By Wayne Pac
The US Bill of Rights, Amendment I
“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.”
Our First Amendment as Americans is a cornerstone of our society. It allows us to say things that not only other people disagree with, but things that politicians disagree with. Along with all the other Amendments and freedoms that we have as Americans, they guarantee us freedom to the extent that the rest of the world can’t experience. That is something I am truly grateful for. We are the most pro-freedom country in the world. Having these freedoms allows us as individuals the opportunity to excel beyond expectations.
There are many, countless examples of people in American society, that if they lived in any other country, that wouldn’t have been able to become prominent members of society. Our American society is built on cornerstones of freedom, many of which are touched upon in the U.S. Constitution. The thing about Freedom, and the First Amendment in particular, is even though it allows people to exceed, it also allows people to fail utterly and miserably. There could be a person who was on top of the world and had all his or her needs taken care of only to make an utterly erroneous decision that threw everything away.
It can also be the person who burns the American flag or talks trash about veterans. The thing about America is that it’s not just a place; it’s an idea. America was an idea born into the reality, primarily by the decisions and actions of a few individuals, followed by the support and admiration of their followers. I’m of course talking of the Founding Fathers. Many of those men were great individuals both on actions and character, though a few others were very distasteful and many times outright racist in their stances on issues.
America is mired by a past of slavery, and mired by a past of dedicated war efforts. That is something that every libertarian, at least the libertarians I know and have talked to, don’t like at all. Slavery is abhorrent. Having a history of constantly being at war isn’t a great thing either. But the thing is, even though our history as Americans is mired by slavery, that is something we have overcome. That is more than you can say for many other parts of the world, where having slaves is an okay thing to do. Such as most countries governed by Sharia law.
George Washington repeatedly advocated for the gradual abolition of slavery. He knew that slavery was abhorrent, and that something would happen over time to abolish it. As we all know, something did happen: the Civil War. President Abraham Lincoln fought a war against the Confederate States of America, which happened to be Democrat-sponsored. Republicans were the strongest group advocating abolitionism in America. Washington had told a member of the press that if the country would ever divide into slave-holding states and free states, he would join the free states.
Along with Washington being personally against slavery, there were two other founding fathers who had routinely freed slaves: Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay. The latter had a practice of freeing adult slaves after a period of service to him had been fulfilled.
While America was “built on the backs of slaves,” one could obviously make the case that many Americans, of which Washington was one, had expressed disapproval for the institution of slavery.
The reason behind the above paragraphs is to illustrate that even though we have had a history of slavery, there were many people fighting against slavery, and expressing distaste for slavery. This can translate to issues of all types, and doesn’t support the idea that America is a bad country. The idea behind America is what makes us so great, as Americans we have many freedoms not afforded to us by government, but that we as individuals have.
There are parts of America that are bad, and there are parts of America that need improvement. But that is the beauty of America: we can work together as individuals to help improve the country we live in. Doing things like putting down the flag, burning it, insulting veterans, and then backing up and saying “I can say that, I have the First Amendment!”
This doesn’t mean you are right in doing so. The First Amendment allows you to contribute ideas of different perspectives to other people, as well as the right to be an idiot. So next time you are thinking about having a sit down protest like Colin Kaepernick, think long and hard about the message you are trying to send. Determine whether or not your message is flawed and requires erroneous thinking to come to said conclusions.