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By Robert J. Gieb
Freedom and dignity for all men. The idea inspired the founding fathers in the creation of a new government. "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." The application of the idea moved slowly in the ante bellum years following the revolution. Then that idea, that grand truth of equality and the unalienable right to life and liberty for all human beings, lurched forward amidst the pain and agony of the Civil War. This nation may have been formed in a revolutionary war waged to fulfill its citizens' declaration of their right to self-government, but the very heart and spirit of these United States of America came to life in the war between the states, in that bloody and painful conflict to bring equality and liberty to all in this great republic.
The subsequent collapse and failure of federal reconstruction efforts in the south, and the ensuing years of segregation and racial injustice that included in too many times and places terror and death, slowed but never stopped the progress toward freedom. Pushed on by the passage of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, the idea of full human dignity for all Americans moved closer to legal reality.
After World War II the drive for freedom and liberty for all began to pick up momentum. The civil rights movement, then led by Martin Luther King, marched doggedly through the streets of the Deep South. The content of one's character, and not the color of his skin should be the measurement, said Dr. King. Every human being has inherent human dignity, and the right to be treated as a human person. Not unimportantly, the federal courts were finally sympathetic to Dr. King's message.
One hundred years after the Civil War, the Supreme Court was in a new frame of mind about race. In sharp contrast to Scott v. Sandford in 1857 and Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, the Supreme Court in post war America, beginning with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, was ready to begin to make the founders' talk of equality and freedom a practical reality for black as well as white. By the late 1960s the Court's project was running along at a full gallop.
During this time the politics of civil rights changed. While historically the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln and emancipation, and the Democratic Party that of slavery and racial injustice, as the 20th century unfolded the latter became the party of civil rights. The old tradition of civil rights advocacy seemed to have faded in the Grand Old Party. In contrast, the civil rights wing of the Democratic Party, made up of the racially oppressed, but also of white liberals and assorted left wing groups with agendas of deconstruction, became ascendant. By the 1960s the segregationist wing of the party was being crushed by liberal federal courts, its own party leadership, and, not least, by public opinion informed and inflamed by a sympathetic media who had the weapon of television.
The great freedom train that had pulled out of the station so many years before, and which had been slowed to a crawl so many times, was now rolling down the tracks toward equality for all. "Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal," Abraham Lincoln had said on that November day in1863 at Gettysburg. By nine score and eight years after 1776 the idea of liberty for all was finally a reality, even if a very imperfect reality.
Then in 2008 the crowning glory came to the old civil rights movement. The freedom train finally pulled into the station. Barrack Obama, a black man, was elected the 44th president of the United States. This man, a member of a race that until the Civil War was considered by law to be not fully human, was, eleven score and twelve years from the founding, elected to the highest elected office in the land.
In a message to Congress on December 1, 1862 Lincoln told the assembled legislators: "In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free -- honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth." Certainly, on matters of race the election of Obama in 2008 is proof that Americans did indeed "assure freedom to the slave," and thus did "assure freedom to the free." But even so, have we nobly saved or meanly lost the battle for human dignity and the struggle for legal protection for all human beings? Sadly the battle is still on, and there is a reason for this.
As the old segregationist strongholds and legal impediments fell to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and a continuing procession of decisions from the Supreme Court and lower federal courts striking down the remaining vestiges of segregation and legal racism, the high drama of marches and confrontations, and of sweeping social and legal changes, began to wane. The murder of Martin Luther King in April of 1968 left the civil rights movement without strong leadership.
But at that same time there was new talk of equality and civil rights: gender equality. The freedom train took on a pink tint as the civil rights movement enthusiastically embraced the feminist movement, and the radical individualism that underpinned it. The hard political left, both black and white, was in charge of this union, and still is now. On the race side, the old familiar goal of racial equality was replaced by the whiney cries of victimization, and the extortive demands for preferential treatment. The immediate goal on the feminist side was the Equal Rights Amendment to the federal constitution. But the real prize on which their eyes were firmly affixed was abortion. That pink tint would soon enough turn to a bloody red.
Unlike its history on matters of race where it had surely not moved "with all due and deliberate speed," on gender and sex the Supreme Court was already in action when the feminist movement began to hit its full stride in the 1970s. With its 1965 decision in Griswold v. Connecticut, declaring that state's prohibition of the sale of contraceptives to be an unconstitutional violation of individual privacy, the court had laid the legal groundwork, and was primed to address the issue of abortion. It wasted no time in declaring to America that a majority of the high court had seen a Constitutional vision. In January of 1973 seven justices (the first black justice being one of the seven) solemnly pronounced in Roe v. Wade that they now detected from the gaseous vapors of the Constitution the absolute right of any mother to kill her child so long as the killing was done while at least an infinitesimal portion of the child's tiny body remained within the body of the mother. In the newspeak of our age, civil rights became the civil right to murder the innocent.
The traditional civil rights movement in America, transformed by radical feminism and infected by radical individualism, has now come full circle. What began as an honorable movement to bring liberty and legal recognition of human personhood to all human beings in this nation, and which achieved so much over so many years, has now ended in the denial of the very truth for which the battle was fought in the first place. What began as a noble cause has ended in the horror of now 50,000,000 innocent babies being cut and torn to pieces, burned to death with chemicals, and murdered by stabbing their tiny skulls and sucking out their brains. There are 4,000 unborn children murdered each day in abortion mills in the United States, and 1000 of those are black babies. One out of every three black children conceived in this county is killed in abortion.
It must be one of the great ironies of all history. From black slavery to black presidency, but with a black president who denies that all of his citizens are human and entitled to legal protection of their human personhood. The man who is the crowning glory of the civil rights movement does not believe in civil rights for all human beings.
In 1855 Lincoln wrote to Kentucky lawyer George Robertson complaining that those who were "pro choice" on slavery had, in their greed for power and money, come to the point where they now denied the fundamental truth of American democracy:
On the question of liberty, as a principle, we are not what we have been. When we were the political slaves of King George, and wanted to be free, we called the maxim that "all men are created equal" a self evident truth; but now when we have grown fat, and have lost all dread of being slaves ourselves, we have become so greedy to be masters that we call the same maxim "a self evident lie."
So, in spite of the years of struggle for civil rights for all human beings, our government leaders and our laws have come full circle back to ante bellum notions of inequality. If the pro slavery forces of 1855, in their greed for power and money, twisted the idea of equality and human dignity for personal benefit and gain, President Obama and his fellow pro abortionists do no less today. The "slave" has risen to power not to free all people, but to be a "slaveholder" himself, who denies the greatest truth of our national covenant.
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