On this day 109 years ago, in another context, practically in another universe, William Jennings Bryan spoke these words. I am not writing this about Bryan himself, his character, his beliefs, or whether he was right or wrong in the context in which he spoke these words. I am writing this because he said many things that are good for all of us to keep in mind today — all of us who struggle to defend civilization against jihad violence, in this age of official dhimmitude and cowardice:
I would be presumptuous, indeed, to present myself against the distinguished gentlemen to whom you have listened if this were a mere measuring of abilities; but this is not a contest between persons. The humblest citizen in all the land, when clad in the armor of a righteous cause, is stronger than all the hosts of error. I come to speak to you in defence of a cause as holy as the cause of liberty “” the cause of humanity.
William Jennings Bryan was a product of Western Judeo-Christian culture. He was not afraid or ashamed to cast his struggle — that of the free coinage of silver — in the mantle of the Crusaders. Had he seen George W. Bush recant and recoil after using the word Crusade casually and in ignorance to describe the struggle against jihad terror, he would have been appalled. William Jennings Bryan knew the Crusades were a noble cause advanced for the most part by noble men. Does that shock you? That’s because a great deal has changed since Bryan’s day, and not all for the better. (For details, see this book.)
…Then began the conflict. With a zeal approaching the zeal which inspired the Crusaders who followed Peter the Hermit, our silver Democrats went forth from victory unto victory until they are now assembled, not to discuss, not to debate, but to enter up the judgment already rendered by the plain people of this country. In this contest brother has been arrayed against brother, father against son. The warmest ties of love, acquaintance, and association have been disregarded; old leaders have been cast aside when they have refused to give expression to the sentiments of those whom they would lead, and new leaders have sprung up to give direction to this cause of truth….
It is time for us to make the same evaluation of our leaders, and to find those who will speak the truth, and act upon it, and not flinch or cower or temporize in the face of evil.
Already the voices are growing stronger: what have we done to arouse the ire of these people? What can we give them so that we can live in peace? It is a false conception. Whatever we have done, whatever sins we have committed, whatever evils we have perpetrated — they are not what has aroused their ire. For the London bombers, the Madrid bombers, the New York bombers, the Bali bombers, the Beslan child murderers, the Nigerian church burners, the Pakistani church gunmen, the killers of restaurant patrons and young mothers in Israel, and all the rest, it is not what we have done. Nor is it that they “envy” our “freedom” or our “material success.”
It is that they believe they have a religious imperative to wage war against unbelievers in order to impose on us their way of life, which they believe to be commanded by God. Non-Muslims, said the Pakistani theorist Maududi, “have absolutely no right to seize the reins of power in any part of God’s earth nor to direct the collective affairs of human beings according to their own misconceived doctrines.” If they do, “the believers would be under an obligation to do their utmost to dislodge them from political power and to make them live in subservience to the Islamic way of life.”
They use our sins and offenses, real and imagined, to arouse the ire of their people to wage that war, but the contents of their litanies of injury always change: the one constant is the imperative to expand, to conquer, to subjugate.
The concessions began almost immediately after the London bombs went off: the G8 leaders, instead of declaring that they would resist the jihad to their last breath, pledged $3 billion to the Palestinian jihadists.
If only we had a politician who would today in our contemporary situation repeat these further words of Bryan:
We do not come as aggressors. Our war is not a war of conquest; we are fighting in the defence of our homes, our families, and posterity. We have petitioned, and our petitions have been scorned; we have entreated, and our entreaties have been disregarded; we have begged, and they have mocked when our calamity came. We beg no longer; we entreat no more; we petition no more. We defy them!