Wednesday, September 01, 2010

"The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class - it is the cause of humankind, .."

Have you ever read the quotes across the top of your passport? I never really noticed them until recently and one of them by Anna Julia Cooper really stood out:

Pages 26 and 27 of every new United States passport contain the following quote: "The cause of freedom is not the cause of a race or a sect, a party or a class - it is the cause of humankind, the very birthright of humanity." - Anna Julia Cooper

I was recently at a law conference where there was a discussion of the Fourth Amendment (search and seizure). I was shocked when one of the panel speakers (a lawyer!) stated that the Fourth Amendment was in place only to protect minorities. I thought she was kidding but alas, she was not. Perhaps she should check out her passport one of these days and realize that freedom and equal rights is the birthright of all human beings, regardless of race or sect.

25 Comments:

Blogger I R A Darth Aggie said...

I was under the assumption that the 4th Amendment codified the old English tradition that a man's home is his castle.

9:15 AM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger TMink said...

Nothing should be in place to only protect minorities.

Trey

9:35 AM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

Perhaps she should check out her passport one of these days and realize that freedom and equal rights is the birthright of all human beings, regardless of race or sect.

Says who?

Seriously, says who?

10:39 AM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger HMT said...

Says who?

Seriously, says who?


United States Declaration of Independence for one:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Works for me.

10:52 AM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

Well, if a bunch of politicians can grant you a right, then they can absolutely also withhold rights and take them away.

It's very clear that the authors and backers of the Declaration of Independence never intended for it to A) be applicable to anyone other than property-owning white men and B) to be applicable at all except insofar as it gave them an excuse to rebel against the British (if that weren't so, then many of those same people wouldn't have objected when other Americans objected strongly enough to them to make them [the other Americans] want to take up arms against them). They had absolutely no problems with withholding those so-called unalienable rights from blacks, women, Native Americans, immigrants of all kinds, children, non-property-owning white males, non-Protestant Christians, and members of other classes.

The DoI was just a political statement and has never been applicable viz-a-viz rights. We can all quibble about the existence or non-existence of higher powers and pre-existing rights, but in the real world, rights do come from governments (for what good is a right that you claim to have that you have no way of enforcing?) and only exist as long as the governments that grant them can maintain enough power to enforce the rights that they grant (or enforce the denial of rights that people claim to have).

11:02 AM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger DADvocate said...

What are they teaching in law school? Or, is this particular female attorney so biased in her beliefs she doesn't want to grant equal rights to certain groups, probably white males? Or, does she think females shouldn't have equal rights as they are the actual majority in the US?

11:08 AM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger Edgehopper said...

Are you sure she said 4th, and not 14th? Both are stupid, but if she said 4th, she shouldn't even be a lawyer. Claiming that the 14th amendment is only to protect minorities is a little more mainstream--unfortunately.

11:39 AM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger TMink said...

"Well, if a bunch of politicians can grant you a right, then they can absolutely also withhold rights and take them away."

You missed that whole "ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR" part. The founders were recognizing the (literally) God given rights we posess and codifying them. This is a very important distinction, our rights are not legal, that are natural and thus inalienable.

Trey

11:50 AM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger JB said...

"Endowed by their Creator", sure; however, even the Declaration (and the Constitution) then go on to state that the purpose of governments is to then ensure that those inalienable rights are actually granted. Notable, also, was the original constitutional intent to bind GOVERNMENT's powers, not the citizens'.

btw -- suppose someone is an atheist (as were several signers of the Declaration); or lives in a regime where their "God" doesn't actually grant rights (as in, say, India, or for that matter, the governments representing roughly half the population of the planet). What do we declare on their behalf?

