Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Declaration of Independence Declared Racist

                 Louisiana state legislator Barbara Norton (D-Shreveport) recently argued that the Declaration of Independence was racist. The lawmaker hurled that remarkable accusation at America’s founding document during a “spirited” debate over a bill that would have required the state’s fourth through sixth grade public school students to recite a passage from the Declaration on a daily basis, Fox & Friends reported.
                “For the Declaration of Independence only Caucasians (were) free,” Norton, who is black, said during a debate on the floor of the Louisiana House of Representatives on Wednesday, June 6th. Representative Valarie Hodges (R-Denham Springs) sponsored the bill, but subsequently shelved it before lawmakers could vote on the proposal. Norton and Rep. Pat Smith (D-Baton Rouge) told Hodges that children shouldn’t have to recite words written at a time when slavery was prevalent.
                Hodges disagreed, stating: “They really just don’t get it and to me I really feel that it’s as important as Math and English and conjugating verbs,” she said, adding that it was important to educate children to become good citizens. She also told the station she was astonished and saddened “at the hatred that was expressed at the forefathers and this document” during the debate.
                        Which words in the Declaration are so racist and offensive, Rep. Norton? What phrases really get your dander up? Does “The separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them” bother you? Or perhaps “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” offends you? (Emphases mine).
                If we can’t recite these words because they were written at a time when slavery was prevalent, then it follows that no one should be allowed to recite any passages from the Koran during this time when Islamic terrorism is rampant across the globe. Correct? Will our descendants claim their kids shouldn’t recite anything that was written in our day because abortion was legal?!

                And, Babs, Abraham Lincoln wrote The Emancipation Proclamation  when slavery was still prevalent and legal. I guess neither Abe- nor anyone since- should've been allowed to recite from it?

               The fact of the matter is that the words in The Declaration- and the principles they so vividly conveyed to the world- did more to rid this earth of slavery than any other words, written or spoken, ever have.  In fact, when John Quincy Adams was defending a group of (formerly) free Africans that had been captured by Spanish slave traders and wrongfully brought to the United States on the Amistad, he used the Declaration of Independence as a tool to help gain their freedom. Arguing before the Supreme Court, he asked if sending these captives to Spain, as that nation’s government had requested, would be justice. Of course not, he stated. To find where justice lay, Adams continued, one need look no further than “that law,” at which time he pointed to a copy of the Declaration of Independence attached to one of the Court’s pillars. “The law of Nature and of Nature’s God on which our father’s placed our own national existence.”*
                Adams had, by that point, concluded that abolitionism had been built into America’s foundation. He said of the Declaration, “The same moral thunderbolt, which melted the chains of allegiance that bound the colonist to his sovereign, dissolved the fetters of the slave.”*
                That deserves recitation.

* ‘John Quincy Adams: Militant Spirit,’ by James Traub (Basic Books, 2016)

No comments:

Post a Comment