"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." Thus begins the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the seminal document that contains the moral foundation for our nation. In the 18th Century, the concept of the equality of man was rather novel, as privilege was the general rule, determined by class, birth, and other social divisions. But what did "equal" mean?
RICHMOND,VA (Catholic Online) - "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal..." Thus begins the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the seminal document that contains the moral foundation for our nation. In the 18th Century, the concept of the equality of man was rather novel, as privilege was the general rule, determined by class, birth, and other social divisions.
But what did "equal" mean? Obviously we do not all have equal talents, abilities, physical characteristics, or anything else. We are all different. This was as obvious to the signers of the Declaration as it is to us. What they meant was that we are all equal before the law. As the paragraph goes on to say, ".that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
In other nations, it was the government that enforced and reinforced the inequities in society. In America, however, the purpose of government was to be to "secure these rights...deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." In other words, it was going to be the government that protected the people's rights rather than usurping them. This was truly a revolutionary idea.
So how did this work out for America? On the whole, pretty well. The one glaring issue was slavery. Slavery was not unique to America. In fact, it was widely practiced, and had been since time immemorial. It was not a huge ethical or moral problem if you considered some people to be better than others and to be entitled to different treatment simply due to their situation in life. However, if you have just said that all people should be equal before the law, then you cannot logically or morally support slavery. So, although it took a long time and a lot of lives, we ultimately abandoned "our peculiar institution".
Although for the most part written law did not codify discrimination, there were some examples, such as the Three-Fifths Compromise of Article 1 of the Constitution, that reflected the inequalities that existed with regard to the slaves. For the most part, however, the actual injustices committed were the result of differences in application of the law rather than the law itself. The inequities that remained on the books, however, were purged from the legal system after the Civil Rights era of the '60's, and everyone was finally equal before the law. Or were they?
Affirmative action was first created on 6 March 1961 when President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order 10925 that required that government employers "not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, creed, color, or national origin" and "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin". Sounds innocuous, doesn't it? It simply said that government agencies must take affirmative action to ensure equality of opportunity.
Kennedy, however, was followed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, who signed Executive Order 11246 on 24 September 1965, replacing Kennedy's Executive Order 10925 which committed the Federal Government "to promote the full realization of equal employment opportunity through a positive, continuing program in each executive department and agency".
A "positive, continuing program" to do what? The devil was in the details of the order.
Instead of the order supporting non-discrimination in hiring, it required certain contractors to implement affirmative action plans to increase the participation of minorities and women in the workplace if a workforce analysis demonstrated their under-representation. The flawed logic was that somehow if 17% of the population is black, then 17% of every occupation should also be black, and that it was the job of the government to ensure that this was the case. In other words, it created discrimination rather than eliminating it. Non-protected individuals suddenly were no longer equal to those in the protected classes.
Liberal zealots, however, were not even content with that. The rule became that if there were two applicants with equal qualifications, then the non-white applicant would be favored. It wasn't long before "qualified" meant little more than applying. Tests and other qualifiers were struck down if they did not produce the desired results.
And it was not only race that was considered. It was race, color, religion, sex, and national origin, to which we now add "sexual orientation". So we now have a legally sanctioned open season on white, Christian, straight men when it comes to hiring.
President Reagan wanted to eliminate this discrimination by issuing an order that would prohibit employers from using "quotas, goals, or other numerical objectives, or any scheme, device, or technique that discriminates against, or grants any preference to, any person on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." He was blocked because he faced bi-partisan opposition in Congress that threatened to counteract it by enacting Executive Order 11246 into law by a veto-proof majority.
We have seen the true agenda underlying this exposed in nonsensical claims that groups determined by sex, such as fraternities, must admit women, who cannot by definition be part of a fraternity (which means "brotherhood"), and that formerly all-male or all-female schools must allow accept students of the opposite sex, despite there being abundant equivalent schools that would accept them. In the loony 21st Century, this has been carried to absurd extremes, such as unisex bathrooms that are now actually being forced upon people in some areas.
