WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO MAKE AMERICA AMERICA AGAIN?

When I started to write this post, it occurred to me that I would not likely be the first to call to make America America again. So I wondered what others might have said.

Perhaps the most recent call came in a speech at the Republican National Convention by Scott Baio.

Did Baio  say anything wonderfully profound? Not really, at least not apparently. Yet consider these words.

But for you first-time voters, it’s important for you to know what it means to be an American. It doesn’t mean getting free stuff.  It means sacrificing. Winning. Losing. Failing. Succeeding. And sometimes doing the things you don’t want to do — including the hard work — in order to get where you want to be. And that’s what it means to be an American. (from here)

Why would Baio say this is what it means to be an American? Well, America has never been what it promised to be and yet…

In his Essays on Political Economy, Frédéric Bastiat speaks of the Unites States (or America) as a good example. Nevertheless, even in his day Bastiat (1801 – 1850) had to admit that Americans perverted the Law and used it to engage in legal plunder. Continue reading “WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO MAKE AMERICA AMERICA AGAIN?”

AN EXAMPLE OF BIGOTRY — PART 8

200px-UncleTomsCabinCover

What Exactly Makes Someone a Bigot?

Here is the final post on the Lincoln–Douglas Debates of 1858. In this post we will consider what leads to bigotry.

What leads to bigotry? I think it has to do with an absence of words, an unwillingness to listen to the right words. Although we say the pen is mightier than the sword, we give the power of words too little thought. Yet we fill our minds — feed our souls — with words. Good words — God’s Word — renew our minds and cleanse our hearts. Words that speak the Truth save our souls. When we choose to listen to filth — believe lies — we damn ourselves to Hell. Thus, in the Garden of Eden the fall of man began with a conversation.

Because we often have so little desire to know it, we run from the truth. In a process Satan taught our forebears in the Garden of Eden, we can easily elude the truth. First we doubt what we know. Then we deny we ever knew any such thing. Next we deceive ourselves and others. What will harm us now becomes good, and what is good for us now becomes bad. Finally, in the pride of willful ignorance, justified with lying words, we sin (see DOUBT, DENIAL, DECEPTION, AND DISOBEDIANCE).

Uncle Tom

Want a modern example of our belief in a lie? Consider the most popular definition of “Uncle Tom”. Here is the first definition in the list at the Urban Dictionary.

Uncle Tom
A black man who will do anything to stay in good standing with “the white man” including betray his own people

The fourth definition in the list, however, reminds us of man’s propensity to doubt, deny, deceive, and finally sin. When Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin, she did not portray Uncle Tom as a boot-licking coward. Instead, she made the notion of a brave and honorable black man believable to her audience. Her Tom lived as a sincere Christian. Her Tom died before he would reveal the whereabouts of escaped slaves to an evil man. Consider this excerpt.

“Well, Tom!” said Legree, walking up, and seizing him grimly by the collar of his coat, and speaking through his teeth, in a paroxysm of determined rage, “do you know I’ve made up my mind to KILL YOU?”

“It’s very likely, Mas’r,” said Tom, calmly.

“I have,” said Legree, with a grim, terrible calmness, “done—just—that—thing, Tom, unless you’ll tell me what you know about these yer gals!”

Tom stood silent.

“D’ye hear?” said Legree, stamping, with a roar like that of an incensed lion. “Speak!”

I han’t got nothing to tell, Mas’r,” said Tom, with a slow, firm, deliberate utterance.

“Do you dare to tell me, ye old black Christian, ye don’t know?” said Legree.

Tom was silent.

“Speak!” thundered Legree, striking him furiously. “Do you know anything?”

“I know, Mas’r; but I can’t tell anything. I can die!

Legree drew in a long breath; and, suppressing his rage, took Tom by the arm, and, approaching his face almost to his, said, in a terrible voice, “Hark ‘e, Tom!—ye think, ’cause I’ve let you off before, I don’t mean what I say; but, this time, I’ve made up my mind, and counted the cost. You’ve always stood it out again’ me: now, I’ll conquer ye, or kill ye!—one or t’ other. I’ll count every drop of blood there is in you, and take ’em, one by one, till ye give up!”

