Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Why America Is Not A Propositional Nation

Via Red 



A Christian or a Jew can clearly believe they are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights and believe in the non-establishment of religion; A follower of Islam, which enjoins sharia or Islamic law and prohibits the separation of church and state, can be a good American only insofar as he is not a good Moslem.

THE IDEA has become popular in liberal, libertarian, and neoconservative circles that the United States is a "propositional nation." This means that the essence of America consists of certain ideas, from which it follows that the principal thing we should concern ourselves with in our national life is whether we continue to instantiate these ideas. It also follows that conservatism consists in conserving these ideas and this is the problem by implication nothing else. This is a thus deeply mischievous notion, mischievous because it is a half-truth, and it must be debunked.

The first problem with the idea that America is a propositional nation is this: what is the proposition?

Ignoring answers invented on the spot without even pretence of historical justification, the most common answer is that it is,

"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."

The first problem with the claim that this is our national proposition is this: this is not the law of the land. These words come from the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. One might as well say that America is founded on Tom Paine’s assertion in his pamphlet Common Sense, that "an island cannot rule a continent." Both these assertions may be true, they may be noble, they may have contributed to the subsequent founding of our country, but they are not law and are therefore not morally binding on Americans.

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America is not a propositional nation

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