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Lesson Plans

Fw: speech at Harvard

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Larry Cox (L_J_Cox)
Mon, 22 Mar 1999 19:36:43 -0700

>>>Speech by Charlton Heston at Harvard
>>>Editor's Note: Charlton Heston addressed the topic 'Winning
>>>the Cultural War' at the Harvard Law School Forum, February
>>>16, 1999. Here is the text of that speech:
>>>By Charlton Heston
>>>I remember my son when he was 5, explaining to his
>>>kindergarten class what his father did for a living. "My
>>>Daddy," he said, "pretends to be people." There have been
>>>quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New
>>>Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various
>>>nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three
>>>American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses,
>>>including Michelangelo.
>>>If you want the ceiling re-painted I'll do my best. There
>>>always seem to be a lot of different fellows up here. I'm never sure
>>>which one of them gets to talk. Right now, I guess I'm the guy.
>>>As I pondered our visit tonight it struck me: if my Creator gave me
>>>gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then
>>>want to use that same gift now to re-connect you with your own sense
>>>liberty ... your own freedom of thought ... your own compass for what
>>>Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of
>>>"We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether this nation
>>>any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure."
>>>Those words are true again. I believe that we are again engaged in a
>>>great civil war, a cultural war that's about to hijack your birthright
>>>think and say what resides in your heart. I fear you no longer trust
>>>pulsing lifeblood of
>>>liberty inside you ... the stuff that made this country rise from
>>>wilderness into the miracle that it is. Let me back up. About a year
>>>I became president of the National Rifle Association, which protects
>>>right to keep and bear arms. I ran for office, I was elected, and now
>>>serve ... I serve as a moving target for the media who've called me
>>>everything from "ridiculous" and "duped" to a "brain-injured, senile,
>>>crazy old man." I know ... I'm pretty old ... but I sure thank the
>>>ain't senile. As I have stood in the crosshairs of those who target
>>>Second Amendment freedoms, I've realized that firearms are not the
>>>issue. No, it's much, much bigger than that. I've come to understand
>>>that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with
>>>fervor, certain acceptable thoughts and speech are mandated.
>>>For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 -- long
>>>before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience
>>>year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or
>>>anyone else's pride, they called me a racist.
>>>I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But
>when I
>>>told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your
>>>rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe.
>>>I served in World War II against the Axis powers. But during a speech,
>>>when I drew an analogy between singling out innocent Jews and singling
>>>out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite.
>>>Everyone I know knows I would never raise a closed fist against my
>>>country. But when I asked an audience to oppose this cultural
>>>persecution, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.
>>>>From Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they're essentially
>>>saying, "Chuck, how dare you speak your mind. You are using language
>>>authorized for public consumption!"
>>>But I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness,
>>>still be King George's boys-subjects bound to the British crown.
>>>In his book, "The End of Sanity," Martin Gross writes that "blatantly
>>>irrational behavior is rapidly being established as the norm in almost
>>>every area of human endeavor. There seem to be new customs, new rules,
>>>new anti-intellectual theories regularly foisted on us from every
>>>Underneath, the nation is roiling. Americans know something, without a
>>>name is undermining the nation, turning the mind mushy when it comes
>>>separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And they don't
>>>Let me read a few examples. At Antioch college in Ohio, young men
>>>intimacy with a coed must get verbal permission at each step of the
>>>process from kissing to petting to final copulation ... all clearly
>>>spelled out in a printed college directive.
>>>In New Jersey, despite the death of several patients nationwide who
>>>been infected by dentists who had concealed their AIDS --- the state
>>>commissioner announced that health providers who are HIV-positive need
>>>not. .. need not tell their patients that they are infected.
>>>At William and Mary, students tried to change the name of the school
>>>"The Tribe" because it was supposedly insulting to local Indians, only
>>>learn that authentic Virginia chiefs truly like the name.
>>>In San Francisco, city fathers passed an ordinance protecting the
>>>of transvestites to cross-dress on the job, and for transsexuals to
>>>separate toilet facilities while undergoing sex change surgery.
>>>In New York City, kids who don't speak a word of Spanish have been
>>>in bilingual classes to learn their three R's in Spanish solely
>>>their last names sound Hispanic.
>>>At the University of Pennsylvania, in a state where thousands died at
>>>Gettysburg opposing slavery, the president of that college officially
>>>setup segregated dormitory space for black students.
>>>Yeah, I know ... that's out of bounds now. Dr. King said "Negroes."
>>>Baldwin and most of us on the March said "black." But it's a no-no
>>>For me, hyphenated identities are awkward ... particularly
>>>Native-American." I'm a Native American, for God's sake. I also
>>>to be a blood-initiated brother of the Miniconjou Sioux. On my wife's
>>>side, my grandson is a 13th-generation Native American ... with a
>>>letter on "American."
>>>Finally, just last month ... David Howard, head of the Washington D.C.
>>>Office of Public Advocate, used the word "niggardly" while talking to
>>>colleagues about budgetary matters. Of course, 'niggardly' means
>>>or scanty. But within days Howard was forced to publicly apologize and
>>>As columnist Tony Snow wrote: "David Howard got fired because some
>>>in public employ were morons who (a) didn't know the meaning of
>>>'niggardly,' (b) didn't know how to use a dictionary to discover the
>>>meaning, and (c) actually demanded that he apologize for their