An extremely dangerous corollary of this thinking is a legal anomaly called a "hate crime". We all understand what is meant by a hate crime, such as Hitler's Holocaust or the Armenian genocide by the Turks, or what Muslims are doing to Christians in the Middle East. The concept of hate crimes legislation, however, says that these crimes should receive additional punishment because of the motivation behind them. This is illogical, because if I punch you in the face, the result is no more or less severe for you if I call you a name while I do it. If I place a bomb in a public place, it does not create more or less carnage whether I put it there because there were people of a particular ethnicity present. On top of that, there is obviously no way to know what I was thinking at the time, and whether what I said or thought actually motivated my action or simply accompanied it. It is patently absurd.
Nevertheless, that sort of legislation began to be enacted, predictably, in California in 1978. The first state hate-crime statute, California's Section 190.2, was passed in 1978 and provided for penalty enhancement in cases where murder was motivated by prejudice against four "protected status" categories: race, religion, color, and national origin. Since that time, the categories have expanded, as they have in the affirmative action plans. The most egregious law to date is the Matthew Shepard Act, passed on October 22, 2009, and signed into law by President Barack Obama on October 28, 2009 as a response to the murders of Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr., The measure expanded the 1969 United States federal hate-crime law to include crimes motivated by a victim's actual or perceived gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. To date, in addition to Federal law, forty-five states and the District of Columbia have statutes criminalizing various types of hate crimes
Nobody condones killing someone, or dragging him behind a car, because of his sexual orientation or race, as were alleged in the cases that resulted in the Shepard Act. The point is that the consequences were the same for the victims regardless of any conjectured thought process they may or may not have had. Statutory punishment is available for those crimes. As these hate crime statutes are applied, however, it appears to those who are not sufficiently trained in liberal thinking that the only class of people actually not protected by these laws, and thus the only people capable of committing the crimes, are healthy, Christian, white, native-born American heterosexual, men.
Is this a silly, reactionary view? Maybe not.
For the past several months, black teenagers have been "playing" a sick "knockout game" in states like New York and New Jersey and cities like Chicago and DC, where the perpetrator attempts to sucker punch an unsuspecting victim into unconsciousness. The victims have all been white, and the assailants black. This unconscionable and unwarranted violence has already resulted in the death of at least one victim and serious injury to many others.
The authorities have denied and attempted to ignore this violence, and to date only one "hate crime" charge has been brought at the state level in New York, and that was because the victim was Jewish. No Federal charges have been brought. Until now.
According to the Washington Times a 27-year old white man, Conrad Alvin Barrett was arrested on December 26th and charged with a Federal hate crime for targeting a 79-year old black man while playing the game. The victim received serious injuries to his face, and the crime was absolutely reprehensible. However, as the Times reported, the charge marks the first time the administration has taken action on a "knockout" case after the game became an Internet and media phenomenon. Why the delay? Is it because only now a perpetrator has been found who was not part of a favored group and thus capable of committing a hate crime? Is it because only now a victim has been found who qualified as one upon which a hate crime could be committed?
On August 28th, 1963, Martin Luther King Junior delivered a speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., where he said, I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal." That is the true destiny of this great nation. Dr. King said, I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
This dream can only be realized when we put an end to favoritism, preferences, and other forms of inequality. As Pope John Paul II said in Veritatis Splendor, n. 81, Consequently, circumstances or intentions can never transform an act, intrinsically evil by virtue of its object, into an act 'subjectively' good or defensible as a choice. You simply cannot do good by doing evil.
---------- Dr. Frederick Liewehr is an endodontist who teaches and works in private practice. He converted from Protestantism to Catholicism in 1983, having been drawn ineluctably to Christ's Church by the light of Truth. He is a member of St. Benedict parish in Richmond, a Fourth Degree Knight of Columbus and a Cooperator of Opus Dei.
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