Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Amendment 2 and Assault Rifles

“ A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Amendment 2

With all the postings concerning Amendment 2 that I see daily, I am compelled to give my “two cents worth.” I know my credentials are not as valid as “Harvard Scholars” and celebrities who have much more credibility than I because of their financial worth. I am just a poorly paid teacher of American history who has read and studied our documents of freedom over and over for 23 years plus having had the advantage of experiencing a lot of that history because of my age – 69.  Knowing that few people will spend any amount of time reading any article that requires them to think or even research on their own to see if my facts and conclusions bear weight, I’m going to “give it a go.”

What the majority of people do not understand about Amendment 2 is that it does not stand alone. It is only one of ten Amendments known as the Bill of Rights which had to be put into the Constitution before the oligarchy that established this “free” government would ratify the Constitution.

The men who met in Independence Hall in 1787 went to revise the first form of government established after the Revolution the “Articles of Confederation,” which by the way, was based on the Constitution of the Iroquois Confederacy which was destroyed during and after the American Revolution. As they met, the consensus of the Founding Fathers was that the loose league of friendship of 13 sovereign states was not working.

The economy was failing because each state wanted its own currency. Next, there were violent protests like the Whiskey Rebellion that needed addressing. In addition, the new government needed to get rid of the Native American uprisings in the Northwest Territory that were being supported by the British supplying the “terrorist” Indians with guns. The British were supplying the Indians with guns to maintain control of their forts along the Great Lakes which gave them control of vital transportation into the interior of the country. The settlers needed to have their Kentucky long rifles and weapons to use against the Indians in order to settle the land that the United States said, for some reason, belonged to them after the Revolution. So, these Founding Fathers went to Philadelphia to come up with a government that would establish a national economic system and a national army. Neither of these were popular among the Sons of Liberty who had just fought a war to be free of the abuses of an absolute monarch. So, the meetings were held in secret throughout the summer of 1787.

After the Constitution was written that established a federal government that would control the money and have a standing army, the Founding Fathers set about “selling” the idea of federalism to the governments of the 13 sovereign states. Three-fourths of the states had to ratify or approve the Constitution before the new government could proceed. That’s why Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay wrote a series of articles that became known as “The Federalist Papers” under the pseudonym Publius. This debate over a strong central government versus a government of loosely connected sovereign states led to the development of political parties and ultimately to Civil War. 

The Federalist Papers which I read in a book entitled “The Original Argument” set forth all the reasons why the new United States should surrender power to a central government. The arguments were highly contested and even led to several duals between men like Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton. The bottom line soon became apparent. Before any approval of a Constitution that would give sanction to a central government certain rights had to be guaranteed in the Constitution. These rights were listed in the first ten amendments to the Constitution and became known as the Bill of Rights. Amendment 2 was the protection of the individual citizen to bear arms in order to keep the central government from abusing its power by controlling the weapons and using those against them.

The ironic thing about this Amendment is that, when written, the only citizens entitled to bear arms were the White Anglo Saxon men who were the only ones allowed to own property and vote. Native Americans and African Americans were certainly not allowed to “bear arms” in order to protect themselves from genocide and massive takeover of lands or from enslavement. So, today, we have Amendment 2 still in operation which, if interpreted as I interpret its meaning, assault rifles are certainly allowed to private citizens to protect citizens from the abusive military. That also means citizens have the means to nuclear weapons and dirty bombs of all types. That’s how powerful our military has become. What should be done about Amendment 2 then? To what extent should the government or even private citizens have access to weapons whose only reason exists to kill? Therein lies the focus of the debate in this country in my opinion.

As an added note, private citizens in this country are protected by the second Amendment to the Constitution from a powerful military. What about the third world countries who do not have that protection and where citizens face the daily terror of weapons manufactured and supplied by the United States to governments that dole out the weapons at will to all kinds of corrupt and hateful organizations?  The people of these countries live with endless war and death and must flee to other countries that will allow them to enter in order to find security. I find it ironic that our country now sees these refugees as “terrorists” and wants to treat them in many ways like the Native Americans were treated in the 19th Century. Build walls (forts) to keep them out and continue to fuel hate and fear while supplying the hate groups with weapons forged in the United States and supplied to these corrupt factions all over the globe. Some of them even end up back in the United States and when used to massacre our citizens the public outrage begins.


Friday, June 10, 2016

We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope

I just finished "We Are Afghan Women: Voices of Hope," edited by the George W. Bush Institute with introduction by Laura Bush. I learned so much from these stories. These stories were written by women who have horror stories to tell but that is not the focus of the book. The women offer hope by telling their stories and then voicing their ideas about how this has happened and what to do to make lives better for women as well as the entire culture of Afghanistan.

According to these women the root cause of the suffering - not radical religious beliefs but simply put, 40 years of unending war and interference from so many countries that has led to the annihilation of not only their economy but their entire culture.These women believe that education is the key to change, but not just education for women - the men as well. 

The women also give two reasons for the Taliban's and Isis' success in Afghanistan. The main reason young men join their cause aside from ignorance and a total disconnect from their heritage and culture is money - not radical devotion to their hate. Where did the weapons come from in the first place? The Taliban and ISIS got their weapons from those supplied by the United States to help the mujaheddin fight against the Soviet invasion. When the Soviets left, the United States along with the United Nations did nothing to enforce a peaceful transition, including the demilitarization and restoration of a free government. As a student and teacher of history throughout my life, I can see that what has happened in Afghanistan to destroy cultures and create so much suffering is simply what has happened throughout human existence, unending war.