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Monday, January 21, 2013

What Kind of Liberty Did Martin Luther King March For?

Samuel Adams, Faneuil Hall
Today we celebrate Martin Luther King day for a man that fought as our founding fathers did for absolute liberty.

But today our president offers "redefined" liberty as a goal we should strive for.

Is this what King marched for?  

Let's begin by examining what liberty is and what the president said.

Samuel Adams Speech at the Philadelphia State House, August 1, 1776

"In a state of tranquillity, wealth, and luxury, our descendants would forget the arts of war and the noble activity and zeal which made their ancestors invincible. Every art of corruption would be employed to loosen the bond of union which renders our resistance formidable."

Here Adams speaks of the tyranny of England against America and how those in the colonies fought for their freedom through violence.

"When the spirit of liberty, which now animates our hearts and gives success to our arms, is extinct, our numbers will accelerate our ruin and render us easier victims to tyranny."

When our spirit of "liberty," basically our freedom from oppressors (note that he only speaks of the spirit of liberty becoming "extinct" whatever the reason), ends, implied here as our descendants forgetting how they got where they are and live in a state of "tranquility, wealth and luxury," we become easy victims of tyranny - again he is not specific; any kind of tyranny.

"Ye abandoned minions of an infatuated ministry, if peradventure any should yet remain among us, remember that a Warren and Montgomery are numbered among the dead. Contemplate the mangled bodies of your countrymen, and then say, What should be the reward of such sacrifices? Bid us and our posterity bow the knee, supplicate the friendship, and plow, and sow, and reap, to glut the avarice of the men who have let loose on us the dogs of war to riot in our blood and hunt us from the face of the earth?"
Again Adams reminds us of England who has "let loose on us the dogs of war."

And finally

"... if ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquillity of servitude than the animating contest of freedom - go from us in peace.  

We ask not your counsels or arms.

Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. 

May your chains sit lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countyman!"

Finally Adams proclaims that if you love wealth before freedom or peace as a minion rather than free man you should depart from men like him and further, you become the servant of your master, bound in chains, perhaps as a slave.

Now let's consider the President's words today:  "It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well. Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country. Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm."
Let's contrast these comments as well as the reality of what they entail with the notions presented by Adams above.

For me the notion that somehow every wrong must be "righted" (as underlined) for us as a nation is simply ridiculous.  Instead of suggesting we as a people remain vigilante of tyranny we are presented a laundry list of what must be done to supply everyone with whatever is needed to make their lives better.

Do we want "freedom" or the ability to "earn a living?"

This is the question - security or freedom.

When we cast aside the notion of freedom and the price to possess it we end up in a position to "lick the hands" which feed us.  In Adam's day this would be equivalent to embracing England in order to have prosperity - become a slave to English masters bound in chains.

Today millions more are on food stamps, on welfare, without jobs than four years ago.
If you take food stamps or welfare are you in fact trading security for liberty? 

Are you not making the "government" your master before which you take on chains or "crouch down" to like that hands which literally feed you?

I think so...

The president then continues: "... it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness...." Sadly this makes me think we are in a modern school setting - words can mean whatever we would like them too...

The idea of "liberty" comes from Latin libertatem (nom. libertas) "freedom, condition of a free man; absence of restraint; permission," or from liber which means "free."

How else could anyone define liberty yet still use the word?

I cannot think of any way this could be done.  Either you are a free man or not.

There is no other notion.  If you support yourself by "taking" (as in the 47%) from others are you still "free" or are you dependent upon others to provide for you?

Are you free if others take from you to replace their own had work?

This is the most fundamental question and the reason that so many do not understand what troubles people about government today.

Either you have true, absolute liberty or you do not.  There is no "in between."

The founding fathers understood this regardless of whether they were white slave holders or not.

In the end "liberty" was available for all, at least in terms of voting and laws to ensure equal pay, as well as through the Civil War.

But, as you cross the line from "liberty" to "tyranny" there are problems.

Specifically is the reduction of someone's liberty tyranny?  I think so...

The president continues: "We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate. We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall."
So I guess we are now defining "liberty" as a principle for which an imperfect result is acceptable rather than an "absolute," i.e., you are free or not free.

And here lies the conundrum which plagues us all in the US.

There is either liberty or death ("Give me liberty or give me death!"), as Patrick Henry is quoted as saying. 

There is no "imperfect" or "partial" liberty as the president would have us believe.

Yet why does he say this?

I think his meaning here is crystal clear.

In fact, he specifically says that we all do not have to "define liberty" the same way.

The president says what he says because he expects us to surrender our "ideals" of liberty (absolute liberty), of the Second Amendment, of other things our founding fathers held dear - to allow them to be "imperfect."

The reasons?
  • So that he can proceed down a path that will reduce everyone's liberty in exchange that allows some or many to do less for more by simply redefining what it means.
  • So that the "wealthy" can pay "their fair share.

  • So that you will accept less liberty in exchange for chains and licking a hand that feeds you - as if that is a privilege he can procure for you rather than slavery.
Dangers that Samuel Adams specifically warns us about in the first quotation above.

A notion not to be found in the absolute principles involved in the founding of our country.

What is so striking here to me is that Martin Luther King fought as our founding fathers did for freedom and liberty.  I believe that King believed in absolute freedom and liberty - not a principle of freedom and/or liberty.

How our president can expect us to accept that that "liberty" must be different or reduced from an absolute to a mere principle that we all define differently is why I think so many people have taken up the cause of the Second Amendment in these last few months.

Our president is a tyrant of the kind Samuel Adams warns us about specifically, offering a bogus "grade school" redefined, repackaged "liberty" that means whatever someone says it should mean rather than what it actually means.

A definition that, when you accept it, allows you to have less freedom so that others may have more.

Would Martin Luther King have marched for this "liberty" as defined by our president?

Would he have accepted "someone else's" definition of liberty?

Or did he march for the absolute notion of liberty as defined by Samuel Adams?

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