Sunday, July 06, 2014
The Forgotten Flag of the American Revolution and What It Means
It's a continual amazement to me what people claim to find in the Declaration of Independence. I have read it many times now and most of its alleged contents are simply not there. Daniel Hannan below for instance nominates "Magna Carta, jury trials, free contract, property rights, habeas corpus, parliamentary representation, liberty of conscience, and the common law" as things that are demanded there. But of that list I can find jury trials only. Most of the Declaration comprises complaints about the King stopping the American grandees from making more and more laws to regulate their countrymen. It was the King who was the libertarian, not the revolutionaries.
The proponents of revolutions are as far as I can tell always Leftists -- Leftists who have fine talk about the justice of their cause but who basically are just grabbing power for their own clique. And I cannot see that the American revolutionaries were any different. They even headline their Declaration with that classic but absurd Leftist slogan: "all men are created equal".
The Leftism that the Declaration embodied is of course much more limited than the Leftism we know today but it was a definite Leftist episode in history nonetheless
We all know the story of American independence, don’t we? A rugged frontier people became increasingly tired of being ruled by a distant elite. A group calling themselves Patriots were especially unhappy about being taxed by a parliament in which they were unrepresented. When, in 1775, British Redcoats tried to repress them, a famous Patriot called Paul Revere rode through the night across eastern Massachusetts, crying “The British are coming!” The shots that were fired the next day began a war for independence which culminated the following year in the statehouse in Philadelphia, when George Washington and others, meeting under Betsy Ross’s gorgeous flag, signed the Declaration of Independence.
It’s a stirring story, but it’s false in every aspect. Neither Paul Revere nor anyone else could have shouted “The British are coming!” in 1775: The entire population of Massachusetts was British. (What the plucky Boston silversmith actually yelled was “The regulars are out!”) The overall level of taxation in the colonies in 1775 was barely a fiftieth of what it was in Great Britain, and the levies to which Americans had objected had been repealed before the fighting began. The Boston Tea Party, which sparked the violence, was brought about by a *lowering* of the duty on tea. George Washington wasn’t there when the Declaration of Independence was signed. The flag that the Patriots marched under was not, except on very rare occasions, the stars-and-stripes (which probably wasn’t sewn by Betsy Ross) but the Grand Union flag.
Known also as the Congress Flag and the Continental Colors, the Grand Union Flag had the 13 red and white stripes as they are today, but in the top left-hand quarter, instead of stars, it showed Britain’s flag, made up of the St. George’s Cross for England and the St. Andrew’s Cross for Scotland. It was the banner that the Continental Congress met under, the banner that flew over their chamber when they approved the Declaration of Independence. It was the banner that George Washington fought beneath, that John Paul Jones hoisted on the first ship of the United States Navy. That it has been almost excised from America’s collective memory tells us a great deal about how the story of the Revolution was afterward edited.
The men who raised that standard believed that they were fighting for their freedoms as Britons — freedoms that had been trampled by a Hanoverian king and his hirelings. When they called themselves Patriots — a word that had been common currency among Whigs on both sides of the Atlantic long before anyone dreamed of a separation — they meant that they were British patriots, cherishing the peculiar liberties that had come down to them since Magna Carta: jury trials, free contract, property rights, habeas corpus, parliamentary representation, liberty of conscience, and the common law.
Declaration of DEPENDENCE is the rule today
How many of us still "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."?
It's the essential question. After all, 53% of Americans voted for a president in 2008 who doesn't seem to hold these truths. In several speeches after he was inaugurated, he left out the three essential words "by our Creator" when quoting from the Declaration of Independence.
One was in a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus during which he paused and fluttered his eyelids, as if he were suffering an involuntary tic lasting a second or two - and then proceeded to leave out those critical three words. It didn't seem like an accidental oversight to me. It seemed deliberate.
The words are revolutionary. All the signers at the bottom of the Declaration of Independence agreed with them and placed their lives and property in danger when they signed because if they lost the ensuing revolution, they would be hanged and their property confiscated. They knew that. They believed in a Creator with a capital C. They believed in liberty. They were willing to die for those beliefs. How many of us are willing to die for them now? My guess is not so many.
The principle upon which our country was founded is that our rights come from God, but it looks like Americans today don't believe that. They tend to believe instead that our rights come from government, and an increasing number don't believe there is any such thing as a God. Most sit back as secularists chip away at religious freedoms in schools, in the military, and virtually every public place whether local, state, or federal. Provisions of Obamacare now require churches to pay for abortion-inducing drugs, which those churches consider murderous.
This has sparked a major backlash among Catholics - the largest Christian denomination in America. Catholics initiated their "Fortnight For Freedom" campaign last week in which they declare their unwillingness to obey this Obama's mandate.
Secularists think they can create a perfect society without God because people are inherently good. They think government is the vehicle for their utopian creation. Believers, however, hold that all men are sinners, and don't see any possibility of utopia this side of heaven. They see government as a necessary evil which, if allowed to get too powerful, can create hell on earth.
Then there's the Declaration's right to liberty, which the World English Dictionary defines as: "the power of choosing, thinking, and acting for oneself; freedom from control or restriction." What follows, of course, is taking responsibility for those choices. Liberty also carries the right to fail in our "pursuit of happiness." The Declaration doesn't guarantee it - only its pursuit.
Conservative Americans believe liberty is the most important right. Leftists believe equality is more important. If some Americans succeed in pursuing happiness - or property, as it was originally written - leftists like President Obama believe government should confiscate it and distribute it to Americans who didn't pursue it, or if they did, were unsuccessful in their efforts to obtain it.
