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My speach to Harvard

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> For 50 years, the Harvard Law School Forum has been sponsoring speeches by

> luminaries ranging from Fidel Castro to Gerald Ford to Dr. Ruth.


> Sometimes the speeches have generated a bit of media coverage, sometimes

> not. But one given last month by Charlton Heston has taken on a life of

> its own. Heston, the actor and conservative activist, delivered a

> stem-winder to about 200 listeners about "a cultural war that's about to

> hijack your birthright to think and say what resides in your heart." "He

> knew he was coming to a liberal environment, and clearly a group of his

> listeners was conservative and another was more liberal," said David

> Christopherson, president of the forum. "About half respectfully

> challenged him during the questions. It generated a lot of debate around

> the campus. But what happened caught us off-guard."


> What happened was Rush Limbaugh's radio talk show. On March 15, Limbaugh

> read the entire speech on the air, only to find himself bombarded with

> thousands of requests for a copy of it. The same happened at Harvard Law.


> "We couldn't keep up with all the requests," said Mike Chmura at Harvard.

> "It really didn't have legs and might have been forgotten if Mr. Limbaugh

> hadn't decided to deliver it."



> 'Winning the Cultural War' - Charlton Heston's Speech to the Harvard Law

> School Forum, Feb 16, 1999


> 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 repainted I'll do my best. There always seem 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 reconnect you with your own sense of

> liberty of your own freedom of thought ... your own 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's about to hijack your birthright to think and say what

> resides 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.



> Let me back up. About a year ago I became president of the National Rifle

> Association, which protects the right to keep and bear arms. I ran for

> office, I was elected, and now I serve ... I serve as a moving target for

> the media who've called me everything from "ridiculous" and "duped" to a

> "brain-injured, senile, crazy old man." I know ... I'm pretty old ... but

> I'm sure, Lord, I ain't senile. As I have stood in the crosshairs of those

> who target Second Amendment freedoms, I've realized that firearms are not

> the only issue. No, it's much, much bigger than that.


> 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

> against the Axis powers. 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. Everyone I know knows I would never raise a

> closed fist against my country. But when I asked an audience to oppose

> this cultural persecution, I was compared to Timothy McVeigh.



> >From Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they're essentially saying,

> "Chuck, how dare you speak your mind. You are using anguage 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 nation, turning the mind mushy when it comes to

> separating truth from falsehood and right from wrong. And they don't like

> it."


> Let me read a few examples.


> At Antioch college in Ohio, young men seeking intimacy with a coed must

> get verbal permission at each step of the process from kissing to petting

> to final copulation ... all clearly spelled out in a printed college

> directive.


> In New Jersey, despite the death of several patients nationwide who had

> been infected by dentists who had concealed their AIDs --- the state

> commissioner announced that health providers who are HIV-positive need not

> ..... need not ..... tell their patients that they are infected.


> At William and Mary, students tried to change the name of the school team

> "The Tribe" because it was supposedly insulting to local Indians, only to

> learn that authentic Virginia chiefs truly like the name.


> In San Francisco, city fathers passed an ordinance protecting the rights

> of transvestites to cross-dress on the job, and for transsexuals to have

> separate toilet facilities while undergoing sex change surgery.


> In New York City, kids who don't speak a word of Spanish have been placed

> in bilingual classes to learn their three R's in Spanish solely because

> their last names sound Hispanic.


> At the University of Pennsylvania, in a state where thousands died at

> Gettysburg opposing slavery, the president of that college officially set

> up segregated dormitory space for black students. Yeah, I know ... that's

> out of bounds now. Dr. King said "Negroes." Jimmy Baldwin and most of us

> on the March said "black." But it's a no-no now. For me, hyphenated

> identities are awkward ... particularly "Native-American." I'm a Native

> American, for God's sake. I also happen to be a blood-initiated brother of

> the Miniconjou Sioux. On my wife's side, my grandson is a thirteenth

> generation native American ... with a capital letter on "American."


> Finally, just last month ... David Howard, head of the Washington

> D.C.,Office of Public Advocate, used the word "niggardly" while talking to

> colleagues about budgetary matters. Of course, "niggardly" means stingy or

> scanty. But within days Howard was forced to publicly apologize and

> resign.


> As columnist Tony Snow wrote: "David Howard got fired because some people

> in public employ were morons who (a) didn't know the meaning of niggardly,

> (:) didn't know how to use a dictionary to discover the meaning, and ©

> actually demanded that he apologize for their ignorance."


> What does all of 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. Before you claim to be a champion of free thought, tell me: Why

> did political correctness originate on America's campuses? And why do you

> continue to tolerate it? Why do you, who're supposed to debate ideas,

> surrender to their suppression?


