Archive for the ‘Bill of Rights’ Category

America: Freedom Really Matters

November 2, 2008

My son and I are on ground where one of my heroes — the legendary Joe Foss, U.S. Marine, America’s leading ace in aerial combat, Medal of Honor recipient, mentor and friend — once stood beside me. We’re hunting — exercising our Second Amendment right “to keep and bear Arms.” We will be back home in time to vote in hopes that this right of the people won’t be infringed. But I wonder.
TR Buckskin Tiffany Knife.jpg
Above: President Theodore Roosevelt
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By Oliver North
The Washington Times

Last week in Ohio, the Obama campaign suggested that Americans need a “second Bill of Rights.” The idea — not a new one for liberals — came this time from Rep. Marcy Kaptur as she introduced Sen. Obama at a rally in Toledo. Kaptur enthusiastically endorsed the initiative, first proffered by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jan. 11, 1944. Obama said nothing to disabuse his enthusiastic followers of the notion. But it was a bad idea when FDR advocated it, and it is now.

President Roosevelt made the proposal in his State of the Union address — delivered over the radio from the White House instead of in person before Congress. He claimed that he had the flu and that his doctors would not permit him “to go up to the Capitol.” The nation was then — as we are today — at war. And FDR, the “indispensable leader,” already was preparing for his fourth presidential campaign.

In promoting his new “Bill of Rights,” Roosevelt observed that we already enjoyed “certain inalienable political rights — among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.” He then said, “They were our rights to life and liberty.” Notably, FDR used the past tense and omitted the Second Amendment in its entirety — no small lapse when nearly 16 million Americans were under arms.

Unfortunately, the idea that our original Bill of Rights is inadequate — or even archaic — has achieved new currency with liberals. In enumerating his abbreviated version of the first 10 amendments to our Constitution, FDR described our rights as “political” and insufficient. The Framers saw them as God-given and a sacred trust to deliver unabridged to future generations.

Therein is the challenge in next week’s elections. The mainstream media and the polls predict a rout to the left. Does that mean Congress would have free rein to resurrect FDR’s “second Bill of Rights”? And if so, what then happens to the real Bill of Rights, first handed into our care Dec. 15, 1791?

The practitioners of politics — and those who write and speak about it — claim that these matters are secondary to “pocketbook issues.” I was told this week, “Nobody in America cares about that ‘constitutional stuff’ right now with all that’s gone wrong with our economy.” If that’s true, we’re in more serious trouble than my 401(k).

Perhaps I have spent too much of my life with young Americans who sacrificed the comforts of home and the company of loved ones to take on the responsibility of protecting the rest of us. They didn’t sign up to fight for gold or colonial conquest or “the economy.” The soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines I have been covering for Fox News Channel in Mesopotamia, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf and the Philippine archipelago volunteered to defend us and protect our liberty from those who had done us grievous harm.

They raised their right hands and took an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States.” They understand what it means to “bear true faith and allegiance.” Most of them have seen parts of the world where there is no freedom, and they know that freedom is an idea worth fighting for, preferably at a great distance from home.

Thanks to the courage and sacrifice of young Americans in uniform and those who preceded them, foreign adversaries do not immediately threaten our liberty. But freedom certainly is at risk here at home if our elected leaders and appointed judges believe that our essential freedoms are “political rights.” If that is true, then politicians and the judges they appoint can abridge, alter or eliminate them.

The extraordinary dedication, commitment and tenacity of American men and women in uniform serving the cause of freedom inspire me. Their bravery and perseverance on battlefields around the world should remind us all that freedom is fragile and must be defended to flourish. The Bill of Rights, including the Second Amendment, did not come to us gratis or without obligation.

