How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of Negroes?"
— Dr. Samuel Johnson
The Declaration of Independence in 1776, the formation of the US constitution in 1789 and the first 10 amendments to it, collectively known as the “Bill of Rights” passed in 1791, are the three most significant sets of documents that have contributed towards shaping the political history of the US. The core principles embedded in those documents form the basis of US-democracy; hence, the political institutions (Congress, Supreme Court and the President) should be functioning in accordance with those principles.
This is most relevant as the US is increasingly bullying other nations into adhering to its version of democracy, portraying it as a blue-print for the rest of the world to follow. Any deviation is seen as undemocratic and/or totalitarian, but this attitude or approach, could also be argued as authoritarian. This is why Bush recently referred to a ‘free’ Iraq, as long as it was chained to the US dictated version of democracy.
Therefore, it is only right that we assess everyone, including the US itself, against the principles laid out in the above mentioned documents. Most Americans and even many non-Americans would agree with most of its content, however, the point is, no matter how well intended and clearly worded the principles laid down are, what really matters is how those principle have been interpreted and applied. Just as the best judge of a man is not his word but his actions. Examine how the Declaration of Independence was applied by the founding fathers and successive generations.
The declaration was composed by a committee consisting of John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, Robert R. Livingston and Roger Sherman. Jefferson did most of the writing, with input from the committee. It was Jefferson who wrote the famous words in the declaration of independence: "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.” The reality was all men were equal except the African-Americans, as for the Native Americans they were virtually made extinct, they were liquidated when they got in the way of economic expansion, and they were perhaps denied those “inalienable rights”. Before apologists beat their breast over this assertion, remember that Native Americans could not have been subjugated, slaughtered and then herded like animals onto barren reservations without the executive arm of the US legislature, that “forked tongue” player, the US army.
Therefore, it is perhaps convenient or a coincidence that Jefferson’s original draft included a denunciation of the slave trade but it was edited out. In any case, Jefferson along with George Washington, James Madison, George Mason and many others who signed the declaration, continued to hold blacks in bondage. Recent scientific evidences confirmed the rumours of Jefferson having illegitimate children through the black slaves held in captivity. Benjamin Franklin, who is reputed to be the staunchest opponent of slavery but this position, was adopted later. In his earlier life he profited from the domestic and international slave trade, complained about the ease with which slaves and servants ran off to the British army during the colonial wars of the 1740s and 1750s, and staunchly defended slave owning rebels during the Revolution.
Patrick Henry, who was the heroic fighter for independence, did even better, not only did he continue to hold black slaves, but he removed any Native Americans that dared get in the way of his making a killing in westward real estate. The African-Americans continued to suffer, subjected to mob violence, lynching, hanging and the continuous economic exploitation used as cheap labour in the plantations and factories. So, perhaps the founding fathers meant that only the white men are equal and have those noble “inalienable rights”! This is how the founding fathers applied the declaration and surely if the roots of a tree are weak it cannot bear good fruits.
Therefore, lecturing about lofty principles has to be matched with deeds, and those are the real evidence of ones commitment to those values. Take the first amendment, which is the right to exercise free speech. Recently, the Arizona State Supreme Court, ruled in favour of the Tucson newspaper on the basis of the First Amendment for publishing a letter that urged people to kill 5 Muslims in retaliation for each death of an American soldier in Iraq. Note this is not seen as incitement to violence, but right to exercise free speech! A test of this law would be the same American court invoking the First Amendment, if someone wrote a letter calling for the execution of 5 pro-war Americans for every Iraqi killed – fat chance!
Perhaps, many of the African-Americans would easily identify with the court ruling, as it is the first step towards legitimising mob violence against another minority. We may get modern forms of mob lynching, hanging and burning of Muslims on the cross by those men in white hoods. But, thanks to modern day communications and the inflow of migrants, they have helped to elevate many Americans above this sort of behaviour, even though it runs deep in their culture and history!
