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When it is wrong to actualize our rights

August 24, 2020

I thought this week would be focused on a nominating convention of the Republican Party.  But the Witherspoon Institute has published a legal document authored by Patrick Henry College founder, Michael Farris, and Elyssa Koren, representatives of a Protestant ministry calling itself the Alliance Defending Freedom.

As I scrolled through the document issued on Sunday, August 23, I discovered that “On July 8, 2019, Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo announced the formation of a Commission on Unalienable Rights.”

What?

The Commission, I discovered, issued a “Draft Report” on July 16 that is fruit of a process announced in the Federal Register on March 26. In other words, munchkins in a Human Rights lobby, enshrined in a Federal Commission, have been deliberating for six months on what can only be called a high-octane combustible intellectual substance.

After all, a war between England and American colonists was waged under the banner of unalienable rights and shortly thereafter every nation in Western Europe was brought to heel by Napoleon Bonaparte in the name of the French Revolution’s esprit revolutionaire.

The word “Unalienable Rights” is connected to “Revolution” and ought not be promoted by a U.S. Secretary of State in a Republican Administration.

A close reading of documents reveals a solid essay by Oklahoma University professor Wilfred McClay known to me because he is President-Elect of the very conservative Philadelphia Society.

I attended the first public meetings of the Philadelphia Society, served a term on the Society’s Board of Trustees and have spoken numerous times at Society meetings.

I do that because “PhillySoc” mirrors the history of the “Conservative Movement” in the United States and when decline or apostasy appears in what I prefer to call “the conservative community” that shows up in meetings of the Philadelphia Society.

Now that our freedom has been won and we as a nation are not directly threatened by foreign enemies, we have the luxury of attacking one another in the name of “unalienable rights,” “equality” and other words found in the first sentence of the Declaration of Independence.

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.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Political theorists are divided on the place of these words in any philosophy of political order and the conservative community has been divided by views that define us. That fight began many years ago when a Professor of English at the University of Dallas, Melvin E. Bradford, took a stand against the propagation of “equality” in an essay “’The Heresy of Equality,’” in Modern Age Spring 1977, and engaged in verbal warfare with Harry Jaffa. A summary of their dispute has been published.

To explain why this report interests me stems from my being present when those first shots were fired.  In my first teaching post, Mel Bradford was a professor of Politics at the University of Dallas. I gave Mel an opportunity to present his paper at the Vanderbilt Conference of Gnosticism and Modernity.  The papers of that conference were never published due to opposition of Ellis Sandoz, William Corrington and one other “co-organizer” of that event, so opposed were they to Bradford’s stand against equality.  More recently I took my own “shot” at Harry Jaffa.

 

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