For more than 170 years, Americans have been enriched by the Smithsonian Institution’s incredible archive of artifacts, displays, and knowledge in every field. This excellent resource was bequeathed to the American people by a mysterious English benefactor, and we treasure its museums, galleries, collections, and exhibits. We are the beneficiaries of this donor’s will. However, today the Smithsonian is curated by some whose motives are not in harmony with the benefactor's will or the people the Institution was intended to serve. What began as a project “for the increase and diffusion of knowledge” has become yet another tool of ideologues who, along with mainstream media, academia, the arts, and other institutions, are dedicated to shaping our knowledge with an invisible hand to further an un-American cultural end.
Institutional transparency and clarity of mission are essential in protecting against those corrupt deeds that thrive under cover of darkness and confusion. In the case of the Smithsonian Institution, we find a conundrum of identity resulting in smoke and mirrors that enables a culture of corruption. It is uniquely ill-defined as a legal entity, which has been an open door for opportunists since its founding. Due to the efforts of dedicated members of Congress seeking Smithsonian accountability, we have been given a glimpse into some of the more recent examples of this corruption. We have good reason to be concerned, considering the bloated budget and influence of the Smithsonian.
In the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to the Constitution, the founders spelled out a protection for the people of the United States against restricted speech. At the time of its writing, Americans had just broken free from England and declared their independence as a new nation. On the heels of this cataclysmic new birth, the founders looked not to government but to God and natural law as the highest source of authority in guarding freedom of thought, expression, and conscience. Congress shall make no law abridging free speech.
Going back to an even older source for our American legal system, the Magna Carta set forth the idea of due process of law, codified in our Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. No person shall be deprived of liberty without due process.
You are about to read a quintessentially American story about one man, an immigrant from England, and his struggle against a powerful institution. Was Raven’s unalienable right of speech abridged—forbidden by Smithsonian curators with a political axe to grind—and his right to due process curtailed? This is a story about every American who seeks fairness, free speech, and due process of law. Raven’s story cuts to the very heart of America’s founding values of liberty for all. What will Lady Justice say in the contest between the influential, moneyed, and conveniently ill-defined Smithsonian Institution and one man backed by the Bill of Rights?
Craig Shirley is an acclaimed historian and the author of six books on President Reagan, including Reagan Rising, Rendezvous with Destiny, Reagan’s Revolution, Last Act, and also the New York Times bestseller December 1941, and his most recent book April 1945: The Hinge of History. He is a regular commentator throughout the media and a contributor to national publications and was hailed by the London Telegraph as “the best of the Reagan biographers.” He has just completed The Search for Reagan and is beginning a book on Donald Trump. He and his wife Zorine—who is also his editor----reside in a 300-year-old Georgian four square manor house. They are avid sailors.ership. This is a good place to show off who’s occupying the corner offices. Write a nice bio about each executive that includes what they do, how long they’ve been at it, and what got them to where they are.
"Was Raven’s unalienable right of speech abridged—forbidden by Smithsonian curators with a political axe to grind—and his right to due process curtailed?"
One of the great joys of being an editor is traveling with the author hand in hand through landscapes that are novel and unfamiliar to us. We editors, like travel escorts, learn the language of the author and get to participate in the blessed process of building bridges between author and reader so that communication can occur. This is part of the essential human experience of community. The process can be thrilling when what is communicated has the potential to make real, positive change for the betterment of the community.
In the case of Odious and Cerberus, my traveling companion could not have been more passionate and dedicated to his message. Our travels allowed me to see America through an immigrant’s eyes and to become, alongside the author, a newborn citizen, a law student, a mountain climber, and an activist. Our journeys brought to mind the parables of Hannah Hurnard in Hinds’ Feet on High Places and John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, which also take us on transformative ascents. Yes, Raven’s story could have been written as a dispassionate, “just-the-facts-ma’ame” account. But that would have been a very different book and not nearly as exciting a trip. Julian Raven chose to give us the full picture of his American experience, complete with all its life-convulsing vicissitudes and the emotions bound up in it.
Throughout the Odious and Cerberus journey, the betterment of our American community was behind Raven’s pursuit. Justice and righteousness are at the heart of our American hope and are presently under threat. As we read in Proverbs 2, the Lord “is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice, and He preserves the way of His godly ones. Then you will discern righteousness and justice and equity and every good course.” Pursuing wisdom will deliver you “from the man who speaks perverse things; from those who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness.” Certainly, in the midst of the departure from “paths of uprightness” that we are currently witnessing in our nation, our ears yearn for the voice of justice to ring through the madness and return us to sound common sense and “every good course.”
