Liberty Enlightening the World
By Groff Schroeder
The 1886 statue of Liberty Enlightening the World on Liberty Island in New York City serves as an enduring symbol of the freedoms and liberty guaranteed by the United States Constitution, which founds the United States of America. America is a brilliant experiment in which freedom (personal autonomy) and liberty (freedom for all) sprouted, evolved, and flourished based upon the statement, “all men are created equal” published in the 1776 Declaration of Independence.
America’s costly, painful, and difficult Revolutionary War began in 1775, but America’s founders emerged victorious in 1783, breaking the bonds of monarchy and government sponsored Christianity. They ratified the original United States Constitution in 1788, and updated it in 1791 with the ratification of ten Amendments (the Bill of Rights). Yet despite the high ideals and lofty goals of the Declaration, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, many Americans were still denied the right to vote, and slavery endured. America’s slow progress toward the freedoms and liberty allegedly guaranteed by the Bill of Rights started after the 1861-65 Civil War, with the ratification of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments. Yet still, half of the American people – women – were denied the vote until the ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
Despite the 19th Amendment’s tremendous advancement of American freedom and liberty, 1920 also saw religious fundamentalists ratify the 18th Amendment prohibiting the manufacture and sale of alcohol, an ultimately disastrous attempt to legislate morality by quashing our personal freedoms and shared liberty. In 1933, the 21st Amendment would rescind the 18th Amendment, terminating the horrific political and public safety catastrophe that killed countless Americans with unsafe consumables and gun violence, corrupted America’s criminal justice system, and created a new type of crime - the Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organization. And sadly, virtual slavery lived on as state law enforced segregation until 1964. But ironically, although widespread criminal gun violence and government corruption were negative but unintended consequences of the 18th Amendment’s attempt to regulate morality, today, deadly religious terrorism and the unscrupulous stacking of federal courts are not unintended side effects, but intentional tactics to rescind our civil rights, human freedoms, personal privacy, individual morality, and access to evidence based medical procedures.
Sadly, in 2022, the Supreme Court’s “Constitutional originalist” members granted local politicians powers to unilaterally overrule the Bill of Rights and destroy equal justice under law. Aggressive, fundamentalist anti-abortion laws followed, policing American’s medical decisions, sex lives, sex organs, and reproductive processes in violation of the 1st, 4th,, 5th, 8th, 13th and 14th Amendments. As did laws that ban books, and eliminate, censor, and criminalize even the discussion in public schools of routine sexual biology or America’s history of systematic, government-enforced prejudice.
But just as the American experiment eventually ended the enormous but temporary disasters of fear, anger, and religion motivated drug and alcohol prohibition, recent attempts to force nakedly unconstitutional compliance with ancient religious beliefs, legislate morality, and deny us freedom and liberty through once unthinkable prohibitions of books, clothing, honest speech in education, and often life-saving medical care will fail. No matter what tactics opponents of freedom and liberty exploit, the Constitution evolves, liberty enlightens the world, and we the people relentlessly strive to finally establish justice and achieve the more perfect union envisaged by America’s Founders in the United States Constitution some 234 years ago.
Published in the July 5-11 issue of the Colorado Springs Independent with the quotation below.
“The advancement of science and the diffusion of information [is] the best aliment to true liberty."