Fourth of July without Freedom

By Kenneth Brooks


ken_bwHypocrisy about the principles of human equality and freedom is a trait of American society. In a few days, Americans will celebrate the July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence from Britain. It set out self-evident truths of human equality and creator endowment of certain human rights including life and liberty. However, American society celebrates a model of republican government of free people it never achieved. It cannot achieve this model while denying an opposite history of inequality and oppression.

The Articles of Confederation (1777) set out the perpetual union of States and founded the United States of America. U.S. Constitution (1787) supposedly converted the United States of America to a constitutional republic. It did not achieve this goal. Each individual is autonomous in a republic, but the U.S. Constitution approved government authority to enslave. Despite this history, Americans celebrate Fourth of July as if America’s founders faultlessly installed the government modeled in the Declaration or that society eventually achieved them.

Americans have a bias for rationalizing or arbitrarily dismissing history they dislike. Apologists assert “They were men of their time” in defense of the founders’ immoral conduct of enslaving kidnapped Africans to satisfy goals of greed. What does the excuse “men of their time” mean? It cannot mean they did not understand the principles of human equality, because they claimed them in the Declaration of Independence.

Perhaps “men of their time” means they embraced the race, gender, and class bigotry of the time believing property-owning “white” males were intellectually superior to all others. If so, this bigotry does not absolve them of deliberately violating accepted principles of right and wrong. They affirmed in the Declaration of Independence unalienable rights of humans endowed by a creator. Unalienable rights are rights incapable of being repudiated or transferred to another. The Declaration’s self-evident truths did not include the qualification of exceptional humans with authority to deny human equality and human rights of other people. Otherwise, it would assert self-evident contradictions and not self-evident truths.

Most Americans praise the American model of cultural diversity, respect for difference, as society achieving the Declaration’s model of human equality. History refutes this conclusion made from inverted morality and logic. America used the same skin-color standard of deciding human difference and human worth to justify enslavement, racial segregation, and cultural diversity. In other words, American society’s idea of cultural diversity is respect for the presumptions of human difference decided by racism with racial stereotypes as culture.

The Declaration refers to the human equality and rights of individuals. It does no mention racial or ethnic groups. Individual autonomy and control over self-image are essentials of a union of free people with shared interests. However, individuals sacrifice autonomy by adopting a racial or ethnic-group image because stereotyping necessarily subordinates individual identity to group identity.

America’s founders created a role for government authority over human rights in a Constitution that supported enslavement. Americans increase the domain of government authority over human rights each time one group uses it successfully to deny another group’s human equality and endowed human rights. This is true if the grouping is by race, gender, class, or other classification. Ironically, oppressed groups use of government authority to restore human rights often increases government authority over human rights too.

Americans must refuse government authority over human rights if they want to create United States of America as a Republic of free autonomous individuals. Government authority should extend only to protecting the human rights (rights to life, liberty, property, etc…) of one person from another person’s abuses, but it should never have authority to decide entitlement of rights on an individual or group basis. Americans have the choice of bigotry or freedom.

'Fourth of July without Freedom' have 6 comments

  1. July 6, 2014 @ 1:41 pm Salty Dog

    So, Kenneth, you do have a problem with, for example, affirmative action or equal pay then, do you?

    Because, you see, I do believe there is a limited role for government in ensuring forms of equity in certain identified circumstances where an individual is denied his/her “rights” due to overt racial or sexual discrimination.

    Does it always have to be an either/or situation? I get it…oil doesn’t mix with water, and stealing a lump of sugar and leaving the jewels is still stealing, there is no compromise between life and death…you either are one or the other….and the Constitution is about guaranteeing human Rights alone….not entitlements.


    • July 6, 2014 @ 2:23 pm wharf rat

      Salt you to an extent contradict yourself for those with rights can enjoy entitlements while those denied enjoy little (see Corporate America)


      • July 6, 2014 @ 2:44 pm Salty Dog

        Yes, I do purposefully, WR.

        Fact is, I have difficulty in reading where Kenneth is coming from, critically speaking.

        For me, human rights are absolutes, not to be “given” or “taken” by government authority. I believe the US Constitution says as much.

        And yet, it is a fact that social policy, social norms set up situations of inequity that can be either addressed or ignored. Surely there is a role for limited action to address such inequity. Or, is it a slippery slope to too much government action which has unintended consequences for absolute “rights”.

        I don’t know the answer, but I suspect it is somewhere in the realm of exceptions made when there is a strong rationale.

        Fact is, I often have difficulty understanding Kenneth’s circuitous writing in the guise of critical thinking. I feel like shouting, what is your point, Kenneth. Please, what is your point!


        • July 13, 2014 @ 8:26 am Brandon

          I agree..what was the point again. A lot of lofty words, complicated histories, sophisticated concepts, but I don’t think it comes together in one coherent point…waste of time.


        • July 13, 2014 @ 9:56 am Bong Hit

          I like and agree with the thread of libertarian thought that Kenneth weaves through his argument but I recognize a consistent mistake that black Americans make when talking about the formation of this country.

          For many of us fortunate enough to have received a world class university education, we take the hypocrisy of the founders lofty words about free men juxtaposed against their slave ownership as a significant problem. The founders recognized this as well; they wrote extensively about it. Men like John Adams were not shy in pointing out the hypocrisy in fierce rhetorical battles that make today’s blog posts read like milk toast chit-chat.

          What people like Kenneth Brooks fail to appreciate or understand is the system of laws created by the bill of rights and the Constitution provide the frame work to free all people who are citizens of this country. The feat of abolishing slavery, restoring fundamental rights to all people, recognizing women as equal participants in civic life is an achievement unequaled in all of human history. These titanic shifts took place in the span of 200 years or so. That is the great achievement of America.

          Looking around the world today, the accomplishments of the European white males that founded this country stand alone in fairness and charity.


  2. July 6, 2014 @ 4:45 pm wharf rat

    @ Salt were it a perfect world people would not have to fight for their rights , then there are perceptions based on education and experience or lack thereof ……..


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