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Days of Destiny By: Lowell Ponte
FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, April 19, 2000


DO CERTAIN DAYS, like lightning rods, attract great and terrible events? Some believe that Friday the 13th is unlucky. Others look at the calendar and dread each 19th of April, once a day of trauma that turned into a holiday of celebration, but now a date on which we hold our breath expecting a bolt of violence to strike. April 19th returns this Wednesday, the same day this year that at sunset Jews begin the annual Passover remembrance of the angel of death passing over their ancestors' homes one night more than 3,000 years ago as their bondage in Egypt was about to end.

The Jewish calendar has its own annual day of dread. It is the 9th of the month of Av, which in the Western calendar this year falls on August 10. On the 9th of Av in 586 BCE (Before the Common Era) the Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the holy First Temple built by King Solomon in Jerusalem. On the 9th of Av in 70 CE, Roman troops destroyed the Second Temple, and Jews began an exile from their homeland that would last nearly 1,900 years. On the 9th of Av in 135 CE the Romans destroyed the army of Simon Bar Cochba, whom many Jews believed was their Messiah. On the 9th of Av, 136 CE, Jerusalem was destroyed and officially renamed the Roman city Aelia Capitolina. On the 9th of Av, 1290 CE, England expelled all Jews, as on exactly that same date in 1492 CE did the Inquisition from Spain. On the 9th of Av 1555 CE Jews were segregated into a Ghetto in Rome. Tisha B'Av for Jews is a day of mourning, fasting, prayer, repentance, and remembrance.

On April 19, 1775, British troops marched towards a town named for peace and harmony, Concord, in the colony of Massachusetts. Their orders were to seize colonists' stores of gunpowder and bullets, an act of gun control. On a nearby green at Lexington, they confronted a band of Minutemen commanded by Capt. John Parker. "Don't fire unless fired on," Parker told his men, "but if they mean to have war, let it begin here."

Which side fired the "shot heard 'round the world," as Ralph Waldo Emerson called the blast that ignited the American Revolution, is unknown. But minutes later eight colonists were dead and another ten wounded. The British Redcoats continued on to Concord and completed their mission, but during the 25 mile march back to Boston they came under fire repeatedly from colonial sharpshooters in surrounding woodlands.

With American independence, April 19th became Patriots Day in Massachusetts and Maine. The Battle of Lexington and Concord was reenacted again last weekend, with locals dressed as both sides had 225 years before, blasting away with muskets and blanks. A year earlier it seemed such celebrations might be forbidden because some who imposed Massachusetts' new gun-control law were demanding prohibition even of symbolic muskets or flintlock rifles. It had taken more than two centuries for the king to re-conquer Massachusetts, but the Redcoat plan to disarm and subjugate its people has by year 2000 been virtually completed.

On April 19, 1993, federal agents under the direction of a green and arrogant US Attorney General named Janet Reno stormed a church in Waco, Texas. Having lied about a suspected drug lab in the church, whose eccentric leader they knew despised drugs and ejected people caught using them, these agents were authorized to circumvent legal restrictions that prevented the use of military equipment against Americans within our borders. They attacked the church using military tanks, helicopters, and munitions of war. Once again the war on drugs served as a pretext for making war on all American liberties.

What precisely happened at Waco remains a matter of dispute and government investigation. What is clear beyond doubt is that the Clinton Administration and the government agencies involved have repeatedly lied about and attempted to conceal evidence of their actions. To note one of many examples of this, the Clinton Administration at first denied that any U.S. military units were involved, then conceded that anti-terrorist Delta Force troops were present as observers. Videotape evidence suggests that Delta soldiers might have fired into the church.

The resulting holocaust killed at least 80 people—more if you count the two babies "fire aborted" by their dying mothers' bodies in a last desperate biological impulse to save them. These babies also died in the Clinton–Gore inferno, as did all the children the mentally disturbed Reno claimed she was saving by her massive lethal force. (Is it any wonder so many have been terrified by Reno's assembly of similar firepower in Miami as she prepares to seize six-year-old Elian Gonzalez by force so that, under the Clinton–Gore fugitive slave law, this "possession of the Cuban Government" can be put in chains and returned to Fidel Castro?)

On April 19, 1995, apparently in revenge for the mass murder of churchgoers on the same date two years earlier in Waco, terrorists set off a bomb killing 168 people at a Federal Building in Oklahoma City.

Every April 19th since then, government anti-terrorist units have braced themselves for some destructive new event inspired by this anniversary. April 19th, in a small and recent way, has become America's own 9th of Av.

And some likewise feel dread at the return of April 20th, the day in 1999 that two young lunatics at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, celebrated their hero Adolf Hitler's birthday by massacring twelve fellow students, one teacher, and then by suicide, themselves.

Who or what is responsible for such terrible events? Primitive peoples displaced responsibility from themselves, blaming pagan gods or demons or evil spirits or fate for what befell them. Their failing, at most, might have been a failure to perform the ritual behaviors needed to propitiate these higher forces.