> Let's be honest. Who here thinks your professors can say what they really

> believe? It scares me to death, and should scare you too, that the

> superstition of political correctness rules the halls of reason. You are

> the best and the brightest. You, here in the fertile cradle of American

> academia, here in the castle of learning on the Charles River, you are the

> cream. But I submit that you, and your counterparts across the land, are

> the most socially conformed and politically silenced generation since

> Concord Bridge. And as long as you validate that ... and abide it ... you

> are -- by your grandfathers' standards -- cowards.


> Here's another example. Right now at more than one major university,

> Second Amendment scholars and researchers are being told to shut up about

> their findings or they'll lose their jobs. Why? Because their research

> findings would undermine big-city mayor's pending lawsuits that seek to

> extort hundreds of millions of dollars from firearm manufacturers.


> I don't care what you think about guns. But if you are not shocked at

> that, I am shocked at you. Who will guard the raw material of unfettered

> ideas, if not you? Who will defend the core value of academia, if you

> supposed soldiers of free thought and expression lay down your arms and

> plead, "Don't shoot me."


> If you talk about race, it does not make you a racist. If you see

> distinctions between the genders, it does not make you a 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 of new McCarthyism. 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, DC, standing with Dr. Martin Luther King and two hundred

> thousand people.


> You simply ... disobey. Peaceably, yes. Respectfully, of course.

> Nonviolently, absolutely.


> But when told how to think or what to say or how to behave, we don't. We

> disobey social protocol that stifles and stigmatizes personal freedom. I

> learned the awesome 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.



> Disobedience is in our DNA. We feel innate kinship with that disobedient

> spirit that tossed tea into Boston Harbor, that sent Thoreau to jail, that

> refused to sit in the back of the bus, that protested a war in Viet Nam.

> 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. Dr. King stood on lots of balconies. You must be willing to be

> humiliated ... to endure the modern-day equivalent of the police dogs at

> Montgomery and the water cannons at Selma. You must be willing to

> experience discomfort. I'm not complaining, but my own decades of social

> activism have taken their toll on me.


> Let me tell you a story.

> A few years back I heard about a rapper named Ice-T who was selling a CD

> called "Cop Killer" celebrating ambushing and murdering police officers.

> It was being marketed by none other than Time/Warner, the biggest

> entertainment conglomerate in the world.


> Police across the country were outraged. Rightfully so-at least one had

> been murdered. But Time/Warner was stonewalling because the CD was a cash

> cow for them, and the media were tiptoeing around it because the rapper

> was black. I heard Time/Warner had a stockholders meeting scheduled in

> Beverly Hills. I owned some shares at the time, so I decided to attend.


> What I did there was against the advice of my family and colleagues. I

> asked for the floor. To a hushed room of a thousand average American

> stockholders, I simply read the full lyrics of "Cop Killer"- every

> vicious, vulgar, instructional word.





> It got worse, a lot worse. I won't read the rest of it to you. But trust

> me, he room was a sea of shocked, frozen, blanched faces. The Time/Warner

> executives squirmed in their chairs and stared at their shoes. They hated

> me for that. Then I delivered another volley of sick lyric brimming with

> racist filth, where Ice-T fantasizes about sodomizing two 12-year old

> nieces of Al and Tipper Gore.




> Well, I won't do to you here what I did to them. Let's just say I left the

> room in echoing silence. When I read the lyrics to the waiting press

> corps, one of them said "We can't print that."

> "I know," I replied, "but Time/Warner's selling it." Two months later,

> Time/Warner terminated Ice-T's contract. I'll never be offered another

> film by Warner's, or get a good review from Time magazine. But

> disobedience means you must be willing to act, not just talk.


> When a mugger sues his elderly victim for defending herself ... jam the

> switchboard of the district attorney's office.


> When your university is pressured to lower standards until 80% of the

> students graduate with honors ... choke the halls of the board of egents.


> When an 8-year-old boy pecks a girl's cheek on the playground and gets

> hauled into court for sexual harassment ... march on that school and block

> ts doorways.


> When someone you elected is seduced by political power and betrays

> you...petition them, oust them, banish them.


> When Time magazine's cover portrays millennium nuts as deranged, crazy

> Christians holding a cross as it did last month ... boycott their magazine

> and the products it advertises.



> So that this nation may long endure, I urge you to follow in the hallowed

> footsteps of the great disobedience's 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.



> If Dr. King were here, I think he would agree. Thank you.


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FYI, Charlton Heston is my President, and then George W Bush. Long live the NRA.

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