We are blessed in America that we can fend for freedom with ballots instead of bullets. Our charge is to elect those who will deliver those freedoms intact and undiminished to those who follow us, as my son and I now follow in the footsteps of Joe Foss.
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Medal of Honor recipient Joe Foss

Here is the late Joe Foss’ Medal of Honor CITATION:

For outstanding heroism and courage above and beyond the call of duty as Executive Officer of a Marine Fighting Squadron, at Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands. Engaging in almost daily combat with the enemy from October 9 to November 19, 1942, Captain Foss personally shot down twenty-three Japanese planes and damaged others so severely that their destruction was extremely probable. In addition, during this period, he successfully led a large number of escort missions, skillfully covering reconnaissance, bombing and photographic planes as well as surface craft. On January 15, 1943, he added three more enemy planes to his already brilliant successes for a record of aerial combat achievement unsurpassed in this war. Boldly searching out an approaching enemy force on January 25, Captain Foss led his eight F4F Marine planes and four Army P-38s into action and, undaunted by tremendously superior numbers, intercepted and struck with such force that four Japanese fighters were shot down and the bombers were turned back without releasing a single bomb. His remarkable flying skill, inspiring leadership and indomitable fighting spirit were distinctive factors in the defense of strategic American positions on Guadalcanal.

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Harry Potter, Gay Life and “Question Authority”

October 24, 2007

By Ben Shapiro
Townhall
October 24, 2007

I  am not a fan of the Harry Potter series. Nonetheless, I, like every other sentient human being, know something about Harry Potter. Most of my friends are fans. My three younger sisters are fans. I’ve seen the movies. I’ve read small portions of several of the books.So when J.K. Rowling announced last week that Albus Dumbledore, the aged headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, was gay, I was somewhat confused. When did the old dude with the funky beard turn into Gore Vidal?  

According to Rowling, Dumbledore was always Gore Vidal. At a Carnegie Hall reading, one of Rowling’s fans asked whether Dumbledore had ever found “true love.” “Dumbledore is gay,” Rowling gleefully responded. Dumbledore was apparently in love with his rival, Gellert Grindelwald, a dark wizard. “Falling in love can blind us to an extent,” Rowling explained. Dumbledore’s homosexual crush, Rowling stated, was his “great tragedy.” Rowling went on to label the Harry Potter books a “prolonged argument for tolerance” and told her fans to “question authority.”

Read the rest:
http://www.townhall.com/columnists/BenShapiro/
2007/10/24/dumbledore_waves_the_rainbow_flag

Related:
Another Reason to Avoid “Harry Potter” Books

Harry Potter: More Worthless Pop Culture

Kids reading fewer books despite Harry Potter hoopla

Priest Says Harry Potter Helps Devil, Evil

Our Nation: Based Upon God, Not Fiction

Congratulations to American College Students: You Win!

September 19, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
September 19, 2007

Yesterday, September 18, 2007, was Constitution Day in the United States. As far as we can tell, nobody noticed. Except maybe the Washington Times’ editorial page editor Joel Himelfarb who started his editorial this way: “It is an honor and privilege to live in the United States, the greatest country in the world.”

Why does Mr. Himelfarb believe that do you think?

Because the rights and freedoms of every American are protected by the Constitution; the document that is the foundation of all our laws, government and society.

I scoured the newspapers this morning looking for a story, at least one story, that showed some group or segment of our busy American people honoring Constitution Day. What I found instead was this: American college students, even at Harvard University, are among the most ignorant college student in the world on the subjects of history, world events, their own government and their own constitution.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) as part of the American Civic Literacy Program surveyed American college student and found this result: in four major subject areas (American history, government, world relations and the market economy).

Students surveyed from 50 colleges averaged a failing grade of 54.2 percent on the 60-question test, and even seniors at Harvard University, the highest scorers, achieved a meager 69 percent average, a D-plus on most grading scales.

Congratulations American college student; you have excelled beyond expectation in …. ignorance.

Here’s an example: American college students were asked to identify, in a multiple choice format, the source document of the following words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”  The students chose the Communist Manifesto.  The words come from the Declaration of Independence: one of the most important documents in the history of the United States.

Congratulations, students, you just gave the communist world credit for your most sacred legacy.

So, we submit, history might be of some importance.

Why should we care about history, civics and Constitution Day? Well, I do not pretend to know the answer, not being a college educator, but here are a few ideas.

On February 28, 2004, historian Daniel Boorstin died. On that same day, local high school students on the TV quiz show “It’s Academic,” failed to even make a guess at the answer to a simple question about the American Civil War and Fort Sumter.