Julian Raven sounds that clarion call and encourages us to join him in the process of exposing corruption and restoring core American values. He brings the immigrant’s perspective that has the audacity (or naivete?) to imagine that America really is all about liberty as our founding and guiding principle. He treasures his citizenship and the responsibilities associated with it far more than most native-born Americans. What if we all cared as much as he does about our American identity and took action to make America the beacon for liberty it was meant to be? That is precisely what we are invited to do in Odious and Cerberus. Correcting the corruption at the Smithsonian Institution is as good as any place to begin the climb.
“Julian Raven spent many hours creating this work of art and many more hours displaying his creation throughout the country. To say this creation is amazing is an understatement. This portrait is now part of our Country’s great history and definitely belongs inside the Smithsonian so many now and many generations thereafter can enjoy this work of art.” Daniel Mandell Jr. Mayor of the City of Elmira, November 18th, 2016
“As your representative in the New York State Senate, I believe that your incredible work would be an appropriate and impactful addition to the National Portrait Gallery during this time and a truly patriotic tribute to our new President.” Thomas F. O’Mara, November 16th, 2016, NYS Senator 58th, District.
“I would ask that the (Smithsonian) selection committee give your artwork every consideration…” Congressman Tom Reed, New York’s 23rd District, November 21, 2016
“His speech was moving and he was overwhelmingly elected to be an alternate delegate. Mr. Raven and I were at the convention and his enthusiasm and love of this country is amazing. He represented the 23rd Congressional District with honor. I was proud to have him part of the New York State delegation…This past fall I had the pleasure of attending the Schyler GOP dinner where Mr. Raven had his artwork on display and was one of the guest speakers at the event. He gave a tremendous speech citing the Declaration of Independence. The room was moved and speechless at both the emotion and joy Mr. Raven displayed as he talked about the founding fathers, their journey to freedom, and his journey to becoming an American citizen…” November 20, 2016, Sandra J. King, Yates County Republican Chair
“I am pleased to write this letter in full support of your application to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery…I feel that your work is more than a portrait and is very inspirational. Just as your portrait has played a signature role in the campaign, it is very appropriate for a prominent display at the Inauguration as a tribute to our new President.” Christopher S. Friend, PH.D. November 21, 2016, Member of the Assembly, New York 124th District
“Thank you for the opportunity to express my strong support for your application to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. We were proud to have this piece prominently on display at the New York Delegation hotel during the 2016 Republican National Convention…It has already been enjoyed and remarked upon by many, but its display at the inauguration by a New York artist would be an appropriate commendation for our President-Elect.” Ed Cox, November 28th, 2016, Chairman of the New York Republican State Committee
“As the Chairman of the Chemung County Republican National Committee…I believe that your incredible work would be an appropriate and impactful addition to the National Portrait Gallery during this time…It was certainly well received at the Republican National Convention…and at our Annual Fall Dinner…as I witnessed firsthand!” Rodney Strange, November 2016, Chemung Counry Republican Committee Chairman
“Thank you for the opportunity to express my strong support for your application to the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery…” Lest Cady, November 18th, 2016, Schuyler County Republican Chairman
“I am writing to recommend Julian Raven’s painting ‘Unafraid and Unashamed’ to be included in your portrait gallery for the Presidential Inauguration. I have had the pleasure of watching Julian and his painting’s ‘story’ unfold since I attended the unveiling in October of 2015…Where history was being made this election year, Julian’s painting could be found. His painting has become synonymous with this election.” Frank Acomb, Radio Host, November 2016
“...we support the bid to display ‘Unafraid and Unashamed’ for art patrons to admire at the National Portrait Gallery. The piece aligns beautifully with the ongoing exhibition “America’s Presidents…in our minds, art is meant to provoke both emotion and conversation. There is no moment more timely to encourage constructive political discourse than the present. Raven’s piece will contribute to the national dialogue regardless of a specific viewer’s political leanings.” Bradley and Andrea Gates, Art Collectors
“I admire the passion and patriotism that you have displayed through your artwork and I hope that you will be able to share that art with the whole nation through this opportunity.” Joseph Sempolinski, November 2016, Steuben County Republican Committee
“It would be a great honor for Julian Raven, and something for all Americans and those who wish to come here to become an American citizen, as Julian did, to be able to see his painting displayed in the Smithsonian as a symbol of freedom…” Nanette Moss, November 28th, 6th District Councilwoman, City of Elmira
Odious And Cerberus: An American Immigrant's Odyssey and his Free-Speech Legal War against Smithsonian Corruption
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