Leftists do this not to only make them happy, but to persuade them to vote for leftist candidates who will pursue more redistribution. This is what America is becoming. Leftist redistribution schemes stifle our fabled American initiative and inventiveness, and consequently stifle our economy too. We're losing our liberty - our freedom from government control and restriction. That is what's bringing Europe down, and it will bring us down too if we allow it to continue. We're seeing lately that Americans don't want liberty so much as they want government to take care of them. That's the trend.
America used to attract people from all around the world who wanted to experience liberty - to build a life for themselves without government control. People who came here did that. Now, more than thirty percent of immigrants go right on welfare - twice the rate for native-born Americans - and many of them are illegal aliens as well. To win a second term, President Obama appealed to people who see government as protecting their sexual liberties - and then making them dependent on government programs in every other aspect of their lives from cradle to grave. Those who put an X next to his name last November 6th were endorsing a "Declaration of Dependence," and spurning independence.
On the Fourth of July, we should ask ourselves: Are we still a liberty-loving people, or have we become afraid of it?
The erosion of American sovereignty
Is the sovereignty that the founders achieved being thrown away?
Territorially, Americans need only look to the south for a reminder of how lax border enforcement can lead to chaos as more than 50,000 children have streamed over the U.S.-Mexico border in recent months. It is difficult to call a nation sovereign if it is unable to control its own borders. Why is it that an additional $2 billion and a “sustained border security surge” is necessary to prevent tens of thousands of illegal immigrants from entering our nation? Such negligence indicates, at best, a serious lack of commitment to our territorial integrity.
And what about our legal sovereignty? The Obama administration has urged Congress to ratify treaties that would make the drafters of the Declaration blanch. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea would subject the U.S. to baseless international lawsuits and require the U.S. Treasury to transfer millions of dollars in offshore oil royalties to the International Seabed Authority in Jamaica for “redistribution” to the so-called developing world.
The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities would subject U.S. disability laws to the scrutiny of a committee of supposed experts holding court in Geneva. The administration also is preparing to sign the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty, which would require the U.S. to ban its anti-personnel landmines, depriving U.S. armed forces of a key tool for shaping the battlefield. Again, ask Ukraine, which ratified the Ottawa Treaty in 2005, how its zero-tolerance landmine policy is working for it as Russian tanks roll into its territory.
In the Declaration, the Founders complained about being subject to foreign taxation, to being subjected to “a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution,” and to being transported across the seas to face criminal charges in a foreign land. The Declaration gave notice that these infringements on American sovereignty would not stand. Yet the Obama administration would have Americans subjected to taxes from the International Seabed Authority and U.S. laws and policies adjudicated by international committees sitting in Switzerland. Some American progressives would even have our military leaders and servicemen tried by the International Criminal Court for war crimes in The Hague, Netherlands.
Today, as in 1776, such infringements on American sovereignty must not stand. The drafters of the Declaration would be shocked to find Americans submitting themselves to the will of international organizations. The United States should, of course, work with other nations in a principled way that advances its national interests. But the Founders would be amazed by the extent and depth of the threats to American sovereignty posed by this new progressive vision.
The Founders did not risk their lives, fortunes and sacred honor casting off the rule of King George III so that, more than 200 years later, America could subject itself to the whims of unelected foreign bureaucrats. Sovereignty was essential to the founding of America in 1776, and it is essential to America today. Happy Sovereignty Day!
Is the United States Still the Land of the Free?
A Gallup poll finds a growing number of people questioning whether our country remains the land of the free.
According to Gallup, the percentage of Americans who are dissatisfied with the freedom to do what they choose with their lives has more than doubled since 2006, from 9 percent to 21 percent.
In 2006, the United States ranked #1 in the world in satisfaction with our level of freedom. Now we rank just 36th.
Gallup reports: “The decline in perceived freedom among Americans could be attributed to the U.S. economy…. Another possible explanation for the decline in freedom is how Americans feel about their government.”
Americans’ perceptions accurately reflect the decline in economic freedom in the United States as measured by the Index of Economic Freedom, published jointly by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal.
Over the 20-year history of the Index, the U.S.’s economic freedom has fluctuated significantly. During the first 10 years, our score rose gradually, and we joined the ranks of the economically “free” in 2006. Since then, we have suffered a dramatic decline of almost 6 points, with particularly large losses in property rights, freedom from corruption, and control of government spending.
The United States is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years.
Ronald Reagan once remarked: “I think it’s time we ask ourselves if we still know the freedoms that were intended for us by the Founding Fathers.” For a large and growing number of Americans, the answer, unfortunately, is “no.”
Our Independence Is Not Yet Won
Independence Day honors the brave sacrifice that 56 patriots made when they gathered in Philadelphia to affix their names to the most treasonous document of the time: the Declaration of Independence.
However, our independence is not yet won. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, our independence was not gained on July 4, 1776, nor was it finalized when the British surrendered at Yorktown in 1781. Our fight for independence is ongoing.
We continue to fight this battle for independence every day, not against the British crown, but against the very part of man’s nature that compels individuals to pursue power.
Every day we continue to fight the battle against tyranny that started exactly 238 years ago. We continue to fight against those politicians who seek to overturn our founding documents and revert this nation to a system of rulers and subjects. And under this President, we have slipped backwards in our fight.
This is an inherent part of the human condition. For as long as men congregate, there will always be people who seek to put themselves at the top.
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Posted by JR at 12:38 AM