Tom looked up to his master, and answered, “Mas’r, if you was sick, or in trouble, or dying, and I could save ye, I’d give ye my heart’s blood; and, if taking every drop of blood in this poor old body would save your precious soul, I’d give ’em freely, as the Lord gave his for me. O, Mas’r! don’t bring this great sin on your soul! It will hurt you more than ‘t will me! Do the worst you can, my troubles’ll be over soon; but, if ye don’t repent, yours won’t never end!” (from here)

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a work of fiction. Stowe never pointed to a particular black and said “that’s Tom”. Instead, she said The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself inspired her work. One major difference between Henson and Stowe’s Tom is that Tom did not escape slavery. Instead, he died helping others.

With a fictional work Stowe revealed the horror of slavery to millions. She did so by humanizing the Negro in the minds of her readers.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible. It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s. In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States; one million copies were sold in Great Britain. In 1855, three years after it was published, it was called “the most popular novel of our day.” The impact attributed to the book is great, reinforced by a story that when Abraham Lincoln met Stowe at the start of the Civil War, Lincoln declared, “So this is the little lady who started this great war.”(from here)

Did Lincoln give credit to Stowe for starting the Civil War? The veracity of the quote is disputed. Just the same, everyone knows about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The problem is that too few read it. Because we have never read Uncle Tom’s Cabin, we now believe an “Uncle Tom” is a black man who will do anything to stay in good standing with “the white man”, including betray his own people.

An Excerpt From The Lincoln – Douglas Debates

How did we get so confused about “Uncle Tom”? Why isn’t such a historically important book required reading? Isn’t the answer too obvious? We listen to the wrong people. Instead of resolutely trying to determine the rightness or wrongness of the thing, we believed what we wanted to believe. Hence, we have been led like sheep to the absurd belief that the main character of Uncle Tom’s Cabin was a traitorous weakling.

Freedom requires we face the truth. So it is that in their seventh and last debate, Abraham Lincoln insisted upon talking about a subject his opponent, Senator Stephen Douglas, refused to discuss. Is slavery right or wrong?

On this subject of treating it as a wrong, and limiting its spread, let me say a word. Has any thing ever threatened the existence of this Union save and except this very institution of Slavery? What is it that we hold most dear amongst us? Our own liberty and prosperity. What has ever threatened our liberty and prosperity save and except this institution of Slavery? If this is true, how do you propose to improve the condition of things by enlarging Slavery-by spreading it out and making it bigger? You may have a wen or cancer upon your person and not be able to cut it out lest you bleed to death; but surely it is no way to cure it, to engraft it and spread it over your whole body. That is no proper way of treating what you regard a wrong. You see this peaceful way of dealing with it as a wrong-restricting the spread of it, and not allowing it to go into new countries where it has not already existed. That is the peaceful way, the old-fashioned way, the way in which the fathers themselves set us the example.

On the other hand, I have said there is a sentiment which treats it as not being wrong. That is the Democratic sentiment of this day. I do not mean to say that every man who stands within that range positively asserts that it is right. That class will include all who positively assert that it is right, and all who like Judge Douglas treat it as indifferent and do not say it is either right or wrong. These two classes of men fall within the general class of those who do not look upon it as a wrong. And if there be among you any body who supposes that he, as a Democrat can consider himself “as much opposed to slavery as anybody,” I would like to reason with him. You never treat it as a wrong. What other thing that you consider as a wrong, do you deal with as you deal with that? Perhaps you say it is wrong, but your leader never does, and you quarrel with any body who says it is wrong. Although you pretend to say so yourself you can find no fit place to deal with it as a wrong. You must not say any thing about it in the free States, because it is not here. You must not say any thing about it in the slave States, because it is there. You must not say any thing about it in the pulpit, because that is religion and has nothing to do with it. You must not say any thing about it in politics, because that will disturb the security of “my place.” There is no place to talk about it as being a wrong, although you say yourself it is a wrong.  (from here)

Instead of attacking Douglas, Lincoln pointed to Douglas’ call for willful ignorance. Without even using the word hypocrite, Lincoln made Douglas’ hypocrisy self-evident.

