All Men Are Created Equal
This is our eighth in a series of articles describing the Founders’ Philosophy based on W. Cleon Skousen’s monumental work The Five Thousand Year Leap. We stated earlier that the Founders wrote in the Declaration of Independence that some truths are self-evident, and one of these is the fact that all men are created equal.
Since no two humans are exactly alike, what were the Founders thinking? The Founders realized that men can only be equal in three ways; they can only be equal in the sight of God, in the sight of the law, and in the protection of their rights. The Founders believed that it was the task of society, as it is with God, to accept people in all their differences, but treat them as equals at all times.
Professor Skousen quotes scholar Clarence Carson in describing equality in the sight of the law, “First, there is equality before the law. This means that every man’s case is tried by the same law governing any particular case. Practically, it means that there are no different laws for different classes of men.” He went on to say, “A corollary of this is that no classes are created or recognized by law.” How different it was then. Can anyone honestly say that our laws, or worse yet, our Federal Regulations today do not treat people differently based on perceived classes? Finally, in describing protection of rights, Clarence Carson writes, “Each man is equally entitled to his life with every other man; each man has an equal title to God-given liberties along with every other.”
To the Founders the goal of society was to provide “equal justice,” which means protecting the rights of people equally. Their views were contrary to our laws today. To our Founders equal rights at the pulpit meant to enjoy freedom of religion; not to threaten churches through the IRS! It meant at the tax collectors office, to pay no more than their equitable tax; not progressively more taxes for the successful! It meant at the probate court, to pass on to their heirs the fruits of life’s labors; not confiscatory “death taxes” that tax estates which have been previously taxed! Professor Skousen gives many more egregious examples.
Space and time do not allow a discussion of Professor Skousen’s treatment of the inequality suffered by minorities in this country. He acknowledges that the Founders were able to establish a society of freedom and opportunity which attracted millions of immigrants. Most all immigrants became first-class citizens within two to three generations. He also acknowledged that newcomers to this, or any other nation, are not considered first-class citizens immediately because human nature does not allow it. He discusses in detail numerous examples of minority adjustment to include the Japanese, Chinese, and Black minorities culminating with the fact that “by 1970 a black high school student living in Alabama or Mississippi had a better opportunity to get a college education than a white student in England.”
Professor Skousen then discusses how violence has proven to be counter-productive in our nation. He discusses Eldridge Cleaver, a black Marxist trained to promote direct action by violence. Cleaver became Minister of Information for the Black Panthers. Cleaver described in his writings their philosophy of violence was to destroy the economic and social structure of America so that blacks could enjoy equal rights under an American Communist regime. Nineteen Black Panthers were killed in a shootout with police and Cleaver was wounded. He and his wife fled to Cuba.
After eight years as an exile, Cleaver was allowed to return to the United States. He and his wife were no longer Communists nor were they atheists. Cleaver was quoted as saying, “I would rather be in jail in America than ‘free’ anywhere else.”
America may not be perfect, but it certainly is great. After the Constitution was adopted, we adopted four amendments to make certain equality exists. The 13th Amendment provides universal freedom. The 14th Amendment provides universal rights to citizenship. The 15th and 19th Amendments provide universal voting rights regardless of race, color, or sex.
Our Founders knew that if government were used to force its citizens to appear equal in material circumstances, they would immediately become unequal. Alexander Hamilton said it best, “Inequality would exist as long as liberty existed … It would unavoidably result from that very liberty itself.” Please remember this when voting on November 2, 2010.
The next principle to be discussed is our Founders’ belief in equal rights, not equal things.
Please consult The Five Thousand Year Leap. These writings may also be viewed at the TCG web site, www.tcgteaparty.com.