Whose Constitution is it anyway?

It’s easy to be in favor of the U.S. Constitution when all you’re really doing is protecting yourself against those you fear want to take something from you.

But that’s just the easy part, and anybody can be a hero when it’s easy.

What about when somebody else wants to do something you vividly disagree with? What about situations in which you want to take something from them? What happens when that same document you claim to revere protects those you don’t like, don’t understand, don’t know, don’t agree with, or don’t feel safe around?

We need not look further than the effort to build a Mosque (which, turns out, isn’t even a Mosque) near Ground Zero in New York. The same people whose Christian faith would cause them, understandably, to fight to the death to ensure that their religion can be freely practiced in whatever way they see fit, are the ones who happen to be at the front of the line opposing another faith’s efforts to do the same. So much for the First Amendment guarantee of religious freedom under the United States Constitution. Suddenly it’s not at the forefront of your thinking when instead of protecting your own religious freedoms, it’s protecting somebody else’s.

I understand and empathize with those who say, “it shouldn’t be built.” But too often, what they’ve instead been saying is, “they shouldn’t be allowed to build it.” Your friendly neighborhood Constitution begs to differ.

Or perhaps we should focus on those who are deeply troubled by the existence of so-called “anchor babies,” those born in the U.S. of immigrant non-citizen parents. That these babies are U.S. citizens is without question, but the fact is, the people who stand in opposition to them are often the same ones who just flat-out don’t like Mexicans and want them all deported, their American children with them. So much for the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees of citizenship guaranteed under the United States Constitution. Suddenly, that Constitution doesn’t seem so precious when it’s protecting those you loathe.

Whose Constitution is it, anyway? Is the entire document just wrapping paper for your precious Second Amendment? Is it only important when its protecting you?

Here’s a thought: consider the possibility that you are not acting like a true American if you only believe the United States Constitution merely exists to protect you.

Consider the possibility that you do not share fundamental American values unless you also acknowledge that the Constitution of the United States is just as important when it’s protecting them. And you. And me. All Americans. Even the ones you don’t like.

And especially consider the strong possibility that those who have been calling themselves “patriots” lately, in their frequent efforts to ignore or deny Constitutional rights guaranteed to others, have inadvertently become the most unpatriotic of us all. After all, what is at the very foundation of American patriotism, if not the full support of the U.S. Constitution itself?

The Constitution is what it is, for better (when it’s protecting you), or for worse (when it’s protecting them). It is really getting tiresome when the very same people who wave that document in the air like a weapon every time it suits them turn around and ignore it when it becomes an inconvenience.

The U.S. Constitution is more shield than weapon, the most powerful shield ever created. It has enabled unprecedented societal stability, and it has protected us, often from ourselves or each other, for a very long time.

Don’t abandon it now. Like I said – if it was easy, anybody could be a hero.

Comments

comments

13 Responses to Whose Constitution is it anyway?

  1. TheLabRat August 19, 2010 at 3:24 pm #

    “consider the possibility that you are not acting like a true American if you only believe the United States Constitution merely exists to protect you.”

    As a vet can I just say “word” to this? A quote from a silly TV show that is so spot on I can’t handle it comes to mind. “The difference between real soldier and fake soldiers is that the fakes will fight to protect their own freedoms. A real soldier fights to protect other people’s freedoms.” Thank you Leverage, of all things.

  2. Susan Ramey Cleveland August 19, 2010 at 5:48 pm #

    Excellent. Thank you so much.

  3. dkz August 19, 2010 at 6:08 pm #

    Well put. The Constitution is, above all, a minority rights guarantee: We’re a “majority rules” republic except that the Bill of Rights and several subsequent amendments to the Constitution protect the rights of the minority against the whims and prejudices of the majority. It’s this protection that is the only basis for any claim of “American exceptionalism,” which many try to attribute to our “Christian founding” or some vague, inherent “goodness” in our national character. If America is truly exceptional, it’s because every citizen is equally “American” and is guaranteed the same rights.

