Book Review: 'Black Belt Patriotism' by Chuck Norris

Most Americans, especially conservatives, loathe few things more than having to hear celebrities discuss politics and the major cultural issues of our day. Whenever they pop up on the cable chat shows or use an award show to shill for their cause du jour, the natural instinct is to turn the channel or surf to another website as quickly as possible. But are viewers annoyed because the Hollywood elite are almost always advocating extremely liberal positions or because they are spoon-fed their talking points? Both are probably true to some extent, but in many cases, it’s obvious the big names in entertainment do not have a firm grasp of the facts in a given debate.

But neither knee-jerk liberalism nor uninformed blathering is a problem when reading “Black Belt Patriotism: How to Reawaken America.” It’s the new book from martial arts master, actor and political activist Chuck Norris. In just under 200 pages, Norris passionately argues for a return to fiscal sanity, a commitment to securing America and the rediscovery of the Judeo-Christian values upon which this nation was founded.

In fact, one of the hallmarks of “Black Belt Patriotism” that clearly separates Norris from his politically active celebrity brethren on either side of the aisle is the method in which he argues that we need to make sure “the America of yesteryear becomes the America of tomorrow.” Rather than just offering his own opinions or parroting the talking points of today’s politicians, Norris uses the words of our Founding Fathers to remind us what they believed more than 200 years ago and what he believes should be our mindset today.

From the beginning, Norris admits he doesn’t have some advanced degree that gives him unique insight into the challenges of tackling the national debt or securing the nation’s borders. He simply states “I am just a concerned citizen who is extremely worried, as I’m sure most of you are, about the direction our country is heading.”

Whether discussing the war on terrorism, fiscal discipline or the removal of God from the public square, Norris makes it clear that re-embracing, promoting and and respecting the Judeo-Christian principles that guided our founders is indispensable to America becoming as great as she can be. Far from advocating any sort of theocracy, Norris asserts that the very Constitution we now adhere to functions best when the moral foundations of our republic are championed. In defense of that position, he quotes Thomas Paine, who said, “Spiritual freedom is the root of political freedom…As the union between spiritual freedom and political liberty seems nearly inseparable, it is our duty to defend both.” John Adams added, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to to the government of any other.” Norris also cites George Washington, who argued against the notion that a nation can remain moral “in exclusion of religious principle”.

He also fights back against the argument that Thomas Jefferson argued for the “separation of church and state,” by using the very letter of Jefferson’s to the Danbury Baptists that contains that phrase. In context, Norris observes that Jefferson’s point was not to slam the door on religious expression “but to prohibit the domination and even legislation of religious sectarianism.” He also adds that Jefferson attended church services at the U.S. Capitol just two days after writing the letter — hardly a sign he wanted no intermingling of government and religion. In another nice touch, Norris prints the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Ten Commandments at the end of the book, just to remind readers what each of them contains.

Norris quotes The Founders not only with respect to the key social issues of the day but also with respect to our nation’s mounting debt. He blasts the government for its wasteful ways, pointing out that the cost of minting pennies and nickels exceeds the values of those coins. The IRS is also a major target of his when it comes to the nation’s taxes. Norris says our Founders would be “horrified” to see the bloated bureaucracies and heavy tax burdens — which were, after all, one of the major reasons for the revolution. He pounds home the point with the words of Patrick Henry, who asserted that unless properly restricted, tax collectors will “go into your cellars and rooms and search, ransack, and measure, everything you eat, drink, and wear.”

Norris also offers a personal perspective on debt, saying whether it’s the government or an individual, going into uncontrollable debt is a function of greed. He says, “To date, money has never truly satisfied a soul.” He says despite momentary satisfaction, greed needs to be fed like a lion and eventually a pride of lions — something he experienced at the height of his own successful career. “Believe me I know,” he says. “I’ve felt their claws and been bitten by their destructive teeth. Years ago it nearly devoured me, until I learned the hard way how to tame the money monster.”

In case you’re wondering, Norris lands plenty of direct blows against the government and against individuals. When discussing our national security priorities, Norris slams former President Jimmy Carter as “treasonous” for meeting with the leaders of the terrorist group Hamas. He also lays a good chunk of the blame for the entire war we’re now fighting at Carter’s feet, because “in the name of human rights, he set the stage for the rise of two of the worst human rights violators in history — the Ayatollah Khomeini and ultimately…Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.”

He also argues against the nation-building track America has been on in recent years. Although strongly defending the U.S. response to the 9-11 attacks, Norris says America “overplays the role of world peace officer.” He says President Washington had it right when he said our foreign interests were best served by extending commercial ties to other countries while having “as little political connection as possible.”

In a book that genuinely makes one think and be impressed with depth of research done by Norris (who has no ghost writer, by the way), there are only a couple of head scratchers. While virtually all of his colonial citations are spot on, he also cites a 1799 letter from Jefferson to his wife, Mary. While the letter may exist, Jefferson’s wife died in 1782 and her name was Martha. Also, in a very informative chapter on nutrition and fitness, he makes what seems to be a forced pitch for the Total Gym, which he prominently endorses. But those are only minor drawbacks to a serious, readable work in which Norris demonstrates his love and concern for America and shows that America will listen to a celebrity who actually knows something before opening his or her mouth.

Among the most impressive parts of “Black Belt Patriotism” is the obvious commitment Norris shows towards the next generations of Americans. He spends page after page talking about the need to harness the passion of young people for helping others into a movement for positive change in the country. He also offers a primer for parents in how to raise their children into responsible people who are ready to be a force for good in this country. Once again, he gets personal by using both the good and bad qualities of his own parents as guideposts. He is also intensely devoted to his KICKSTART program, which reaches inner city kids through positive activities and life lessons as an alternative to joining gangs and other destructive behavior. Norris says he and his wife consider KICKSTART “our life’s mission”.

Imagine that! We have actually found a celebrity with a “life’s mission” that is not about his own career advancement or popularity. If the rest of Hollywood would take a cue from Norris, we might be able to put down the antacid and the remote control the next time they take to the airwaves.