Happy Independence Day and happy 246th birthday to the United States of America! No, this nation was not born in 1619 when slaves first arrived, no matter how many trinkets liberal “journalists” award themselves for creating bogus history. It was born on July 4th, 1776, with the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which officially kicked out the previous regime and kicked off history’s greatest experiment in freedom.
Today is when all Americans celebrate our freedoms. But sadly, too many young Americans have been miseducated to feel no gratitude for the titanic struggles and sacrifices made by those of previous generations to secure and preserve those freedoms. As the recent pandemic proved, even those who recognize how lucky they are to be Americans are often too willing to trade away their freedoms in exchange for hollow promises of security. As the great philosopher Joni Mitchell once said, “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone.”
That’s why the Founding Fathers took such care to lock our most important rights safely within the First Amendment to the Constitution. There are more freedoms guaranteed in that one short sentence than people in most nations can even dream of. That’s why for centuries now, people from around the world have risked their lives to come to America (by the way, why do the same people who think America is the worst nation on Earth also demand open borders to accommodate all the people who want to be Americans?) It’s also why legal immigrants are often more patriotic than natural-born Americans: they’re aware of how unique America is and truly grateful for the freedoms too many of us take for granted.
The Founders understood how precious and rare such freedoms are. When the framers of the Constitution first met in 1787, many feared that if they created a strong federal government, it would trample the rights of the people, just like the British king they’d fought to break free of. So to make sure the people’s rights would always be protected, they added 10 amendments - although George Mason thought they were so important, they should come first, as the Preface to the Constitution!
Now, in case you’ve never heard it or have just forgotten (as too many federal judges and a few Supreme Court Justices I could name apparently have), here is the First Amendment, in its entirety. Don’t worry, this won’t take long:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Yep, that’s it. This was before government needed a 2,000-page bill just to ruin your health insurance or put $2 trillion on your credit card. Only 45 simple words were needed to protect our rights…
* To speak freely without fear of government retribution...
* To publish your thoughts so that other Americans can read and debate them (even if they don’t echo the views of people who work at Facebook and Twitter)…
* To band together with like-thinking Americans and protest peacefully without fear of arrest (Note: protesting peacefully does not include rioting, arson, vandalism and looting)…
* To petition our leaders to change their policies…
* And to be free from having an official state religion forced upon us, but also from government interference with the free expression of our personal religious beliefs (like telling us that going to church is nonessential and banned, but going to the liquor store is essential.) A lot of people celebrate the first half of that religious right (no state religion) but pretend the second half (no state interference in religion) doesn’t exist.
Until recently, the Supreme Court seemed hesitant to make clear that it means what it says, even though it takes only six words to say it: “…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Fortunately, that appears to be changing. Also, note that the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the so-called “Establishment clause” of the First Amendment, or anywhere in the Constitution. In other words, trying to ban religious people from public office and expressions of faith on public property is not supported by the Constitution.
These are the rights that together create the exceptional free American culture that those of who know real history celebrate today. The Founders thought they were all so important that somehow, they found a way to list every single one of them first.
Then, just to be certain that no future government ever tried to take those rights away, they made the very next amendment the right to bear arms. And having just fought a bloody Revolution against the most powerful military force on Earth with citizen soldiers, they certainly never intended to limit gun ownership only to military members.
And perhaps most importantly, they emphasized that these rights are given by God, not government. None of them can ever be repealed. So no matter how hard some people are trying to scratch some of them off of the parchment, it won’t make a lick of difference. You can’t edit God.