Sunday, February 01, 2009

Another Great American Hero (from England)

I'm just starting to read Christopher Hitchens' 2006 book Thomas Paine's Rights of Man. I regard Paine as one of my revolutionary heroes since having read his The Rights of Man some time ago.

In the early pages of Hitchens' book, I find reference to a parody of the British National Anthem, the melody of which is the same as our My Country 'Tis of Thee. According to Hitchens, the words to the parody were penned in 1771 by Joseph Mather, a radical file-maker from Sheffield.

The words to the parody are as follows:

God save great Thomas Paine,
His 'Rights of Man' explain
To every soul.
He makes the blind to see
What dupes and slaves they be,
And points out liberty
From pole to pole.

Thousands cry 'Church and King'
That well deserve to swing,
All must allow:
Birmingham blush for shame,
Manchester do the same
Infamous is your name,
Patriots vow.

Pull proud oppressors down,
Knock off each tyrant's crown,
And break his sword;
Down aristocracy,
Set up democracy,
And from hypocrisy
Save us good Lord.

Why should despotic pride
Usurp on every side?
Let us be free:
Grant freedom's arms success,
And all her efforts bless,
Plant through the universe
Liberty's Tree.

Facts are seditious things
When they touch courts and kings,
Armies are raised,
Barracks and Bastilles built,
Innocence charged with guilt,
Blood most unjustly spilt,
God stands amazed.

Despots may howl and yell,
Though they're in league with hell
They'll not reign long;
Satan may lead the van,
And do the worst he can,
Paine and his 'Rights of Man'
Shall be my song.

It's fairly easy for anyone to see that these lyrics fit today's burgeoning dictatorship in America, perhaps even more than they did that of George III, in the late 18th century--just as does Jefferson's Declaration of Independence.

We don't find any of this taught in the government children's prisons, either in the United States or in Britain. I seriously doubt if Mr Paine is anything more than a name mentioned in the footnotes of some American History texts, if at all. It's a necessity that if we ever wish to recover the liberty that once was, much less improve 'pon it, we must understand what was given us by those who once built the road to freedom, in order to clear it once again.

Those who don't remember the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.

Warm regards,

Col. Hogan
Stalag California

10 comments:

smartass sob said...

I seriously doubt if Mr Paine is anything more than a name mentioned in the footnotes of some American History texts, if at all.

Even forty something years ago, when I was in school, he was only mentioned as the writer of the essay "Common Sense" in connection with the American Revolution.

sasob

The Wine Commonsewer said...

British National Anthem, the melody of which is the same as our My Country 'Tis of Thee.

Yes, 'God Save The Queen'.....

Unfortunately, SA, public schools in our day glossed over almost everything. History became very boring for me as we re-learned 6th grade American History in 8th grade and 10th grade EXACTLY the same as we did in 6th grade.

It is a bit better today, at least in my kid's schools. I have to insert corrections into the day now and again, and I doubt that Tom Paine will be given his due in any public school, but it is a little better. Some of that has come from revisionism that runs rampant and some because the standards are higher.

Speaking of revisionism, a client once told me that his kid got such a skewed picture of history in fifth grade that the kid was under the impression that the US won it's independence from Mexico. :-)

The Wine Commonsewer said...

Those who don't remember the mistakes of the past are doomed to repeat them.

They don't remember, and they don't care.

America is, for the most part, exactly what the majority of Americans want. That doesn't do much for the rest of us, but that's the plain truth.

As Dale Carnegie once said A man convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still.

IOW, you can't confuse the populace with facts or morals or ethics or reason.

I'll give an example: I've a relative who is absolutely brilliant. We talked about Californicate's High Speed Rail initiative that passed last time around. He voted for it because in some vague way he thinks that it may somehow resolve traffic congestion. That the state is broke and has no way to pay the bonds back didn't faze him. That it cannot ever be a high speed train because it will run on freight train tracks didn't faze him. He said, well, the state isn't going to fix the roads but they might build the train.

Col. Hogan said...

In high school my Am History teacher was pretty good on the Revolutionary period. He covered Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, Revere and several others. As I recall though, he just mentioned Paine as a pamphleteer.

From what I hear, kids don't get that much Revolutionary history in today's children's prisons. Almost none.

T. F. Stern said...

One of the challenges to teaching American history in our day would have to be the limits on expressions regarding religion or faith. My oldest daughter graduated from high school over ten years ago. She had a history teacher who would not recognize religious freedom as a reason for our nations beginnings. If you expand that a thousand fold you get the idea that history isn't being taught at all, something has taken its place.

Col. Hogan said...

TWC,

Good to hear some of the children's prisons are making an effort to teach history again (regardless how leftishly skewed).

It's you that'll have to tell them, though, that Chris Columbus didn't come to the Americas just to kill Indians.

Col. Hogan said...

TWC,

There's a lot of apathy in the freer countries of the world, including the US. A big part of the problem is guys like Jimmy Buffet and Sheryl Crowe, who preach that the best way to live is to stay sloshed all the time and lay around in the sun.

Another big part of the problem is that it's a relative few who are trying to declare the problems clearly. Many just think nothing can be done.

Next comes those who don't ask (ax, IYAAVOPS) for what they want--for example, the legalize drugs crowd (of which I'm a member), whose majority begs to allow for medical use of MJ, but who really want full legalization.

I propose full legalization of all drugs on the basis that what I choose to ingest is my business and no one else's, and that that there's nothing in the Constitution that allows government to control what I ingest.

IOW, I don't want legal MJ if I get migraines, or cancer, or whatever. I want to be able to go to the market and buy packs of MJ smokes, untaxed and unregulated, for market prices.

Actually, I don't really like MJ, and wouldn't use it if I could. Cocaine was my drug of choice, many years ago, but "no, no, no, no. I don't *honk* no more." This old body can no longer take the abuse.

Col. Hogan said...

TF,

That's part of the problem. As one who is without belief, I find that I still have to recognize truth when I see it. Many Europeans came to this continent for religious reasons, and many more came here to explore opportunities that didn't exist for them in the old European societies.

The very first groups that arrived 'pon these shores were religious sects that were not tolerated by the established religious orders (I'd assume, mostly Roman Catholic) in Europe.

A teacher, even an atheist (especially an atheist) who can't face those facts is simply a liar.

TWC said...

A big part of the problem is guys like Jimmy Buffet and Sheryl Crowe, who preach that the best way to live is to stay sloshed all the time and lay around in the sun.

And your point is?

:-)

James Klueh said...

1791 was the date of rights of man publication FYI