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Guest Charlton Heston

'Winning the Cultural War'

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Guest Charlton Heston

'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

sure, Lord, 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.

rom Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they're essentially

saying, "Chuck, how dare you speak your mind. 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 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,

(:unsure: 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 Vietnam.

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.

"I GOT MY 12 GAUGE SAWED OFF. I GOT MY HEADLIGHTS TURNED OFF. I'M ABOUT

TO BUST SOME SHOTS OFF. I'M ABOUT TO DUST SOME COPS OFF..."

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

me, the 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.

"SHE PUSHED HER BUTT AGAINST MY ...."

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

regents.

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

its 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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Right on!

'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

sure, Lord, 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.

rom Time magazine to friends and colleagues, they're essentially

saying, "Chuck, how dare you speak your mind. 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 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,

(:D 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 Vietnam.

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.

"I GOT MY 12 GAUGE SAWED OFF. I GOT MY HEADLIGHTS TURNED OFF. I'M ABOUT

TO BUST SOME SHOTS OFF. I'M ABOUT TO DUST SOME COPS OFF..."

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

me, the 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.

"SHE PUSHED HER BUTT AGAINST MY ...."

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

regents.

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

its 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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