Last week Miss Constitution talked about the meaning of words and how important it is to stipulate accurate meanings. She said that the word “equal”, relative to the Constitution means having the same rights, duties, and protections under the Rule of Law. The word “equality”, however, is different. This word goes to outcome or result and led an alarmed Alexis de Tocqueville, 1835, to proclaim, “one also finds in the human heart a depraved taste for equality. . .” This phenomenon exists in the nature of human beings. It is not a phenomenon natural to any particular ethnicity or race or culture or gender but to all people, young or old. One sees it in children at play and in improvised devices by teachers to lessen the impact of differences of talent and drive. In the field of political theory often the way the issue is handled is to substitute the group for the individual. The reason for doing this is that any one individual does not then have to be compared to another individual and possibly face what we all have faced which is to be less than or unequal to the task or in the aura of a better prepared and more talented person. Try and imagine no individual merit in the fields of sports, of stage-acting, of writing, of art, of playing a musical instrument. It would be difficult to compare any contralto to Marian Anderson. What does the United States Constitution say about this issue?
Eleanor Eleanor and Marian Anderson in Japan, 5/22/1953. Image Credit: USA.gov
The United States Constitution is primarily about the individual but has special protections by Supreme Court decisions for some “suspect classes” or groups that have been historically without the full protection of the Rule of Law. This is our highest Court in the land saying that the morals of the country must take into consideration past practices that do not comport to our Moral Law, our Positive Law, our Unwritten Law, or the principles enunciated clearly in the Declaration of Independence that all human beings have rights from God that cannot be taken away nor forsaken by the holder. This does not mean that the social order we have created has shifted to the group instead of the individual it just means that the nation has recognized where an individual in a certain group might have a more difficult time rising to the top based on aspects of the group that have no relationship to individual merit. Status by race or any other immutable feature is not the measure of a person under our law. However, we have now reached a crucial fault line in our society where the push toward the group at the expense of the individual is being put forward as a replacement of our system. It is the equivalent of everyone who participates gets a trophy or the criteria is changed to accommodate people in a certain group. As long as the change in criteria does not change the standard, this is understandable. For instance, certain persons may not all have the upper body strength to do certain tasks as a wildfire firefighter or some jobs in the military. Adjustments in criteria in some cases are appropriate and justified. But this shift from the individual to the group is a seismic fault line similar to the San Andreas Fault and the tectonic boundary between the Pacific and North America. It is that important and if allowed to happen would render the United States Constitution irrelevant.
Here is an example of how this works today. In order to justify a declarative truism, “black lives matter”, representing the group, it is thought that the justification cannot hold up unless some other group is held up as not mattering, regardless of the behavior of individuals in the group. That group would be “white people” and the argument is that all white people, regardless of individual behavior, are unworthy due to systemic and implicit racism. It is this kind of argument that is creating a Constitutional crisis and if taken at face value would render any act or acts of an individual white person immaterial as that individual could never escape his or her inherent racism as members of a group. It represents a kind of intellectual “gotcha” that paralyzes the whole white community and injures individual people. We are seeing the shift in the corporate community toward groupthink that then allows wholesale extortion of these companies from organizations such as Black Lives Matter that have within them lawless and seditious individuals. We are seeing it in curriculums for the young so young white children can learn to loathe themselves, their families, and their country as an unredeemable group. The fact is that the United States has no racist laws on the books anywhere. There is no systemic racism in our institutions and all white people are not racists. Former laws that artificially denied all citizens equal protection of the law are gone. Society has progressed, thanks in part, to the United States Constitution and the inclination of the American people toward fairness and support for God-given rights. The disparate outcomes we see in our society are the natural result of individual differences and uneven opportunities. To make it better, rather than giving up our Constitutional Republic, Miss Constitution would have us focus on the health of the individual, the health of the family, and the health of the community and insist that educational institutions provide guidance to individual students on how our remarkable system works so that each person living here can find the exact right opportunity given his or her talent and drive. Thoreau’s goal is the goal supported by the United States Constitution – “true respect for the individual.”