>>>What does all of this mean? It means that telling us what to think has
>>>evolved into telling us what to say, so telling us what to do can't be
>>>far behind. Before you claim to be a champion of free thought, tell
>>>Why did political correctness originate on America's campuses? And why
>>>you continue to tolerate it? Why do you, who're supposed to debate
>>>surrender to their suppression?
>>>Let's be honest. Who here thinks your professors can say what they
>>>believe? It scares me to death, and should scare you too, that the
>>>superstition of political correctness rules the halls of reason.
>>>You are the best and the brightest. You, here in the fertile cradle of
>>>American academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles
>>>you are the cream. But I submit that you, and your counterparts across
>>>the land, are the most socially conformed and politically silenced
>>>generation since Concord Bridge.
>>>And as long as you validate that ... and abide it ... you are-by your
>>>grandfathers' standards-cowards. Here's another example. Right now at
>>>more than one major university, Second Amendment scholars and
>>>are being told to shut up about their findings or they'll lose their
>>>jobs. Why? Because their research findings would undermine big-city
>>>mayor's pending lawsuits that seek to extort hundreds of millions of
>>>dollars from firearm manufacturers.
>>>I don't care what you think about guns. But if you are not shocked at
>>>that, I am shocked at you. Who will guard the raw material of
>>>ideas, if not you? Who will defend the core value of academia, if you
>>>supposed soldiers of free thought and expression lay down your arms
>>>plead, "Don't
>>>shoot me."
>>>If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist. If you see
>>>distinctions between the genders, it does not make you a sexist. If
>>>think critically about a denomination, it does not make you
>>>anti-religion. If you accept but don't celebrate homosexuality, it
>>>not make you a homophobe.
>>>Don't let America's universities continue to serve as incubators for
>>>rampant epidemic of new McCarthyism. But what can you do? How can
>>>prevail against such pervasive social subjugation?
>>>The answer's been here all along. I learned it 36 years ago, on the
>>>of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., standing with Dr. Martin
>>>Luther King and two hundred thousand people.
>>>You simply ... disobey. Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course.
>>>Nonviolently, absolutely. But when told how to think or what to say or
>>>how to behave, we don't. We disobey social protocol that stifles and
>>>stigmatizes personal freedom.
>>>I learned the awesome power of disobedience from Dr. King ...who
>>>it from Gandhi, and Thoreau and Jesus and every other great man who
>>>those in the right against those with the might.
>>>Disobedience is in our DNA. We feel innate kinship with that
>>>spirit that tossed tea into Boston Harbor, that sent Thoreau to jail,
>>>that refused to sit in the back of the bus, that protested a war in
>>>In that same spirit, I am asking you to disavow cultural correctness
>>>massive disobedience of rogue authority, social directives and onerous
>>>law that weaken personal freedom.
>>>But be careful ... it hurts. Disobedience demands that you put
>>>at risk. Dr. King stood on lots of balconies. You must be willing to
>>>humiliated ... to endure the modern-day equivalent of the police dogs
>>>Montgomery and
>>>the water Cannons at Selma. You must be willing to experience
>>>I'm not Complaining, but my own decades of social activism have taken
>>>their toll on me. Let me tell you a story.
>>>A few years back I heard about a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a
>>>called "Cop Killer" celebrating ambushing and murdering police
>>>It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest
>>>entertainment conglomerate in the world. Police across the country
>>>outraged. Rightfully so-at least one had been murdered. But
>>>was stonewalling because the CD was a cash cow for them, and the media
>>>were tiptoeing around it because the rapper was black. I heard
>>>Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in Beverly Hills. I
>>>owned some shares at the time, so I decided to attend.
>>>What I did there was against the advice of my family and colleagues. I
>>>asked for the floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American
>>>stockholders, I simply read the full lyrics of "Cop Killer" -- every
>>>vicious, vulgar, instructional word.
>>>It got worse, a lot worse. I won't read the rest of it to you. But
>>>me, the room was a sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. The
>>>Time/Warner executives squirmed in their chairs and stared at their
>>>shoes. They hated me for that. Then I delivered another volley of
>>>lyric brimming with
>>>racist filth, where Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing two 12-year old
>>>nieces of Al and Tipper Gore. "SHE PUSHED HER BUTT AGAINST MY ...."
>>>Well, I won't do to you here what I did to them. Let's just say I left
>>>the room in echoing silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting
>>>corps, one of them said "We can't print that." "I know," I replied,
>>>Time/Warner CCs
>>>selling it."
>>>Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's contract. I'll never
>>>offered another film by Warners, or get a good review from Time
>>>But disobedience means you must be willing to act, not just talk.
>>>When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself ... jam
>>>switchboard of the district attorney's office. When your university
>>>pressured to lower standards until 80 percent of the students graduate
>>>with honors ... choke the halls of the board of regents. When an
>>>8-year-old boy pecks a girl's cheek on the playground and gets hauled
>>>into court for
>>>sexual harassment ... march on that school and block its doorways.
>>>someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays you ...
>>>petition them, oust them, banish them. When Time magazine's cover
>>>portrays millennium nuts as deranged, crazy Christians holding a cross
>>>it did last
>>>month ... boycott their magazine and the products it advertises.
>>>So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the
>>>footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles,
>>>founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an
>>>rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this
>>>If Dr. King were here, I think he would agree.
>>>Thank you.

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