'Let Freedom Ring'

As the outspoken, conservative host of the cable news show "Hannity & Colmes", as well as his own radio show, Sean Hannity provides a no-holds-barred take on current events and newsmakers.

In his new book, "Let Freedom Ring," he offers up his assessment of where we are as country and where we need to go from here. He visits The Early Show to talk about it.

Read an excerpt from Chapter One:

Civilization in the Balance

First things first: I'm a New Yorker.

It's not just home -- it's who I am.

I was born and raised here. I grew up on Long Island, in Franklin Square, and went to Catholic schools for twelve years here. I am a New Yorker in every way. I was born combative. I love Sabrett hot dogs. I have a thick accent, which I didn't realize until I began to travel a bit in my early twenties and started working in places like Rhode Island, California, Alabama, and Georgia. But I came back to the Big Apple because my roots are here. It's where I've chosen to settle down with my wife, Jill, raise my kids, and make my career.

I love New York. I love every cliché about this wild, wacky, wonderful city. And they're all true. Sure, it's loud. And brash. And bright. And gritty. Sure, everyone here thinks he lives at the center of the universe. So what? We do.

People don't dream all their lives of escaping the hellish countries they live in and pay their life savings to underworld types for the privilege of being locked up in a freezing, filthy, stinking container ship and hauled like cargo for weeks until they finally arrive in ... Moscow ... or Beijing ... or Baghdad ... or Kabul.

People risk their lives to come here -- to New York. The greatest city in the world, where dreams become reality.

Why shouldn't they? It's a city of immigrants and indigents. Busboys and billionaires. Big dreamers and big idiots. Every race and every religion. Every idea and every "ism." They're all here. Competing for your time, attention, and bucks. And Sinatra was right: if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. This is the place where all my dreams are coming true.

Welcome to New York, city of dreams.

As much as I love New York, though, on a deeper level I am also a proud American. I believe in the American dream, the American ideal, the unique American culture, and traditional American values. Indeed, my core political beliefs -- my conservative ideals -- are grounded in my respect for the traditions that make up America's foundation.

At the core of those traditions is the idea of freedom. Freedom was the idea that inspired our Founders, that moved them to break free of an oppressive regime and envision a better system of government. The framers of our Constitution were determined to establish a governmental structure that would ensure freedom. They understood that freedom was the exception rather than the rule in world history, and they were determined to right that wrong.

But the framers also recognized that democratic participation in government wouldn't be enough, for even a parliament could become corrupt in the absence of restraints on government. So in order to safe-guard liberties, they knew they would have to impose limitations on government -- limitations that would be etched in a permanent (though amendable) Constitution and would be bolstered by a complex scheme of checks and balances among the various levels and branches of government.

At heart, American conservatives like myself are believers in the Constitution. We believe that the principles embodied in the Constitution are enduring, and that to whatever extent we deviate from them we put our liberties at risk. Our views are consistent because we believe in absolute truths and in the essential soundness, even righteousness, of the Founders' vision of government.

In this book I'll talk about a wide array of issues -- from the perennial questions of education, government spending, and abortion to the many urgent concerns that have been raised in this uncertain time, when we face a threat from an elusive and powerful new enemy. If you've watched me on "Hannity & Colmes," or listened to "The Sean Hannity Show" on the radio, you already know you're in for some strong opinions. But if you read carefully, you'll notice how often my beliefs come back to that basic idea: that as Americans we have a basic right to enjoy freedom in our lives -- including freedom from governmental interference. For the first time in generations, Americans are now forced to confront an immediate and genuine threat to our way of life. And for me this is the strongest reason that we must win the war on terror: to secure, in those unforgettable words, the blessings of liberty.

The conservative vision is that America return to its founding principles -- because these principles are the pillars of freedom. Without them America will not continue to be great; with them there is no limit to our future.

Monday, September 10, 2001.

That's the day my radio show became nationally syndicated.

We talked about cutting taxes, reforming education, strengthening the military, and defending the Judeo-Christian values too often being driven out of our schools. It was a great first day -- fun, fast-paced. I was doing what I love, debating the hot news and burning issues of the day. When it was over, I went to sleep happy.

John Gomez, a friend since third grade, called me at home a few minutes before nine on Tuesday morning, September 11. He told me a plane had just crashed into the side of one of the World Trade Center towers. He thought it might have been a small commuter plane. It wasn't quite clear. I couldn't believe it; at first I thought he was kidding. I turned on the Fox News Channel -- just in time to see the second jumbo jet slam into the side of the second tower and erupt into a monstrous ball of fire and thick black smoke. How could this be happening? This was clearly no mistake, but most certainly a kamikaze. Without a doubt it was an act of terrorism -- indeed, an act of war.

It was a moment of incomprehensible horror, for every American and for freedom-loving people around the globe. But as a New Yorker I was seeing more than just an attack against America. For me, it was personal. Some sick cell of psychotic suicide bombers had just attacked my world. My city, my friends. As I stared at the video replays -- at the planes and the people and the terror and the devastation -- I knew I was staring into the face of evil, glimpsing a vision born in the minds of savages. And I knew that, unlike that atrocity at Pearl Harbor sixty years before, the miracle of twenty-first-century communications would soon be bringing this same horrific vision to a billion people all over the world. The experience was as disorienting as it was surreal.

From "Let Freedom Ring" by Sean Hannity. HarperCollins Publishers. Used by permission.

About the Author
Sean Hannity is the host of "The Sean Hannity Show" on ABC Radio, now with over 10 million listeners, and the co-host of the No.1 debate show in America, Fox News Channel's "Hannity & Colmes."