A few commentaries about the Declaration of Independence - celebrated today, July 4th - excerpted from my much longer list just posted at my Vermont Commons "Secede & Survive" blog.
My News.Google search for “the right to alter or abolish” resulted in a couple of editorials of interest.
The Baltimore Chronicle, the Hawaii Reporter and doubtless other publications, printed an editorial by radical libertarian columnist Jacob Hornberger "The Real Meaning of the Fourth of July" which includes question:What happens if a government that people have established becomes a destroyer, rather than a protector, of their rights? The Declaration provides the answer: It is the right of the people to alter or even abolish their government and establish a new government whose purpose is the protection, not the destruction, of people's rights and freedoms.
In the American Spectator Lawrence Henry celebrates the recent “DC vs. Heller” Supreme Court decision. (Dick Heller was a past officer of the Libertarian Party of DC.) Henry emphasizes that issue, writing: Fourth of July weekend, here's as good a time as any to review what the American idea really means. And how far we have fallen away from that idea.
Conveniently, we find a news hook: The Supreme Court's recent 5-4 ruling affirming that the Second Amendment to the Constitution really does assure citizens the right to keep and bear firearms. Along with many another commentator, I find that close decision frightening. How can there be any doubt? How can there be any argument?
Our Founders said, explicitly, that when a people found their rulers had usurped the rightful reach of their powers, it was the people's right to "alter or abolish" that government. And no mistake, our Founders, being realists, knew that "alter or abolish" might mean "change the government by violent means, if necessary."And not to beat around the bush, conservative writer J.J. Jackson gets to the heart of it in his article “Alaska should just secede.” Quoting the Declaration, he writes: I think that it is high time some states start taking the issue seriously once again and using it as leverage against an out of control federal government that has expanded beyond the limited powers we agreed to give to it in our Constitution. While I would like to see all the states start pushing back against the gluttonous federal government and begin warning, that if it does not start acting as prescribed, they will leave the Union, one state in particular that should be seriously considering it, perhaps more than most others, is Alaska.
Al-Jazeera makes a telling comment in an article "Before July 4th, the U.S. must confront July 3rd." It reminds readers about the July 3, 1988 attack on an Iranian commercial airliner that killed 290 men, women and children. And writes about talk of a U.S. attack on Iranian nuclear facilities: As the U.S. readies itself to celebrate another Independence Day on July 4th, I cannot help but think how the U.S. Government has become enslaved to hatred, revenge, retaliation, belligerent policies, nuclear weapons, and of course, Middle Eastern oil.
If the U.S. confronts the July 3rd massacre before celebrating July 4th, it may then be a true celebration! U.S. citizens may also want to recall the patriots’ purpose in signing the Declaration of Independence was not a call to alter and abolish a foreign country, but to change and abolish their own Government, which had become destructive and repressive.
Of course, potential tyrants also can quote the Declaration, as does Iranian Maryam Rajavi, head of the Islamic Marxist cult best known as “MEK” which seeks to overthrow the current Iranian government. At a gathering of 70,000 Iranians in Paris she said: And I quote the Declaration of Independence, "Whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government." (MEK is considered a terrorist group by the State Department, but it is likely that it has received money for covert purposes, as approved by Congress last years and revealed recently in the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh.)
I can't help but comment on politicians who can’t talk about the Declaration of Independence without bringing in that great enemy of altering and abolishing government, Abraham Lincoln. More specifically Barack Obama in his recent speech on “Patriotism.” He starts with an interesting statement about American revolutionaries fighting the British on April 19, 1775. “They did so not on behalf of a particular tribe or lineage, but on behalf of a larger idea. The idea of liberty. The idea of God-given, inalienable rights.” (Something those itching to engage in violent revolutionary secession for the sake of THEIR tribe or lineage might keep in mind.)...(And I go on for a couple more paragraphs, recommending people debunk his assertions about Lincoln's beneficience by seeing a bunch of anti-Lincoln articles here.)
Ed Quillen updates the Declaration in the Denver Post. Noting that it “has this seditious-sounding stuff about how it ‘is the Right of the People to alter or abolish’ their government, he offers this version:
"When in the Course of human Events it becomes necessary for the Unitary Executive to dissolve the Political Restraints which have constrained him from assuming, among the Powers of Earth, his proper role as the Decider, a total Disrespect for the Opinions of Mankind means that no Explanation is required.
"Nonetheless, the Unitary Executive holds this Truth to be of divine Origin, that the Executive Branch of Government enjoys certain unalienable Rights, that among these Rights are Spying upon Citizens without a Warrant, the Rendition of Captives unto foreign Despotisms, the Invasion and Occupation of other Nations upon false Pretenses, and the Employment of Torture to gather Evidence to be used in secret Courts.
"And that to secure these Rights, the Unitary Executive has been instituted among Humankind, and if the Citizenry becomes destructive of these Ends, then it is the Right of the Unitary Executive to alter the Citizenry, and to institute an improved Citizenry, in such Form as shall seem most likely to effect the Safety and Happiness of the Unitary Executive.
Finally, Kirkpatrick Sale of the Middlebury Institute sends out an email wishing us all “Happy Secession Day.”
July 4 marks the day when the American colonies declared their secession from the British empire and their right to “institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles…as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”
And thus began the War of Secession—not a revolutionary war, for there was no intent to overthrow the British government—that led to the free Confederation of American colonies and ultimately the United States.
It is in that great tradition that the modern secessionist movement in America takes its inspiration, hoping to dissolve the imperial government of the present United States and institute new governments, at state or regional levels, that will positively effect their safety and happiness.