Boorstin, lawyer, head of the library of Congress for 12 years, faculty member of the University of Chicago for 25 years, wrote more than 20 books. His famous trilogy on the American experience gave us deep lessons into who we are as Americans.Boorstin’s death, coupled simultaneously with speechless students confronted with the simplest historical question, leads one to wonder: “why do we study history?”

History, especially American history, teaches us the values, rights and responsibilities of our citizenship. History makes us a nation: a race of people and not just a collision of different peoples from many lands. You can be born French, but when you move in from another land you don’t necessarily become French. When you move to America and become a citizen, you are embraced as an American. People come here to share in the values and rights of all Americans. Understanding who gained those rights and how they achieved them is important because those rights bind us together as a people.

Our history is “Ich bin ein Berliner,” the Boston Tea Party, Ellis Island, Gettysburg, and “I have a dream.” Our history is the Emancipation Proclamation, Bill of Rights, and our Constitution.

Our history is our culture. Our focus upon “Ben and Jen,” Janet Jackson, “Lord of the Rings,” is fleeting, largely meaningless debris. The two biggest stories in American media on Constitution Day, 2007, as far as I could tell, were O. J. and Britney Spears.

The liberties gained by our history allow us a free Hollywood entertainment machine. But you can’t learn history from Michael Moore and Oliver Stone.

Our history separates us from the rest of the world and, at the same time, unites us to people everywhere who long to live free in a land with rights, courts that function and police governed by proven laws and legal precedents. Reading and learning our history teaches us to appreciate America’s place in the world.

Our history is the struggle of man, wars, sacrifices, torture, anguish and great joy and achievement. It is thrilling, heartbreaking and often amusing at the same time. The “why did that happen” and “what was gained” is often more important than the event alone.

Our history teaches us that men find some things worthy of their blood, their anguish, even their own death.Our history keeps our debates honest. Is Iraq really “Another Vietnam” as so many pundits have claimed? We cannot know (and they may get away with misrepresentations) unless we understand our history. So history makes us more informed as voters, which is very good, maybe even essential, for the health of our Democracy.

Our history teaches us toughness and serenity. Through history we learn the dichotomies of man and the strange bedfellows life brings. We learn that Great Britain, George Bush’s greatest ally in Iraq, is also the nation that burned the White House and the U.S. Capitol in 1814. And yet the Republic survived. So what really did the nation have to fear on September 11, 2001?

History makes us appreciate what it means to be an American.

Ken Burns, who made the Civil War video series, has just completed a new series on World War II.  Says Burns, “We are losing 1,000 veterans a day in the United States. We are losing among our fathers and our grandfathers a direct connection to an oral history of that unusually reticent generation. And that if we, the inheritors of the world they struggled so hard to create for us, didn’t hear them out, we’d be guilty of a historical amnesia too irresponsible to countenance. ”

He says the death of every veteran “is like a library burning down.  You lose all their stories.”

Our history makes us read. But don’t read your kids’ history textbooks. They are often politically correct collections of fact and misinterpretation not worth reading. Understanding history, like mining, requires one to dig deep into the writings of and about great men, at least occasionally.

FDR, George Washington, Lincoln and many, many more standout in our history. These men inspire us, encourage us and teach us (and our children).

And it is not just the well-known headliners who cause us to work harder and live better lives. Henry V. Plummer inspires me. A slave who escaped to enlist in the U.S. Navy, he served in many battles during the Civil War, then became a minister and served a congregation. When he read about the Buffalo Soldiers, he traveled west and became their chaplain. To find such men, you almost always have to read history.

Our American history is the thread that slowly becomes, over the years, a bond that ties us together as Americans. Our history encompasses our liberties, our values, our sense of nation.

Historian David McCullough said last year, “Something is eating away at the national memory, and a nation or a community or a people can suffer as much from the adverse effects of amnesia as can an individual.”

The state of our national understanding of history is suffering, thus causing a concomitant negative impact on our Democracy. Maybe it’s time to read some history and share the joys with our children.We study our history because it is a collection of inspiring life-lessons filled with great men who gave us the meaning of our Democracy.

Post script: My wife was born in Vietnam in 1955, less than a full year after the communists forced her family to move from the north to the south after the French were ejected from Vietnam. Until 1998, she lived her entire life in war, as a prisoner of the communists, as a refugee or as a detainee. She doesn’t feel sorry for herself but she sure appreciates the freedoms and goodness of America.

