Time to restore FDR and Rockwell’s Four Freedoms

April 3, 2016

fight4Just what is freedom?  To our founding generation it meant simply to be free from a government putting the wants of itself over the will of its people. Or more famously put, the desire to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.

Our founding was anything but perfect. Slavery was legal and equality of the sexes was the equal belief among the males that the females had no public voice. Yet by the standards of the time, the belief that a man should be able to just be left alone, free to live his own life in the manner he saw fit was, as we know now, literally, a revolutionary idea.

85 years from that first declaration, President Franklin Roosevelt stood before Congress and delivered his last State of the Union sans Pearl Harbor.  With war already in Europe and China, he knew American would soon have to stand and he needed to communicate to the country and the world why the coming fight was a must win.  The result was his “Four Freedoms” speech.

Famed artist Norman Rockwell was so moved, that he painted his historic Four Freedoms paintings to honor it.  They would generate millions of reprint requests for publisher The Saturday Evening Post and raise tens of millions of dollars in war bond purchases.

Freedom of Speech with the lone dissenter standing as a disagreeing but respectful crowd listens on, Freedom to Worship with the praying hands of a silver haired senior, Freedom from Want depicted by the presentation of the Thanksgiving turkey at dinner table, and Freedom from Fear representing the most basic relationship of parent to child as mother tucks in the children and father looks on.  The headline of the paper in his hand “Bombings Ki … Horror Hit” referencing the Blitz on London that was killing indiscriminately.

Consider now those Four Freedoms of a short 75 years ago, as seen through the lens of the political left of today.

Freedom of Speech has been whittled down to “sure, speak away, just make sure it’s politically approved speech”.  And if you wish to talk on a college campus, don’t even bother showing up if your view is different from what the little snowflakes deem appropriate.

Freedom of Religion is still tacitly allowed as long as you don’t dare attempt to run your business by the tenets of your faith.

Freedom from Want is fine as long as you only want an Obamacare approved health plan or your child only wants a Michelle Obama mandated school lunch menu.  Stray from what the government “wants” for you and the full force of said government will come raining down upon you.

And Freedom from Fear is way overrated.  Those illegals and their ISIS cousins living safe and sound in their sanctuary cities aren’t really to be feared.  Kate Steinle, Jamiel Shaw II, the five dead in Chattanooga and the 14 souls massacred in San Bernardino are more statistical anomalies than lives snuffed out.  Or as President Obama likes to remind us: “more people die in falls in their bathtubs than die in terrorism”.   A far cry from “we have nothing to fear but fear itself”, but it plays well in the faculty lounge so what the heck.

We are in one of, if not the, dirtiest, most divisive Presidential campaign in our history and I certainly understand the desire to withdraw in disgust.  But withdraw is not an option.  The political left has been painting over FDR’s four freedoms for so long that they are barely recognizable today.  Which leaves a simple choice:  Either use 2016 to restore Rockwell’s canvas or watch as the inspiration that rallied an entire nation in ’43 fades away right before our eyes.

PUBLISHER NOTE:  A version of this column first appeared in the April 3rd print edition of the Joplin Globe.

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