The Second Amendment

A friend of mine, replying to a Facebook post which argued that the “Second Amendment was added to the Constitution as an assurance that Americans will never lack the weaponry to fight against their own government, if that government becomes tyrannical,” countered with “needing [semi-automatic weapons] to protect us from a tyrannical Government is silly in that the US Government by virtue of the crazy amounts of money spent on our military would always have the ability to beat the population. For a start they have rocket propelled bombs, drones, even grenades. 

The first and primary reason for the Second Amendment is to guarantee the citizens of this nation the right to protect themselves from the natural tendency of governments to become tyrannical. When the government has all the guns, the people are in a very dangerous situation. Witness the millions upon millions – estimated to be in the range of 100,000,000 people – murdered by their own governments in just the Twentieth Century.

In every genocide in the last 100 years – the Armenians, the Jews, the Tutsis in Rwanda, the Ukrainians, the Cambodians – to name just a few, the government was able to round people up with virtually no opposition because the people were disarmed and utterly defenseless. Not so in America.

I have no idea how an existential confrontation with a tyrannical government in America might play out. I don’t believe that the entire military would turn on the people. Some certainly might, but many would not. But the fact that there are an estimated 300,000,000 guns in the hands of American citizens puts us in a very different position than the unfortunate victims of their own governments mentioned above. If nothing else, the fact that we are an armed citizenry makes us far more assertive in our criticisms of and our opposition to bad or dangerous government policies and initiatives.

I have a very interesting – and very small – book titled “How Do You Kill Eleven Million People?” The eleven million figure is the number of institutionalized murders carried out under Adolph Hitler. It does not include military deaths on either side in the war, just the people who were arrested on the street and disappeared, the people who were herded into ghettos, and then later onto cattle trains bound for concentration camps and, ultimately, firing squads and gas chambers. The title of the book is rephrased on page 19 with this question “What we need to understand is how eleven million people allow themselves to be killed.” The answer is simple. They allowed themselves to be killed because: 1) they were disarmed and rendered defenseless, and 2) they were lied to about the intentions of the authorities every step of the way. When people are defenseless, what choice do they have but to submit to authorities with guns? In Rwanda, it wasn’t even guns. It was machetes. The roving government inspired mobs had machetes. The Tutsis had nothing. Almost 1,000,000 Tutsis were murdered in about three months. But when people have their own guns, the entire dynamic is different. They have a choice. If only the Tutsis had AR-15s with large capacity magazines.

Men, by nature, are not angels. They are not to be trusted with unlimited power. Jefferson, understanding human nature as he did, said that those who govern in America are to be restrained, bound down from mischief, by the chains of the Constitution. But when the chains of the Constitution are not sufficient to secure the liberty and the rights of the people, our fall back security is the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment is what the Jews, the Armenians, the Cambodians, the Tutsis, and many other victims of their own governments didn’t have.

Of course, to my friend’s point, it is true that the American citizenry could not stand toe to toe against our own military if it ever came to that. But as long as we as a people preserve our unalienable right to keep and bear the arms of our choice, we will never be defenseless, and we will never have no other choice than to allow ourselves to submit like sheep to tyranny. That, in my view, is a blessing from the Lord for which I am grateful and which I intend to stand up for.

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Semi-automatics and Fire Extinguishers

My sister – bless her heart, she sees things quite differently than do I, but she is always respectful in her dissent – sent this message: “I’m curious. Why does anyone need a semi-automatic?”

I answered, “Hopefully, one doesn’t need a semi-automatic. Hopefully, one doesn’t need a fire extinguisher either. But I choose to keep both a semi-automatic and a fire extinguisher on hand – never having needed either of them – in case I need one or the other for an unforeseen emergency where the semi-automatic or the fire extinguisher is the right tool to save life.”

My sister and I lost a brother in 1977 in a fire. He was asleep on the first floor of an old three-story tinderbox of a tenement house in Pawtucket, RI that caught fire at about 1:00 a.m. Bob was the only one that didn’t get out. A semi-automatic weapon would certainly have done him no good given the emergency that he faced that night. But a fire extinguisher might have made a difference, might have saved his life.

