7/00 The Patriot — A Great Movie

The Patriot — A Great Movie
Larry Pratt

“The Patriot” starring Mel Gibson is a great movie which I highly recommend.

It demonstrates, among other things, the effectiveness of a well-regulated militia where private individuals — including very young men — have firearms and know how to use them. Our freedom and independence was not won by men using slingshots. And there are lots of guns and shooting in this film.

We see two of Gibson’s young sons, with rifles, coming in from the field where they have been hunting by themselves. We see King George III being burned in effigy while a group of citizens are firing their rifles and pistols into the air. One militiaman gives his young son a wooden model of a pistol. We even see a preacher picking up a rifle and going off to war for America.

There are also other things in this movie which are wonderfully “politically incorrect” in many quarters. The film opens with a scene of home schooling with one of Gibson’s daughters teaching a younger son his alphabet with flash cards.

And (gasp!) Gibson even seems to believe in God. At one point, before firing on some British troops, Gibson says, softly: “Lord make me fast and accurate.” And, as Gibson holds one of his sons who has been killed, he says: “God help me. God help me.”

Not surprisingly, “The Patriot” has drawn fire from all the “usual suspects,” individuals such as the gun-hating moviemaker Spike Lee who says: “I despise the film.” This is the same Spike Lee who has said: “The problem is guns. The reason the United States is the most violent country in the history of civilization is the proliferation of guns.” And, yes, this is the same Spike Lee who said, as “a joke,” about Charlton Heston: “Shoot him with a .44 Bulldog.” Pretty funny, huh?

The British Ambassador to the United States, Philip Lader, has told one of the biggest of the Big Lies being told about this excellent movie. According to the London newspaper The Independent (7/15/2000), Lader accused this film of “damaging Anglo-American relations by falsely portraying British soldiers as evil and vicious.” Lader says citizens on both sides of the Atlantic should “look more clearly at what the real facts were.”

Well, does the Ambassador think America went to war against King George III over irregular mail delivery?

Even the most superficial research shows that the “real facts” are that some British soldiers were evil and vicious! For example, there was British cavalry Colonel Banastre Tarleton.

In her book The First Salute (Alfred Knopf, 1988), the highly respected historian Barbara Tuchman says that Tarleton was “hated and dreaded” and known as “no quarter Tarleton” because of his “violation of surrender rules in the Waxhaw massacre, where he had caught a body of American troops that held its fire too long before firing at 50 yards, too late to stop the charging cavalry. After surrender, they were cut down when Tarleton’s men, let loose to wield their knife-edged sabers, killed a total of 113 and wounded 150 more, of whom half died of their wounds.”

In addition, Tuchman quotes from the eye-witness memoirs of a Swedish Lieutenant, Karl Gustaf Tornquist, who described what he saw when he passed through the Williamsburg (Va.) countryside which had been ravaged by the British: “On a beautiful estate a pregnant woman was found murdered in her bed through several bayonet stabs; the barbarians had opened both of her breasts and written above the bed canopy: ‘Thou shalt never give birth to a rebel.’

“In another room, was just as horrible a sight — five cut-off heads arranged on a cupboard in place of plaster-cast figures which lay broken in pieces on the floor. Dumb animals were no less spared…. We did not find a single trace of inhabitants, for those who had been unable to flee lay on the ground as a token of the Godless behavior of their enemies.”

Tuchman adds: “According to another account, which Tornquist evidently could not bring himself to mention, the unborn baby had been torn from the womb and hung from a tree.” She notes that, after his previous observations, Tornquist said that the British troops under Cornwallis, on their way to York, destroyed “everything which lay in his way, not sparing defenseless woman and children.”

So, Mr. Ambassador, “The Patriot” was actually kind to the British butchers, because Cornwallis was not depicted in this light.

We might add that America is not the only place to have experienced the lash of British imperialist tyranny. The British Army, under orders from London, carried out genocide against the Boers of South Africa at the turn of the last century. Men, women and children were slaughtered, starved and killed with the pestilence of concentration camps.

In another government-directed policy, the British army slaughtered a whole generation of leaders in Kenya in order to make the Africans compliant subjects of the Empire. The only thing good about your empire, Mr. Ambassador, is that it is finally over.

I suspect that Ambassador Lader is also upset that America was the one place where the evil British Empire got beat by farmers. The militia — another name for an armed populace — played a key role, whether in the defeat of General Burgoyne in the North or General Cornwallis in the South, or containing General Gates in New York.

“The Patriot” is not evil or vicious. See it and take the whole family. It’s basically an accurate film that will bring a lump to your throat and a tear to your eye. And you’ll thank God that we’re free and independent, in part, because we had private citizens who had firearms and knew how to use them.