Last of the Mohicans Is a Thanksgiving Movie, and the David French and Indian War

Last of the Mohicans Is a Thanksgiving Movie, and the David French and Indian War The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show

In his response to David French’s recent call for compromise with the Left on The Respect for Marriage Act, and his subsequent further explanation of why his position on gay marriage has evolved, like Barrack Obama’s, Carl Trueman shares an especially astute observation:

“It is now clear that orthodox Protestants, specifically evangelicals, do not own the country. Whether they ever did is a matter for debate; that they thought they did is indisputable.”

Setting aside, for the moment, what is or is not debatable or disputed, on Thanksgiving Day, in the year of our Lord, 2022, I watched Last of the Mohicans with my wife and kids for the first time.

According to respondents among my family and friends on Facebook, Last of the Mohicans is indeed a Thanksgiving movie. At first this surprised me. However, on further reflection, I think their reason has a lot to do with the period in which James Fenimore Cooper’s story is set.

The year was 1757. And one generation prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and the founding of the United States of America, we are treated to a story of the French and Indian War.

We see the War for Independence coming down the pike, but this is not that conflict. Yet as American colonials grow once-and-for-all tired of being continually treated as disposable pawns in the wars of Old World monarchs and their empires, what is most important to these colonists is a very simple thing: the ability to provide for, and protect, their own wives and children on the American frontier.

British Colonel George Munro, as a stand-in for his liege lord, King George II, is loathe to release the militiamen serving under him. Even when reports come back to their besieged fort that farms and cabins are being attacked, and families are being murdered by the indigenous allies of France, the most important thing to Munro is protecting the interests of the British crown in America. He can’t spare the men, he says. He’ll shoot anyone who attempts to “desert,” even though the agreed upon terms of service on the front-end explicitly stated these men would be released if they needed to defend their homes and loved ones.

But then the fort falls anyway. So what was the point? 

Some modern contemporaries will say there was no point. All we see is sinful man killing and being killed, and there’s no sense to any of it. But I beg to differ.

So also, and for similar reasons, I dissent with an establishment figure like David French who, personally well-connected and established as a commentator the way he is, concludes the fears of what would come from Obergefell v. Hodges have proven unfounded.

Religious liberty has won several victories at the Supreme Court, he points out. Therefore, we should content ourselves to only that. No more can be had, and we should leave behind forever this talk of disrupting gay marriages and homosexual families in the potential of the U.S. Supreme Court overturning Obergefell. To do otherwise would upset our non-Christian neighbors, and they might further encroach on our religious liberty, and not like us very much. But to codify their unions will pacify them, and they will leave us Christians free to dissent – hopefully.

Yet I note that French seems as detached and distant from the practical realities of frontier life as many of the aristocrats in mid-18th century Europe were to what was being unleashed on American colonists by France and her Indian allies. To both alike, this or that course might eat into the crown’s holdings, or what income is gotten from indentured servants on rental properties in the New World.  But it cannot come to their home. It cannot disrupt their own personal life in a meaningful way.

Just so, the likes of French don’t seem to appreciate that the process is the punishment. In some sense, the damage has already been done, and the religious persecution has been meted out, in ordinary Christian men and women being taken to the Supreme Court, and pilloried in the public square by corporate media. Such are plenty enough to ruin someone’s life, and forestall every other pursuit and enjoyment which otherwise would have occupied one’s days.

Indeed, we have seen this on full display in the case of Trump and his allies. The process is the punishment, whether or not the legal charges are dropped, the court case is won, or the interminable investigations ever turn up anything.

The concern for the established conciliators is far from existential, though. Always the litigators and commentators, never the targets, a timely peace which preserves the suitably profitable status quo is preferable to them. In an ongoing struggle, though? Anything might happen to their comfortable, if precarious, standing amidst the fray.

Carl Trueman is certainly right, then, that orthodox Protestants do not own America. Yet one can’t help but feel, when reading the likes of David French, as though French’s kind of Protestant does, and has for some time.

Moreover, it’s painfully obvious that French’s kind of Protestant doesn’t believe men like me ever should control the levers of power and influence in the way they do. Always readier to hand forts over to the enemy than to the more stalwart on what they claim is their own side, they would rather give it all over to the Left than work with conservatives intent on fighting on.

But if this is indeed the case, as it seems to me, perhaps it’s just as well. Turnabout is fair play, and the feeling is mutual. Men like me don’t think French’s kind should hold our forts in the New World. And, as I am reminded in watching Last of the Mohicans, we never have.

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