January 31, 2013

Things I learned today

On the IRS building in New Carrollton, MD, etched into one of the pillars, is this quote from Civil Rights leader Barbara Jordan:

The Bill of Rights was not ordained by Nature or God. It’s very human, very fragile.

This is of course a straightforward perversion of the claims made for our founding — and is at heart a sad reminder that the tyranny of men is held off only by man, and even then, only by those men willing to fight for liberty.  And once the left is able to deconstruct the central tenet of our claims to individual sovereignty and liberty — the idea of natural law (which, while some may argue is a construct of the human mind, nonetheless operates on the ratified principle of a permanence that precedes man)  — it will have established its dominion over us once and for all time.

That such a perverse and, frankly, anti-American, sentiment — a declaration that the Bill of Rights was not a reflection of human recognition of the natural rights of individuals, but rather a gift of privileged men that at any moment can be taken away (else, where’s the fragility?) — adorns a government building, should concern us all.

And yet I suspect there are very many people in this country who would accept Jordan’s quote as a fundamental truth, or grant it deference because of the good works she did as an historic figure in the Civil Rights struggle.

Which is why, ultimately, we must by sheer force of tension splinter as a nation.

(h/t Lee)


Posted by Jeff G. @ 11:27am

Comments (13)

  1. Score one for Hamilton over Madison, I guess:

    I go further, and affirm that bills of rights, in the sense and in the extent in which they are contended for, are not only unnecessary in the proposed constitution, but would even be dangerous. They would contain various exceptions to powers which are not granted; and on this very account, would afford a colourable pretext to claim more than were granted. For why declare that things shall not be done which there is no power to do? Why for instance, should it be said, that the liberty of the press shall not be restrained, when no power is given by which restrictions may be imposed? I will not contend that such a provision would confer a regulating power; but it is evident that it would furnish, to men disposed to usurp, a plausible pretence for claiming that power. They might urge with a semblance of reason, that the constitution ought not to be charged with the absurdity of providing against the abuse of an authority, which was not given, and that the provision against restraining the liberty of the press afforded a clear implication, that a power to prescribe proper regulations concerning it, was intended to be vested in the national government. This may serve as a specimen of the numerous handles which would be given to the doctrine of constructive powers, by the indulgence of an injudicious zeal for bills of rights.

    (Bold emphasis added.)

  2. I have no doubt that lack of pretext has never obstructed a usurper in the past — and would not, had there been no Bill of Rights.

  3. Probably not, McGehee, but “we’re going to write it down, because when we say you can’t do something that you can’t do, we really mean it” hasn’t been the protection against encroachments and usurpations that Madison et. al. thought it would be –at least not since the Progressives started with their living, breathing bullshit.

    The Ninth and Tenth Amendments are in the Bill of Rights to address those very objections raised by Hamilton in Federalist 84, and they’ve been effectively bracketed out of the Constitution.

  4. <Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson>

    Then we’ll bracket them… back… in.

    </Ken Howard as Thomas Jefferson>

  5. Rights come from our Creator, that’ why they are unalienable. Ignorance of the truth does not change the truth. Resist we much.

  6. Barbara Jordan was one of Houston’s exports. She got a street named after her in the redevelopment of the old airport. She got a seat in the Texas Senate (whoopie!). She made it into Congress in 1972 and eventually almost ran with Jimmy Carter except he said no at the 1976 convention. Among her good works were pushing the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977(which blew up a mere 30 years later) , speaking out for the disabled (she was wheelchair bound later in life from Multiple Sclerosis and had leukemia problems before she died), and having a very strange voice. She was also an “open secret” quiet-activist gay leader who disagreed with the confrontational SF style She neither promoted nor denied her relationship with Nancy Earl. She’s mostly remembered in Austin these days.

    I’m not a fan of hers but ultimately she was a hell of a lot more classy than Sheila Jackson lee.

  7. I disagree with the statement (because I believe in natural law), but I could also read it as an observation that our liberties (while worth protecting) need protection.

  8. Of course, the Founders knew something else: the only rights you have are the ones you will kill for. We’re in the process of seeing where that leads when the killing isn’t done early enough.

  9. Rights come from our Creator, that’ why they are unalienable.

    But they’re actually not unalienable. Billions of us have lost or never known them. They belong to those who insist upon and protect them

  10. Rights are associated with the state of nature. The state of nature was a rather late entry onto the political philosophical stage and is primarily found in the work of Thomas Hobbes, and later, a little modified or moderated, in John Locke. It doesn’t seem to have arisen in Biblical teaching as such. The traces actually appear to point to Machiavelli, who was opposed to the rule of the church among men and sought means to overthrow that rule.

  11. But they’re actually not unalienable. Billions of us have lost or never known them.

    A right may be denied, but it remains a right. Every slave — complacent, hopeless, desperate, rebellious, or anywhere in between — has the right to be free, no matter how fiercely that right may be denied by his overseer.

    Rights may be enjoyed only by those who can defend them, but they belong to all. We may help a man achieve liberty, but the right to that liberty is not ours to give or take away; it is his alone.

  12. We may help a man achieve liberty, but the right to that liberty is not ours to give or take away; it is his alone.


  13. I’m sure I’m paraphrasing somebody way smarter and more eloquent than I.