Robert Morrison is Senior Fellow, Policy Studies at Family Research Council. This article appeared on Townhall.com, September 27, 2014.
Dan Snow is what they call a "presenter" for BBC television. He has called the agitation over the Scottish independence referendum a Neverendum. He organized a national campaign in Britain called "Let's Stay Together" to persuade Scottish voters to reject independence. Yesterday, the young historian's efforts were crowned with success as 55% of Scotland's voters decided to keep the United Kingdom united. The 85% voter turnout was the highest in Scotland's history. People there, it seems, really care about this matter.
So should we. Dan Snow took a high profile stance. (It's impossible for this 6'6" giant great-great-grandson of Britain's World War I Prime Minister David Lloyd George to maintain a low profile.) But instead of popping the bubbly and celebrating or even ordering up a wee dram. Dan Snow was appropriately sober as he reflected on the failure of Britain's political class. Politicians at Westminster, the home of the Mother of Parliaments, had all failed to keep it from coming to this pass, Snow said. Tough talk and too true.
For those of us who love history, it was a great thing to see an historian like Snow ride in to keep the great in Great Britain when vote-hunting politicos had nearly botched the thing. Prime Minister David Cameron was said to be close to tears as he contemplated the last-minute surge of the Yes to independence campaign. It was hard to know whether Mr. Cameron was getting all wet over the idea of a crackup of his country or the inevitable calls for his resignation that would come if Scotland ended her three-hundred year union with England and Wales.
What lessons might we Americans draw from this near-brush with British disaster?
First respect for human life is essential to the life of nations. Without the right to life, no other right is secure. Britain gave us the Prime Meridian -- that line through Greenwich, England, from which all measurements at sea and on land were taken. This action was spurred by the need to save lives at sea. It has resulted in tens of thousands of lives saved on sea and on land. But we have had recent examples of the descent into barbarism in Britain. We learned to our horror that the bodies of aborted children were being burned to heat hospitals in that country. Only a public outcry stopped this pagan defilement. And yet, lest we play the Pharisee, we also learned the same heinous thing was occurring here, in Oregon, home of voter-sanctioned elder killing (aka euthanasia.) Winston Churchill in 1940 bravely warned against "a new dark age, made more sinister and more protracted by the lights of perverted science." We knew he was talking about the evil Nazis. But what else can we call it but perverted science when some experimenters try to achieve a "three-parent embryo?" Children thus conceived will be deliberately cut off from their ancestors. Don't they have rights, too? What feeling can they have for a nation that allows this to happen to them? It is barbarism and perverted science, nothing less.
Second, marriage is the basis of family and the bedrock of civilization. David Cameron led his Conservative Party in abolishing marriage. Of course, he didn't call it that. The faux marriage bill he and his Tory "wets" rammed through Parliament was offered as a generous expansion of the joys of husband-and-wife wedded bliss. Actor Jeremy Irons evoked howls of rage when he observed, with characteristic British understatement, that he didn't care terribly about it, but wouldn't this law now make it possible for fathers to "marry" their sons-and thus avoid inheritance taxes? Indeed. Or, what about twin brothers tying the knot at the Lord Mayor's? Who can say no? In a Britain with no-go zones where sharia councils hold sway, how can polygamy be avoided? If, as the great Samuel Johnson observed, second marriages are the triumph of hope over experience, then same-sex couplings are the triumph of illusion over reality.
Third, we need to pay more attention to our own national identity. The Right Reverend Michael Nazir-ali, former Anglican Bishop of Rochester, says Britain is defined by English Common Law and the Christian religion. He notes that Britain's "Establishment" is daily surrendering its Britishness. The Bishop says he would certainly agree to muezzins calling the Muslim faithful to prayer in his diocese-as soon as Christian church bells ring in Mecca. The Pakistani-born cleric has received death threats regularly from religion-of-peaceniks who object to his plain-speaking ministry. Britain's identity is being eroded by the Looney Left but also by Tory "wets." Our national identity is being undermined by anti-American history standards foisted on bright high schoolers under the APUSH (Advanced Placement U.S. History banner). We need to give APUSH a push.
Prime Minister Cameron has talked tough in the wake of serial beheadings of Britons-in Iraq/Syria but also on the streets of London-in broad daylight. He warns the perpetrators of this savagery they will be "brought to justice." But in his case, justice means the killers will be housed and fed at Crown expense for life in a British prison. There, they can proselytize among the inmates and guarantee we face thousands of "shoe bombers" and other menaces when the radicalized inmates are inevitably set free. Well, at least Mr. Cameron has not yet resorted to President Obama's "catch-and-release" program for terrorists detained at Guantànamo Bay.
If he should be "turfed" from office, David Cameron could probably find work at the Office of the Quartet. This is an "informal group" of diplomats currently headed by Cameron's predecessor at No. 10 Downing Street, Tony Blair. Comprised of UN functionaries, Eurocrats from Brussels, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, this group of Mideast meddlers is tasked with pressuring Israel to give up more territory to the PLO, the inventors of airline hijacking for terror purposes. Not since another "quartet" -- Britain's Prime Minster Neville Chamberlain, France's Premier Edouard Daladier, Germany's Fürer Adolf Hitler, and Italy's Duce Benito Mussolini-met at Munich in 1938 have we seen an ensemble less likely to achieve peace in our time. Tony Blair has never been asked, for example, why it is in the interests of the West, Israel, Britain specifically, or anyone desiring a more just and stable world order to empower yet another Terroristan with a state and a vote in the UN?
Note to Sec. Kerry: Remember Winston Churchill's advice: "Let the Jews have Jerusalem; it is they who made it famous." Is it any surprise that when British statesmen pump for Israel's dismemberment their own beloved country barely escapes disunion?
Queen Elizabeth II urged her Scottish subjects to "think very carefully before voting."
Apparently, they obeyed their Sovereign. And thanks to patriotic Britons like Dan Snow, there will yet be a United Kingdom. But this Scottish cliffhanger should cause all of us to reflect carefully on the nations we love. It matters a lot to our children, to our history -- and most importantly -- to our God.