May the Fourth of July Be With You
To the progressive naysayers who deride our founding documents as quaint and archaic I say this: “Get down and Yub Nub!”
Almost 240 years after our founders signed The Declaration of Independence, we still celebrate the anniversary like enthusiastic Ewoks. This is entirely proper, for America, like planet Endor after the Ewok’s thwarted the Imperial Stormtroopers, is still the land of the free, the home of the brave.
“Yub nub, eee chop yub nub. Ah toe meet toe peechee keene, G'noop dock fling oh ah.”
That’s the opening line of the “Yub Nub,” part of the Ewok victory celebration after the Rebel Alliance pilots destroyed the Death Star in Return of the Jedi. Roughly translated it means: “Freedom, we got freedom. And now that we can be free, Come on and celebrate.” With the ominous Death Star blown to smithereens, the Ewoks partied hard.
Our own Independence Day celebrations are as enthusiastic as the jolly Ewoks’ Yub Nub" extravaganza. But why? Was the British Empire as repugnant as the Galactic Empire? Was King George III as tyrannical as Emperor Palpatine? Was General Cornwallis as ruthless as Darth Vader?
None of it, we’re just grateful that it was the British who ushered in America’s great experiment in Democracy. A glance at the map reveals that ex-colonies of other imperial powers didn’t fare so well – we got lucky.
Many of our founders emanated from the Sceptered Isle, and they borrowed heavily from British customs. The first eight decades of American legal history solidified property rights and laid the groundwork for America’s envious prosperity and unrivaled political liberty.
“Probable Cause,” “Innocent until proven guilty,” and Habeas Corpus were largely inherited from Britain. They are crucial legal doctrines – interwoven in the Constitution and Bill of Rights – that restrain the great leviathan from trampling on individual rights that are endowed by God, not the state.
The due process clause of the constitution, which underpins many of our individual liberties, is intrinsic to the Fifth Amendment. It also became a big part of the Fourteenth Amendment as our Constitution extended its auspices. It can be directly traced to clause 39 of the Magna Carta that reined in King John in 1215.
No wonder the preeminent political thinker Alexis de Tocqueville wrote this is his seminal treatise Democracy in America: “The English colonies (and this is one of the main causes of their prosperity) have always enjoyed more internal freedom and more political independence than the colonies of other nations…”
Our framers, you see, were steeped in classical liberalism. Their commitment to the notion that government derives its power from the consent of the governed provides a symphonic prelude to the Yub Nub chorus. Their lyrics dance across poetic parchments, lifting the human spirit and reverberating in the harmonious light side of the Force. They beckon industrious – legal – immigrants yearning to breathe free, yearning to achieve the American dream.
Our Rebel Alliance affirmed – for the first time in galactic history – that the ‘pursuit of happiness’ is a fundamental human right, along with life and liberty. Indeed, the thread of freedom weaves together America’s great tapestry of ethnicities, cultures and traditions. With hard work, one can even aspire to the Jedi Order in our land of opportunity.
But lefties are fond of ridiculing our brave founders as rich white men who owned slaves.
Those allegations are gratuitous and disingenuous; remember, history is best judged by the standards of the time. And by those standards our founders, while not entirely virtuous, were reasonable, rational and prescient. Most believed slavery violated natural law, and many served in their states’ antislavery societies. They were ahead of their time. Between Independence and the Constitutional convention, 8 states had begun emancipation and 10 had abolished slave trade. Actually, a big argument for constitutional ratification was that it would inexorably undermine slavery.
Sure, our founders were privileged, in that milieu they had to be to perpetrate a great Democratic Republic. But let’s not hold it against them – even Jedi Grand Masters aren’t perfect, yet they were visionaries who dared confront the dark side. Against long odds, they risked the ultimate price for their treason in order to pass down our great national treasures. Thanks largely to them, the Force is with us.
The Constitution is Archaic? Hardly! It provides the framework that enables diverse groups to flourish while congealing around an overarching set of principles that unites our diverse population. It couldn’t be more relevant considering that human nature is slow to progress. It counter-balances two deeply contradictory yet powerful instincts: cooperation and competition, in forming a more perfect union.
This Fourth of July, celebrate the bravery and wisdom of our founding fathers. For, despite a disengaged defeatist in the White House intent on running roughshod over our Constitution (SCOTUS achieved rare unanimity in declaring his recess appointments to the NLRB unconstitutional), America is still exceptional. And much of our exceptionalism can be attributed to our treasured treatises on civil government. That’s worth a big ol’ Yub Nub festival.
Before the climatic chorus of “Yub Nub,” the furry, rotund Ewoks of Endor sing: “Glowah, eee chop glowah. Ya glowah pee chu nee foom Ah toot dee awe goon daa.” This “Ewokese” approximately translates to: “Glory, we found glory. The power showed us the light, and now we all live free.” That sounds “peechee keene” to me.
May the Fourth of July be with you.