Exclusive: Americans are proud that their Declaration of Independence was also a declaration of universal rights. But the hard truth is that, in 1776, the words were mere propaganda cloaking the fact that a third of the signers were slaveholders, including the famous author, Thomas Jefferson, as Robert Parry recalls.
Jesus’s social teachings and America’s founding ideals had common threads, particularly rejection of tyrannical rulers and promotion of the general welfare. But the Israelite society of Jesus’s day, like America today, had lost connection to its ethical roots, writes Rev. Howard Bess.
Rep. Paul Ryan wraps his Ayn Randian philosophy of unrestrained selfishness in phrasing selectively lifted from the Founders, but the Republican vice presidential nominee misses the role of democracy and self-government in establishing human rights, says historian Jada Thacker.
American history can be described as an endless tension between the nation’s ideals and its practices, with hypocrisy often winning out over principle – and those contradictions are most obvious when the nation celebrates its liberties while betraying them, both today and in the past, William Loren Katz notes.
For several decades now, the American Republic has been under a new form of assault, one that takes aim at what the Founders recognized as both the great strength and the great vulnerability of democracy, an informed electorate.