Consider the problem of our own evil. When we sin, don’t we always arrogantly pretend we are doing nothing wrong? So what can we do? You and I cannot stop others from sinning, but we can humbly turn to our Lord and ask for wisdom.

James 1:5 English Standard Version (ESV)

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

What issues of right and wrong would some like us to ignore these days?

  • Is aborting the birth of a baby murder?
  • When government redistributes our nation’s wealth, taking from the “rich” and giving it to the “poor”, is that stealing?
  • Is same-sex “marriage” just an effort legitimize a perverse form of fornication?
  • Is affirmative action a reverse form of racism?
  • Does the idea of a “living” Constitution make any sense?
  • Why do we trust politicians, people nobody trusts, with the education of our children?
  • Is the entertainment produced by Hollywood an appropriate substitute for spending time with our children?

Don’t we want our children to deal sanely with issues of right and wrong? Then how does it make any sense to hand over their education to politicians and Hollywood?

Proverbs 11:2-3 English Standard Version (ESV)

When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
    but with the humble is wisdom.
The integrity of the upright guides them,
    but the crookedness of the treacherous destroys them.

It is not like we do not know that giving our children over to the care of politicians and Hollywood is a preposterous notion. Our problem is we don’t want to know the truth. We each want to make “me” more important than the truth. So when we should turn to God for guidance, we doubt. When we fear what God might require of us, we deny. And when politicians and Hollywood “offer” their services, to teach our children the wisdom of the world for “free”, we accept their deceits as truth. Then, in disobedience we fail make certain of the instruction our children in schools where God is feared and properly reverenced.

When government pressures parents to send their children to secular government-run schools, does that constitute an infringement upon our religious freedom? Are you willing to consider the question? Do you approve of the increasing moral degradation of our society? You don’t? Then encourage parents and help them, especially Christian parents. Insist upon the right of parents to choose who teaches their children.

For a list of the posts in this series, see AN EXAMPLE OF BIGOTRY — PART 1.

AN ABSENCE OF REAL DEBATE

Government spending
Government spending (Photo credit: 401(K) 2013)

Yesterday I visited Moonhowlings, and I got a laugh out of this post, The newest dumb-ass skit from the monkey court. Then I visited Open Thread…………………………………………..Saturday, November 2. Emma, Moon-howler, and the others had essentially resumed the discussion from The newest dumb-ass skit from the monkey court. So I decided to join the fun.

Citizen Tom November 3rd, 2013 at 22:28
When I saw Ellmers Questions Sebelius on Obamacare
Failures, I cracked up. Thanks for posting it (here).
Moon-howler, when you and Emma discuss these issues, I think you begin with some false premises about government.

1. Because the people who run our government have the capacity — the wisdom — to know what is best, for our own good we should let them boss the rest of us around.
2. Being in the majority gives you the right to make the minority do whatever it is you want.
3. Redistributing the wealth is ethical.
4. Power does not corrupt politicians.
5. So long as there is equal representation, taxation is ethical. How the money is spent does not matter.
6. No matter how much power and responsibility we give it, the “system” can be made to work.

I could go on, but here is the point. I would like you to take a moment to back off from specific issues such as what is included in Obamacare. It is more important to consider whether using the government to “give” people their “rights” is ethical. If you insist upon jumping straight into implementation issues (I fear most Democrats refuse to seriously discuss the ethics of Socialism.), then I suggest you look carefully at that last false premise, #6.

The beauty of the free market is that it allows everyone to be a decision-maker. Instead of waiting upon some bigwig to tell us what to do, we make our own choices. Based upon what people want — what they are willing to pay for, we find a job or start a business. Then we take what we have earned and do the same for others. Instead of giving half of what we earn to government, we allow people to spend what they earn. Then an amazing thing happens. They spend it more efficiently and wisely than politicians.

