Posts Tagged 'Bill of Rights'

HISTORY, CIVICS, AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY PART 3

HISTORY, CIVICS, AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY PART 1

HISTORY, CIVICS, AND PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY PENSACOLA’S FIVE-FLAGS DISPLAYS

THE SCHOOL OF RED HERRINGS ON THE HORIZON

“So what?” you say.  “The Confederate Flag is not my flag–an infringement on it is not an infringement on my right to freedom of speech.”

Guess what–your flag will be next.

“So what?” you say.  “Islam is not my religion–an infringement on it is not an infringement on my right to freedom of religion.”

Guess what–your religion will be next.

A BIZARRE KIND OF BARGAINING REVISITED

A flag is a piece of cloth that says something.  It is a piece of cloth that speaks.

The Confederate Battle Flag (the Southern Cross) says, “This is the Confederate side of the battlefield.” And that is all it was designed to say.

The First Confederate Flag (the Stars and Bars), the Second Confederate Flag (the Stainless Banner), and the Third Confederate Flag (the Bloodstained Banner) say, “This is the Confederate States of America.” And that is all they were designed to say.

Because the Confederate Flag (all four designs) is a piece of cloth that says something, a piece of cloth that speaks, it is representative of speech itself.  Thus an infringement on the Confederate Flag is an infringement on our right to freedom of speech.

Dylann Roof abused our right to keep and bear arms, and murdered nine people. Yet the Confederate Flag has been censored–as if the Confederate Flag is to blame for this mass shooting.

Because our right to keep and bear arms was abused, our right to freedom of speech has been infringed.

Islam is a religion.

Because Islam is a religion, it is representative of religion itself.  Thus an infringement on Islam is an infringement on our right to freedom of religion.

Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik abused our right to keep and bear arms, and murdered fourteen people.  Yet Islam has been scrutinized–as if Islam is to blame for this mass shooting.  Muslims–adherents of Islam–have been ostracized, persecuted, and (in some cases) murdered.

Because our right to keep and bear arms was abused, our right to freedom of religion has been infringed.

“So what?” you say.  “The Confederate Flag is not my flag–an infringement on it is not an infringement on my right to freedom of speech.”

Guess what–your flag will be next.

“So what?” you say.  “Islam is not my religion–an infringement on it is not an infringement on my right to freedom of religion.”

Guess what–your religion will be next.

A bizarre kind of bargaining is going on here.

Americans are saying, “You can infringe on our right to freedom of speech, as long as you don’t even question our right to keep and bear arms.”

Americans are saying, “You can infringe on our right to freedom of religion, as long as you don’t even question our right to keep and bear arms.”

Our right to keep and bear arms is as important as every other right guaranteed us in our Bill of Rights.

But if we lose our right to freedom of speech, our right to freedom of religion, and every other right guaranteed us in our Bill of Rights–by overzealously guarding our right to keep and bear arms, and leaving every other right wide open to infringement–what good will our right to keep and bear arms be to us?

Let me add that these largely Republican politicians who are committing this cultural genocide against their Southern constituents are not acting in a conservative manner at all.  

In the last fifty years, the Republican Party–traditionally the more progressive or liberal party–has become the more conservative party–while the Democratic Party–traditionally the more conservative party–has become the more progressive or liberal party.  In short, these two political parties have switched platforms.

Conservatism involves more than just keeping the status quo. Conservatism involves approaching change cautiously and thoughtfully. Making rash decisions, acting on impulse, is not conservative at all.  The conservative considers all possible consequences of a change before making it.  The conservative doesn’t rush, but takes all the time he or she needs to weigh the pros and cons of any change.

By this definition, George W. Bush’s decision to send troops to Iraq before the campaign in Afghanistan had been completed was not conservative at all.  His father’s decision to send troops to Iraq only after its military had invaded Kuwait–and not while the U.S. military was engaged in another campaign–may not have been the best decision.  But at least it was a conservative decision.

Republican Governor Nikki Haley–who started this cultural genocide of the American South–was not conservative at all, in what she did.  The conservative decision would have been to remove the Confederate Battle Flag from South Carolina’s capitol building in Columbia–because no flag should fly above a state capitol building except that state’s flag and the current federal government’s flag–then stop there.

