Heather Cox Richardson:
“For all the fact that the congressmen got around the sticky little problem of Black and Indigenous slavery by defining “men” as “white men,” and for all that it never crossed their minds that women might also have rights, the Declaration of Independence was an astonishingly radical document. In a world that had been dominated by a small class of rich men for so long that most people simply accepted that they should be forever tied to their status at birth, a group of upstart legislators on the edges of a continent declared that no man was born better than any other.“
Except that far too many in the United States, some who even call themselves Christian, do not believe this. For them there is a natural, divine order that places particular white men above other white men, women, people of color, and everything else on this planet. You find these men in Russia, in the Vatican, and in the United States.
“Four score and seven years ago,” Abraham Lincoln reminded Americans, “our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” In 1863, Lincoln explained, the Civil War was “testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”
Truth is, the test Lincoln describes began the moment it started on July 4, 1776 and has never ended since, particularly after the Civil War. During the 20th century the test expanded beyond the shores of the United States to the entire world. Those who think World War II decisively ended the test are sadly mistaken. The U.S. has been lucky the two world wars were not started or fought within the continent, but I fear the next one will start right here and by our own who cannot abide the disorder that freedom demands.