OPINION – Our flags should have been at half-mast this weekend. Or it may have been more appropriate to have simply flown them upside down.
It wouldn’t have been in commemoration of some recently departed foreign dignitary. It should have been done in recognition of, and mourning for, our own Bill of Rights.
On December 15, 1791, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution were adopted. The anniversary of this day has been observed as Bill of Rights Day ever since. It is possibly the most neglected day of historical significance in America.
This neglect is reflected in widespread societal indifference and apathy regarding essential limits on federal power. It is also seen in the ongoing destruction of the unalienable rights these amendments were enacted to protect from government abuse.
Anthony Gregory, a writer for LewRockwell.com, said:
The Bill of Rights is, as best understood, an anti-government document. Its main purpose is not to call upon the government to provide rights; it is rather a list of restrictions on federal authority, spelling out some particular rights that the government shall not violate.
The historical debate surrounding the ratification of the Constitution was divided into two camps — the Federalists and the antifederalists. Among the greatest concerns of the antifederalists was the danger of the newly created federal government finding ways to grow beyond the limits of its powers.
They understood that the state is one of the greatest threats to liberty and that to protect liberty meant placing strict limits on state power.
The Federalists argued that this concern was unfounded since the powers of the three branches were clearly enumerated. Why would the Framers have bothered to spell out the specific powers if they were unlimited?
But the antifederalists insisted that the history of mankind demonstrated a tendency of human nature that where a little power was given, more would be taken. To this end, they supported a series of amendments that explicitly limited federal authority where inalienable rights were concerned.
There were 12 amendments proposed and 10 of them were adopted. Though far from perfect, the Bill of Rights provided a decent legal framework of how a free society could operate.
But the concerns of the antifederalists proved to be more on target than even they could have known.
The first violation of the Bill of Rights was George Washington’s use of federal troops against a sovereign state in the Whiskey Rebellion. John Adams was next with his attacks on free speech with the Alien and Sedition Acts. Other leaders tested the limits of federal authority, but it was Abraham Lincoln who showed just how deadly centralized power could be. This demolition process has continued unabated for many generations now and what’s left of the Bill of Rights is now routinely ignored.
Paul Rosenberg has done a masterful job of documenting how each and every amendment of the Bill of Rights has been trashed. His essay spells out in graphic detail the awful truth that most Americans simply do not want to know.
It’s still worth reading and pondering.
Rosenberg said that many of us not only refuse to consider what has become of our liberty, but also we actually pay folks to reassure us that everything is just fine. Anyone who points out the ongoing destruction of the Bill of Rights is presumed to be crazy, stupid, or a loser.
Rosenberg said that the American public falls into one of two camps on this issue:
- Those who know that everything teeters on the edge but who aren’t emotionally prepared to face it. They hope it will all go away and grasp for reasons to believe.
- Those who trust their own minds and raise an alarm. (And who suffer in varying degrees for the crimes of seeing and caring.)
It is this latter group that must continue to boldly speak out in defense of the Bill of Rights. We should follow the example of Alexander Solzhenitsyn who said: “The yes-man is your enemy, but your friend will argue with you ‘… I am the friend … I have come to tell you ….’”
Should the day come when people wonder whatever became of human liberty, no one should be able to plead ignorance.
The only way the Bill of Rights can ever be restored from its current ruined state is when the principles it protects are widely understood and prized.
This means that they must first be inscribed in our hearts and minds.
Bill of Rights Day deserves to be more than the forgotten anniversary of a dead letter.
Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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