But she didn’t stop there–she moved on to remove all Confederate flags from historical flags displays and Confederate memorials too.  This wasn’t conservative at all–this was just irrational.  And Republican governors, county commissioners, and mayors all over the Southern United States followed Nikki Haley’s cue–removing Confederate flags, not from state capitol buildings or local government buildings–but from historical flags displays, Confederate memorials, and Confederate cemeteries.  And now the destruction of Confederate memorials has begun, in New Orleans–and will likewise spread all over the Southern United States–unless of course the constituents of these largely Republican politicians start resisting this cultural genocide.

These largely Republican politicians are no more conservative than Nikki Haley–and are just as irrational.

The fact is that by failing to uphold the principles of conservatism that it has claimed to champion for the last fifty years–by engaging in this cultural genocide of the American South through largely Republican governors, county commissioners, and mayors–the Republican Party has betrayed the trust of its loyal Southern base.

Let me also add that it does no good to guard against federal-government infringement of our rights as U.S. citizens, if we allow our state and local governments to infringe on these same rights.

Our federal government has been infringing on our rights for a very long time–and it is well that we guard against further infringement, and hold it accountable for current infringement.

Yet this trend of targeting red herrings to dodge the issue of gun regulation is not being carried out by our federal government at all–but by our state and local governments.

It is our state and local governments that are indirectly infringing on our right to freedom of speech by censoring Confederate flags and destroying Confederate memorials.

And it is our state and local governments that are indirectly infringing on our right to freedom of religion by passing laws to keep Syrian refugees out of their jurisdictions simply because they are Muslim.

Our right to keep and bear arms is as important as every other right guaranteed us in our Bill of Rights.

But if we lose our right to freedom of speech, our right to freedom of religion, and every other right guaranteed us in our Bill of Rights–by overzealously guarding our right to keep and bear arms, and leaving every other right wide open to infringement–what good will our right to keep and bear arms be to us?

Likewise, our federal government is as potentially dangerous to every right guaranteed us in our Bill of Rights as our state and local governments are.

But if we lose our right to freedom of speech, our right to freedom of religion, and every other right guaranteed us in our Bill of Rights–by overzealously guarding against infringement of these rights by our federal government, and leaving them wide open to infringement by our state and local governments–what difference will it make?

A BIZARRE KIND OF BARGAINING

[This was originally posted December 22, 2015]

A flag is a piece of cloth that says something.  It is a piece of cloth that speaks.

The Confederate Battle Flag (the Southern Cross) says, “This is the Confederate side of the battlefield.”  And that is all it was designed to say.

The First Confederate Flag (the Stars and Bars), the Second Confederate Flag (the Stainless Banner), and the Third Confederate Flag (the Bloodstained Banner) say, “This is the Confederate States of America.”  And that is all they were designed to say.

Because the Confederate Flag (all four designs) is a piece of cloth that says something, a piece of cloth that speaks, it is representative of speech itself.  Thus an infringement on the Confederate Flag is an infringement on our right to freedom of speech.

Dylann Roof abused our right to keep and bear arms, and murdered nine people. Yet the Confederate Flag has been censored–as if the Confederate Flag is to blame for this mass shooting.

Because our right to keep and bear arms was abused, our right to freedom of speech has been infringed.

Islam is a religion.

Because Islam is a religion, it is representative of religion itself.  Thus an infringement on Islam is an infringement on our right to freedom of religion.

Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik abused our right to keep and bear arms, and murdered fourteen people.  Yet Islam has been scrutinized–as if Islam is to blame for this mass shooting.  Muslims–adherents of Islam–have been ostracized, persecuted, and (in some cases) murdered.

Because our right to keep and bear arms was abused, our right to freedom of religion has been infringed.

“So what?” you say.  “The Confederate Flag is not my flag–an infringement on it is not an infringement on my right to freedom of speech.”

Guess what–your flag will be next.

“So what?” you say.  “Islam is not my religion–an infringement on it is not an infringement on my right to freedom of religion.”

Guess what–your religion will be next.

A bizarre kind of bargaining is going on here.

Americans are saying, “You can infringe on our right to freedom of speech, as long as you don’t even question our right to keep and bear arms.”

