Jonah Goldberg participated in debate at Britain's Oxford Union. The proposition was "The House Regrets the Founding of the United States of America." The proponents of the proposition were an Oxford student, two Islamists and, believe it or not, a Communist they found somewhere.
Jonah's prepared remarks were fabulous and I present them in their entirety here.
Mr. President, Members, thank you.
As both a committed Anglophile and patriotic American, I am honored to be here. Though, I must say that the proposition tonight saddens me. Until recently, it never would have dawned on me that good, decent, and wise Britons, proud of their heritage, proud of their culture, honored to call themselves sons and daughters of this great nation and co-authors of its future achievements, would lament the birth of a sister democracy and comrade-in-arms — particularly when that democracy stands upon the shoulders of British giants. There is no denying the question before this house is shameful.
No decent mother questions whether her daughter should ever have been born lest she already has an answer in mind. And whatever regrettable commentary it may be on the child, the mere posing of the question is even more pitiable comment upon the mother. Unless. Unless, of course this is all a grand joke in the great satirical tradition of Monty Python, Simon Pegg and the farcical oxymoron that is David Cameron’s “conservatism.”There is hopeful evidence on this front.
When I learned that tonight’s proposition would have as its champions two passionate defenders of sharia law and the hijab plus one spokesman for the Communist party, it dawned on me: “Aha, this is all a joke.”
This house regrets the birth of America as much as Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail had naught but a “flesh wound.”
I don’t know how it is in Britain, but in America, Communists are nearly extinct. A few aging relics do linger on — like Japanese soldiers refusing to surrender long after the war. They live in an archipelago of academic backwaters, their bunkers brimming with yellowing copies of The Daily Worker and the Guardian, saturated with the strong stink of despair mixed with the suggestion of old urine.
Communists are more commonly seen as comic-book villains or mythical creatures rumored to have once existed in fairy tales or, perhaps, James Bond movies. A Communist!? My goodness, were Dr. Doom, Lex Luthor, and Ernst Blowfeld unavailable? Did the most sagacious pundits of the Klingon Empire not return the Oxford Union’s phone calls?Do the Oompah Loompahs refuse to fly coach?
I’m sorry, but my honorable opponent’s party stands — as a matter of principle! — in lockstep solidarity with the murderocracy of Kim Jong Il’s North Korea. He stands as the living exponent of the criminal tradition of Pol Pot, Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse Tung, and he dares damn the United States of America from the safety of history’s dustbin. Please. Surely, this evening was intended as a gag.
Where is the hidden camera? When will my opponents tear off their masks and laugh at the put on, joining us at the pub for beer and cigars giggling at the whole thing? As they say on MTV, Am I being punked?
And then there are my other “honorable” opponents: The gentlemen representing the “moderate” face of political Islam. The Islamic Party of Britain holds that open homosexuals may receive the death sentence. Hizbut-Tahrir openly desires a world — not merely a United Kingdom — where rejection of Islam by its adherents would bring a death sentence, and where Jews and Christians must live in official ghettos.
Both represent theocratic visions that make President Bush’s supposed “theo-conservatism” seem like a lapsed Unitarian’s weekend hobby. Indeed, despite some vein-popping hysteria here and in Europe, the fact is that America is no theocracy, and it mixes religion and government less you folks in Britain and Europe do. However, on the off chance that there are some in the room who do not get the joke, or — worse — that someone here isn’t kidding, let me make a few brief points.
First, there is no objection my honorable opponents could make to the existence of America that could not be made about the existence of Great Britain herself.
At least two of these men reject the Enlightenment. And I’m not talking about the French one. But the good one from Scotland. (When it comes to Enlightenments, as Michael Meyers says in So I Married an Ax Murderer — “if it’s not Scottish, it’s crap.”)
And all three of my opponents stand against the kind of Liberalism the United States, the United Kingdom, and this very Union represent. The United States is not flawless, to be sure, but we are the fruit of freedom, the flawed champions of liberty and defenders of decency. And, if you are honest with yourselves, you know — KNOW! — that should any of my opponents succeed in having their perfect world realized, those of you who did not stay in Britain to fight such oppression would count yourselves lucky to find asylum in the United States of America. And, you know full well, that the United States of America would gladly offer it.
Second, whatever causes some of you to roll your eyes or titter at these statements must either be of very recent vintage indeed or, again, you must stand athwart Britain’s own history yelling, “Stop.” And, if the case is the former, then your vote against America will be a badge of honor, for I want the support of no man who counts the United Kingdom as a villain. But, if your position is the latter, if you were a fan, friend, or ally of the United States, until George W. Bush was elected — or until he allegedly seduced your own prime minister with some sort of Jedi Mind Trick into going into Iraq or some other recently minted grievance, let me say this: How childish of you.
To reject a former colony or ally for most of the last 400 years only to say that it was all for nothing because of a war you honorably enlisted in yourselves?
If in 2001 you would have voted against this proposition but today you want to vote for it, if you honestly think the last six-plus years erase all that was good about and of America for the previous four centuries, then you are either suffering from what we in the United States call Bush Derangement Syndrome or your friendship was never worth anything to begin with.
The proposition is not that the Bush presidency, the war, slavery, or even disco should be regretted. It is that the United States of America should be. And that proposition would reap the scorn of Edmund Burke, William Gladstone, Winston Churchill, and countless others.
Please, my friends, let us be grownups.
This is not Cambridge.
Lastly, let me just note that if the ugly fantasy at the heart of the proposition were somehow made real and America had never been born, then a lot more than democracy and freedom would suffer. America is the engine of global prosperity — a job we inherited from Britain.
From penicillin to the iPod, the artificial heart to rising crust pizza, jazz and the Simpsons to the Marshall Plan, America — through its ingenuity, openness, generosity, and adherence to the liberal principles it inherited from this great land — has championed the relief of man’s estate (in the words of Francis Bacon) and the liberty to let your freak flag fly (in the words of David Crosby).
Yes, anti-Americanism fashions itself a form of anti-globalization. But this is most often a ruse. Do keep in mind that my opponents represent a truly tyrannical form of globalization. Whether it’s “Workers of the World Unite” or the World Caliphate, the choice they are presenting is globalization for losers, while America, to the extent it represents globalization at all, offers the globalization of liberty.
The mere fact that you had to select three men from outside this heritage to defend the proposition, is proof enough that it is indefensible from within it. For, again, if you want to lament the birth of America, you must lament all that has been born of America. And if you are prepared to do that, you are prepared to regret all that was born of Britain as well.
To which I say again: Surely you must be joking.
Jonah could just as well delivered these remarks to the Democratic House and Senate Caucuses.
ARC: Monterey John