Did we survive January 6th’s Wake Up Call?
By Ravi Batra
American Exceptionalism burns brightly.
Not since June 15, 1215 Magna Carta at Runnymede in England did the world evolve to its latest and highest milestone – still unsurpassed – the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 penned by the great Thomas Jefferson and 56 brave delegates who put their “John Hancock” on it, courting either death or “freedom of man” from Kings & Emperors henceforth. It is that hallowed immortal moment that we celebrate now, as never before, thanks to January 6th, an Insurrection to most, or a wake up call for our Republic by those who climbed the walls of Congress, as if storming the Bastille.
Strikingly, the most significant difference between those 56 brave immortals on July 4, 1776 and today’s July 4, 2021 is in what they pledged vs today some of us are oppressed by our Pledge of Allegiance. Their pledge was: “We Mutually Pledge To Each Other Our Lives, Our Fortunes, And Our Sacred Honor.” They pledged everything, including their sacred Honor. Today, we are hard pressed to find personal honor, let alone collateralize it.
Slavery, as a function of war, to the sin of Slave Trading, as an engine for Equity and Profit.
Our original sin of slavery – 3/5th of a person in the 1787 Constitution – was to prevent the Slave-owning South from overpowering the Northern states and making slavery more permanent. Trying to minimize a “known” wrong (hat tip to the Donald Rumsfeld’s “known knowns, unknown knowns, and unknown unknowns”).
We fought a Civil War to end slavery, and succeeded. Abraham Lincoln was a Republican. (To those who find his Emancipation Declaration statue objectionable need therapy, so they can learn to applaud a singular moral correction by civil war to end slavery.) Time and politics make strange bedfellows, together, even stranger. It was not until LBJ, after JFK, given significant prodding by MLK and passage of the “civil rights act of 1964,” that the Democratic party switched places with the Republican Party on racial discrimination. As a result, no one more than Lincoln was seen scratching his head endlessly and becoming an insomniac.
Something ails America, and it’s us.
It’s easy to ignore a former President, especially when his namesake company, Trump Organization, stands indicted by a grand jury in a prosecution led by Manhattan’s principled District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. and New York State Attorney General Tish James. But it would be wrong to dismiss over 70 million Americans who voted to re-elect him in November 2020. It is them, our fellow Americans, whom we must heed, and unite with.
All of us should applaud Speaker Nancy Pelosi for creating a Select Committee to investigate the January 6th Insurrection, and the brave constitutional hero, the lady with an iron spine, Liz Cheney, who agreed to be a member of that Select Committee. And to the GOP leadership caught in a vortex between their voters and their erstwhile Pied Piper of a former POTUS, our compassionate sympathy is theirs as an act of intrafamily healing.
Still, we need to find out why patriots, or at least people who believe themselves to be patriots, would climb the walls of Congress to stop then-Vice President Mike Pence, one of the most loyal VPs in our history, from carrying out his constitutional duties as his Oath mandated and certify the electoral college vote, thereby finalizing Joseph R. Biden Junior as our 46th president of these United States.
Humility in 1776 vs Hubris in 2020s.
Our nation was founded on Judeo Christian principles, and their collective yearning for individual liberty and justice for all, free of an intemperate king or emperor’s mandates. And yes, our founders were primarily white Europeans. It is unacceptable, if our current generation of entitled-Americans, who have achieved nothing in comparison to our founders, think that their criticisms alone make them superior to those who pledged everything. A theater critic’s sarcasm, while possibly enjoyable as a soundbite, hardly qualifies that critic for being a star on the stage. Our current generation, and several generations before, need to eat “humble pie” for we have polluted the earth, the land, water and air with plastics and micro plastics, with chemicals like C8 (Teflon), and weaponizing viruses with illegal “gain of function” enhancements, such as COVID-19 – a biowarfare agent – that is reverse zoonotic, transmitting from humans to animals and creating an existential threat. It’s worthy to recall that science has no soul, and no moral compass. Unfortunately, human history is littered with leaders, like Hitler, who suffer from the same malady.
“Equality” is a core principle of both constitutional law and justice. It is, however, inferior to its wiser sibling: “proportionality.” Our republic needs a tune-up. Our wheels are misaligned, our pride misplaced, and our compass is irreverent as it is misdirected. We argue not to convince or to compromise, but to be belligerent. We need to find unity with our fellow citizens, and respect, not insult, is key. “BLM” must not mean White is bad or inferior. Lincoln for race relations and Teddy Roosevelt for the environment must remain singular heroes. Columbus must grace our land, as Thomas Jefferson must be honored as the idea of America must be.
Pride in our exceptional America that honors Natural Law.
Every nation on earth, throughout history, has engaged in one form or another of discrimination. Indeed, Machiavelli taught political leaders to weaponize pride and ambition in order to enslave and control, and when that failed, fear worked. Our republic, founded under “natural law,” is now against nature itself and therefore, is in a self-destruct mode. Our political correctness has run amok, as our compassionate push for equal civil rights for race or orientation seeks to erase the Compassionate Supporters. We go about the world beating our chests speaking loudly against ourselves. This is not a public confession, as much as ill-advised arrogant belief that our present tense comprehension of a sliver of motivated society has the cosmic truth for the ages. It does not.
Benjamin Franklin and God.
We need to save ourselves, from ourselves. We need to save our republic, from ourselves. We need to stand up, and tell Benjamin Franklin: thank you and all of your amazing colleagues who bequeath to us this most exceptional and historic experiment of individual liberty under law, and despite our follies and our arrogance, we really mean to keep this republic alive and pass it down to our children and grandchildren. Happy birthday America. May God continue to bless the United States of America, and may our actions cause the word “united,” to go from a useless noun to a satisfying adjective.
Ravi Batra is Chair, National Advisory Council for South Asian Affairs