Leonard B. Rosenberg, a William Paterson University political science professor, argues in America's Past is Not Its Destiny that "to return to the values exemplified by our Founding Fathers," we must "reinstitute slavery," "rescind women’s suffrage and equal rights," and accept a return to state-sanctioned religion and religious persecution.
Rosenberg does not completely dismiss the Founding Fathers, just their essential accomplishment. He reserves praise for the Founders by implying there willingness to compromise on anything and everything by intentionally creating a "living constitution." He writes:
The Founding Fathers were indeed remarkable men. They crafted a remarkable document that — with a few amendments, numerous judicial interpretations, some significant executive orders and changing attitudes on right and wrong — still functions in an entirely different environment. But these remarkable men were just that — men. They were no more able to see the future than we are. And as all of us are, they were trapped by their age, self-interest and circumstance.
I left these comments:
It should be remembered that America inherited slavery, the plight of women, and religious strife and persecution. These ancient historical forces could not be wiped away in one fell swoop at America's founding.
Yes, the Founders had to make unfortunate political compromises to ensure the birth of the new nation. And yet, the founders managed to erect the philosophical and constitutional framework that would eventually wipe away slavery, bring legal equality for women, and ensure peaceful coexistence among religious sects. This is their monumental achievement.
Against a backdrop of statism as the historical norm, the principles of inalienable individual rights and government as servant and rights-protector created a nation that, for the first time in history, intentionally subordinated the state to the sovereignty of the individual.
It is these "values exemplified by our Founding Fathers," rather than slavery, women's inequality, or politically-empowered religion, that we need to restore--this time with full consistency.
The Founders were not at all "trapped by their age ... and circumstance," nor needed omniscience, to adopt these universal truths as the foundation upon which their nation would be built. Jefferson's wisdom should not be misconstrued. The Founders would never have approved of a "living constitution" as a means of abandoning those fundamental principles and gradually returning to state supremacy and the newest incarnation of that ancient evil--the slavery of all to all under collectivism. We ignore the Founders' values at our peril, lest the world's past becomes America's destiny.
Rosenberg evades the distinction between the immediate concrete circumstances of a given time and the evolutionary nature of abstract ideas. It takes time--sometimes decades or even centuries--for ideas to take hold. By blurring that distinction, and dropping the historical context in which the constitution was forged, Rosenberg seeks to discredit the ideals that forged this country, without even mentioning those ideals. He is condemning the Founders' values without a hearing, by equating them with a snapshot of history, and then smearing those who would "return to the values" of the Founders as essentially wanting a return to plantation slavery.
It is not a condemnation of the evils America inherited, but the obliteration of the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness that Rosenberg is really attempting to accomplish. We who fight to stem and reverse the statist tide in America must not let Americanism's enemies get away with such trickery.
July 4, 1776: Words that Will Never Be Erased