On the other hand, when Marine Sgt. Jan Pietrzak answered the doorbell of his home near Camp Pendleton on the evening of October 15, 2008, four strapping young fellow Marines forced their way in with murder and mayhem in their hearts. Pietrzak’s wife Quiana was in another room writing thank you notes to those who had helped them celebrate their recent marriage. Those four young fiends raped Quiana and then executed both of them. I can’t help but wonder, if the Pietrzaks had chosen to exercise their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms, might a gun have made a difference? There are no guarantees in any emergency. But I think that a semi-automatic weapon might have given the Pietrzaks a chance to save themselves. Even the sight of a weapon might have changed the course of events. And, to answer an oft-asked question, how many bullets does one need?  When one is faced with four cold-blooded murderers, as many as it takes, I answer.

My sister made the point that “Fire extinguishers can’t be used to kill anyone unless you’re hit over the head with it. Why does it have to be a semi-automatic?”

She is quite right. Fire extinguishers aren’t weapons. But there are many different kinds of existential emergencies which may befall us. Both fire extinguishers and guns are mere tools, meant to respond to different kinds of emergencies. A semi-automatic weapon wouldn’t have been the right tool to save my brother’s life that fateful evening. But a fire extinguisher would not have been the right tool to save the Pietrzak’s lives either. However, a semi-automatic weapon, with the potential to kill the predators, might have made the difference. The story of the Pietrzaks has haunted me for ten years. I’m sorry they didn’t have a gun.

Hopefully, I will never have to use my fire extinguisher. Hopefully, I will never have to use my semi-automatic weapon.

Hopefully, the American people will not be foolish enough to abrogate the Second Amendment and render the entire country defenseless. Because if they make your neighborhood a gun-free zone, fiends with murder and mayhem in their hearts – and with guns in their hands because they are outlaws – will be prowling through your neighborhood and mine, knowing that you and I and everyone else is utterly defenseless.

May we never become as the Russian people, of whom Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn lamented, “We didn’t love freedom enough.”

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Friendly Words, Meant to Deceive

Three very friendly-sounding words: affordable, fairness, and neutrality. To me these words convey a kind of soothing mildness of circumstance or of intent. Affordable is good. It’s certainly preferable to unaffordable. Fairness is good. Who could be opposed to fairness? Neutrality? That’s the absence of bias, isn’t it?

But these friendly-sounding words have been used in public policy to deceive.

The Affordable Care Act was deceptive. It promised to make health insurance more accessible and more affordable for everyone. It did neither. There are still tens of millions of people with no health insurance, premiums have risen dramatically, high deductibles have made the coverage virtually unusable for many people, and plan options have been strictly limited.

But one thing the Affordable Car Act did very well: it drew healthcare in America closer to total government control than ever before.

The Fairness Doctrine was deceptive. Adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1949, it promised to “afford reasonable opportunity for the discussion of conflicting views of public importance.” But with the government policing the airwaves looking for “fairness,” they being the sole arbiters of what defined fairness, and with broadcast licenses ultimately hanging in the balance, the doctrine proved to have a chilling effect on broadcast speech. Two U.S. Administrations, one Democrat, one Republican, employed as a regular feature of political strategy the use of the FCC and the threat of the Fairness Doctrine to limit the speech of their political opposition.

The Fairness Doctrine did not, it could not, guarantee free speech. But what it did do was place broadcast speech under government control. The Fairness Doctrine is no more, thankfully. It was done away with by an enlightened FCC.

Net Neutrality is deceptive. Net Neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine applied to the internet. It is the Affordable Care Act applied to the internet. The heretofore largely unregulated internet has been a model of rapid and stunning innovation and it is its own prima facie evidence of the moral and practical superiority of a free market. But since the implementation of Net Neutrality rules in 2015, overall investment in the internet has begun to decline. When investment declines, innovation slows. The very first issue addressed by the FCC under the 2015 rules was to limit creative business models which gave some customers free data. This because such business models, though they were a boon to customers, violate net neutrality rules.

Affordable. Fairness. Neutrality. Nice words. Friendly words, to be sure. But deceptive, in my view, because they are used to obscure the fact that the underlying policies associated with those nice words take choice from the American citizen and turn it over to government bureaucrats. Yes, government should regulate some things: anti-competitive or deceptive business practices, for example. But government should not be regulating and limiting the choices we have in the area of healthcare, speech, or internet service. We, the American citizens, can and will regulate those services by virtue of the choices we make in a free, open, and competitive marketplace.

 

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With a Firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence

There is no question in my mind that this nation was established under the guiding hand of the Lord. He makes that clear with these words:

 “And for this purpose have I established the Constitution of this land, by the hands of wise men whom I raised up unto this very purpose…” (D&C 101:80).

