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.The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776
On our 245th celebration of America’s Independence Day, I put aside politics for the day. But I couldn’t help thinking about how far our nation still has to go, to achieve our ideals.
From the outset of this nation, those self-evident truths have always been tongue-in-cheek for many Americans. And always out-of-reach for many others.
Our Declaration justified itself in part because King George had been making allies of some Native American peoples, in order to align them with Britain against the colonists (see The Declaration of Independence, paragraph 29). But not stated was the fact that the colonists were also making alliances with Native American peoples, to align with them against Britain.
Also, entirely unstated, and to this day still largely denied by Americans, both Britain and Euro-America were fighting over who would have the “right” to take away the home lands of all Native Americans.
That hardly meets the letter or the spirit of those “self-evident truths” in the opening lines of our Declaration of Independence.
Nor could I ignore, even for this special day, the fact that half of the American colonies depended entirely on the institution of slavery for their very survival, let alone their prosperity.
Slavery was a divisive issue from the start. Even in the pre-revolutionary American colonies, it was widely recognized that it must eventually come to a head. It did, and it nearly tore our nation apart.
Slave-holding colonies agreed to join the Revolutionary War reluctantly — and only under the condition that the institutions of slavery and trafficking in slaves be agreed to and allowed to continue in perpetuity by the non-slave-holding colonies.
So, see for yourself the true cause of the American Civil War, as told by the leaders of the slave holders themselves.
Cut through the rhetoric. Read the exact reasons, word for word, that the leaders of the Confederate States of America left to the world. Read their own, solemn justifications for secession.
See for yourself what “States’ rights” and “property” meant. See what the Confederate Battle Flag meant to Southern whites, and why it’s so offensive to so many people in this country.
And then think again about the words and meaning of our Declaration of Independence.
Think of who those words were intended to include, and benefit under new, independent rule.
And think of who those words intentionally excluded, and why.
And think about how far we as a nation still have to go to live our ideals.
And think about what you will do to help us get there.
Assholes are forever ripe in America. And they proudly self-identify as the ignorant bigots they are.