12:21 PM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

You're missing some very important facts trey:

A) not everyone believes in the Abrahamic god, let alone a god; since there is no evidence even of the existence of a supernatural being, there is also no evidence of one granting rights to people who believe in him/her/it;

B) the pesky issue of the Constitution being the highest law in the land pretty much means the DoI can literally be ignored (and since it means whatever politicians and judges want it to mean, the fact that politicians and judges have, from day one, decided that it means that rights come from the government means that rights come from the government (when the Constitution is no longer the highest law in the land, you can get back to me));

and C) history has shown time and time again (and continues to this day to show) that so-called unalienable rights are, in fact, alienable; the simplest, most-effective, and time-tested way of alienating people's so-called unalienable rights is to have a group of people called politicians and bureaucrats - whether acting on others' behalves or not - simply declare, whether by way of a legislative bill or judicial or executive decree, that members of certain groups of biological entities known as Homo sapiens are not actually people (politicians and bureaucrats in this country have done this from before this country was the United States up until today (yes, even George W. Bush and Barack Obama have declared that they have the power to decide who is and is not a person (making them something else entirely))), which allows them to do whatever they want without violating the rights of those Homo sapiens (and by the way, that was exactly the argument made by various presidents and others throughout history before the Supreme Court to justify their treatment of certain classes of Homo sapiens).

12:37 PM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger J. Bowen said...

Btw, there's also the pesky issue of history and the victors writing it.

Had the British beaten the rebels, we wouldn't be sitting here talking about some random Declaration of Independence because its very existence probably would have been erased from the history books. Instead, we'd be talking about those pesky rebels who dared to challenge the authority of the king and the legitimate rule of the British government. In fact, we'd probably be saying the exact same things about them that we now say about those pesky southerners who dared to think that they could go off and create their own government and, through it, create their own rights (Lincoln and his northern armies sure taught them a lesson about the non-existence of unalienable rights and the right to self-governance, didn't he?).

12:54 PM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger Anne B. said...

I assume the Cooper quote is a very recent addition: my passport (issued 2005) doesn't have it. For that matter, it only goes up to page 24.

1:09 PM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger Larry J said...

B) the pesky issue of the Constitution being the highest law in the land pretty much means the DoI can literally be ignored (and since it means whatever politicians and judges want it to mean, the fact that politicians and judges have, from day one, decided that it means that rights come from the government means that rights come from the government (when the Constitution is no longer the highest law in the land, you can get back to me));

The sad fact of the matter is that the Constitution itself only means what 5 Supreme Court justices say it means. Think you have private property rights? Read the Kelo decision and think again. The same applies to just about any other type of right you might believe you have.

While the Declaration of Independence has no point in law, it provided a statement of purpose of why we broke from British rule. Read Lincoln's addresses, especially the Gettysberg Address, and you'll see what the DoI meant to him.

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

1:17 PM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger Larry J said...

B) the pesky issue of the Constitution being the highest law in the land pretty much means the DoI can literally be ignored (and since it means whatever politicians and judges want it to mean, the fact that politicians and judges have, from day one, decided that it means that rights come from the government means that rights come from the government (when the Constitution is no longer the highest law in the land, you can get back to me));

The sad fact of the matter is that the Constitution itself only means what 5 Supreme Court justices say it means. Think you have private property rights? Read the Kelo decision and think again. The same applies to just about any other type of right you might believe you have.

While the Declaration of Independence has no point in law, it provided a statement of purpose of why we broke from British rule. Read Lincoln's addresses, especially the Gettysberg Address, and you'll see what the DoI meant to him.

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

1:17 PM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger Oligonicella said...

JB --

suppose someone is ...
What do we declare on their behalf?


As an atheist, I can use the word Creator to refer to the universe. Anthropomorphic, but it will do. As for declaring? It's a statement of belief. Theirs is a statement of belief. Pick.

2:41 PM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger TMink said...

"not everyone believes in the Abrahamic god"

That is OK, He believes in them and you. 8)

But more to your greater point, you are of course correct that history shows time and time again how the powerful seek to diminish or steal these God given rights. That is when we have to get active and use the least violent means necessary to resecure those rights. I think you could map the ebb and flow of history this way, when the people are oppressed, and when they rise up.