It is also clear that the Founders recognized the Lord’s hand in the miraculous work they had done:

“The man must be bad indeed who can look upon the events of the American Revolution without feeling the warmest gratitude towards the great Author of the Universe whose divine interposition was so frequently manifested in our behalf. And it is my earnest prayer that we may so conduct ourselves as to merit a continuance of those blessings with which we have hitherto been favored” (George Washington, letter to Reverend Samuel Langdon of New Hampshire, New York, September 28, 1789; Fitzpatrick 30:416).

And so the Founders stood together against great odds “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence” (Declaration of Independence).

We face great odds today. America has been undergoing a Progressive transformation for a hundred years. Today, the Constitution is hanging by a thread. America has a choice to make. But is that choice limited to voting for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump? I don’t think so.

If America could not have risen without the superintending hand of God, is it possible that she can be saved from falling in the absence of the aid of that same God? I think not.

And if the Founders stepped into a very dangerous unknown “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence,” should not we, who are their heirs, be willing to do likewise? And if we are unwilling to do so, how can we expect to receive “the protection of Divine Providence”?

I propose that we consider the admonitions of the Lord, and that we put our trust in Him:

 “and thus doth the Lord work with his power in all cases among the children of men, extending the arm of mercy towards them that put their trust in him” (Mosiah 29:20).

King Mosiah, a prophet of God and a Washington-like figure to his people, sought to persuade his people to give up the monarchical form of government they had and to establish a representative form of government

 “… that ye may be judged according to the laws which have been given you by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord” (Mosiah 29:25).

Like the Nephites, we have a law which is correct and which was given us by the hand of the Lord:      

 “And that law of the land which is constitutional, supporting that principle of freedom in maintaining rights and privileges, belongs to all mankind, and is justifiable before me.

Therefore, I, the Lord, justify you, and your brethren of my church, in befriending that law which is the constitutional law of the land;

And as pertaining to law of man, whatsoever is more or less than this, cometh of evil.

I, the Lord God, make you free, therefore ye are free indeed; and the law also maketh you free.

Nevertheless, when the wicked rule the people mourn.

Wherefore, honest men and wise men should be sought for diligently, and good men and wise men ye should observe to uphold; otherwise whatsoever is less than these cometh of evil” (D&C 98:5-10).

We in America have had neither a president nor more than a handful of members of Congress for generations who were truly committed to governing “according to the laws which have been given [us] by our fathers, which are correct, and which were given them by the hand of the Lord.” Consequently, we have been drifting further and further from correct principles for a very long time. We are many trillions of dollars in debt; record numbers of our citizens are unemployed; racial strife is being cynically and purposely fomented; our cities are bloody battle grounds; our educational system has been badly compromised; political leaders are expected to lie and are passing sweeping, complex laws they have never read; judges, in too many cases, are activists, legislating from the bench; government, especially at the national level, is reaching far beyond the powers and authority granted to it by the Constitution; morality, decency, and common sense are being redefined. Freedom is under assault; religious liberty is under assault; the family is under assault.

“When the wicked rule the people mourn.”

I don’t think that either of the major party candidates are honest, or wise, or good. Neither of them will protect and defend the Constitution, their solemn oath to do so notwithstanding; neither will lead America on a path to national healing.

I decided two years ago that I would never again vote for anyone who is not a friend of that law which is the constitutional law of the land.” I will vote in his election, but I will not vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Instead, I intend to put my trust in God, to vote as best I can according to the admonitions of the Lord, and to seek out and uphold someone who I believe is honest, wise, and good. And I will do so “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence.”

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Wolves and Good Shepherds

The Lord expects us to love our neighbor.

“Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matthew 22:39).

But He also commanded us to be wise:

“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

Does the Lord expect us to embrace the wolves, or turn a blind eye to them as if they don’t pose an existential threat to us? Moreover, does He expect us to invite the wolves in? I don’t think so.

“And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed” (Alma 5:60).

I realize that the context of this scripture refers to the flock of the Church. But there is a valid principle here. I don’t think I wrest the scriptures when I insist that, as a nation, we have a responsibility to one another that we “suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among [us], that [we] may not be destroyed.”

 
There are certainly sheep who seek refuge among us. But there are also certainly ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing who will use the mass importation of refugees as cover, and whose purpose in coming here is to shed the blood of our neighbors, perhaps our own friends, our own family, our own children. They have said, over and over again, that it is their intention, their calling, to do this.

 
I don’t trust the current administration to suffer that no ravenous wolves enter in among us. Their promises with regard to vetting the incoming refugees are as empty as the promises with which they sold the Affordable Care Act to the American people. And the fiasco which attended the roll-out of the Obamacare website proved how utterly incompetent these people are.

