Presentation, “God, Man and Law” by Joseph Sobran, briefed and [notes] added by David Norris
Joseph Sobran concludes that American foundations can be restored. So there IS hope… but a review of history is vital to achieving this goal. “One of the great goals of education is to initiate the young into the conversation of their ancestors; to enable them to understand the language of that conversation, in all its subtlety, and maybe even, in their maturity, to add to it some wisdom of their own.
The modern American educational system no longer teaches us the political language of our ancestors. In fact, our schooling helps widen the gulf of time between our ancestors and ourselves, because much of what we are taught in the name of civics, political science, or American history is unquestionably modern liberal propaganda. Sometimes this is deliberate. Worse yet, sometimes it isn’t. [Because of this], our ancestral voices have come to sound alien to us, and therefore our own moral and political language is impoverished. It’s as if the people of England can no longer understand Shakespeare, or Germans cannot comprehend Mozart and Beethoven.
So to most Americans, even those who feel oppressed by what they call big government, it must sound strange to hear it said, in the past tense, that tyranny “came” to America. After all, we have a constitution, don’t we? We’ve abolished slavery and segregation. We won two world wars and the Cold War. We still congratulate ourselves before every ballgame on being the Land of the Free.
For all that, we no longer fully have what our ancestors, who framed and ratified our Constitution, thought of as freedom—a careful division of power that prevents power from becoming concentrated and unlimited.
The word they usually used for concentrated power was consolidated—a rough synonym for fascist. And the words they used for any excessive powers claimed or exercised by the state were usurped and tyrannical. They would consider the modern “liberal” state tyrannical in principle; they would see in it not the opposite of the fascist, communist, and socialist states, but their sister.
If Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Hamilton could come back, the first thing they’d notice would be that the federal government now routinely assumes thousands of powers never assigned to it—powers never granted, never delegated, never enumerated. These were the words they used, and it’s a good idea for us to learn their language. They would say that we no longer live under the Constitution they wrote. And the Americans of a much later era—the period from Cleveland to Coolidge, for example—would say we no longer live even under the Constitution they inherited and amended. What’s worse is that our constitutional illiteracy cuts us off from our own national heritage. And so our politics degenerate into increasingly bitter and unprincipled quarrels . . . “And do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead expose them,” Ephesians 5:11.
I don’t want to sound like an oracle on this subject. As a typical victim of modern public education and a disinformed citizen of this media-ridden country, it took an embarrassingly long time to learn what I am now passing on. It was like studying geometry in old age, and discovering how simple the basic principles of space really are. It was the old story: in order to learn, first I had to unlearn. Most of what I’d been taught and told about the Constitution was misguided or even false. And I’d never been told some of the most elementary things, which would have saved me a tremendous amount of confusion.
Used by the permission of “The Schwarz Report”, August 2005, current address: 227 E. 6th St., Long Beach, Ca, 90802. Pat Buchanan, “Joseph Sobran is perhaps the finest columnist of our generation.”
~ D. Norris