Cal Thomas on Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

At the launching of his 12th book on May 8 at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, syndicated columnist Cal Thomas did what he does best. He informed, entertained, and kept his audience at rapt attention. What follows are excerpts from his speech, which centered on the theme of his new book A Watchman in the Night: What I’ve Seen Over 50 Years Reporting on America.

China’s president, Xi Jinping, believes America is in decline. Is there sufficient evidence to counter his diagnosis? I just returned from Israel. My 27th visit. They made me an honorary Jewish person, which was very nice, and I met with my longtime friend Benjamin Netanyahu.  He told me that Israel has managed to delay Iran getting a nuclear bomb, but only a delay. Someone will have to stop it. Who might that be?

Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to push the so-called two-state solution to the Palestinian problem. I presume now at least they have tabled the crazy idea of a treaty with Iran. As if a regime that claims their God wants Israel eliminated and us too would abide by anything they would sign with infidels. Must I mention moral standards which are not only being violated but rejected in favor of what is now called woke: Drag Queen Story Time, 56 labels of gender identification on Facebook, same-sex marriage, puberty blockers, and the rest of the secular progressive agenda.

Once people who favored such things were ashamed of saying it in public, now they shout it from the housetops. Once such people sought or were told to seek counseling. Now they not only seek permission but approval and demand you give it to them, or they will picket your business or home. See Brett Kavanaugh and other conservative Supreme Court justices, see those who are standing up for women’s sports against transgender males, and the hail of criticism that has rained down upon them.

The city council of Somerville, MA, enacted an ordinance protecting individuals in polyamorous relationships from discrimination. In 2020, the city became the first in the nation, but I’m betting not the last, to recognize polyamorous relationships as legitimate domestic partnerships. Romantic relationships of three or more in the city will now have many of the same rights as traditionally married couples. What’s next? And there will be a next because without a standard there will be no stopping anything.

To what would anyone who says, “No, this is too far,” appeal? It reminds me of what Mitt Romney said after the not so Supreme Court ruled on the legitimacy of same-sex marriage: “Next, they’ll be allowing you to marry your dog.” He was mocked. Not so funny now, is it?

Government schools teach a type of reconstructionist history – or herstory – that seeks to indoctrinate children with the leftist point of view, whose goal is to create a new generation of secular progressives dedicated to envying the success of others, greedy for what they have and entitled to their money. During the last open season on Medicare, ads ran on TV stations in Florida and likely elsewhere that contained four words: free, deserve, benefit, and entitlement. Free, deserve, benefit, and entitlement. Now, when I was growing up in suburban Washington, the standard was inspiration followed by motivation, followed by perspiration can improve any life.

Cal Thomas Invokes Calvin Coolidge

GettyImages-515578704 Calvin Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge (Getty Images)

Calvin Coolidge, our 30th president, said it best when it comes to economic success: “You don’t build up the weak by tearing down the strong.” One of my favorite quotes of his other than that refers to a standard that has been lost in our time. “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence.” Talent will not. Nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not. Unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not. The world is full of educated derelicts.

Persistence and determination alone are omnificent. Today if you’re persistent and successful, you are to be taxed and regulated to death to subsidize others who have been less so. Consider the Biden administration’s recent proposal to increase mortgage rates for people with good credit to subsidize those with bad credit. And yet there are as many poor people today as there were when the Great Society began in 1965.

According to Heritage figures, our government has spent $11 trillion fighting poverty, and it hasn’t worked. There are roughly the same number of poor people today as there were 60 years ago. Poverty is more than a lack of money. It is a lack of other things that leads to a lack of money.

Do reasonable people think it is long time past for another approach? We’re “knee-deep in the big muddy and the big fool says to push on,” with apologies to Pete Seeger. Recall the Clinton-Gingrich Welfare Reform Law in the ’90s. The left screamed: “People would starve in the streets if they didn’t get their welfare checks.” They didn’t. When they realized the gravy train would no longer be stopping at their mailboxes, they went out and found jobs. Interviewed later, many said they were living a fulfilled life. Welfare was an addictive drug, and when they weaned themselves from it, they discovered what freedom looks and feels like.

