Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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New Jersey’s Apology for Slavery

I have a piece in
today’s Christian Science Monitorabout the recent resolution by the New Jersey legislature apologizing for slavery.

On the one hand, such an apology is harmless. But on the other, it feeds off of the idea that the United States has been racist from the start, obscuring the fact that it is precisely America’s founding principle that made the abolition of slavery a moral necessity.

New Jersey’s action is ironic in view of the fact that in 1999, this same legislature rejected a proposal to require all school children to recite a portion of the Declaration of Independence every day.

For those interested, there is also a short interview at the site.

Discussions - 4 Comments

Of course New Jersey's slavery apology is shameless PC grandstanding.



obscuring the fact that it is precisely America’s founding principle that made the abolition of slavery a moral necessity.



But couldn't it also be true that the existence of slavery as well as many other illustrations of illiberality proves that the "founding principles" weren't really what all the Jaffaites want to retrospectively claim they were? I know, I know. All the Founders were really closeted PC multicults. How dare anyone suggest otherwise.

I hardly think the "Jaffaites" are multicultural PCers. Actually, quite the opposite if you ever talk to one. If all those principles were false or lies, what exactly is America built on? It seems to me, those principles comprise exactly what it means to be an American - a belief in freedom, equality, and natural rights that a limited government cannot violate lest it become a tyranny. Were the Founders really that delusional, or were they simply liars, that it is all a bunch of made-up malarky? Were all the men and women who lived out these principles just as delusional? Are the nations that looked to American priciples for emulation also duped?

Tony, Tony, Tony,



Remove the liberal cobwebs from your eyes. Nations are not "built" on principles. Nations are built by a particular people, with a particular culture, in a particular place, at a particular time. The principles flow from those particularities. The principles are a result of the society. They do not build nor define the society. You are espousing the entirely liberal idea that America is a proposition nation



what exactly is America built on



Oh I don't know, perhaps the blood sweat and tears of the people who toiled to settled it and set it right. Real people. Not mere abstractions embracing certain principles.



those principles comprise exactly what it means to be an American - a belief in freedom, equality, and natural rights that a limited government cannot violate lest it become a tyranny



Think about the logical implication of that for a minute. So then someone who resides in Timbuktu who embraces those principles is as much an American as is someone who actually lives here? How could you object if it is only about embracing principles? What if someone in Timbuktu embraces those principles and a US citizen does not; let's say he is a member of the CPUSA? Is the American who rejects the principles actually less of an American than the foreigner who embraces the principles? You can not logically bind this sort of universalism. This should be Conservatism 101.

Red, Red, Red,

Conservatism 102 teaches us that your historicist position is as indefensible against liberal relativism as you claim the natural law position is. When they speak of "progress" and the future, their argument rests on the claim that the past eras were nothing more than "a particular people, with a particular culture, in a particular place, at a particular time" (as you so eloquently stated). They go on to assert that we are under no obligation to them because we have the responsibility to change historical trends for the future generations.

You're wrong when you say that Tony espouses the liberal idea that America is a propositional nation. Contemporary Liberals reject that America is propositional nation because to do so would require them to concede too much of their movement to the founders and to our historical tradition that you so strongly advocate for.

The strength of the conservative position is both it's commitment to historical precedence and to Founding Principles.

Answer me this: How does your position hope to correct the liberal drift of the 20th century? If it's about giving credence to history by your logic, you're bound to accept every liberal-progressive triumph of the 20th century. See you in class.

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