What does government do for us? When we have disputes, we go to government for justice. Then we depend upon government to be a neutral third party. When government starts to runs things like Obamacare, for example, we destroy that neutrality. That’s why Socialism is so bad. When we need government to provide for justice, Socialism renders government incapable to the objectivity needed to provide for justice. Because of Socialism, government is no longer a third party.

Justice is blind means that justice is impartial and objective.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lady_Justice (from here)

Unfortunately, my comment did not sit well with Moon-howler.

Moon-howler November 4th, 2013 at 02:10

CT, I looked at some of your ‘voters guides’ and have decided I would question the ethics of such a guide that clearly endorses candidates based on a number of pre-set political topics. I find many of them to cause eye brows to raise. For instance, is there a Christian stance on what kind of energy we consume? Are we just guessing that Jesus wants us to mine coal and then burn it? How does He feel about the pollution it causes?

I am one of those separation of church/state people. I like my religion clear of politics and my politics clear of religion. You obviously feel this is a proper job for religion and that people should vote according to their faith. While I believe we want our policy to reflect the overall tennents of our faith, I don’t think the Good Book as a lot to say about health care or energy, off shore drilling, charter schools or Medicaid expansion.

I would think that feeding the poor and helping the sick might be a little more in line with the Good Book but what do I know. (from here)

Note that did not respond to my comment. If you are inclined to think of Conservatives or Christians as narrow-minded and intolerant, please think about that.

What did Moon-howler do?

  • She took a shot at CHRISTIAN VOTER GUIDES: UPDATE 2. Are these voter guides biased? Well, anyone who thinks voter guides are not intended to affect the outcome of an election would have to be naive. Although it has never happened, if a church advocates for a particular candidate, supposedly the IRS will take away its tax exemption.  So many Christian voter guides just list each candidate’s positions on relevant issues and let readers think for themselves. Check out 2013 ALTERNATIVE VOTER GUIDES. Non-Christian groups have the same problem.
  • She raised the usual objection about mixing religion and politics. Since it suits my purpose, let’s consider that issue in more detail.

Due to our own limitations, the Bible does not speak to absolutely every imaginable topic. Nonetheless, the Bible has a great deal say about the way conduct ourselves. That includes how we run our government. The Jews referred to the Old Testament as their Law, and they used it to govern Israel. Hence, when he wrote Common Sense, to point out the evils of monarchy and the rule of King George III, Thomas Paine found it profitable to reference the Bible. Check out ONE OF THE SINS OF THE JEWS. In particular, Paine wrote about 1 Samuel 8. If you have not read this chapter of the Bible before, I think you are in for a surprise.

The Bible is a book with wisdom that spans the ages. Without saying anything about coal mining, pollution, charter schools or modern health care, the Bible tells us what life is about and how we should live. For example, what would the Bible say about redistributing the wealth? The Bible calls taking property from one person giving it to another stealing. It does not make any distinctions about tax credits, “free” health care, “free” schooling, “free” housing or “free” anything. Although the Bible clearly advocates feeding the poor and helping the sick, it defines charity as giving away our own property, not what belongs to somebody else.

Does that sound harsh? Then consider our predicament. Because we have become a nation that uses government to steal from each other, we cannot control our spending. Yet we have a finite amount of wealth. We can print bags and bags of money, but our possessions will not increase. Therefore, we risk becoming bankrupt, and should we become bankrupt, many of us will find it difficult to feed, cloth, and shelter ourselves.

One last thought. Is ‘s unwillingness to debate the ethics of Obamacare new? No. During Lincoln – Douglas Debates of 1858, Senator Stephen Douglas refused to discuss the ethics of slavery. Essentially, Douglas justified slavery on the basis of majority rule. If the majority of the whites in a state wanted slavery, then he had no problem with slavery.

It’s surprising how little we change, but I suppose that is why the Bible remains relevant.

