Video: The meaning of Christmas in American history

posted at 2:15 pm on December 21, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Bill Whittle returns for a final Firewall episode, this time on the meaning of Christmas in American history — or really, the meaning and resonance of Christianity. Bill quotes John Adams and Thomas Jefferson on the requirement for a free people to be of high moral character, something they considered implicit in the Americans who fought for the freedom of self-governance. That didn’t require a theocratic institution for government, but instead a government that interfered little with their choices and room for the natural character of the people to assert itself. They did not view Americans as children who could not be trusted with choice, but adults who by and large would act on their inherent, God-gifted goodness for prosperity and liberty:

The problem, Whittle says, is that those who don’t govern themselves end up creating pressure for a government that strips away those choices. It’s a little more complicated than that, however. Those who want government to dictate choices usually consider people inherently incapable of making those choices on their own — and that’s not a dynamic limited to non-believers, either. It usually comes from a misanthropic view of humanity, the exact opposite of the views of men like Adams and Jefferson, and a belief in the wisdom of “elites” who know better than the individuals what their self-interests are, and not because of an objective inability govern one’s self, but because the “elites” simply dislike the choices others make. It’s that arrogance that creates nanny states.

Be sure to watch it all, as Bill makes an interesting point about the US being a nation of desire — and why that’s a good impulse, and why all of the finger-wagging over the secular aspects of Christmas may miss the point.  The video series can be purchased through Declaration Entertainment, and it would make a great stocking stuffer this Christmas season, if you desire it.


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Comments

Greater reliance on government btreeds dependency and saps the people’s character. Then those of lesser character demand more government protection. It becomes a vicious circle. That is where we are now. The nanny state would not exist if people were not demanding it.

rockmom on December 21, 2010 at 2:25 PM

great post, Ed.

ted c on December 21, 2010 at 2:28 PM

As DEVO stated in 1980:

Freedom of Choice is what you got
Freedom from Choice is what you want

The majority got what they want.

WashJeff on December 21, 2010 at 2:34 PM

The problem is that EVERY liberal thinks of themselves as part of the “elite”; all the answers which of course are perfect so sit down and shut up.

They know there will be special politburo exceptions for the heinous schemes they would foist upon the American people, and all liberals believe they would be exempt for whatever reason. You really think Bill Ayers would volunteer to be culled from the population in order to save the Earth, no he would be a culler not a cullee.

Bishop on December 21, 2010 at 2:38 PM

“Those who want government to dictate choices usually consider people inherently incapable of making those choices on their own — …”

And yet…

… they continue to ‘exempt’ themselves from the laws they pass to regulate the masses.

(by the way, great video)

Seven Percent Solution on December 21, 2010 at 2:38 PM

This one seemed more… scattered and less focused than the previous ones. It also seemed less foundational.

AnotherOpinion on December 21, 2010 at 2:40 PM

Nice work (as usual) Bill. Merry Christmas and keep up the great work!

(I just made this the Feature Video on my YouTube page.)

Tony737 on December 21, 2010 at 3:42 PM

Bill Whittle is a true gem. His Firewall series on the foundations of American belief are the best history/civics lesson found anywhere is this PC world.

Thanks for posting this Ed!

Merry Christmas!

Bruno Strozek on December 21, 2010 at 3:57 PM

Merry Christmas!

And if that offends you. Go read the Constitution.

GarandFan on December 21, 2010 at 4:27 PM

Whittle is right when he says that it is the Christian principles “baked into” the morality of the US that lifts up atheists & pagans & Muslims to a higher level. Unfortunately, each year seems to bring less & less Christian influence into American life.

itsnotaboutme on December 21, 2010 at 4:36 PM

I like that: a little spark of divinity in each of us.

May it become an inferno!

Merry Christmas to all!

karl9000 on December 21, 2010 at 5:50 PM

Those who want government to dictate choices usually consider people inherently incapable of making those choices on their own — and that’s not a dynamic limited to non-believers, either.

If you believe that individuals can’t make their own decisions, you may be a lot of things — but you sure as Hell aren’t a Christian.

