Thursday, November 23, 2017

A Thanks to Western Civilization on Thanksgiving

Western Civilization is the reason we are here today in this multi-ethnic, multi-cultural nation. Western Civilization gave us Freedom of Speech, Freedom of religion, Freedom of Press, the right to assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances. We call it the First Amendment, but it is the product of Western Civilization. The precepts of Western Civilization, going back to Ancient Greece, recognize the rights of the individual rather than a sovereign. Magna Carta in 1216 gave us due process and the beginnings of the common law and constitutional law. Magna Carta began the process of reigning in the absolute power of the King and empowering the individual. Western Civilization pulled the world out of the Dark Ages with the Reformation, Renaissance, and the Age of Enlightenment. The Industrial Revolution increased the standard of living and created a large middle class. Western Civilization has given the world a standard of living unknown in earlier generations. It has allowed billions to escape the yoke of poverty. Western Civilization led the world in ending serfdom and slavery and enfranchising women because Western Civilization has the ability to evolve. A recent rap on Western Civilization is its role in slavery, especially 3½ centuries in the Americas. Western civilization led the way in ending slavery throughout much of the world. England outlawed the slave trade in 1807 and used the British Navy to enforce the ban. The Royal Navy announced it would treat slavers as if they were pirates. The United States followed on January 1, 1808, as soon as the Constitution allowed a ban to be implemented on the Slave Trade. England banned slavery throughout the British Empire in The Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, which freed the slaves in 1/3 of the world. Sadly, the United States could not peacefully end slavery, but had to fight a brutal Civil War to accomplish the goal. The northern states, which once allowed slavery, had progressively banned slavery between 1777 and 1803 before the Civil War, leaving the United States divided between Free States and Slave States. Western Civilization did not create slavery, which was recognized both in the ancient Code of Hammurabi and the Bible. Every major civilization throughout recorded history had slaves. The Egyptians, Greeks (helots) , Persians, and Romans held slaves. The Aztecs and Mayans both had slaves and practiced human sacrifices. Some Native American tribes in the United States held slaves. African peoples not only had slaves of their own, but traded millions of captured Africans of other tribes to slavers. The Ottomans had millions of slaves. Serfdom was quasi-slavery. Slaves historically were of every skin color. Slavery was abhorrent even to the drafters of the Constitution. They never once in the Constitution used the words, slave, slavery, or slave trade. Yet the 3/5 clause was the compromise needed to bring the 13 colonies together as the United States of America. Western Civilization gave us antibiotics, the airplane, automobile, electricity, the computer, internet and GPS, the clock, printing press, telegraph, telephone, and television, the steam engine, railroads and steamships, and the university. Geniuses, such as Bohr, Copernicus, Crick and Watson, Darwin, Einstein, Fleming, Galileo, Jenner, Lister, Madam Curie, Mendel, Newton, Pasteur, Planck, Tesla, and Turing advanced civilization. Above all, Western Civilization empowered the individual. The writings of political philosophers, such as Hobbes, Hume, Locke, Rousseau, and Voltaire led to Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence, a truly revolutionary document in world history: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.” The drafters of the Constitution, learning from their English predecessors and history, added the Bill of Rights to the Constitution to protect the people from the government. The creation of a democracy with open doors to immigrants created a beacon to the world, the beacon of liberty and opportunity. The Statue of Liberty, a gift from France, became a global symbol of the United States. Peoples of the world, refugees, still come to the United States, looking for a better future for themselves and children. That is the success of Western Civilization. Academic Freedom, a construct of Western Civilization, allows today’s professoriate to profess the tripe they profess as knowledge and learning within the academy. Western Civilization and the British Library also gave us Karl Marx.

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