You are also correct in noting that our rights must be protected and I think your inference that people must die to secure them is also correct. I hope that is not the case now, that we will be able to secure our rights without deaths. I am even guardedly optimistic about that being the case, but anyone who talks about rights without talking about conflict is being facile. Because history teaches us that people must die to secure human rights.

That my rights are God given gives me the cajones to press for them. But press I must.

Trey

3:22 PM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger BarryD said...

The Founders were not, as the Religious Right claims, a bunch of born-again Christians in the modern sense, nor in any sense.

Some were devout Christians. Some were iconoclasts in a Christian culture (Jefferson, Franklin), some were avowed Deists, Adams was a Unitarian Universalist, and possibly the most influential writer of the time and place, Thomas Paine, was most definitely an atheist.

And yet none of them had a problem with "endowed by their Creator" because it conveyed a certain meaning they could all agree upon. Whether or not someone believes in the Abrahamic god has nothing whatsoever to do with the meaning nor validity of the founding documents or principles therein.

7:09 PM, September 01, 2010  
Blogger Doom said...

Bah! Minorities always say that, until they become a majority. The notion is good though. Of course, it simply doesn't work unless those in power are actually believers, which often means they are limpwristed overedumacated wienies. (which they are, currently, and for the last generation or three)

Fluff, I say. Yeah, yeah, I know. America, the Constitution, the Church, and all that. But do you honestly think, for one minute, that half of what we think we know is really what is practiced? We live in a chaotic symphony of life. Poetry is nice, but it doesn't work. Ask the Chinese, whose culture and language are based on poetry. Which dynasty has been good for them? Bah!

5:04 AM, September 02, 2010  
Blogger TMink said...

It is easy to mischaracterize Benjamin Franklin as a Deist. It is more correct to say that he was a devout deist. Consider his own words:

"I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth -- that God governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? We have been assured, Sir, in the sacred writings that "except the Lord build they labor in vain that build it." I firmly believe this; and I also believe that without his concurring aid we shall succeed in this political building no better than the Builders of Babel:"

So he was a devout deist who was intimately familiar with the Christian Bible. It is probably splitting hairs to call him a deist instead of a Christian, but so be it. If he is the least Christian founding father, then the rest must have been stone cold Jesus Freaks.

Here is the link for his whole speech. http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/benfranklin.htm

It really behoves us to check out the source material as decades of progressive lies has stolen the truth from our history.

Trey

9:37 AM, September 02, 2010  
Blogger jimbino said...

Nobody notices the irony of being forced to carry around a gummint document that extols freedom?

Some screwed-up country we live in!

9:52 AM, September 02, 2010  
Blogger TMink said...

Your papers please!

11:05 AM, September 02, 2010  
Blogger Marshal said...

Sonia Sotomayor was in town?

2:31 PM, September 02, 2010  
Blogger BarryD said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:51 PM, September 02, 2010  
Blogger BarryD said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:53 PM, September 02, 2010  
Blogger BarryD said...

I have been checking out source material and American history for close to 4 decades now, Trey.

But in your Religious Right zeal to dredge up any "proof" that the Founders had a Christian vision for the nation, it seems you missed my point completely.

I have no idea what, exactly, Benjamin Franklin believed, particularly at different points in his life. I am not him.

He was a master of metaphor, humor, and clever cultural references. He knew the Bible, and likely Shakespeare and several other bits of literature that were commonly known in detail by anyone who could read and write at the time. They didn't have TV, the Internet, nor Barnes and Noble. They had a few books, and they read the hell out of them. References to them were common in written and spoken communication. Today we might quote from a movie that everyone has seen -- but saying "use the Force" does not imply that the speaker is a devout follower of Lucas' fictitious belief system.

And that's the point: rights endowed by our Creator had a certain meaning to the Founders and influential writers of the time, whether they were the most devout Christians, or committed atheists. J. Bowen may not believe in the Abrahamic god, nor may some of the Founders, but that does not change what their writings meant.

8:54 PM, September 02, 2010  

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