 
Incompetence in the roll-out of the Obamacare website didn’t cost any American lives. But incompetence in identifying wolves in sheep’s clothing most certainly will, sooner or later, cost American lives. But by then it will be too late for those of our neighbors who, we piously said, we loved.

“But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep” (John 10:12).

Are we hirelings? Or are we good shepherds? If we turn a blind eye to the reality of our times, if we suspend all good judgment and common sense and foolishly allow the wolves in sheep’s clothing to slip in among us, even under the cover of a worthy humanitarian endeavor, will we be able one day to look the Lord in the eye and tell him that we loved his sheep? How can we say that we loved our neighbor whose blood was shed because we foolishly suffered wolves to come in among us?

 
It seems to me that a determined failure to see the wolves coming, to identify them and turn them away, will be evidence that we are neither wise nor are we good shepherds.

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Church Leaders are Being “Disingenuous”?

To be disingenuous is to be dishonest. When Benjamin R. Hertzberg published his denunciation of the recent change in LDS policy regarding children living in same-sex households, he twice characterized the comments of Elder D. Todd Christofferson as “disingenuous.” In other words, representing the Church and church leaders, Elder Christofferson was lying. Really? Lying about what? Brother Hertzberg must believe that there is a motive for this policy other than the one described by Elder Christofferson. That’s what “disingenuous” implies to me. As best I can tell, Brother Hertzberg never attempted to pinpoint what Elder Christofferson was lying about. What is the real reason for this policy if not the one offered by church leaders?

Brother Hertzberg’s command of the scriptures strikes me as superficial. He says “the new policy contradicts basic Christian teachings and core Mormon theological principles. Jesus said: ‘Suffer little children to come unto me and forbid them not’ (Luke 18:16)”. That’s true. Jesus did say that. But the Lord also said “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13). And yet, at a certain time and in a particular set of circumstances, the Lord commanded Nephi to kill Laban.

“And it came to pass that the Spirit said unto me again: Slay him, for the Lord hath delivered him into thy hands” (1 Nephi 4:12).

The commandment given Nephi by the Lord was very hard for him. But Nephi complied because he knew it was the Lord who commanded him.

The Lord has also commanded,

“Wherefore, my brethren, hear me, and hearken to the word of the Lord: For there shall not any man among you have save it be one wife; and concubines he shall have none” (Jacob 2:27).

This commandment from the Lord has been almost universal since Adam and Eve. And yet, at certain times the Lord has commanded otherwise. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and many others have taken multiple wives not of their own choosing, but under commandment from God. In the case of Joseph Smith, the commandment was very hard for him. But he complied because he knew it was the Lord who commanded him.

The fact that Nephi slew Laban does not give other men a license to kill. Nor does the fact that Abraham had four wives give any man a license to practice plural marriage. But when the Lord gives men hard commandments, men of God obey.

Brother Hertzberg, I think, misuses the second Article of Faith:

“‘We believe that men will be punished for their own sins.’ We, sinners all, require access to Jesus’ grace to be forgiven: access Mormons believe is granted through the very ordinances the new policy forbids the children of LGBTQ parents from receiving.”

This is an odd statement on several levels. First, the policy itself is not new at all. It is the same policy – almost word for word – that governs access to church membership for children whose parents are practicing polygamy. I wonder if Brother Hertzberg and others have issued withering public denunciations of church leaders because children of polygamous parents are denied access to the ordinances of the Church? I suspect they have not.

It is true that “we believe that men will be punished for their own sins.” And yet, this scriptural principle is also true:

“Our fathers have sinned…and we have borne their iniquities” (Lamentations 5:7).

We see this principle repeated throughout the scriptures. The children of Laman and Lemuel, for example, were denied access to Jesus’ grace for generations because of the sins of their parents. The children of Laman and Lemuel bore the iniquities of their fathers. You’d think that a high priest in the Church would know that, though the ordinances of the gospel might be delayed for some, for many, of God’s children, ultimately all will have the opportunity to receive the fullness of the Gospel. Church leaders have stated clearly that these children will have their opportunity in due time.

Brother Hertzberg, characterizing the policy as an example of “the authoritarian subservience so prominent in contemporary Mormon culture” continues to wrest the scriptures:

“When we…exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man” (D&C 121:37).

I see neither unrighteous dominion nor compulsion being exercised by the Church in this matter. That is – may I say? – a disingenuous argument.

