Reading time – 3:30; Viewing time – 4:43 . . .
The last time I read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Paul Revere’s Ride (no, it isn’t entitled The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere) I was in high school. For reasons known only to the gods of random thoughts, the poem came to mind, so I looked it up and read it again, these many decades later. Somehow, this poem composed in 1860 has a new and surprising currency.
It tells of the clarity and courage of men who would not be subjugated. It names the price that would be willingly paid by those who would stand strong. It lets us know of the ordinary folk who, at a moment’s notice, were ready to do their part, to do the right thing.
You can find Longfellow’s poem here and I encourage you not to read it silently, but to read it aloud, just as Longfellow intended. Read it and marvel at its wonderful cadence, as he tells the story. I promise that you’ll be able to see the events as though you yourself had been there. I challenge you to read it full voice and embrace the way it chokes you up over the bravery of the people and over admiration for those who had the vision for something better and the courage to stand and be counted.
Had King George not been a tyrant to the colonists, we might still be British subjects. But he was a tyrant of the first order. You can read a list of his terrible abuses right here in the Declaration of Independence.
Then reflect on our current times. The actions of this president are not terribly different from those of King George.
We don’t need to ” . . . declare the causes which impel [us] to the separation,” because we don’t need separation from a foreign despot. But we surely need relief from the terrible abuses of this domestic tyrant.
Longfellow’s poem ends this way:
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.
Who will be the Paul Revere today who will ride, “Through every Middlesex village and farm,” to ring the alarm? And who will stand and be counted to protect and defend? When today’s Paul Revere comes thundering through your town and sparks fly once again from the shoes of his horse as the alarm is raised, will you be ready to stand and be counted like those ordinary folk on the “eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five”?
These are the questions of our time and they need answers now.
If you want to understand the future of ISIS without Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, read Tom Friedman’s essay, “President Trump boasts of defeating the Islamic State. He’s only showing how ignorant he is.”
And from the “I can’t believe this can be said” department . . .
In President Trump’s acclimation of himself as the hero of the al-Baghdadi raid, he disclosed a treasure trove of confidential military and national security information that made heads explode in our intelligence agencies, our military and our allies. In his narcissistic rant, he gave away methods and sources that included leaking the fact that a high level ISIS individual was the inside eyes for the raid, the human intelligence (“HUMINT”). Because of Trump’s indiscriminate bragging, ISIS now knows that, too. How would you like to be that guy right now? What do you think his life expectancy is? How hard do you suppose it will be for our people to recruit the next HUMINT person?
This is the same president whose first official act was to invite both the Russian Ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, and the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, to the Oval Office. He excluded American translators and all other Americans. No U.S. ears were in the room. In that meeting he exposed a covert Israeli agent. How hard do you suppose it is now to get our allies to share vital information?
And once again, why does everything Trump touches redound to Putin?
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Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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