Americans are saying, “You can infringe on our right to freedom of religion, as long as you don’t even question our right to keep and bear arms.”

Our right to keep and bear arms is as important as every other right guaranteed us in our Bill of Rights.

But if we lose our right to freedom of speech, our right to freedom of religion, and every other right guaranteed us in our Bill of Rights–by overzealously guarding our right to keep and bear arms, and leaving every other right wide open to infringement–what good will our right to keep and bear arms be to us?

ALL WE NEED TO DO IS STOP TAKING THEM FOR GRANTED

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

First provision of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The United States is predominantly Christian, in its population, but it is not a Christian country.  On the other hand, it is not an “atheist” country.

No, the United States is not a religious or anti-religious country.

Still, it is highly significant that the right to freedom of religion is the first right given us in our Bill of Rights.  However religious or non-religious our Founding Fathers were, religion was very significant to them.

I’ve seen a lot of bumper stickers over the holidays.  Bumper stickers make very good writing prompts.

Yesterday, I saw a bumper sticker that read something like this:

“WITHOUT THE HOME OF THE BRAVE, THERE WOULD BE NO LAND OF THE FREE”

It didn’t quite make sense like that–so I rephrased it in my mind to read,

IF THIS WERE NOT THE HOME OF THE BRAVE, IT WOULDN’T BE THE LAND OF THE FREE.

Still, I sensed misplaced gratitude in this message.

And I recalled these lines from a very popular song, “…And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free.  And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me…”

It is good that we acknowledge the service of our veterans–living, dead, and missing in action.

However, though our veterans have arguably defended our rights, they have not given us our rights.

Our Founding Fathers gave us our rights.  Those who gave us our Constitution gave us our rights.  Those who gave us our Bill of Rights gave us our rights.

And though these men died over two centuries ago, we owe them far more than we owe any of our veterans–living, dead, or missing in action.

Because it was our Founding Fathers who gave us our country, in the first place. And while we owe our veterans our respect and appreciation–we owe our Founding Fathers our lives.  Not our lives in the sense of dying–but our lives in the sense of living.  Our Founding Fathers had great expectations of us, and we owe it to them to live up to their expectations the best we can.

To be true to our country, we must be true to our Constitution.  And we must especially be true to our Bill of Rights.

To take our rights for granted is not to be true to our Bill of Rights.  To ignore our rights is not to be true to our Bill of Rights.  And to abuse our rights is not to be true to our Bill of Rights.

It is only in exercising our rights, in the wisest ways, that we can be true to our Bill of Rights.

Now today, I saw the following bumper stickers on a car from my home state of Alabama:

“PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM”

and

“STOP GIVING BILLIONS TO COUNTRIES THAT PERSECUTE CHRISTIANS”

It is good to pray for the peace of Jerusalem–it is good to pray for the peace of any city in the world.

Peace is a good thing.

But peace is not enough.

Remember the Pax Romana–the Roman Peace?  Yes, the Roman Empire was very peaceful, within its own borders.  But this peace came at a hell of a price–millions of Roman citizens and slaves were persecuted, tortured, and brutally executed in order to maintain this peace.

North Korea is probably the most peaceful country in the world today, within its own borders.  But its people are arguably the most subjugated in the world–they pay a hell of a price for their peace.

Likewise, if the peace of Jerusalem comes at the cost of the brutal subjugation of Palestinian Arabs there–what good is that peace?

We must not allow our government to give billions to countries that persecute Christians–we must not allow our government to give billions to countries that persecute people of any faith.

But there are a lot of countries like these.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

In other words, the United States will not have a state religion.  And the practice of any religion will be tolerated.

It is because of our Bill of Rights–and only because of our Bill of Rights–that the United States is arguably the freest country in the world.  To my knowledge, no other country in the world has freedom of religion guaranteed in its constitution.

Many religious Americans want America to tolerate one religion only–theirs.  Many anti-religious Americans want America to tolerate no religion at all.  And it is because our right to freedom of religion is guaranteed us in our Bill of Rights–and only because our right to freedom of religion is guaranteed us in our Bill of Rights–that neither of these extremes can have its way.