Why, I would ask, does this policy applied in same-sex relationships evoke such strong feelings for some when that same policy has been applied in polygamous relationships for many years? The policy as applied in polygamous relationships has the same effect on children, but has gone largely unnoticed. Why? Is the policy regarding polygamous relationships also “unChristian”? To the extent that church leaders have offered explanations for the policy in polygamous situations, have they been “disingenuous”? Is the policy as applied to polygamous relationships yet another example of “the authoritarian subservience so prominent in contemporary Mormon culture”?

In a talk given by Neal A. Maxwell many years ago, Elder Maxwell anticipated our day:

“Discipleship includes good citizenship; and in this connection, if you are careful students of the statements of the modern prophets, you will have noticed that with rare exceptions—especially when the First Presidency has spoken out—the concerns expressed have been over moral issues, not issues between political parties. The declarations are about principles, not people, and causes, not candidates. On occasions, at other levels in the Church, a few have not been so discreet, so wise, or so inspired.
But make no mistake about it, brothers and sisters; in the months and years ahead, events will require of each member that he or she decide whether or not he or she will follow the First Presidency. Members will find it more difficult to halt longer between two opinions (see 1 Kings 18:21).
President Marion G. Romney said, many years ago, that he had ‘never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional, or political life’ (CR, April 1941, p. 123). This is a hard doctrine, but it is a particularly vital doctrine in a society which is becoming more wicked. In short, brothers and sisters, not being ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ includes not being ashamed of the prophets of Jesus Christ” (Neal A. Maxwell, devotional address given at BYU on 10 October 1978).

I agree. Recall those whom Nephi saw in vision who had partaken of the fruit of the Tree of Life, but then

“After they had partaken of the fruit of the tree they did cast their eyes about as if they were ashamed.
And I also cast my eyes round about, and beheld, on the other side of the river of water, a great and spacious building; and it stood as it were in the air, high above the earth.
And it was filled with people, both old and young, both male and female; and their manner of dress was exceedingly fine; and they were in the attitude of mocking and pointing their fingers towards those who had come at and were partaking of the fruit.
And after they had tasted of the fruit they were ashamed, because of those that were scoffing at them; and they fell away into forbidden paths and were lost” (1 Nephi 8:25-28).

We are at just such a time today. Of those who say they sustain the First Presidency and the Twelve while at the same time calling them “disingenuous,” remember the example of Lehi: we heeded them not.

Follow the prophet.

Posted in Doctrines of Christ, LDS, LDS Church policies, Progressivism, Same-sex marriage | Tagged , | 4 Comments

The Constitution Condones Slavery?

On July 24 2011 the American Thinker published this article:

In a recent series called “The State Against Blacks” John Stossel interviewed Rep. Charles Rangel and made the case that big government had failed the black American family. Congressman Rangel, an unabashed proponent of big government, asked Stossel, “What do you want? No government?” Stossel held up a copy of the Constitution, and answered, “No. I want it this size again. The Constitution and the Declaration – great government right here.” To which Rangel responded, “No, that government will throw me back into slavery. You don’t want that government. Come on now. I mean they weren’t thinking about me when they wrote that book. I wasn’t even three fifths of a guy. So let’s pass that book and say that it was a good beginning and it’s there to improve order and that’s what we’ve done.”

Rep. Rangel ought to be asked to explain how limiting the size and scope of the federal government to Constitutional standards would throw him back into slavery. The idea is preposterous. It might also be noted that the Founders were indeed thinking of him when they laid the foundations of this nation. Charles Rangel has been a powerful member of the U.S. House of Representatives for forty years. Had the Founders not succeeded in establishing the American nation, Congressman Rangel’s prospects in this world might have been severely limited. Evidently, Rep. Rangel finds no cause for gratitude to the Founders for placing our nation on a path to ever increasing opportunity for all its citizens.

But Rangel’s argument is clearly one that liberals like. Liberals are terrified at the rise of serious talk in America about going back to the principles of the Constitution, and I believe we will see Rangel’s invidious argument trotted out again and again. But “the Constitution was an instrument of slavery” argument will be effective for the liberals only if we are ignorant of the truth.

It should be understood that if the Founders had failed to organize the states into a union, slavery would have continued unabated, certainly in the South, and perhaps in the North as well. One of the great obstacles to forming a union of the states under a constitution was the question of representation in Congress. How shall small states be unified with large states in a government that would be fair and equitable to both? The small states wanted one to one representation equal to the large states, while the large and more populous states wanted representation proportionate to the relative populations of each state. The impasse seemed insurmountable and had the potential to wreck all hope of union. But Roger Sherman of Connecticut provided the solution that ultimately satisfied the representatives at the convention: he proposed that Congress be composed of two houses. Representation in the House of Representatives would be apportioned by population, thereby satisfying the large states, while representation in the Senate would be one vote per state, thereby satisfying the small states.

