WASHINGTON – Our Declaration of Independence, 240 years old today, makes liberal use of the Almighty’s name to justify rebellion against Great Britain.
Incantations such as “endowed by their Creator” and “God’s” natural law and “appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world” are sprinkled through this beautiful document to inspire the 13 colonies to face certain bloody battle with that day’s only superpower.
Something, obviously, was left out of the declaration, and left out of the Constitution ratified in 1788, and the Bill of Rights, adopted in 1789. That, of course, is that at the very hour we were preaching God’s “natural law,” we were already the world’s largest, best-organized and most brutal exploiter of African black slaves.
The argument here is that the gunfire daily raking the streets of Chicago, Washington, Baltimore and Buffalo, driven in part by a heroin epidemic, is the direct descendant of the racial deceit shamelessly enshrined in our founding documents.
Racism is part of our DNA, President Obama accurately said, after the shooting deaths of nine black church members in South Carolina a year ago.
Rush Limbaugh proved it last week by urging listeners to read the declaration aloud today – without discussing slavery.
At the time of the declaration, all of the colonies held slaves. Of the Northern seven, New York had the most – about 21,000, using estimates of a team at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The share of slaves to the total population in the six Southern states was over 38 percent.
By the time the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were approved, the slave population of the South had swelled to 654,000, still more than a third of the region’s population. By 1800, the slave population of the South was 852,000, then 1,104,000 in 1810 and 1,510,00 by 1820. It had more than doubled since our Founders made their “appeal to the Supreme Judge of the world.”
The reason was that the framers, all of whom were slaveholders or Northern oligarchs, not only defended slavery but actually wove it into the Constitution.
Our fundamental charter made it legal at least through 1808. The clause is a masterpiece of indirection: “The migration or importation of such persons as any of the states now existing shall think proper to admit shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed on such importation, not exceeding 10 dollars for each person.”
The Constitution also stipulated this license to import and enslave could not be repealed in any way, even by the process of amendment. A good reason for African-American interest in this holiday is hard to find. Our independence from Britain got the slaves nothing.
Britain abolished slavery in the 1830s. President Abraham Lincoln issued a partial emancipation in 1863, and the Constitution abolished it by amendment in 1868. But Jim Crow denied blacks real political freedom until the civil rights laws of 1965.
Own up to it: This is a holiday for white people.
Defining deviancy down. Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s agreeing to privately meet with former President Bill Clinton in a parked airplane, guarded by the FBI, on the tarmac in Phoenix, Ariz., is appalling. His wife, Hillary, is the subject of a stalled FBI probe. The former president may be a person of interest because of his role as an executive of the Clinton charities.
Lynch’s statement that she will – “in all likelihood” – let the FBI decide the case is not good enough now. The situation demands a court-appointed independent counsel.