Thursday, January 06, 2011

Domestic enemies of the Constitution

Yesterday’s New York Times’s editorial page included a screed mocking the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives.

The extremely self-revelatory rant against the reading of the U.S. Constitution on the floor of the House of Representatives and the requirement that every bill cite Constitutional authority is what really set me off:

In any case, it is a presumptuous and self-righteous act, suggesting that they alone understand the true meaning of a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation. Certainly the Republican leadership is not trying to suggest that African-Americans still be counted as three-fifths of a person.

There is a similar air of vacuous fundamentalism in requiring that every bill cite the Constitutional power given to Congress to enact it.

In particular, calling the U.S. Constitution “a text that the founders wisely left open to generations of reinterpretation” reflects a childish desire to twist a parent’s words to mean whatever the child wants them to mean.

No, the founders didn’t “wisely” give us a document we could distort to suit our whims or lust for power. They wrote in clear, understandable language to be read and comprehended by the average citizen. It means what it says, not what The New York Times editorial board would like it to mean.

And the sophomoric attempt to play the race card is particularly egregious and irrelevant. Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the Constitution, written in 1787, states:

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.

No one, especially the Party of Abraham Lincoln, thinks the three-fifths provision still pertains. The New York Times editorial board would have us believe Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the subsequent 13th Amendment never occurred. The 13th Amendment abolished slavery and rendered the three-fifths provision moot. It will also be read in the House, along with all of the other amendments.

But the most telling phrase is “vacuous fundamentalism.”

It’s clear that the NYT thinks the U.S. Constitution – the document presidents, Congressmen and soldiers swear to defend against all enemies, foreign or domestic – is an inconvenient, irrelevant annoyance.

To my way of thinking, that makes The New York Times and those who share their belief in a post-Constitutional America, domestic enemies of the Constitution.

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