The question then became which “inhabitants” of each state would be counted for purposes of representation in the House of Representatives. The northern states insisted that only free citizens of each state be counted for purposes of apportionment in the House. The southern states, wanting to garner as much power and influence in the new government as possible, argued that all people within their borders, whether free or not, be counted for purposes of apportionment.

This was yet another deadly serious impasse. It must be said, however, that many of those representatives at the convention who owned slaves recognized that slavery would be a blot on the new nation and that it had to be ended. But it was also certain that if they tried to abolish slavery immediately with the Constitution, it would be rejected by the southern states and the union would fail. Two compromises were made. First, the southern states agreed to count only three fifths of slaves. In turn, the northern states agreed to a clause prohibiting Congress from abolishing slavery for twenty years, until the year 1808.

Charles Rangel and many others argue that, under the Constitution, a black man’s worth was only three fifths of a white man. But the Constitution says no such thing. Article I, Section 2 reads (in part) “Representatives…shall be apportioned among the several states…according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons…three fifths of all other persons.” “All other persons” referred to slaves. In other words, only 60% of slaves could be counted for purposes of a state’s representation in the House. That’s a far cry from arguing that the Constitution valued black men at three fifths of a white man. And what would Rangel and others have preferred, that all slaves be counted, thus increasing the power and influence of the slave states when the time came to vote to abolish slavery? What if the Founders had allowed all slaves to be counted for purposes of representation in the House, thus eliminating the three fifths compromise that so offends Rep. Rangel? And then what if, because of increased slave state representation, the legislation to abolish slavery had failed in 1808? Is that what Rangel would have preferred?

The result of these compromises was that a major obstacle to a union of the states and the establishment of the nation of America was overcome, and slavery as it was known in early America was eventually abolished. It should also be pointed out that America, it’s flaws and imperfections notwithstanding, has become a beacon of individual liberty to the whole world.

We modern Americans allow ourselves a certain self-congratulatory pride because we think we are morally superior to the Americans of the eighteenth century. But let’s consider what it is we so smugly condemn them for. What is slavery? Is not slavery that the fruit of a man’s labor is deemed not to be his own by the system of laws under which he is held in servitude, and that it is taken from him by those who have power and authority over him? When one adds up all the taxes and fees – local, state, and federal – that Charles Rangel and many other like-minded persons of power and authority have gradually imposed on us, we have certainly become a nation of slaves. I don’t mean to suggest that there is equivalency between eighteenth century slavery and slavery today. The slavery of two hundred fifty years ago was a hard slavery, while today’s slavery is much more subtle. I would call it soft slavery. But it is slavery nonetheless. A large portion of the fruit of our labor today is taken from us by people like Charles Rangel who then use the fruits of our labor to purchase the votes they need to keep themselves in power to rule and reign over us.

Charles Rangel and many other like-minded people have presided over the gradual imposition of a soft enslavement of millions of modern Americans. Their defense of today’s soft slavery is essentially the same as the slave masters of the eighteenth century: this is our system and the economy depends upon it. But, in truth, their own personal wealth and influence also depend on it. In addition to legally confiscating large portions of the fruit of our labor, they control our compulsory education system. They tell us how much water we can use to flush a toilet; what kind of light bulbs we must use. They have shut down vast reserves of our nation’s natural resources which we require for our energy needs, intentionally driving up the cost of energy. They intend to disarm us. They intend to tell us what doctors we can see and when. They insult and demean us in our airports. They seek to divide and inflame us by race and by economic status. They intervene in every aspect of our personal and business lives. They are destroying the value of our currency. They are the soft, but ever hardening, slave masters of the twenty first century. And sadly, most Americans seem to support this system. We are a generation who self-righteously condemns the eighteenth century American for the moat we see in his eye, but are largely blinded to the fact that we have a beam in our own eye.

The Constitution is a framework for a government intended to protect the individual liberty of each citizen – his life, his liberty, and his property – from the encroachments of his neighbor. But the Constitution is an impediment to the slave masters, and they have no regard nor use for it. Remember that the next time you hear Charles Rangel, or anyone else, dismissing the Constitution as the antidote to our national decline.

As for this American, you can count me among the twenty first century abolitionists.

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