A Declaration That Transcends Politics, Class And Race?

Posted on Mon 07/05/2010 by


From The Editor At Family Security Matters (FSM)

Just because this is a long post, do not let that dissuade you from reading it. This is important for all of us…..TonyfromOz.

Independence Hall - Philadelphia PA

In Pennsylvania…..

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was named as the “City of Brotherly Love” by its founder, William Penn (1644 – 1718). It was in Carpenter’s Hall in Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, where the First Continental Congress had assembled on September 5, 1774. Here, representatives of 12 of the 13 states gathered to address the issues of a domineering British bureaucracy. On May 10, 1775, after the Lexington and Concord Battles had marked the start of the revolutionary war, the Second Continental Congress was assembled, and plans were made to secede from Britain. The meetings, held at the Pennsylvania State House (now called Independence Hall, pictured at right) witnessed the birth of a nation. Here, on July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted its resolution to be independent from British rule.  George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock and others debated and planned how to create a new nation.

On July 4, 1776 the document setting out the Declaration of Independence was completed and approved and given its first two signatures inside the Pennsylvania State House, Philadelphia. The Declaration was written mostly by Jefferson, with input from Benjamin Franklin (then aged 70), as well as John Adams, Roger Sherman and Robert Livingston. The Declaration of Independence was finally signed on August 2 of that year. The Constitution of the United States was also planned and written in Philadelphia, becoming finalized in March 1789. While Washington DC was being built, Philadelphia served as the capital of the new nation.

Benjamin Franklin, a scientist and philosopher, who epitomized the era of the Enlightenment, made Penn’s vision of Philadelphia into a working model of civic society. He introduced the first public lending library at Carpenter’s Hall, so that knowledge was not the sole preserve of an elite. He was a publisher, and also introduced to Philadelphia a fire service, and fire insurance, not to mention bifocal glasses, the lightning rod, extendable grippers, and an efficient design of stove.

Philadelphia is the home of the Liberty Bell, which was rung to signal the start of the First Continental Congress and after the Lexington and Concord Battle. It is the home of the last resting place of Benjamin Franklin, and it is the home of Maurice Heath.

Maurice Heath? Yes. Mr Heath is an extremely influential man at this moment. He is a man who has become a touchstone for the biggest test of whether the values of those Founding Fathers – as expressed in their historic documents – are still being maintained during the tenure of the current administration. Maurice Heath, a man whose actions have led to rigorous questioning in the conservative media of the significance of his case. The questions concern whether or not the current Attorney General may have been involved in a decision to let racial bias interfere with the due processes of law.

“Minister King Samir Shabbaz” - Maurice Heath

Maurice Heath? You may know him more readily by his stage name – sorry – by his non-slave-name: “Minister King Samir Shabbaz”, leader of the Philadelphia branch of the New Black Panthers. Maurice’s first attempts at media stardom – sorry – public information for the cause of the New Black Panthers, were heard on October 31, 2008 in the news website Philly.com. While other kids were off trick or treating, 38-year old Maurice was doing his own Halloween performance. He was angry about many things. Such as white people: “I’m off about the total destruction of white people. I’m about the total liberation of black people. I hate white people. I hate my enemy…” and Jews: “I don’t care how much they try to promote the Jewish Holocaust. The African people have suffered a hell of a cost.”

Mr Heath has political views that could be considered by the left-wing media to be extremely “right-wing.” He would be considered a Nazi if the tattoos etched onto his face carried slogans other than BPG and NBPP. But at least Maurice has one slogan on his face that the Founding Fathers would have approved of: “Freedom.”

Politically, Mr Heath does not approve of a black president, considering him to be “a puppet on a string. I don’t support no black man running for white politics. I will not vote for who will be the next slavemaster.” Maurice thinks that the president is “a Negro who doesn’t even support reparations for black people in America.” Well that’s a relief. Mr Heath is a socialist, and not a fascist. He is waiting  for a share of the money that is his rightful due as a non-working worker of the world, whose ancestors endured slavery and exploitation.

A week after his first media appearance, on November 4, 2008, Maurice posed defiantly on the steps of a polling station at 1221 Fairmount Street. The diminutive leader was dwarfed by his taller associate Jerry Jackson, who was an accredited poll watcher. Accompanying them was the “attorney” for the NBPP, Malik Zulu Shabazz, from Washington D.C. All three wore the uniform of the New Black Panthers. Maurice, aka Minister King Samir Shabbaz, was carrying a nightstick or baton.

A young man from Pennsylvania University, who carried a camera phone, asked what they were doing. Maurice answered that he was “Security”. The video is below:

Witnesses claimed that Heath was heard to say “you’re about to be ruled by the black man, cracker” and similar racially biased statements.

