Wednesday, March 9, 2016

A brief reminder

The following is the poem, "The New Colossus", on our Statue of Liberty:
The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
... and then there's the Declaration of Independence, which is a weird document.

It has no legal standing.
It is a list of complaints against George III, trying to justify the Colonies's assertion of independence.
Among the many complaints:
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither
Yep - George III endeavored to prevent immigration!...
... sounds sorta familiar... a LOT like the current crop of GOP contenders!

Recall - the GOP contenders just LOVE the Declaration of Independence...
... mainly 'cuz it cites
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
It's that Creator bit that gets folks all excited.

The Founders were up against a wall.
Historically... like FOREVER... "rights" had been things granted to vassals by lieges.
Magna Carta is based on this political framework - the King grants certain RIGHTS owed the barons.

If you demand "rights", those "rights" must be granted by SOMEONE.

The Founders pretty much gave up.
Who gives us rights, if we are not bound to our King, George III?
Must be our "Creator"!

'Twas a novel solution to a sticky problem...
... but now it's allowed the GOP to assert that the United States was founded on Christianity.

Perhaps if Jefferson had had more foresight, he'd have come up with some other formulation that allowed us to assert our rights!

1 comment:

  1. The D of I exhorted people to fight even unto death so the rhetoric got extreme. The Magna Carta was a business contract.

    ISTR that Hammurabi's code and Deuteronomy are in the same format as ancient treaties, do you recall if that is correct?