President Barack Obama likes to claim credit (http://money NULL.cnn NULL.com/2010/09/20/news/economy/Obama_town_hall/?section=money_latest) for “turning the economy around” during the recent dubiously-named “Recovery Summer (http://online NULL.wsj NULL.com/article/SB10001424052748703720004575478023078274104 NULL.html).” And his radical spending and regulatory policies probably deserve the credit for the “un-recovered” state of our economy.
But in a speech before the Congressional Hispanic Caucus last week, Obama seemed to have trouble giving credit where credit was due. In trying to explain what “made us all Americans,” he said:
“Over the centuries, what eventually bound us together, what made us all Americans, . . . was faith and fidelity to the shared values that we all hold so dear. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, [pause] endowed with certain inalienable rights: life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness.‘ That’s what makes us unique. That’s what makes us strong.”
Click this picture below to view the relevant clip.
(http://www NULL.youtube NULL.com/watch?v=yR61uTGTFoM&feature=popular)
Obama is quoting, sort of, from the Declaration of Independence (http://www NULL.morallaw NULL.org/declaration NULL.htm), which provides in relevant part:
“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.”
In his version, Obama maintains the “created equal” verbiage, but balks when the text identifies that men are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” Why the omission? Certainly his speechwriter had the correct text at hand when inserting those historic words. Moreover, Obama’s lengthy pause before saying “endowed,” accompanied by repeated and rapid blinks, indicates he knew he was about to deviate from the standard line, either because the speech was written to omit “by their Creator” or because he decided right then to edit it out.
Obama may not consider us a Christian nation anymore, but the words of the Declaration of Independence are not subject to his—or his speechwriters’—revisionary editing. Just as “all men” did not evolve unequally, neither did they spring from the forces of nature with a package of endowed rights. No, we were endowed with those rights by the Creator that made us equal, and that’s precisely why all races deserve equal justice under the law.
Thomas Jefferson, the primary drafter of the Declaration, and all his co-signers certainly understood this “self-evident” truth. Jefferson made it very clear in 1781 that he knew from Whom our rights come (http://http://www NULL.monticello NULL.org/reports/quotes/memorial NULL.html):
“And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with his wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that his justice cannot sleep for ever. . . .”
The only firm basis for our liberties, according to Jefferson, was not that man qua man simply had rights. The French Revolution claimed that man had inherent human rights, but not that such rights were given by God. The American Revolution, on the other hand, was founded upon the Declaration (ahem) that God was the source of those rights. If mere men or governments gave us our rights, then they could “alienate” them from us just as easily. Not surprisingly, that is exactly what happened in the ill-founded and ill-fated French Republic.
The Founders understood the divine source of our rights, and based an entire anti-British revolution upon that truth, “with a firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence.” Every President since Washington has likewise acknowledged God and that our liberties derive from Him, as the Declaration states. (See our extensive compilation of Presidents and other American leaders acknowledging God here (http://www NULL.morallaw NULL.org/America_Acknowledges_God NULL.html).)
Mr. Obama, your version of the Declaration is not change we can believe in. We were not granted rights by evolutionary processes, nor by the benevolence and magnanimity of our dear leaders, but by the laws of nature and of nature’s God. As Jefferson wrote two years before the Declaration (http://press-pubs NULL.uchicago NULL.edu/founders/documents/v1ch14s10 NULL.html), “A free people [claim] their rights as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate.”
We like the way our country’s birth certificate reads, Mr. Obama. Leave the words alone. Better yet, read those words yourself and take to heart the principles of limited government under the people and God-given individual rights. That is what makes us all Americans.