The court case and the Department of Justice

The video evidence shows clearly that the nightstick was a potential threat. The three individuals were accused of voter intimidation, attempted voter intimidation, and intimidation of and attempted intimidation of individuals aiding voters, all offenses under the terms of the Voting Act of 1965. The original complaint sheet (Civil Action No: 09-0065) can be viewed in its entirety here.

The complaint was submitted by Michael B. Mukasey (the then-Attorney General of the United States), Grace Chung Becker of the DOJ Civil Rights Division, H. Christopher Coates, Robert Popper, and J. Christian Adams, of the DOJ Civil Rights Division Voting Section.

The lawsuit was ignored by the three men and therefore by default they were technically guilty. Later – the charges against all three men were officially dropped. Only Maurice Heath remains under restriction – he is not allowed to go within a one hundred foot distance of any polling station in Philadelphia until 2012.

J. Christian Adams has recently been featuring in interviews on Fox News, and his story has been reported by several media outlets. He resigned from the Department of Justice on May 14, complaining that the Department of Justice dropped the case against the three men shortly after the Department of Justice came under the control of the new Attorney General, Eric Holder. He claims that the lawyers who ordered the dismissal of the case were Loretta King, an appointed acting head of the DOJ’s Civil Rights Department and Steve Rosenbaum. Adams further asserts that these lawyers had not read the internal DOJ memoranda that supported the investigation and the case

Adams was clearly aggrieved by the notion that there was a partiality that appeared to be attempting to redress a historical imbalance, rather than a judgment of all cases on their legal merits alone. He wrote: “Based on my firsthand experiences, I believe the dismissal of the Black Panther case was motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law.”

He had written that some viewed such discriminatory means “as a backdoor way to achieve reparations for slavery and discrimination. If the American public won’t tolerate monetary reparations, which they won’t, then a one-way approach to civil rights laws is seen as the next best alternative. This aggressive one-way approach toward the civil rights laws is central to understanding why the voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party was dismissed by the Obama Justice Department.”

Adams has told Fox News that “There is a pervasive hostility within the civil rights division at the Justice Department toward these sorts of cases.”

There is clearly more that will be written upon this issue, and about how seriously this may impact upon the reputation of this administration’s commitment to upholding the principles and values of the constitution. But this is a special weekend, where most Americans are celebrating the Founding Fathers who busied themselves in the confines of Pennsylvania State House to draft the Declaration of Independence, and afterwards went on to create the Constitution.

What the Founding Fathers achieved was the crafting of an intricate yet well-controlled mechanism, with its own perfectly fitted gears and balances, a system of political machinery acting as a compass that would set America on a course to greatness. They revolutionized political thought and put it into motion in such a manner that it flourished. By comparison, the French revolution of 1789 soon deteriorated into pogroms and the “Terror” that began under the leadership of Robespierre , St Just and other members of the French “Committee of Public Safety”.

This was the genius behind the dream of the American revolution – it was not bloody, nor barbaric apart from the battles it was forced to fight. It never ended up with former allies of the Revolution executed on false charges of treason – as has happened in almost every revolution since. Unlike the French model, where the year was reordered into decimal months, the American revolution was never naively idealistic. It was rational, it was enlightened, and it was visionary enough to look far ahead into the future, beyond our present.

However, for some within America, and perhaps for some of the more important people within the current administration, there are feelings that the Founding Fathers did not include them in this vision.

Racism, Slavery and the Founding Fathers

It is important for me to now stop ridiculing “Minister King Samir Shabbaz,” as if he is personally responsible for the divide that has long existed in America, even in the City of Brotherly Love. The original Black Panthers of the 1960s were radicals, and though some went on to be criminals, some had acted from genuine intent to improve their neglected section of America. The methodology of the original Panthers is questionable, as is their mirroring of the same appalling racism that they had experienced. However, there is no doubt that they sprang from the unhealed wounds of 1960s society, which can be neither excused nor overlooked. In Philadelphia itself there are more recent scars.

In the City of Brotherly Love in 1972 a “back to nature” movement of mostly black members, led by John Africa (Vincent Leaphart) was founded. The group called itself the Christian Movement for Life (MOVE) and it espoused animal rights and a reversal from technology, science, medicine, and some of the basics of sanitation. The MOVE members were not racist. In 1978 a raid was carried out on the headquarters in Powelton Village that led to the killing of a police officer and injuries of several individuals; senior members were arrested and jailed (video here, more here). The building was demolished. On May 13th 1985, Mayor Wilson Goode approved a move by the Philadelphia police to drop four pounds of C4 explosive from a helicopter onto the group’s next headquarters on Osage Avenue (video footage here). John Africa and 10 other people died, including five children. The fire spread through six blocks, making more than 200 people homeless.

