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The story elites who want to disarm the public don't want you to know: Tyranny in Tennessee


Only an armed citizenry could save a town from tyranny.

Glenn Beck’s new book, “Miracles and Massacres,” is about helping people connect with the true, untold history of America. In Chapter Ten, Glenn tells the story of "The Battle of Athens," a time when the only thing that separated Americans in a small Tennessee town from tyranny was an armed citizenry.


Every time a deranged idiot commits a horrendous atrocity using a gun, political opportunists, along with their friends in government and the media, shamelessly exploit the tragedy as a means of pushing their agenda to restrict our Second Amendment rights.

Progressives argue that the Second Amendment, a bedrock law crafted by Founders who had studied the plights of the great nations that had fallen before them and were acutely aware of the dangers of big government, is either irrelevant, or that “times have changed,” and we peasants should leave the important decisions to enlightened elites.

open carry Members of the pro-gun organization Come and Take It Houston walk down Travis Street armed with their guns as part of a rally to educate people about local gun laws Thursday, July 4, 2013, in Houston. (Photo: AP/Houston Chronicle, Johnny Hanson) 

Whether out of arrogance (like former regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, who believes the government has the moral right tonudge” its people into making the “correct choices”), or out of more nefarious motives, progressives fail to see the potential for disaster in their policies for the very “little guys” they believe they are protecting.

While progressives will use history to their benefit when they can contort a Jefferson quote or co-opt a Reagan one-liner, they will always conveniently ignore it when it does not meet their narrative. This selective parsing of history, one that permeates the public consciousness through a complicit media and academia, can have fatal consequences.

In Glenn Beck’s Miracles and Massacres, chapter 10 tells the story of one town in the post-World War II south where an armed citizenry was the difference between freedom and tyranny.

[sharequote align="center"]Selective parsing of history...[via] a complicit media and academia, can have fatal consequences.[/sharequote]

The setting was 1945 Athens, Tennessee. War-weary GIs were returning to the U.S. from European and Asian shores and rebuilding their lives. Unbeknownst to these young men who had fought against fascist forces abroad, they were coming home to a more subtle form of tyranny.

Sheriff Paul Cantrell had developed a corrupt political machine during the war. His cronies extorted local establishment owners, demanding “protection,” and would routinely arrest people traveling through the town or drinking in its bars in exchange for “fines,” (read: bribes) and payments from the county for prisoners held overnight.

U.S. soldiers hiding behind seawall during the battle of Tarawa (Image Source: U.S. Marine Corps Museum)

But in Bill White, a squad leader in the marines who survived the hellish conditions of Guadalcanal and cheated death in a potential suicide mission in the Battle of Tarawa, Cantrell had met his match. For every ounce of cowardice and corruption in Cantrell, White was as courageous and filled with character.

The disenfranchised GIs of Athens assembled on the night of March 25, 1946 and agreed to put up a nonpartisan slate of candidates for the upcoming August elections to break the stranglehold on the town of Cantrell’s corrupt cronies. A few months later, a group led by Bill White gave impassioned speeches decrying the town’s political machine, its voter intimidation efforts, its ballot-stuffing and “liberal” ballot tallying, and argued that they would not let Cantrell and his machine steal another election.

Prior to the election, 150 GIs petitioned FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to ensure fair and honest elections that August. Complaints of fraud made to the Department of Justice and local courts in prior elections had fallen on deaf ears, and so would this latest appeal to Hoover.

Sheriff candidate Henry Knox (center) would ultimately prevail in the 1946 election, but only after the citizens of Athens rose up against the Cantrell machine. (Image Source: The History Channel Club/Dan Daley)

On Election Day the town was filled bright and early, but not just with voters. Cantrell had called in 200 enforcers from out of town to make sure the voters stayed in line and checked their ballots properly, lest they subject themselves to the wrath of these men, who were armed with rifles and shotguns.

“The Battle of Athens,” which was to begin later that day unfortunately would not just take place at the ballot box. Voter intimidation and fraud (Cantrell’s crew was also having people vote multiple times) turned into outright violence. The sacrosanct principle of “one man, one vote” was being dismantled by what can only be called political animals.

The people of Athens had exhausted every peaceful means of protecting their voting rights and ensuring a legitimate election. The GIs could no longer stand aside and allow the tyranny and oppression to continue. So they did what they were trained to do: they fought back.

You will have to read the full story in chapter ten of Miracles and Massacres to find out how the Second Amendment allowed these citizens to uphold their rights. And once you do, you’ll also gain some additional insight. You will, for example, see why the idea of an armed citizenry being the last defense against a corrupt government is not a “straw man” argument. You will have the evidence necessary to stand up to the next progressive who rolls their eyes and scoffs when you speak of the fact that the Germans came for the guns before World War II, claiming that it can’t happen here.

[sharequote align="center"]In the final analysis, the only way to stop the corrupt people...in Athens was with more guns.[/sharequote]

When people tell you that such tyranny could never come to our shores, make sure to remind them that just a year after our boys returned home from the theater of war, they were subjected to an out-of-control political machine that no one had the willingness or ability to stop—not the government, not some international peacekeeping body, nor enlightened elites with their notions of “social justice” and “human rights.”

No, in the final analysis, the only way to stop the corrupt people with guns and badges in Athens was with more guns.

To read the full, riveting account of the story of "The Battle of Athens," along with 11 other epic and untold stories from American history, check out Glenn Beck’s new book, “Miracles and Massacres.” You can find story summaries, excerpts and audio samples by visiting here.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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