In our neo-pagan culture, responsibility is likewise removed or "displaced" from the destructive individual. Blame is transferred to society, to racism or sexism, to an unhappy childhood or the psychological distortion of an experience at age six, or to chemicals in the food or water or air. The killer is not to blame if he ate mind-altering Twinkies or Rice-a-Roni or cotton candy. The Chicago City Treasurer, whose May 1999 jury conviction of mail fraud and extortion (after she, among other things, blacklisted seven firms that refused to make $10,000 contributions to the Illinois Democratic Party) was overturned by an appellate court, has her own claim to victimhood. Treasurer Miriam Santos says that the fault was not with herself but with her hormones, brain-addling biochemicals beyond her control that caused her odd statements to people on the telephone. Restored with back pay to her $118,000-per-year job, Santos now says she was unfairly "imprisoned for PMSing."

If a smoker ignores cigarette-package warning labels and gets cancer, he claims "addiction"—"I was powerless to stop"—and sues the tobacco manufacturer. If a madman with a gun shoots somebody, sue the gun maker. If a driver goes berserk and crashes into a crowd, sue the car maker. If an overweight person suffers a heart attack, sue the makers of fattening food—the new Twinkie defense. The buck never stops here, except when such a lawsuit is successful—and then it stops in the pockets of trial lawyers who kick back a cut from their profits to the Democrats who made this all possible, to Bill and Hillary Clinton and Al Gore.

Susan and Thomas Klebold, parents of one of the Columbine killers, last October 15 filed a notice of intention to sue the Jefferson County, Colorado, sheriff's department and school district. These authorities, they claim, mishandled a complaint about violent threats by their son Dylan's friend Eric Harris. This official mishandling, their filing says, "was so reckless, willful, and wanton as to have caused the Klebolds to be subject to substantial damage claims, vilification, grief, and loss of enjoyment of life."

"What about the 'enjoyment of life' of Klebold's and Harris' 13 victims?" asks

MSNBC columnist Deroy Murdock, a Senior Fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in Fairfax, Virginia. "Oh, that's right. They're dead."

"Poor parenting wasn't to blame, either," Murdock continues. "The Klebolds seek damages equal to the claims against them by victims' families who believe they should have forestalled their son's rampage." Their defensive don't-blame-us, we're-victims-too lawsuit will further injure the families of the victims and county taxpayers.

But suppose that inform-on-your-friends-like-in-totalitarian-countries school programs like WAVE, or assessment programs to detect potentially violent kids like Mosaic 2000, had identified and removed Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from school? In similar cases, well-to-do parents similar to the Klebolds have sued schools for daring to be judgmental or for disciplining their children. So schools are now put in a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't dilemma.

In an earlier age, when April showers brought Mayflowers, gun ownership was more than commonplace in New England. But reckless violence with such guns was rare, and nobody would have thought to blame the gun itself for a crime instead of the criminal. Vice President Al Gore now wants to outlaw the carrying of guns in any church or other house of worship (so much for separation of church and state), such as happened in the church at Waco. But in the state of Maine (as until recently was the case in Massachusetts), families are still technically required by law to bring a gun with them to church in case Native Americans attack during services.

It used to be said that the flip side of the coin of liberty is responsibility. If people refuse to take responsibility for their actions, they cannot long remain free. We once would have said that a motorcyclist had the freedom to choose to ride without a helmet—but when the welfare state forces us to pay the medical costs of his making an unwise choice, we demand the power to limit his freedom as he has limited ours. Thus freedom erodes. Neighbors are persuaded to restrict your right to inhale the smoke of plants such as tobacco, or to express anger or other insensitive feelings openly, or to keep and bear arms.

But if you are willing to accept responsibility for the consequences of your freedom, liberty (short of initiating force or fraud against others) should be your birthright.

April, as poet T. S. Eliot wrote, "is the cruelest month." Spring fever sweeps the Northern Hemisphere as seasonal change sends sex and growth hormones, suppressed in winter, surging. Young men may find their adolescent beards growing twice as fast as months earlier, and their thoughts distracted by passions. High-altitude springtime winds produce unnerving, inaudible infrasound, not unlike the acoustic weapons aimed by visiting British military experts against the church during the siege at Waco. Not the cold, dark months of winter, but the seemingly optimistic month of April brings each year's peak in suicides.

So is a day or month or season to blame? Are we mere pawns of forces and influences, astrological portents and days of destiny beyond ourselves? Do we control our own lives, or do pagan divinities, which the ancient Greeks named the Fates? Our culture increasingly prompts us to displace responsibility onto powers outside ourselves—and thereby to surrender the responsibility that is the cornerstone of our rights and individual freedom.

"The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings," wrote William Shakespeare in his play Julius Caesar. The soothsayer warned Caesar to beware the Ides of March, as today we beware the Ides of April 15th, tax day, and lately the 19th of April too, once a bad day for rulers but now a day of fear for those ready and eager to be ruled.


Mr. Ponte co-hosts a national radio talk show Monday through Friday 6-8 PM Eastern Time (3-5 PM Pacific Time) on the Genesis Communications Network. Internet Audio worldwide is at GCNlive .com. The show's live call-in number is 1-800-259-9231. A professional speaker, he is a former Roving Editor for Reader's Digest.


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