>>> >>>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 >the >>>gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then >I >>>want to use that same gift now to re-connect you with your own sense >of >>>liberty ... your own freedom of thought ... your own compass for what >is >>>right. >>> >>>Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of >America, >>>"We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether this nation >or >>>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 >to >>>think and say what resides in your heart. I fear you no longer trust >the >>>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 >ago >>>I became president of the National Rifle Association, which protects >the >>>right to keep and bear arms. I ran for office, I was elected, and now >I >>>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 >Lord >>>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 >only >>>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 >Orwellian >>>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 >last >>>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 >not >>>authorized for public consumption!" >>> >>>But I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness, >we'd >>>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 >>>direction. >>>Underneath, the nation is roiling. Americans know something, without a >>>name is undermining the nation, turning the mind mushy when it comes >to >>>separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And they don't >like >>>it." >>> >>>Let me read a few examples. At Antioch college in Ohio, young men >seeking >>>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 >had >>>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 >team >>>"The Tribe" because it was supposedly insulting to local Indians, only >to >>>learn that authentic Virginia chiefs truly like the name. >>> >>>In San Francisco, city fathers passed an ordinance protecting the >rights >>>of transvestites to cross-dress on the job, and for transsexuals to >have >>>separate toilet facilities while undergoing sex change surgery. >>> >>>In New York City, kids who don't speak a word of Spanish have been >placed >>>in bilingual classes to learn their three R's in Spanish solely >because >>>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." >Jimmy >>>Baldwin and most of us on the March said "black." But it's a no-no >now. >>> >>>For me, hyphenated identities are awkward ... particularly >>>Native-American." I'm a Native American, for God's sake. I also >happen >>>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 >capital >>>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 >stingy >>>or scanty. But within days Howard was forced to publicly apologize and >>>resign. >>> >>>As columnist Tony Snow wrote: "David Howard got fired because some >people >>>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 >>>ignorance." >>> >>>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 >me: >>>Why did political correctness originate on America's campuses? And why >do >>>you continue to tolerate it? Why do you, who're supposed to debate >ideas, >>>surrender to their suppression? >>> >>>Let's be honest. Who here thinks your professors can say what they >really >>>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 >River, >>>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 >researchers >>>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 >unfettered >>>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 >and >>>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 >you >>>think critically about a denomination, it does not make you >>>anti-religion. If you accept but don't celebrate homosexuality, it >does >>>not make you a homophobe. >>> >>>Don't let America's universities continue to serve as incubators for >this >>>rampant epidemic of new McCarthyism. But what can you do? How can >anyone >>>prevail against such pervasive social subjugation? >>> >>>The answer's been here all along. I learned it 36 years ago, on the >steps >>>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 >learned >>>it from Gandhi, and Thoreau and Jesus and every other great man who >led >>>those in the right against those with the might. >>> >>>Disobedience is in our DNA. We feel innate kinship with that >Disobedient >>>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 >>>Vietnam. >>> >>>In that same spirit, I am asking you to disavow cultural correctness >with >>>massive disobedience of rogue authority, social directives and onerous >>>law that weaken personal freedom. >>> >>>But be careful ... it hurts. Disobedience demands that you put >yourself >>>at risk. Dr. King stood on lots of balconies. You must be willing to >be >>>humiliated ... to endure the modern-day equivalent of the police dogs >at >>>Montgomery and >>>the water Cannons at Selma. You must be willing to experience >discomfort. >>>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 >CD >>>called "Cop Killer" celebrating ambushing and murdering police >officers. >>>It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest >>>entertainment conglomerate in the world. Police across the country >were >>>outraged. Rightfully so-at least one had been murdered. But >Time/Warner >>>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. >>> >>>"I GOT MY 12 GAUGE SAWED OFF >>>I GOT MY HEADLIGHTS TURNED OFF >>>I'm ABOUT TO BUST SOME SHOTS OFF >>>I'm ABOUT TO DUST SOME COPS OFF..." >>> >>>It got worse, a lot worse. I won't read the rest of it to you. But >trust >>>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 >sick >>>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 >press >>>corps, one of them said "We can't print that." "I know," I replied, >"but >>>Time/Warner CCs >>>selling it." >>> >>>Two months later, Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's contract. I'll never >be >>>offered another film by Warners, or get a good review from Time >magazine. >>>But disobedience means you must be willing to act, not just talk. >>> >>>When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself ... jam >the >>>switchboard of the district attorney's office. When your university >is >>>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. >When >>>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 >as >>>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 >hallowed >>>footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles, >>>founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an >aroused >>>rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this >country. >>> >>>If Dr. King were here, I think he would agree. >>> >>>Thank you.