Therefore, it is acceptable to invoke the First Amendment when some American citizens are calling for the indiscriminate execution of fellow American citizens. However, when Shabir Ahmed, an Imam, spoke out against the United States, there was no First Amendment to protect him; he was fired from his local Mosque in Lodi, California. Shabir Ahmed merely voiced his opposition to the current US foreign policy, and he did not call for the indiscriminate execution of American civilians. Perhaps now you can understand the words of Noam Chomsky who said: “If we don’t believe in freedom of expression for those who we despise, we don’t believe in it at all.”
Freedom of Speech comes in many forms, certain actions like the burning of US flags was viewed by the US Supreme Court as an expression of dissatisfaction with the US government. This is also in the process of being overturned by the Congress. Now read between the lines, desecration of the US flag will be prohibited, but other things like desecrating the Quran or desecrating the honour of women and children, will remain as a tool of interrogation!
On July 4, 1776, the Declaration was finally adopted by the Continental Congress at the Pennsylvania State House. For sure, many Americans will celebrate the annual ritual of their independence day on the 4th July but how many will reflect on the consistency (or lack of) in the behaviour of the nation, both past and present, compared to the towering words of Thomas Jefferson pronounced in the declaration of independence. How many Americans will remember the lessons learnt from the events that culminated in forming the Declaration of Independence? Below are the three of those significant events:
(a). The unpopular Stamp Act of 1765 issued by the British government, on the colonies caused immense resentment. The act levied a stamp duty on various legal documents and publications in the British colonies in North America. Money raised through these taxes, was predominantly used to pay for the standing army protecting the fur trade in Canada, acquired from the French after the Seven Year’s War.
(b). Following the Stamp Act, the Townshend Acts passed in 1767 by the British Parliament, which placed a tax on common products, such as lead, paper, paint, glass, and tea added more fuel to the fire; the Americans grew increasingly hostile to British attempts to levy more taxes on the colonies.
(c). Then the Boston Tea Party in 1773, this incident is perhaps the straw that broke the Camel’s back. The act allowed the British East India Company to sell the tea imported from China directly to the colonialist market without paying the colonial tax, which allowed it to undercut the local merchants. So, in response a Boston mob threw over 340 crates of tea into Boston Harbour as a political protest. By 1775, fighting broke out; the 13 colonies sought independence from British rule and its despotic British King George III.
Americans ought to remember that while they fought against foreign occupation, colonisation and economic exploitation, they should in turn understand the reaction of the Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghanis and others. The Americans did not like the British bases on their soil so do you expect any different from the Arab/Muslim nations. Likewise the Americans fought against economic exploitation of the British, and for the same reasons, IMF (International Monetary Funds) and WB (World Bank) and other financial institutions engaging in economic slavery are resented by the rest of the world. Many of those who fought the British army formed local militias, and just like the current Iraqi resistance, fought without wearing a uniform and using similar tactics of guerrilla warfare.
Independence of the US did not arise because of an ideological difference with its former colonial master, the British. The US merely replaced the British Empire and continued its policy of empire building and colonisation. After all, like Britain, it was also a Capitalist state, but deployed different means and styles.
The fundamental aim of an empire is not occupation or subjugation; those are merely the means to an end. Empire is primarily about economics, generating new markets, accessing new materials, making lots of profits. After the US takeover, it was achieving all those, more effectively, without direct occupation. In fact direct form of colonisation was made a taboo, to oust or weaken the former colonial powers like Britain and France. So, we entered the age of decolonisation but, in reality it was neo-colonisation!
The Declaration of Independence was publicly stated and finally independence was gained; it meant the rise of a new colonial power. Its track record is more barbaric, brutal and bloody; it waged more wars, killing millions more than any empire before it. Likewise the “Bill of Rights” did not prevent the continuation of slavery, mob violence, hanging, lynching and other forms of brutality and exploitation. If there is anything to celebrate, it is the world seeing through the hype of these “forked tongues” writing noble constitutions, bills and declaring one thing, and then applies barbarity and subjugation to the contrary. Their demise is ensured by their own capitalist myopia, whilst focussing on acquisitions they won’t see the death of their empire has already begun from within, as materialism crumbles before coherent and consistent Islam.
Now you can see why the US fears Islam, even though it is non-existent as an economic and a military power; it is giving humanity a better chance to examine the alternative! Islam’s liberation of the masses begins with the most powerful weapon of all, a free mind!