Our Nation: Based Upon God, Not Fiction

July 23, 2007

94 percent of the Founding Fathers’ quotes in 15,000 documents were based on the Bible.

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
July 23, 2007

Because of an essay of mine about the Harry Potter book series (link at the end of this essay), I have already received many emails asking, “What makes you think the Founders of our nation really believed in God? Many didn’t go to church.”

Well, here is some of what I do know, based upon years of reading history (and not fiction and fantasy like the Harry Potter books).

Prayer goes hand-in-hand with hope; and America was founded by men deeply governed by their hope and prayer and belief in God.

The Founding Fathers established the United States, wrote the Declaration of Independence; the Bill of Rights and the Constitution; and created a nation firmly rooted in the belief in God and freedom of religion protected by the separation of church and state.

Many of the Founders and their forefathers fled Europe to escape religious persecution.  They wanted this new nation to allow them freedom of religion and thus the very nation is rooted in a belief in God.

The Declaration of Independence starts this way: “When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the Earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. 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.”

After signing the Declaration of Independence, Samuel Adams, who was called “the firebrand of the American Revolution,” affirmed his obedience to God by stating, “We have this day restored the Sovereign to whom alone men ought to be obedient. From the rising to the setting of the sun, may His kingdom come.”

James Madison, the fourth president, made the following statement, “We have staked the whole of all our political institutions upon the capacity of mankind for self-government, upon the capacity of each and all of us to govern ourselves, to control ourselves, to sustain ourselves according to the Ten Commandments of God.”

Madison is often referred to as “The Father of Our Constitution.”
Page one of the original copy of the Constitution
Page one of the original copy of the Constitution

When historians at the University of Houston conducted a 10-year study of the ideas that shaped our republic, they found 94 percent of the Founding Fathers’ quotes in 15,000 documents were based on the Bible.

“God created all men equal,” one of the most fundamental and important acclamations of our government, became an underlying reason for the Civil War, a fundamental reason for the Emancipation Proclamation and a keynote of equality ever since.

Every president of the United States is sworn into office, by reciting an oath while he has one hand on the Bible. The oath ends, “So help me God.”

Every session of Congress since 1777 commenced with a prayer by a minister paid by the taxpayers. (Just today my wife and I attended Catholic Mass at the “Cathedral” adjacent to Catholic University in Washington D.C.  The celebrant was the Catholic Chaplain to the U.S. Congress.)

Every military service of the United States pays uniformed religious ministers for the officers and men in service. These ministers are from all faiths that recognize the importance of God in human life.  Nearly every base has a chapel.

The Ten Commandments are carved into the doors of the Supreme Court and appear prominently in the court’s chambers.Every piece of U.S. currency bears the words “In God We Trust.”

In America, you are even free to start your own religion. Nobody (except possibly the Internal Revenue Service) will interfere, so long as you don’t do anything outside the normal bounds of decent behavior.

So, as we all celebrate the blessings of American freedom, justice and government every day, perhaps we should reflect upon the roots and tenets of our democracy. We are not a Godless people. Or are we?

Yes, our democracy is evolving and we are open and accepting to that evolution. But let us not allow the evolution to turn into a careless revolution or even an unintended erosion of the principles by which we live and we are governed.I am one of those historians that thinks the Founders were pretty smart. Their belief in God, hope and prayer encourages me every day.

Sadly, some and maybe many in our society have moved away from a belief in God and toward beliefs in other things. Money? Drugs? Sex? Harry Potter? I don’t know what all.

I just think there is some merit in reviewing the work of our Founders. It’s time well spent. And certainly time better spent than reading Harry Potter.

The essay that prompted the one above is:
Harry Potter: More Worthless Pop Culture

Related:
Priest Says Harry Potter Helps Devil, Evil

“The great good news about America — The American gospel, if you will – is that religion shapes the life of the nation without strangling it. Belief in God is central to the country’s experience, yet for the broad center faith is a matter of choice, not coercion and the legacy of the Founding is that the center holds.”
–John Meacham, managing editor of Newsweek, is also the author of, American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers and the Making of a Nation.