Perspectives: In remembrance of the Bill of Rights

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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10 Comments

  • Dishearted December 16, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I don’t know, Bryan. I sincerely hope I am wrong here, but it is my opinion that we have traveled so far down the road to destruction, that there is no turning back! I honestly fear for my children and grandchildren. I see two (so-called) “political parties,” who have absolutely no interest in the future of this country. They are loyal only to their own wants and desires. God Help Us All!

    • Dishearted December 16, 2013 at 11:07 am

      Shoot, I can’t even get my screen name right. That is supposed to read Disheartened. . .

  • Steve MacFarlane December 16, 2013 at 12:06 pm

    I agree with you Bryan. The only way we are going to begin to reverse our course is to focus on our children. Our schools are the source of this decay. Pull your children out of these brain washing factories and teach them at home or in an alternative school.

    Ronald Reagan said it best “Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free”

  • zacii December 16, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Excellent article!

    Unfortunately, I fear that our nation must suffer some severe travail before honor and freedom can be restored.

  • Roy J December 16, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Taking my queue from the swanswong of Anthony Gregory which your article links to, I would like to list a couple of things that would be equally reasonable and certain if our country had not adopted the course of a strong federal government:
    -It would be much smaller. The Louisiana Purchase, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the purchase of Alaska and the Spanish American War would probably either never have happened, or have gone very, very differently. The United States would probably look something very much like New England surrounded by the powerful and vast nation-states of Mexico, France Nouveau, and the Independent Republic of Texas.
    -It would resemble, not the heaven on earth Anthony Gregory describes, but the paradise of fools that is the European Union. Think about it, where else on earth or in history do you have an example the ideals of secular humanism running a confederation of free nation-states for the sake of personal profit? Try to imagine what Rhode Island would look like after New York profiteers slapped it with austerity measures.
    The nolli me tangere of , I don’t even know what to call this, the Neo-Positivists, or the Anarcho-Libertarian Movement, will always end badly.

    • Bryan Hyde December 16, 2013 at 8:19 pm

      Don’t over-think this, Roy. There’s nothing to celebrate about living in the biggest prison in the world. I’d settle for keeping government off our backs and keeping the government closer to the people.

  • Aaron December 17, 2013 at 8:51 am

    Attacks like what we see on the the bill of rights are nothing new. Magna Carta was violated by the king and largely ignored by the uneducated people as soon as it was signed. The ink was still wet on the constitution when the tyrants began thinking of ways to abolish the right to trial by jury and separation of powers. Until the people shut off the video games and the tv and educate ourselves, we will continue to gobble up the smorgasbord of lies fed to us by the big three, big government, big press and big business. The battle is not liberal v conservative, it is the people against the big three. Understand who the enemy really is.

  • Roy J December 17, 2013 at 12:31 pm

    I do not think that the United States is a prison in any meaningful sense of the word. So far as I know, the international terminal at all major metropolitan airports, docks private and public, and all our borders are still open for travel. Whether or not there are travel restrictions and to what degree is open to debate. In any case you cannot voluntarily walk out of a prison, or opt in, as some illegals prefer. I absolutely agree with you about getting the government closer to the people, but through government reform, not revolt. I tend to think that reforming the House of Representatives would accomplish this almost overnight, and unlike most other avenues of reform, is actually still largely in public hands

    • Bryan Hyde December 17, 2013 at 2:12 pm

      We are fast becoming a prison in a number of ways. We have the world’s highest prison population of any developed country. Anyone who wishes to leave the U.S. with their money will find that a financial Berlin Wall is being erected that makes this nearly impossible. Thanks to a growing surveillance state, we are living in a technological panopticon that even Jeremy Bentham couldn’t have conceived. Some airports are installing exit portals in which a person can only leave when they are “buzzed out” by a security officer. Sounds like we’re becoming pretty prison-like to me.

  • Roy J December 17, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    That depends on your idea of prison, I guess. For example, we probably agree that the Russian Gulag from 1920 until somewhat recently puts the current US idea of a prison to shame. Also, in the United States we hand down prison sentences for many things that other countries would not; we carry on spirited wars on all kinds of ideas and isms, drugs for example. At least it should be admitted that what garners a prison sentence in different countries ought first to be compared side by side. However, if you look at countries according to their use of capital punishment, a statistic that I think is a bellwether for human rights violations, the US ranks among those who still use capital punishment as merely average, at around 50 per year. The true student of Gulag, China, currently runs in excess of 2,000+ per year for years on end. Now I ask you, which state enlaves and terrorizes its citizens more; the one who executes its citizens by the thousands for infractions against the government, or the one who is currently only spying on them in search of infractions? Which one is more in keeping with the spirit of Gulag? Either way, I appreciate the article and the discussion

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