The John DeBerry Speech Comes at the Perfect Time

Great speeches come when everything seems the darkest. When things are fraying and it feels like society is on the verge of collapse, somebody usually comes along and says something so poignant you cannot help but listen. John DeBerry gave one of those speeches on August 12, 2020. It was a speech that resonates with people from every side of the political spectrum. And it comes from a man who has had to fight a war against his own political party. Yet, if you listened to his words, you would have no idea if DeBerry was Republican, Democrat, or Independent. Why? Because the speech was intrinsically American. He was not a Democrat, Republican, or Independent during that speech, but simply an American trying to spread the word about the evils he was seeing. He was an American trying to save America, and he delivered the best political speech of the past 20 years.

Not since George W. Bush’s remarks on September 11, 2001, has an American stood up and strung together words to galvanize a nation. In case you forgot his words, listen, and feel them again:

That speech started with a tone of compassion and reassurance for all those who lost loved ones in the September 11 attacks. He promised to do everything in his power as the President of the United States to help those suffering in the aftermath of the attacks and to assist the first responders. Then it was time for action. President Bush used two short sentences comprising 14 words to warn the rest of the world about the fight of the American people:

Make no mistake. The United States will hunt down and punish those responsible for these cowardly acts

President Bush deftly went from compassionate leader to Commander in Chief in 14 words. In those 14 words and over the rest of his two minutes, President Bush became president for all Americans. He was not a Republican president, but rather the President of the United States of America. He made sure–at a time when America felt like it was on the verge of collapse–to bring Americans together and compel them to see each other as one. John DeBerry did the same, and it took him just seven minutes.

The John DeBerry Speech Reminded Americans What it Means to be American

Because John Deberry grew up the son of a civil rights activist, he knows deep down in his blood what it takes to bring about true and lasting societal change. That is not what is going on in America right now:

He “lived it.” John DeBerry was relegated by law to the back of buses without cushions. He was forced to drink “colored water.” For the first three minutes of his speech he outlined exactly how his father and people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “changed the world.” He listed all the terrible things that black people had to go through while simply living in America. But his words were words of hope and pride. Hope while remembering the feeling that the civil rights activists could enact some real change, and pride in knowing that they accomplished their goal.

But for the next 45 seconds, DeBerry takes a chainsaw to the wooden house of excuses built by those excusing rioting and violence. “That’s not what we were there for.” And then DeBerry reveals the lie of Black Lives Matter and all the other Marxist and intersectional groups who insult the legacy of MLK on a daily basis; “every issue is about race, is about color, instead of us sitting down at the table like men and women of common sense and common justice.”

DeBerry recognizes so many of our issues are at a boiling point because nobody cares about common sense and common justice any longer. Those things have been overlooked and ignored while the importance of someone’s skin color has been elevated in direct contrast to MLK’s dream. In contrast to his father’s legacy.

The John DeBerry Speech and What Makes Us All Americans

But to make matters worse, according to DeBerry it is because Americans are “(acting) like a bunch of punks” and are “too frightened to stand up and protect our own stuff.” He is right. When the country is overrun with people who think it acceptable to go around rioting and looting, Americans are acting like a bunch of punks. The ones burning things and harming others are punks… and the ones too frightened to do anything about it are also acting like punks.

In a weird manner, DeBerry is bringing us all together by holding us all accountable. Talk about an American sensibility; it is not the other person who is to blame, we are all to blame. He is holding everyone responsible and individual responsibility is one of the foundational blocks of America.

After bringing Americans together–both the lawbreakers and those who refuse to do anything about it–DeBerry reminds everyone that America is founded on law and order. Not the “Law & Order” of a Trump tweet, but the law and order that makes America great. He juxtaposes why the Civil Rights Movement worked and why these riots are pure anarchy; “Peaceful protest ends peacefully. Anarchy ends in chaos. And what we see happening right now–any of us, with any common sense, any common sense whatsoever–know that what we see is not peaceful.”

The John DeBerry Speech is an Echo from the Past

Maybe it is because DeBerry is an older gentleman, or maybe it is because Deberry has seen the worst of America, but he is completely unafraid to speak the truth in a direct and easily digestible manner. He lights fire to the dubiously tenable claim of peaceful protestors and goes on to defend police while castigating the current state of American lawlessness and those who wish to defend it. “You’re telling me somebody has the right to throw feces and urine in the face of those that we as taxpayers pay to protect us, and that’s ok? What has happened to us?”

That is the question; what has happened to us? For too long we have indulged the fantasies of people who wish to believe in an alternate history of America and an alternate reality of the world. DeBerry knows the realities of the world we live in. And he knows the history of America. More importantly, he intimately knows the racist history of America, and what does he do? He defends it, with all of his might. By walking the walk as a state representative, and clearly talking the talk with one of the best political speeches of the last 20 years.

And just like another great black man who gave a great speech, DeBerry’s words of wisdom are words of hope, but also words of warning. Whereas MLK dreamed of a land filled with the promise that his children would be treated by the content of their character rather than their skin color, DeBerry has nightmares about the type of country he is handing to his grandchildren if Americans do not start acting with some guts:

If we don’t get this right, right now; I’ve got grandchildren, I don’t wanna see the country we’re gonna have five, 10, 15, 20 years from now if we don’t start acting like we got some guts. Right now! Brethren, sisteren, friends, colleagues… Right now!

The speech ends with a bugle-like call to action because DeBerry knows it is no longer a time for words, but a time for action. And he calls out Americans for being so gutless in the face of rioters. But this is America. If there is one thing this country has always had, it is intestinal fortitude. DeBerry knows it and that is why he calls out everybody.

Americans have had the guts to throw off the yoke of the world’s greatest monarchy. To “Go West, Young Man,” in search of adventure. To throw off the shackles of slavery and become one of the greatest Americans ever like Frederick Douglass. The guts to fight a civil war to end slavery and form the first black regiment. To save the world from the Germans, not once, but twice. The type of guts to give women the right to vote without a drop of bloodshed. And the type of guts to recognize its own faults and watch the Civil Rights Movement succeed. That is the land John DeBerry grew up in. The type of land where Americans yearn for the opportunity to show their guts. So let us do what John DeBerry is calling for and start acting with some guts. In short, let us start acting like great Americans… like John DeBerry.