The View From 1776

A Lament For Freedom Of Belief And Expression That No Longer Exists

Politically-correct liberal-progressives strive to revive the Inquisition.

“It’s A Free Country”
By Robert Curry

Recently it occurred to me that I don’t hear this expression any more.

Growing up, I heard it all the time.  Now, never.

It used to come up, for example, in discussions about choices others were making. In these discussions someone might declare “I don’t know what she sees in him” or ask “Why would he give up a perfectly good job to pursue such a nutty idea?”  Various factors would be considered, and anecdotes were generally offered.  Finally, one person would say “Well, it’s a free country”, at which point everyone nodded in agreement, and the conversation moved on to a new topic.

In retrospect, what was most remarkable was that perfect agreement.  The phrase simply stated a truth everyone accepted without hesitation.

When I’ve tried the phrase out recently on people at random, their responses have been interesting—“As if”, “If only”, snorts, shrugs, puzzled expressions, head shakes.  It has not elicited that perfect acceptance of a truth universally acknowledged I remember from earlier times in America.

According to my very unscientific survey, Americans are no longer certain that America is a still free country.

If you have been around for a while, is it your experience that the phrase was once in common use, but now you hear it rarely or not at all?  I’d love to hear back from you on that.  Maybe it is different in your neighborhood or in your part of the country.

If you are young, trust me, there was a time when it was in common use, much like today’s phrase “It is what it is”. 

In fact overhearing that newer phrase being used got me thinking about this. Two women sitting behind me on a train were coaching each other on how better to play the various systems of government benefits to maximum advantage.  As their mutual coaching session wound down, the unseemliness of their discussion was left hanging in the air, calling for some kind of comment.  After a pause, the older woman offered “Well, it is what it is” whereupon the younger woman snickered her consent.  They then moved on to other topics. 

If you begin to pay attention to how this phrase is used I am guessing you will quickly find it harbors an unappealing cynicism.  You hear it from the paper-shuffling bureaucrat.  It rounds off conversations about yet another instance of collapsing standards in our society, by those who play an active role in that collapse as well as by those who don’t like what they see but only use it to register their resigned acceptance. 

If you think about it you will I believe realize that it stands in near perfect opposition to the American Founders’ belief that we each have a natural and unalienable right to judge for ourselves.  It says personal responsibility is out the window.  This much is certain: the spirit of “It is what it is” is a far cry from the spirit of “It’s a free country” in those conversations about our American liberty I remember from earlier times. 

Robert Curry is the author of Common Sense Nation, published by Encounter Books.  You can preview the book at: