On this day in 1864, Union warships under the command of Admiral David Glasgow Farragut stormed into Mobile Bay. One of the ships hit a mine (or a “torpedo,” in the parlance of the day) and began to sink, whereupon the others began to retreat. But Farragut gave the order: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” The Union ships rallied and won a great and important victory.
Farragut’s phrase, of course, has gone down in history as a monument of bravado or foolhardiness, or of the fine line between them. In fact, he had ordered a detailed reconaissance of Mobile Bay before the 5th, and was reasonably certain that there were fewer mines in the harbor than many believed, and that many of those that remained had rusted and lost their explosive power.
It is apt, therefore, to invoke Farragut’s famous phrase as encapsulating a spirit we need to recover. For we are in the situation he was in: we have the advantage over the enemy, but the only thing we may lack is the will. I am not speaking of military advantage, although we have that also. I am referring to the fact that the classic principles of Western civilization are greater than those of Islamic Sharia. Sharia denies equality of rights before the law and freedom of conscience. It lacks utterly the quality of mercy and chivalry that is a hallmark of the Judeo-Christian tradition, and has had such an influence in the West on the development of the relationship between the sexes. It leaves the “consent of the governed” off the list of what is needed for good government. It mistakes coercion for self-control. And so much more.
In other words, in this clash of civilizations, one is clearly superior. For all its many faults, it clearly makes for a better life in this world. But there are mines in the harbor. So many of those who enjoy the fruits of living in the West are actively working to ensure that those fruits will not be available to their own children and grandchildren. Practically everyone in the world wants to come live in the West, and the Western intelligentsia is energetically dismantling everything that makes them want to come here, and kowtowing to the very forces that so many long to escape from.
Also, there are real risks involved in speaking out. The enemy is not powerless. Some of the mines in the harbor are still live ones. And that too makes many in the West afraid to lift their heads, afraid to oppose the jihad for fear that they will lose 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 years of this life, when the cumulative effect of their cowardice will be to deny to their descendants, if they have any, many more years of any kind of life that is worth living.
So on this 142nd anniversary of Farragut’s courageous shout, I echo it: Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!