Of course Communist totalitarian states, like North Korea, tolerate no religion at all.  And theocracies, like post-revolution Iran, tolerate one religion only.

Yet in every country in which freedom of religion is not guaranteed in its constitution, its governmental structure–religious freedom is arbitrary, and religious intolerance is inevitable.

To be true to our Bill of Rights, to live up to our Founding Fathers’ expectations of us, we must not allow our government to support countries that persecute Christians–or people of any other faith.

Let’s look at two of these: the Zionist State (“Israel”) and Communist China.

The modern state of Israel was forcibly established, in 1948, on land already inhabited by Arabs for over 1300 years.  These Arab inhabitants were driven off their land–any who resisted displacement were gunned down–just as any who resist confinement to Gaza, the West Bank, or East Jerusalem are still gunned down. The modern state of Israel was a Jewish state, from the beginning–as it still is.  Judaism was–and is–the state religion of Israel (though many Jews consider it to be a travesty of the true Jewish faith).

And the Zionist State–the modern state of Israel whose state religion is a variant of Judaism–persecutes Christians, indeed kills Christians.  No, it doesn’t persecute and kill Christian tourists from the United States or other countries.  It persecutes and kills Christian Arabs.  The establishment and continued support of the Zionist State (“Israel”) is an ongoing atrocity against the Arab People and against Muslims, in general–this is true.  But it is also an ongoing atrocity against Christians–Arab Christians.  Because–though the majority of Palestinian Arabs are Muslim–a large minority of them is Christian.  And the Israeli military is every bit as brutal and deadly toward Christian Arabs as it is toward Muslim Arabs–it makes absolutely no distinction.

And the United States Government–our government–gives billions of dollars (at least three billion every year), plus countless weapons, to the Zionist State (“Israel”)–a country that persecutes and kills Christians every year.  Countless Christian Arabs, along with countless more Muslim Arabs every year.

And Communist China.  We never use the term “Communist” for China anymore–though it’s just as Communist as ever, in its governmental policies.  Freedom of religion is arbitrary there, at best–and completely obliterated at worst.

Just as the Palestinian Arabs (both Muslim and Christian) are continuously persecuted and slaughtered in their own land by the Zionist State of Israel, the Tibetan Buddhists are continuously persecuted and slaughtered in their own land by the Communist State of China.  Even the Dalai Lama (the Buddhist equivalent of the Pope) has been exiled from his Tibetan homeland.

And the United States Government–our government–gives billions of dollars–in loan payments–to Communist China–a country that persecutes and kills Buddhists every year.

Why the United States Government borrowed any money from Communist China, in the first place, is beyond me–but it makes no difference.

Still, the biggest contribution the United States Government–our government–makes to Communist China is that made to Communist China’s economy.  And how does our government make this contribution?  By allowing American corporations to outsource American jobs to Communist China in an economic practice of treason.  Not free enterprise–treason.  The American People made American corporations the prosperous and powerful enterprises they are.  And how do these American corporations pay us–the American People–back?  They outsource our jobs to foreign countries–especially Communist China.  And the United States Government–our government–does absolutely nothing to stop this collective act of treason.

Understand–ISIS is nothing compared to Communist China–it is ridiculous that we worry so much about the threat of a Digital-Age terrorist group when we gladly accept Trojan horses from Communist China into our homes, into our cars, into our lives every single day.  Products from China contain lead, mercury, and God knows what else–the Communist Chinese Government is laughing its ass off because it is literally poisoning American citizens while taking American jobs, via treacherous American corporations, from American citizens.

And the Communist Chinese Government is using our money to persecute and kill Tibetan Buddhists–and any others who dare demand freedom of religion.

Our economy–once unrivaled in the world–is being sold out to Communist China like a crack whore–and we’re worried about ISIS?

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

Just as we take so many others of our rights for granted, we take our right to freedom of religion for granted–and this is bad.  But we also allow our government to support countries that tolerate only one religion, or no religion at all–and this is worse.

What tools do we have to stop our government’s support of countries like the Zionist State (“Israel”) and Communist China?

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

These tools:

Our right to freedom of speech.

And our right to peaceably assemble, and demand that our government do right by us. 

And all three of the above rights are included in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

All we need to do is stop taking them for granted.


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