The movie musical 1776 had the following fictitious exchange between John Dickinson and Benjamin Franklin, delegates to the Continental Congress from Pennsylvania:
Dr Franklin: Please Mr. Dickinson, but must you start banging? How is a man to sleep?
Mr Dickinson: Forgive me, Dr. Franklin, but must you start speaking? How is a man to stay awake? We’ll promise to be quiet – I’m sure everyone prefers that you remained asleep.
Dr Franklin: If I’m to hear myself called an Englishman, sir, I assure you I prefer I’d remained asleep.
Mr Dickinson: What’s so terrible about being called an Englishman? The English don’t seem to mind.
Dr Franklin: Nor would I, were I given the full rights of an Englishman. But to call me one without those rights is like calling an ox a bull. He’s thankful for the honor, but he’d much rather have restored what’s rightfully his.
And so it is: how are we to be called Americans if our constitutional rights are so blatantly trampled upon, and most Americans seem to be perfectly fine with it?
Trump ‘fomenting domestic rebellion,’ Dem governor Inslee says
By Dom Calicchio | Fox News | April 18, 2020
A series of Twitter messages posted by President Trump showed the president is “fomenting domestic rebellion,” a Democrat governor alleged Friday.
Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee leveled the charge in a statement that also accused the president of encouraging “illegal and dangerous acts,” Q13 FOX of Seattle reported.
There’s more at the original.
President Trump has tweeted “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!”
Thomas Jefferson wrote to James Madison, from Paris, on January 30, 1787:
Societies exist under three forms sufficiently distinguishable.
- Without government, as among our Indians.
- Under governments wherein the will of every one has a just influence, as is the case in England in a slight degree, and in our states in a great one.
- Under governments of force: as is the case in all other monarchies and in most of the other republics.
To have an idea of the curse of existence under these last, they must be seen. It is a government of wolves over sheep. It is a problem, not clear in my mind, that the 1st. condition is not the best. But I believe it to be inconsistent with any great degree of population. The second state has a great deal of good in it. The mass of mankind under that enjoys a precious degree of liberty and happiness. It has it’s evils too: the principal of which is the turbulence to which it is subject. But weigh this against the oppressions of monarchy, and it becomes nothing. Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem. Even this evil is productive of good. It prevents the degeneracy of government, and nourishes a general attention to the public affairs. I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. Unsuccesful rebellions indeed generally establish the incroachments on the rights of the people which have produced them. An observation of this truth should render honest republican governors so mild in their punishment of rebellions, as not to discourage them too much. It is a medecine necessary for the sound health of government.
Is President Trump really ‘fomenting domestic rebellion’? I’m sure that, to Democratic governors, trampling willy-nilly on our constitutional rights in their attempts to fight COVID-19, he probably is. But, as our third President said, there are times when a little rebellion is a good and necessary thing. When Governors send the State Police to take down license plate numbers in church parking lots, on Easter Sunday of all days, to order the parishioners into what amounts to house arrest, the people should rebel. When Governors order the house arrest, under armed guard, of a man who tested positive for COVID-19, without any semblance of due process, without any day in court, the people should rebel. When Governors order the state police to stop cars with New York license plates and send the National Guard, the National Guard! around knocking on doors in coastal communities to interrogate people as to where they had been, the people should rebel. When Mayors order the police, fire department, etc, to break up church services and threaten to permanently close their buildings if the Do Not Comply, a little rebellion is most certainly in order. When the Kentucky State Police put up signs declaring that protesting on an open area constitutes a Class B misdemeanor — punishable by up to 90 days in jail and a $250 fine — a little rebellion is not just justified but necessary.
The First Amendment specifies that “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.” Nevertheless, state and local officials are banning peaceable assemblies, trampling on the free exercise of religion, and banning the protest of governmental decisions. All of this is illegal and unconstitutional.
Sadly, it won’t matter. Like Korematsu v United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), which upheld the racially discriminatory conviction of a man just because he was of Japanese descent and was widely repudiated, and ex parte Endo, 323 U.S. 283 (1944), which held that a ‘concededly loyal citizen’ could not be detained simply because he was Japanese while we were at war with Japan, were decided in December of 1944, nearly three years after the Nisei, Americans of Japanese descent, were rounded up and thrown into concentration camps. With all of the legal trickery that the states will employ, we won’t get any decisions invalidating the blatantly unconstitutional actions of our governors and mayors until after people have had their rights trampled upon, after some have been fined or even jailed, after some have been held under what amounts to house arrest, until after the COVID-19 ’emergency’ is (supposedly) going to be over. The only recourse we are going to have is to throw these tinpot dictators out of office, and make clear why it’s being done.
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