Of Patriots and Scoundrels

Having read the numerous critiques of Mel Gibson’s new movie, "The Patriot," I must admit that I was predisposed to like it. Watching the British get into an uproar over an imagined injustice starts my day off right. When traitorous American liberals got in on the fun I began to think this might really be my kind of film. Once again the Brits and the Tories have teamed up to attack freedom-loving Americans so it’s time to fire yet another shot over their bow.

Let’s review what those outraged individuals have been saying about our revolutionary war as depicted in Mel Gibson’s new film:

The British soldiers behaved like gentlemen and are misrepresented in this movie.

Consider the British prison hulks where American captives were kept for an excellent example of how they waged war. Not too gentlemanly for the American captives who starved to death there. The massacre at Waxhaws was not invented, and Bloody Ban Tareleton was a real person – and a war criminal. That he was popular in Liverpool after the war (a claim made recently) says more about the people there than it does about Tareleton.

Don’t forget for a second that it was the British who invented the concentration camp, not the Germans. Remember their war of aggression against the Boers?

It was not the Americans who brought scalping to the American Indians, or brought the Indians into the American Revolution, unleashing that particular horror against the settlers. A horror that would be repaid in full. It was the British, paying their Indian allies by the scalp, with no qualms about who it had belonged to, whether man, woman, or child. How very civilized. I am reminded that Lord Jeffrey Amherst introduced a nice tweak to frontier fighting: germ warfare via smallpox-infected blankets to the Indians who had offended the Crown..

Atrocities like those depicted in the movie never happened.

Really? Study up a bit and you’ll find that the civil war that raged in the midst of all this was fought with astonishing brutality on both sides. It should be noted that Colonel Banastre Tarelton or "Bloody Ban" as he was called – actually commanded a Tory Legion of green-coated American loyalists who were quite as brutal as anything depicted in the movie. In the movie Tarelton is depicted in the Tavington character who while overage for the job (Tareleton was barely twenty when he killed his first prisoner) certainly brings a Snidely Whiplash sort of villainy to the screen.

As for atrocities? Are these people such pollyannas? What do they think happens in a war? How many churches were destroyed, people and all, when the British and Americans firebombed Dresden? Or is out of line, somehow, to mention that sort of atrocity? The British practically invented atrocities.

Hasn’t anyone read the classic Island Fortress, which American kids used to grow up on? A wonderful tale about Francis Marion and the war in the South. No doubts about atrocities for those of us who grew up on classic Americana. We fought for freedom against a wicked pack of scoundrels and their foreign mercenaries. Are there any questions? No sir!

Twelve million Indians were killed by the Americans.

Huh? What did the settlers do, set up Auschwitz on the Hudson? It’s way past time to get in the face of liars who make such statements. To find 12 million dead Indians one must look to the sub continent; where of course the British held sway. Ever see the images of Sepoys tied to the mouths of cannons? That is British justice, and they didn’t learn that from the Germans or from the Americans

The movie depicts the British as behaving like the Waffen SS.

Saying the British are depicted as SS men is entirely backwards – it would be far more appropriate to say that the SS men behaved like the British. Although, even Hitler never came up with a horror like the punishment King George used for those convicted of treason: have you by chance a clue as to just what it means to be hanged, drawn, and quartered?

Realpolitic is a German usage but they learned it from the British, after enduring an uneasy alliance with them during the Napoleonic Wars. For more on that see Peter Hofshroer’s two volume classic on the 1815 campaign and see for yourself who started the dynamic that led to two world wars in the next century.

It should be stated that the SS men would have found no place in Germany had not the British (and French) pursued their abominable Versailles treaty and attendant policies which virtually assured a second world war. Finally, it was the English who brought America into the first war, one in which we had no national interest, but which having involved ourselves, tilted history in a way that haunts us still.

The movie is based solely on Gibson’s Anglophobia.

Wrong again. Historically speaking, in this movie the British didn’t come off all that badly. We have identified quite a few things Gibson chose to ignore which could have made the British look really bad.

Slavery was a peculiarly American problem and blacks were depicted inaccurately in the movie.

Who settled the slave states? Oh…it was the British and it was they who brought the slaves here in the first place. Slavery was quite as legal in Britain at that time as it was in the US. Yet one never found too many free blacks in Britain or perhaps someone would care to note a painting that shows one, or a book that mentions one? Freeing slaves came much later and certainly not in London – that would have been unseemly. Indeed, in Britain, white men were treated as slaves.

There were indeed free black men fighting in the revolution against the British and to those who wish to open a book, instead of their mouth, it can be readily ascertained that it a free black was one of those killed at the Boston massacre. See the early paintings of the battles in the South and at Breeds Hill for contemporary views of black men at war.

Worst of all, are the lies spouted by Americans revisionists who claim that the colonists didn’t really own their own personal muskets, the assault rifles of the day.

When you hear this particular bit of mendacity, tremble, for your very freedom is at stake. As a recent college graduate told me over lunch: he had at least six classes which used frequent references to the Communist Manifesto and other Marxist claptrap, but could not remember a single class that discussed the verities of the American experience or our history. His degree is not in economics by the way, but in computer science. Bar the doors, there are ravening wolves out there.

The liars who say we did not own our own weapons know very well what actually went on back then, they just don’t want you to know – it is merely a tactic. One imagines them finally collecting all our personal weapons and then turning around and taking off the smarmy mask and croaking in a paroxysm of devilish humor, "Surprise!" And darkness gathers over the land…

As to the movie itself? I was kind of disappointed – I’d heard the battle scenes ran too long and found quite the opposite to be true. I missed the stirring sound track of "Last of the Mohicans" but no one could fault the visual imagery. John Ford could have helped a lot with this movie but the bottom line I guess, is this: I loved it despite its flaws. I hadn’t had so much fun since I sang every verse of Johnny Horton’s classic "The Battle of New Orleans" to a bunch of British types in the Corporal and Private’s Mess in Salisbury. It really riled ’em when I got to the part where it says "They RAN through briars and they RAN through the brambles and they RAN through places where a rabbit wouldn’t go!" Everybody but the Brits joined in on the chorus and we all had a great laugh. Eventually, though, even the Brits saw the fun and we moved on to "I’m proud to be a Londoner." In these perilous times however, it’s no longer fun and every thing is about ideology. Our country (and theirs too, by the way) has sunk into a despotic morass and sadly, the time for fun is well behind us.

So God bless Mel Gibson, and the men and boys who shouldered their muskets and drove those rascals back across the Atlantic, where their empire finally festered and died. There are quite few of those type of people still hanging around, gnawing at the fabric of our republic, so keep your powder dry and for God’s sake, do NOT let those miserable scoundrels take your guns. The enemy is always the same, although he has switched from red coats to black SWAT drag; and his intention is always the same, which is to enslave us. Our response, too, must always be the same.

July 14, 2000

Mr. Peirce fought with the Rhodesian freedom fighters (the Ian Smith side, of course).

Michael Peirce Archives