Don’t get me wrong; of course neo-hippies occasionally wander into a church because some damned fool told them it would help them get “self-actualized” or whatever. But, deep down inside, the average liberal is exactly as Christian as Osama bin Ladin is.

Liberalism is subjectivism; in other words, it’s the Cult Of The Ego. The only thing it and Christianity have in common is the fact that they are exact opposites.

logis on December 21, 2010 at 5:53 PM

If you believe that individuals can’t make their own decisions, you may be a lot of things — but you sure as Hell aren’t a Christian.

logis on December 21, 2010 at 5:53 PM

Absolute nonsense.

lexhamfox on December 21, 2010 at 6:01 PM

It usually comes from a misanthropic view of humanity, the exact opposite of the views of men like Adams and Jefferson

The philosophical tenet of libertarianism. Man is basically good and rational.

John the Libertarian on December 21, 2010 at 6:36 PM

It usually comes from a misanthropic view of humanity…and a belief in the wisdom of “elites” who know better than the individuals what their self-interests are…because the “elites” simply dislike the choices others make. It’s that arrogance that creates nanny states.

Ed, I respectfully disagree with this assessment.

It’s not misanthropy, it’s not elitist dislike of other’s choices, it’s not arrogance. No. It’s unbridled lust for power. People who want to implement nanny statism simply want to rule others — and do so with a velvety iron fist.

There’s this great scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1942 classic “Saboteur” in which hero Bob Cummings confronts sauve Nazi sympathizer and sabotage ringleader Otto Kruger. Kruger’s character is a wealthy American industrialist; he explains his embrace of evil facism thusly:

“The great masses, the moron millions. Well, there are a few of us unwilling to troop along… a few of us who are clever enough to see that there’s much more to be done than just live small complacent lives, a few of us in America who desire a more profitable type of government. When you think about it, Mr. Kane, the competence of totalitarian nations is much higher than ours. They get things done….Power, yes. I want that as much as you want your job, or that girl. We all have different tastes as you can see, only I’m willing to back my tastes with the necessary force.”

It is painfully easy to imagine a statement like this being uttered by an Obama, a Harry Reek, a Nutzy Pelosi, any Lib in a position to call the shots.

So, please, Ed, you’re being way too charitable when you ascribe to the elites the motives of arrogance and dislike of other’s choices.

The reaility is that they have an unquenchable thirst to dictate. The sooner we accept that notion, the sooner we’ll be able to rid ourselves of the oppression they crave to intensify over us.

FlameWarrior on December 21, 2010 at 9:03 PM

It is painfully easy to imagine a statement like this being uttered by an Obama, a Harry Reek, a Nutzy Pelosi, any Lib in a position to call the shots.

FlameWarrior on December 21, 2010 at 9:03 PM

If I were on the other side, I’d say conservatives were the cravers of power — Otto Krugers, as it were, because we support the rich becoming richer (and more powerful — since money is at the root of power, as it is of evil), and we can’t understand the benevolent wisdom of taking money from the rich and giving it to starving children (or whomever else has less). We also are in favor of a strong America, capable of projecting power to where ever we need.

I’m glad I’m not on the other side — I don’t covet my neighbors’ goods, nor do I want to steal from him or her, but I want a Government strong enough to not condone people, either inside or outside the country, trying to steal from me.

unclesmrgol on December 21, 2010 at 9:34 PM

The philosophical tenet of libertarianism. Man is basically good and rational.

John the Libertarian on December 21, 2010 at 6:36 PM

Man is NOT “basically good and rational”. If he was, everything man created – such as government bureaucracy – would also be “basically good and rational”.

Man is basically selfish and self-serving. The genius of liberty under the rule of law is that it uses man’s basic selfishness to do good, as evidenced by free markets creating a far higher standard of living, resulting in longer, happier, healthier lives.

Furthermore, it is precisely because man is basically selfish and self-serving that government should be limited. After all, those who work in government are not only equally selfish and self-serving as their neighbors, but also have the power to impose their will on their neighbors.

The problem with “Liberalism” is not that it is pessimistic about human nature, but that it makes exceptions for its pessimism.

OscarSchneegans on December 22, 2010 at 4:34 AM