, and cipher. Not more than four in a thousand are unable to write legibly — even neatly.' He compared the low rate of literacy around the world to the relatively high literacy rate in the United States, England, Holland, and the Protestant Cantons of Switzerland. He attributed the difference to the fact that 'in those countries the Bible is read; it is considered a duty to read it to the children . . .

"He went on to say that for the most part, education in America was accomplished in the home through reading Bibles and newspapers." [U. of Delaware Press, 1923] . . .

"Emphasis on Biblical Law

"Calvin stressed that both moral and judicial laws of Scripture needed to be applied as principles, not as hard-and-fast rules. The laws reflected the eternal and unchanging character and will of God and could not be ignored . . .

"[T]he first use of the Law was to proclaim God as the Creator of the universe; in this context the law in all its forms, but especially as enforcedby governments, keeps the sinful proclivities of men in check" [as in "thou shalt not steal"] . . .

"Covenant Theology

"The covenant view of government also found secular expression in John Locke's social contract theory — the belief that men in a state of nature formed a government by mutual consent and gave it certain limited authority to act in order to protect their basic rights of life, liberty, and property. Locke, a Puritan by background, based his political theories on [Rev. Samuel] Rutherford's (1600-1661) in his classic work, Lex Rex [or] 'The Law and the Prince' . . .

"Calvinists not only believe civil government is ordained and established by God, they also believe that God has given civil government only limited authority. The same power that grants authority to government, also limits that authority . . .

"Consequently the ruler is acting without legitimate authority if he violates the laws of God and nature by suppressing the basic liberties of the people . . . Limited government also formed the basis for resistance to British oppression in the War of Independence. The colonists' slogan, 'Rebellion against tyrants is obedience to God!' grew from roots firmly planted in Calvinist soil.

"The Declaration of Independence appears to have been addapted, at least in part, from a Calvinistic predecessor, the Mecklenburg Declaration. On May 20, 1775 — more than a year before the Declaration of Independence — a group of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians gathered in Charlotte, North Carolina, out of concern over the conflict with Britain . . .

"'We hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people; are, and of right ought to be, a sovereign and self-governing association, under control of no power other than that of our God, and the general government of Congress; to the maintenance of which we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual cooperation and our lives, our fortunes and our most sacred honor'. . . .

"The practice of presbyterian and congregational church government gave colonial Americans practical experience in local self-government. It helped form a basis for representative and decentralized government, both of which are cornerstones of the American constitutional system.

"This was particularly true in New England where the meetings of the Congregational churches developed into the town meetings that are a hallmark of New England politics even today." [end excerpts]


"No king but King Jesus" was another colonial slogan, but life is a paradox. The government they formed was the farthest thing from a "theocracy" because they believed that God limited human authority over other humans. Another Protestant contribution to our Republic was the "theology" of the universal Priesthood of Jesus, and consequently, "the priesthood of all believers" — placing both great rights and great responsibility upon the individual's shoulders.

And, one of the earliest theological contributions to human rights was in the Sabbath command in ancient Israel. "Neither you nor thy manservant nor your ox or your ass" were to work on the Sabbath — one of the first, if not the very first, declarations of "EQUALITY." As Miles McMillan used to say, "What more could be fairer?"

Thus, history revisionists who declare that America is "not a Christian nation" simply do not know what they are talking about. An attack on your ROOTS is an attack on you! And an attack on MY roots is an attack on you, TOO.

Paradoxically, you have to know the difference between Liberty and "license" (libertinism) to understand the true meaning of "Freedom" and "American liberty."

As John Milton said, "None can love freedom heartily but good men; the rest love not freedom but license."

Enough said?

© Curtis Dahlgren


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Curtis Dahlgren

Curtis Dahlgren is semi-retired in southern Wisconsin, and is the author of "Massey-Harris 101." His career has had some rough similarities to one of his favorite writers, Ferrar Fenton... (more)


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