SAN JOSE, Calif., July 4, 2015 — On the run-up to this Independence Day, America has had a series of wake-up calls. Nine innocent Christians were brutally murdered in South Carolina. Two controversial Supreme Court decisions split the country.
These events have something eerily in common: They reflect a lack of respect for law and especially a lack of respect for the Constitution of the United States and the Bill of Rights. There are serious concerns being raised regarding American freedom, and these events emphasize that.
After the slaughter at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, good-hearted people everywhere were shocked. These killings were easily viewed as a 21-year-old man acting out of hatred with a racist agenda, but the response of politicians was curious; many called for the removal of the Confederate flag from government and public locations, as if the flag itself were a source of racism and the cause of the attack.
If the battle flag is removed from public locations and if political types claim credit for removing it, the fact remains that people impost their interpretations on symbols, not the other way around. People are the source of racist sentiment, not flags. A piece of cloth can serve as a focus for these attitudes, but not as the cause of hateful sentiments.
Whatever variation of the Confederate flag we consider, they all represent a connection to the values of the Confederacy, values that were totally opposite of declared American values.
Upon the secession of South Carolina and the creation of the Confederate States of America, this separatist government drafted a new constitution. Among the authors of that radical constitution was Alexander Stephens, a Democratic congressman from Georgia. In a famous speech, referred to as the Cornerstone Speech, he outlined the purpose of this constitution:
The new constitution has put at rest all of the agitating questions relating to Our peculiar institution, African slavery. This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution … The prevailing ideas entertained by him [Thomas Jefferson] and most of the leading statesmen at the time of the Formation of the old constitution, were that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with. But the general opinion of the men of that day was that somehow or other in the order of Providence, the institution would … pass away. Those ideas, however, were fundamentally wrong. They rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error.
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its cornerstone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man, that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. Thus, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
Thus Stephens articulated the attitude of the political leadership across the South and the ideological essence of the Confederate government.
Stephens was an articulate and persuasive orator. Once, when young Lincoln heard a speech from his fellow congressman, he was significantly moved. That was not the speech quoted here. This Cornerstone Speech truly represents core beliefs of the old Confederacy. The flags associated with that attempt to destroy the government of the United States were symbols of those beliefs. As Stephens said, these beliefs were the exact opposite of the core of beliefs that created the United States of America.
Once someone has an adverse encounter with an intolerant bigot, the event is rarely forgotten, even if it is non-violent. We must ask: Were the Confederates truly Americans? If we accept the premise that “all men are created equal,” we are more aligned with the traditional American values than with what Vice President Stephens or President Jefferson Davis believed. They were so racist in their comprehension of the Declaration of Independence that, as Davis said, the “great principles they [the Founders] announced … have no reference to the slave.”
Indeed, the Declaration of Independence did not mention ending slavery; Davis’ forebears eliminated the words from Jefferson’s incredible manifesto of freedom. Most Americans are unaware of complete original text of Jefferson’s initial draft because he offered his work to John Adams and Benjamin Franklin to be edited, then put to the rest of the committee of five.
Before the members of the Continental Congress put their names on the Declaration of Independence, they made change after change. The document that is essentially attributed to Thomas Jefferson was amended 88 times before they signed it.
Upon reading the unedited version, Adams supposedly said that the best part of what Jefferson wrote was the attack on slavery. As recently as 2012, the Smithsonian published a feature article on Jefferson. The author, Henry Wiencek, says that in his original draft, “in soaring, damning fiery prose, Jefferson denounced the slave trade as an ‘execrable commerce … this assemblage of horrors,’ a cruel war against human nature itself, violating it most sacred rights of life and liberties.”
As historian John Chester Miller put it, “The inclusion of Jefferson’s strictures on slavery and the slave trade would have committed the United States to the abolition of slavery,” a path the white southern aristocracy would not allow.
Were these white southern aristocrats, the Confederates, truly Americans? By birth, and according to the same 14th Amendment that assured citizenship to their former slaves, they were Americans. But is that really what it means to be an American?
Jefferson’s words in the Declaration of Independence formulated a framework and a premise for all people to declare their allegiance to the belief that all men were created equal, and that all were endowed by the Creator with the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Woven into the very fabric of the Declaration of Independence was a manifesto for the freedom of all humanity
The essence and the bond that unite Americans is the yearning for liberty, for freedom from tyranny. This essence was a threat to the white southern aristocracy, which had held dominion over slaves for more than a century before the United States existed. When the decision to declare colonial Independence came, these southern aristocrats simply went along with the decision of their related colonies, yet would not permit slavery to be threatened.
American? They were Americans in name only. For many of the Founding Fathers, the belief in the dream of freedom was so very real that they were willing to give up their lives. Others would never give up their slaves and would fight to bind them with other people’s lives.
This drastic clash of ideas and ideals came to a crashing climax during the American Civil War. The white southern aristocracy trotted out their political leaders like Stephens and Davis and had them articulate the lies that they needed the poor white dirt farmers to buy in order to fight for their cause. The lies inspired even intelligent men like Robert E. Lee, who saw the struggle as an effort to maintain states’ rights. He chose to fight for his “country” of Virginia and defend it against those damn yankees.
The lies that the southern aristocracy perpetuated had helped them to maintain their tyrannical power for over two centuries, two-thirds of that time under the British Empire. How else had they inherited their addiction to power over people?
Today there are those in this country who have inherited this same addiction to power over people. For the most part, the Confederate effort was run by Democrats throughout the South. Political power was what built the dominion of the Confederacy before it became a confederacy. That political power was not created by the Democratic Party originally, but it was perfected by that party from the time of Andrew Jackson, the founder of the modern Democrats.
Consider one action that is often ignored or mitigated by admiring historians: That a sitting president ignored a ruling of the United States Supreme Court speaks volumes regarding his party.
The most tragic political stories in U.S. history involve decisions of the Supreme Court; these have lasting impact upon millions of lives. In Jackson’s case, the high court ruled that the president’s involvement in the Indian Removal Acts was unconstitutional. The court did not believe it was within his scope of authority to violate the precedents established by the Articles of Confederation, the Northwest Ordinance and the Declaration of Independence, or by the six preceding presidents. Jackson set a precedent to violate the Constitution for his party, and he got away with the biggest land grab in history for the sake of his personal political gain and the gain of those white southern aristocrats.
If Democrats were honest with themselves, they would come out of the closet today, as Jefferson Davis and Alexander Stephens did in 1861, and tell the American people what they truly believe. It would be a revelation. Some are sincere, but many are puppets, trotted out for the public to see who and to spew the lies for the hidden power brokers, the wealthy aristocrats in the shadows who play the American people for fools.
The hope for the future of this nation may reside in a truth from Abraham Lincoln: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” However, do not expect the lies to end. It is now the time for all true Americans to come out of the closet, and reaffirm the ideals of the Declaration of Independence.