  4. SueN. August 19, 2010 at 9:40 pm #

    Yes, amen, halleluia and thank you! Why can’t people understand that the very minute we deny the Constitution’s protection of “them,” we have just denied it for “us”?

    And TheLabRat, I was thinking of that very same Leverage quote. Nice to know I’m not the only one who watches. ;-)

  5. whiskeydent August 20, 2010 at 6:28 pm #

    I am out of Constitution puns today. Sorry.

  6. FUBAR August 20, 2010 at 10:00 pm #

    Damn it Whiskeydent! We count on you for these things. You’re nothing but a disappointment to me.

  7. Mule Breath August 22, 2010 at 5:49 pm #

    You write a poignant article correctly highlighting the hypocrisy of others, then in the next breath you display your own.

    The rhetorically asked question, “Is the entire document just wrapping paper for your precious Second Amendment,” regardless of your meaning, implies that you do not like what that amendment protects and places you in the same light as those you would condemn. This is uncalled for and distracts from an otherwise fine piece.

  8. FUBAR August 23, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    Mule Breath (great name, BTW) – you’re to be forgiven for an inability to be any more inaccurate than you are, because you don’t know me. If you did know me, you would also know that I’m one of the odd Texas progressives who actually fully supports the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. I personally believe it means exactly what Conservatives claim it means, and have no argument with the Supreme Court’s agreement on that point.

    What that phrase conveys is not my own opposition to the Second Amendment, because I have none. It is instead a condemnation of those whose fondness for the Constitution only extends that far, and no farther.

    But nice try.

  9. Mule Breath August 24, 2010 at 5:15 pm #

    I guess my reply yesterday didn’t post, so I’ll make another stab. (BTW, thank you for the compliment.) So lets try this again, as you seem to miss my point (but you’re to be forgiven for that.)

    Firstly let me say that progressives in Texas supporting 2A may not be as rare as you think. They may be scarce in Austin, but not so much so out here. (I’ll forgive you for that as well.)

    My point is not what you are saying, but what could be made of what you are saying. There exists an automatic assumption that all progressives have issues with 2A guarantees regarding individual rights. Your choice of phrasing can easily be construed to validate that assumption. It matters not what you meant to say, it could be twisted back on you with a cry of hypocrisy.

    BTW, although I’ve not before commented, I read you regularly.

  10. FUBAR August 24, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

    yeah well everybody’s had their say on this point, so I maintain that the important thing is that anybody named “Mule Breath” absolutely must be a regular commenter on this blog!

  11. Anonymous August 28, 2010 at 2:32 am #

    I have a problem with the statement: “That these babies are U.S. citizens is without question…”

    The 14th amendment was written:

    “Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”

    Read that again – it was understood that the babies of (illegal) aliens and foreigners ARE NOT U.S. citizens and just being born here could not be used to gain citizenship for the baby and most of the baby’s family. I cannot think of any other country where this is not so. Yes, 1965 Immigration Act changed this, but the absolute abuse of this act is what sticks in the craws of those that oppose the law. Don’t label me a racist, Mexican hater. I just get mad as hell when you use the Constitution to beat me into the ground and tilt the playing field as to give an unfair advantage to a group of people.

  12. Anonymous August 29, 2010 at 5:23 am #

    Gosh it’s funny how that fine point never came up in a hundred fifty years or so, until Repub activists were tasked with scapgoating immigrants.

  13. Anonymous September 1, 2010 at 1:12 pm #

    If anyone wants to read a photocopy of the actual amendment, here is the Library of Congress link:

    http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/ampage?collId=llsl&fileName=014/llsl014.db&recNum=389

    I don’t see this anywhere within the text:

    “Every person born within the limits of the United States, and subject to their jurisdiction, is by virtue of natural law and national law a citizen of the United States. This will not, of course, include persons born in the United States who are foreigners, aliens, who belong to the families of ambassadors or foreign ministers accredited to the Government of the United States, but will include every other class of persons.”

    Hmmm…

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