And then there is the open border, which is contributing faster to the expiration of America than any foreign power could dream up. I recall the words of Muammar Qaddafi who said that “Islam will dominate Europe without a shot being fired through immigration.” The same is happening here.

GettyImages-1241368034 graduation

Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

If the government schools don’t finish the job of indoctrinating young people’s hearts and minds with secular progressivism by the time they graduate from high school, you can count on the universities finishing the job. It makes me ask why we are sending our children and grandchildren to these indoctrination centers. We don’t send our troops to Russia, China, or Iran to be trained. Why do we then send our children to places that teach the opposite of what many of us believe? Thank goodness school choice has spread now to more than 37 states. It needs to be national.

It has always amused me that those who are pro-choice when it comes to abortion are anti-choice when it comes to the schooling of children fortunate enough to have been born. Anyone who reads my columns knows how much I like definitions. They help focus your mind. Here’s how dictionary.com defines “standard”: A rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment; an average or normal requirement.

Today, who can define a principle without being labeled a racist? … What Groucho Marx said seems applicable today, “I have principles and if you don’t like them, I have others.” It reminds me of the verse from the Old Testament Book of Judges, “In those days, Israel had no king. Everyone did as he saw fit.” Another translation says, “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

Paul, the apostle of Jesus, put it a similar way. “Speaking of the end times,” he said, “people will believe whatever their itching ears want to hear.”

By these definitions, America and the rest of the world have reached or are very close to reaching the end times or end of days. This apocalypse is more certain than the many declared by climate-change alarmists, none of which have come true. Have you noticed Miami is not underwater yet?

I have sought to assert the standard in this book that has always worked not only in America but in other nations, wherever and whenever it has been applied. There is literally nothing new under the sun as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, a book that inspired the rock group known as the Byrds. I just wanted let you know I was hip.

Everything we think has been thought before. Everything we do has been done before. Why repeat history’s mistakes? Why? The answer is we’re too often ignorant of history and so are necessarily doomed to repeat it.

Look at the kind of people who are elected as mayors in high-crime cities. People claim to be fed up with crime, and yet they vote for candidates who want to defund or even eliminate the police, or they reduce felony charges to misdemeanors and release offenders to commit new crimes, including murder.

What is wrong with us? The late Roman Catholic Bishop Fulton J. Sheen said so many wise things. Here are a few from more than six decades ago that still apply today. “America is said to be suffering from intolerance. It is not. It is suffering from tolerance. Tolerance of right and wrong, truth and error, virtue and evil, Christ and chaos. Our country is not so overrun with the bigoted as it is overrun with the broad-minded.”

Cal Thomas

Syndicated Columnist Cal Thomas (photo by Leesa K. Donner)

Or “The refusal to take sides on great moral issues is itself a decision. It is a silent acquiescence to evil. The tragedy of our time is that those who still believe in honesty lack fire and conviction. While those who believe in dishonesty are full of passionate conviction.”

Or “Moral principles do not depend on majority vote — wrong is wrong even if everybody is wrong. Right is right even if no one is right.”

Or “Civilization is always in danger when those who have never learned to obey are given the right to command.”

Or “There is no word more dangerous than liberalism because to oppose it is the new unforgivable sin.”

And finally, which sums up everything, Bishop Sheen said, “Modern prophets say that our economics have failed us. No! It is not our economics which have failed. It is man who has failed, man who has forgotten God. Hence, no manner of economic or political readjustment can possibly save our civilization. We can be saved only by a renovation of the inner man, only by a purging of our hearts and souls; for only by seeking first the kingdom of God and his justice will all these other things be added unto us.”

I can think of nothing more profound than that.

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