So, Independence Week fades into the past, amid various events in our nation—events that made our birthday seem to pale into insignificance, by comparison. Aside from the frankly disturbing Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare (which I discussed last time), there’s the long-belated vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt—as, to be blunt, he so rightfully deserved. There’s also Mitt Romney’s admittedly bumbling method of handling the aforementioned ruling. Honestly…I think he was caught every bit off guard as the rest of us— only more so.
But I digress. Amidst all of this, I think it’s best to look back at the reason why we observe the Fourth of July in the first place— what makes our national birthday so important. For if we forget our heritage, we forget the reason America was founded in the first place— and if we forget that reason, we abandon it.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in 1776, he didn’t write it because it “looked good”. He didn’t write it because he thought it’d be “popular”. He wrote it because he held “these truths to be self-evident”— That all men are created equal…
Referring to John Locke’s First Treatise on government, Jefferson— and the other Founding Fathers with him— rejected the idea that some people were entitled— be it through “divine right” or nature— to rule or govern the others. Every human being is born as exactly that— a human being, no more, no less.
However, Jefferson did not write— nor did Locke ever contend— that all men are guaranteed equality of outcome or opportunity. Indeed, when the French Revolution dared to proclaim “egality” along with “liberty” and “fraternity”, the Framers were horrified at such philosophical corruption.
…That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights… Leftists (and secularists in general) self-righteously tend to seek to conveniently omit “by their Creator” whenever they quote this famous passage— leaving an ellipses so blatant to those who know the passage, and so unnecessary when one considers that, well, it’s only three words. Why omit them, if not out of (I’ll say it) cowardice?
Yes… they are cowards. Secularists don’t dare admit to the Christian heritage of America, conveniently chopping up quotes from the Framers to make them seem to say exactly the opposite of what they did say. For proof, take a good look at the various atheist web sites, and the “quotes” they drop— and then, look at the sources yourself.
…That among these are Life… The right to one’s life, regardless of color, race, gender, belief system, age, health… or state of birth. (Founding Father Dr. Benjamin Rush led the first campaign to eliminate abortion in America. So much for the “right to privacy” argument….)
…Liberty… Freedom— personal and economic— the right to one’s own life, and all the implications thereof.
…and the Pursuit of Happiness. Not the right to happiness, per se— you are not entitled to get things at the expense of others. Locke specified this as the right of private property. This is an affirmation of the free-market, free-enterprise, capitalist system we enjoy— or would enjoy, if only our government would stop presuming that it can run our businesses better than we can. (Most of these people—representatives or regulatory bureaucrats— have never run a business in their lives. The arrogance never ceases to astound me.)
Of course, this begs for the question: why did Jefferson change it to “Pursuit of Happiness”? Simple— he understood that writing “Property” would cause slave-owners to gloat about their “rights” in that area.
“But Jefferson owned slaves, too!”
I know. And his writings imply he struggled with his own double standard. There is no one explanation for his contradiction—my personal guess is that, like Abraham Lincoln after him, he was more than a little concerned that freed slaves as a rule would be unable to adjust to such freedom cold turkey. (Some such Framers were less concerned than others. Washington had made it a point to free all his slaves; Jefferson freed some, but not all. And Lincoln eventually bit the proverbial bullet and signed Emancipation.)
Needless to say, the concept of human rights can get a little tricky. The U.N. seeks to impose its own standards. We would do well to adhere to our Declaration— and dismiss the world’s attempt to “correct” it.