The only survivor of the MOVE bombing was Ramona Africa who has become an articulate and important figure on the subject of race relations in Philadelphia. While the New Black Panthers postured on the steps of the polling station, nine members of MOVE were still in jail for the killing of a police officer, and had been refused parole, a situation regarded by many in Philadelphia as unjust.

With a two party political system in America, the divisive issue of race often gets turned into a polarized  issue of “left” or right” . Such arguments perpetuate naïve stereotypes that the “left” is against racism and the “right” is not against it – even though the Republican party was created to stop slavery. The first leader of the “party of the right” was Abraham Lincoln who took the ideological and principled values of the Constitution and, with his own uniquely ideological and principled morality, made them applicable to all.

The Founding Fathers did not invent slavery, but some of today’s “left” and “progressive” figures point to the ownership of slaves by George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. It seems they do this to divert from, or to diminish, the magnitude of the original documents.

It is true that Thomas Jefferson had slaves at Monticello. Furthermore, a 1998 DNA examination of the Y-chromosomes of the male descendants of his slave Sally Hemings suggested that the third president of the United States may have been the father of some of her children. The rumors had been spread at least since 1802 that Jefferson had one of his black slave as his concubine. Until his death in 1826, Jefferson did not free her, though he had freed her children. At his death there were 150 slaves at Monticello.

There is a grisly tale that when George Washington’s own teeth were falling out, he had teeth from the mouths of his slaves implanted, though I cannot find verification for this. At the age of 11, Washington inherited 10 of his father’s slaves, and at the end of his life in he had more than 300 at his Mount Vernon estate. However, he did change his opinion against slavery as the Revolution progressed. His will gave instructions for the emancipation of his slaves and the granting of annuities to the older slaves.

John Adams, for all his wisdom and clarity of purpose, owned slaves, as did other early American presidents James Madison and James Monroe.

The Declaration of Independence

Despite his ownership of slaves, Jefferson nonetheless famously wrote of slavery as “this execrable commerce”. These words appeared in an early drafting of the Declaration of Independence which specifically condemned the trade of importing slaves:

“(King George III) has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating & carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the CHRISTIAN king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where MEN should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that  this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished die, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms against us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the people upon whom he  also obtruded them thus paying off former crimes committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.”

It should be noted that in April 1775 in Pennsylvania, America’s first anti-slavery society, the “Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage”, was inaugurated. One man who attended its first meeting was Thomas Paine. In 1787, the group was reorganized and Benjamin Franklin became a prominent member. In this year, Franklin and Benjamin Rush (who had also signed the Declaration of Independence) wrote the revised constitution. Benjamin Franklin became the president of the society in 1789, when it began to provide education and work opportunities to black children and adults.

Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin alone signed the four most important documents connected with the creation of the United States – the 1776 Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Alliance, Amity and Commerce with France of February 6, 1778, the Treaty of Peace between England, France and the United States of September 3, 1783, and also the Constitution of 1787, which he also helped to formulate.

The apparent desire of some in the current administration to change the negative undercurrents of social history, and the trend of some teachers to ignore the achievements of the Founding Fathers, is to blight the vision that they collectively created.

The Declaration of Independence was an astounding document, but its successor, the Constitution, laid out a system of rights. Its first ten Amendments (the Bill of Rights) ratified on December 15, 1791, have been of value to all of America’s citizens, including those who have migrated and become naturalized, and those who were born here.

On December 6, 1865, Amendment 13 was ratified, abolishing slavery and on February 3, 1870, Amendment 15 was ratified, declaring that “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

The American Constitution clearly sets out the rights of the individual, the duties and structure of government, and the creation of laws. No other society had such a comprehensive system.

The process that led to the Constitution and all that has made America great began within the Declaration of Independence – a document that applies to all Americans, irrespective of their race, their religion, gender or ethnicity. It is the power of the words and principles contained within this document that is of importance – they transcend the politicking of the moment. The current administration should take a look at the words and see what they really mean, for their terms are unbreakable. The Declaration and the Constitution also set out the limits of government. No holder of public office can veer from the terms within them.

Only when those in office abide by the constraints imposed upon them, and follow the will of the people, do they have a mandate to be in government. In this manner the freedom of the nation, the process of democracy and the rights of the citizen are upheld.

The Declaration, and its offspring the Constitution, still serve as templates for the progress of America. It is up to the people of America to take their meanings on board. Within these documents is codified the broader, true meaning of Americanism. This Americanism is not the diluted and ultimately petty, tribalistic “hyphenated” or “fifty-fifty” Americanism that so enraged Theodore Roosevelt.

“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. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

Read it all, and be thankful you have this document as a cornerstone of your heritage.

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