R.J. Rushdoony’s family barely escaped with their lives when the Turkish government, in the wake of World War I, launched genocide against the Armenian people. The Rushdoonys made their way to America.
Rushdoony, with his family’s experience to reinforce his studies, well understood the slippery slope that leads from freedom into tyranny. He wrote about it often: for instance, in this little essay which we have reprinted in A Word in Season (Vol. 3).
Note: Normally I wouldn’t retype a whole essay while trying to hold the book open; but this piece by R. J. Rushdoony, originally published in California Farmer and now included in A Word in Season, Vol. 1, is especially timely… so here goes.
My daughter telephoned home one noon, very much upset. A girl had told her that George Washington was a scoundrel who had fathered fourteen illegitimate children and had died of venereal diseases. Was this true? I assured her that it absolutely was not. Tell the girl, I said, that your father has Washington’s collected works and has read them as well as many works about him, and there is not only no truth in such a vicious lie but Washington was a man of remarkably disciplined character and great moral integrity; ask her for evidence. Of course, she had none.
I spoke in one city on Washington’s Birthday, and the history supervisor in the public schools refused to attend, saying, “Why listen to a lot of sugarcoating for one of our worst scoundrels?” When asked for evidence for her statement, she walked away.
How, my daughter asked, do all these foul stories about great and good men get started? These people, I said, being themselves depraved, like to drag godly people down to their own level by their slanders. (“That fits this girl,” she replied.) Remember, I reminded her, what Solomon said, “As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly” (Prov. 26:11; 2 Pet. 2:22). These people love dirt, and they dirty everything they touch.
Solomon also said, “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof” (Prov. 18:21), or, as the Moffatt freely translates the latter part of the verse, “the talkative must take the consequences.” Our Lord was even more blunt, “I say unto you, That every idle world that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment” (Matt. 12:36).
Remember, therefore, before you repeat slander, or before you become party to idle words, that they have serious consequences. Talk may be cheap, but the payoff is costly. Are you prepared to pay the price?