AN EXAMPLE OF BIGOTRY — PART 7

English: Lincoln-Douglas Debates, 1958 America...
English: Lincoln-Douglas Debates, 1958 American Civil War commemorative issue (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Consider these words at the end of Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution.

Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:–“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Many take an oath to support and defend the Constitution, but how many mean it? When the current occupant of the White House swore that oath, was he serious about keeping his word?

When Abraham Lincoln Took An Oath To Support And Defend The Constitution, How Serious Was He?

For most of us Americans, the Lincoln–Douglas Debates of 1858 are now just an interesting item we briefly read about in a textbook on American History. Few read the debates anymore, but they once grabbed the attention of a nation. Why? The words of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican candidate for the Senate in Illinois, and Senator Stephen Douglas, the Democratic Party‘s candidate, displayed in stark contrast the North’s and the South’s differing beliefs about slavery and the meaning of the Dred Scott decision. Lincoln and Douglas also displayed starkly different attitudes towards their oath of office.

With An Oath Comes Uncomfortable Obligations

Here in the third of the Lincoln – Douglas Debates. Lincoln explains why he would have to support the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850.

Again: I will ask you, my friends, if you were elected members of the Legislature, what would be the first thing you would have to do before entering upon your duties? Swear to support the Constitution of the United States. Suppose you believe, as Judge Douglas does, that the Constitution of the United States guaranties to your neighbor the right to hold slaves in that Territory – that they are his property-how can you clear your oaths unless you give him such legislation as is necessary to enable him to enjoy that property? What do you understand by supporting the Constitution of a State, or of the United States? Is it not to give such Constitutional helps to the rights established by that Constitution as may be practically needed? Can you, if you swear to support the Constitution, and believe that the Constitution establishes a right, clear your oath, without giving it support? Do you support the Constitution if, knowing or believing there is a right established under it which needs specific legislation, you withhold that legislation? Do you not violate and disregard your oath? I can conceive of nothing plainer in the world. There can be nothing in the words “support the Constitution,” if you may run counter to it by refusing support to any right established under the Constitution. And what I say here will hold with still more force against the Judge’s doctrine of “unfriendly legislation.” How could you, having sworn to support the Constitution and believing it guarantied the right to hold slaves in the Territories, assist in legislation intended to defeat that right? That would be violating your own view of the Constitution. Not only so, but if you were to do so, how long would it take the courts to hold your votes unconstitutional and void? Not a moment.

Lastly I would ask-is not Congress, itself, under obligation to give legislative support to any right that is established under the United States Constitution? I repeat the question-is not Congress, itself, bound to give legislative support to any right that is established in the United States Constitution? A member of Congress swears to support the Constitution of the United States, and if he sees a right established by that Constitution which needs specific legislative protection, can he clear his oath without giving that protection? Let me ask you why many of us who are opposed to slavery upon principle, give our acquiescence to a Fugitive Slave law? Why do we hold ourselves under obligations to pass such a law, and abide by it when it is passed? Because the Constitution makes provision that the owners of slaves shall have the right to reclaim them. It gives the right to reclaim slaves, and that right is, as Judge Douglas says, a barren right, unless there is legislation that will enforce it.

The mere declaration, “No person held to service or labor in one State under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due (author’s note:  This clause in the Constitution comes from Article IV, Section 2. The 13th Amendment revoked it.),” is powerless without specific legislation to enforce it. Now, on what ground would a member of Congress who is opposed to slavery in the abstract, vote for a Fugitive law, as I would deem it my duty to do? Because there is a Constitutional right which needs legislation to enforce it. And although it is distasteful to me, I have sworn to support the Constitution, and having so sworn, I cannot conceive that I do support it if I withhold from that right any necessary legislation to make it practical. And if that is true in regard to a Fugitive Slave law, is the right to have fugitive slaves reclaimed any better fixed in the Constitution than the right to hold slaves in the Territories? For this decision is a just exposition of the Constitution, as Judge Douglas thinks. Is the one right any better than the other? Is there any man who, while a member of Congress, would give support to the one any more than the other? If I wished to refuse to give legislative support to slave property in the Territories, if a member of Congress, I could not do it, holding the view that the Constitution establishes that right. If I did it at all, it would be because I deny that this decision properly construes the Constitution. But if I acknowledge, with Judge Douglas, that this decision properly construes the Constitution, I cannot conceive that I would be less than a perjured man if I should refuse in Congress to give such protection to that property as in its nature it needed. (from here)

Lincoln’s Interpretation Of The Constitution With Respect To Slavery

Why did Lincoln deny the validity of the Dred Scott decision? This is what he said in the fifth debate.

In the second clause of the sixth article, I believe it is, of the Constitution of the United States, we find the following language: “This Constitution and the laws of the United States which shall be made in pursuance thereof; and all treaties made, or which shall be made under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land; and the judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any thing in the Constitution or laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding.”

The essence of the Dred Scott case is compressed into the sentence which I will now read: “Now, as we have already said in an earlier part of this opinion, upon a different point, the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution.” I repeat it, “The right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution!” What is it to be “affirmed” in the Constitution? Made firm in the Constitution -so made that it cannot be separated from the Constitution without breaking the Constitution-durable as the Constitution, and part of the Constitution. Now, remembering the provision of the Constitution which I have read, affirming that that instrument is the supreme law of the land; that the Judges of every State shall be bound by it, any law or Constitution of any State to the contrary notwithstanding; that the right of property in a slave is affirmed in that Constitution, is made, formed into, and cannot be separated from it without breaking it; durable as the instrument; part of the instrument; -what follows as a short and even syllogistic argument from it? I think it follows, and I submit to the consideration of men capable of arguing, whether as I state it, in syllogistic form, the argument has any fault in it?

Nothing in the Constitution or laws of any State can destroy a right distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution of the United States.

The right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution of the United States.

Therefore, nothing in the Constitution or laws of any State can destroy the right of property in a slave.

I believe that no fault can be pointed out in that argument; assuming the truth of the premises, the conclusion, so far as I have capacity at all to understand it, follows inevitably. There is a fault in it as I think, but the fault is not in the reasoning; but the falsehood in fact is a fault of the premises. I believe that the right of property in a slave is not distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution, and Judge Douglas thinks it is. I believe that the Supreme Court and the advocates of that decision may search in vain for the place in the Constitution where the right of a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed. I say, therefore, that I think one of the premises is not true in fact. But it is true with Judge Douglas. It is true with the Supreme Court who pronounced it. They are estopped from denying it, and being estopped from denying it, the conclusion follows that the Constitution of the United States being the supreme law, no constitution or law can interfere with it. It being affirmed in the decision that the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution, the conclusion inevitably follows that no State law or constitution can destroy that right. I then say to Judge Douglas and to all others, that I think it will take a better answer than a sneer to show that those who have said that the right of property in a slave is distinctly and expressly affirmed in the Constitution, are not prepared to show that no constitution or law can destroy that right. I say I believe it will take a far better argument than a mere sneer to show to the minds of intelligent men that whoever has so said, is not prepared, whenever public sentiment is so far advanced as to justify it, to say the other. This is but an opinion, and the opinion of one very humble man; but it is my opinion that the Dred Scott decision, as it is, never would have been made in its present form if the party that made it had not been sustained previously by the elections. My own opinion is, that the new Dred Scott decision, deciding against the right of the people of the States to exclude slavery, will never be made, if that party is not sustained by the elections. I believe, further, that it is just as sure to be made as to-morrow is to come, if that party shall be sustained. I have said, upon a former occasion, and I repeat it now, that the course of argument that Judge Douglas makes use of upon this subject (I charge not his motives in this), is preparing the public mind for that new Dred Scott decision. (from here)

Thus, the Supreme Court, with the ill-starred Dred Scott decision, played a key role in the events that lead to the Civil War.

For a list of the posts in this series, see AN EXAMPLE OF BIGOTRY — PART 1.