Monday, April 7, 2008

Charlton Heston - A Real Leading Man

Charlton Heston, who won the Oscar for best actor in the Christian epic Ben-Hur, died Saturday, April 5, 2008, at the age of 84 with his wife of 64 years at his side. Heston starred in many movies, often portraying great historical figures, including Moses ("The Ten Commandments"), John the Baptist ("The Greatest Story Ever Told"), and Michelangelo ("The Agony and the Ecstasy").
Along with being a great movie star, he was also a great defender of freedom, morality, individual rights, and personal responsibility.
Here are some excerpts from a speech given by Heston on Feb. 16, 2002 at Harvard Law School.

"Winning the Culture War"
By Charlton Heston
I remember my son when he was five, explaining to his kindergarten class what his father did for a living. "My Daddy," he said, "pretends to be people."
There have been quite a few of them. Prophets from the Old and New Testaments, a couple of Christian saints, generals of various nationalities and different centuries, several kings, three American presidents, a French cardinal and two geniuses, including Michelangelo. If you want the ceiling re-painted, I'll do my best.
It's just that there always seems to be a lot of different fellows up here. I'm never sure which one of them gets to talk. Right now, I guess I'm the guy.
As I pondered our visit tonight, it struck me: If my Creator gave me the gift to connect you with the hearts and minds of those great men, then I want to use that same gift now to re-connect you with your own sense of liberty, freedom of thought, and compass for what is right.
Dedicating the memorial at Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln said of America, "We are now engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether this nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure." Those words are true again. I believe that we are again engaged in a great civil war, a cultural war that could hijack your birthright to think and say what lives in your heart.
I fear you no longer trust the pulsing lifeblood of liberty inside you … the stuff that made this country rise from wilderness into the miracle that it is.
I've come to understand that a cultural war is raging across our land, in which, with Orwellian fervor, certain acceptable thoughts and speech are mandated.
For example, I marched for civil rights with Dr. King in 1963 – long before Hollywood found it fashionable. But when I told an audience last year that white pride is just as valid as black pride or red pride or anyone else's pride, they called me a racist.
I've worked with brilliantly talented homosexuals all my life. But, when I told an audience that gay rights should extend no further than your rights or my rights, I was called a homophobe.
I served in World War II, but during a speech when I drew an analogy between singling out innocent Jews and singling out innocent gun owners, I was called an anti-Semite. And when I asked people to oppose this cultural persecution, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.
Friends and colleagues say to me, "Chuck, how dare you speak your mind like that?
You are using language not authorized for public consumption!"
But, I am not afraid. If Americans believed in political correctness, we'd still be King George's boys – subjects bound to the British crown.
In his book, "The End of Sanity," Martin Gross writes that "blatantly irrational behavior is rapidly being established as the norm in almost every area of human endeavor. There seem to be new customs, new rules, new anti-intellectual theories regularly foisted on us from every direction. Underneath, the nation is roiling. Americans know something without a name is undermining the country, turning the mind mushy when it comes to separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And, they don't like it."
What does all this mean? It means that telling us what to think has evolved into telling us what to say, so telling us what to do can't be far behind.
If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist.
If you see distinctions between the genders, it does not make you sexist.
If you think critically about a denomination, it does not make you anti-religion.
If you accept but don't celebrate homosexuality, it does not make you a homophobe.
Don't let America's universities continue to serve as incubators for this rampant epidemic.
But what can you do? How can anyone prevail against such pervasive social subjugation? The answer's been here all along.
I learned it 36 years ago, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., standing with Dr. Martin Luther King and 200,000 people. We simply … disobey. Peaceably, yes.
Respectfully, of course. Nonviolently, absolutely.
When told how to think or what to say or how to behave, we simply disobey social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes personal freedom.
I learned the power of disobedience from Dr. King … who learned it from Gandhi, and Thoreau, and Jesus and every other great man who led those in the right against those with the might.
In that same spirit, I am asking you to disavow cultural correctness with massive disobedience of rogue authority, social directives and onerous laws that weaken personal freedom.
But be careful … it hurts. Disobedience demands that you put yourself at risk. You must be willing to be humiliated … You must be willing to experience discomfort. But disobedience means you must be willing to act, not just talk.
So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed footsteps of the great disobediences of history that freed exiles, founded religions, defeated tyrants, and yes, in the hands of an aroused rabble in arms and a few great men, by God's grace, built this country.

No comments: