|The Signing of the Declaration of Independence (John Trumbull, 1819)|
Modern statist (though they call themselves "progressive") critics have contended that the Declaration of Independence is a racist, sexist, elitist document which leaves out large groups of people, the majority of minorities, and thus enshrined a different cult of limited democracy, in which a selectively defined few would determine the future of everyone else to their narrow benefit, at the expense of everyone else.
In other words: a group of rich, dead, white, European males made all the rules, and left themselves with the power to rule over everyone else.
Furthermore, these aggravated detractors claim they never envisioned the rights outlined in the Declaration to apply to anyone else but their intricately fashioned physical, social, and cultural class.
Yet like many modern, illiberal critics, these progressive attackers do not bother to read the very documents which they dissect, or rather "deconstruct."
What does the Declaration actually say about human rights, the origins of man, and the extent which these rights exist and thrive in communities, whether in the United States or elsewhere?
The sixth word indicates a universal application: human.
Not male or female, nor touching on skin color or ethnic background, the Declaration talks about human events. If you are a human being, then the contents of this charter will apply. Not in the intended audience include animals, objects, or elements of the physical environment.
Another word people stands out, indicating that the concerns of one nation or community is not rigidly defined to exclude male or female. In fact, there can be no people without men and women. Obviously, the necessity to remove certain governments was not designed for men only, but people.
Another word mankind indicates that the planners, drafters, and opinions which formed this Declaration respected the diverse views of mankind, i.e. human beings, not restricted to males, nor to white males with property, status, or power.
Then again, challenges to this argument will point out that these words are taken from the first paragraph of the Declaration, and do not speak to the rights of men. Let us read further:
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.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
One again, this passage refers to mankind not just men, and that governments are formed by "the consent of the governed."
|Three of the Declaration's Drafters:|
(from the left: Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson)
"Governed" does not discriminate, except to identify those who are not in power. In other words, this charter established a clear distinction, but not based on one's birth, or intrinsic, individual merit. The dichotomy between governed and government posits the power and respect on the governed first, who may change one form of government to create another. These "governed" operate from "all men are created equal."
Why would the governed -- men, women, rich, poor, then decide to discriminate against themselves? Even if they wanted to, the fact remains that the governed remain the primary seat of power and influence, which the government must obey.
Just reading the Founding Charter of the United States of America, just paying attention to the word of the document, one finds that the Declaration of Independence does not discriminate against anyone, nor does it limit the recognition of God-give rights to one class of people. The right of all men, of mankind, are endowed to us by our Creator, and no government can take them away.
Why else would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. have referenced the Declaration of Independence in his "I Have a Dream" speech, if not to point out that the contents of the document do indeed apply to all men, to all mankind, black as well as white, male as well as female?
Indeed, the modern, progressive critics are wrong, both on the facts, the history, as well as the contents of the Declaration o Independence. The rights recognized in that charter belong to all men, to all people, to all mankind, and there is no limited to their existence, regardless of race, gender, ethnic background, or behavioral dispositions.
|Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.|