The Soapbox: Live Free or Pretend

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O P I N I O N

THE SOAPBOX

Stand up. Speak up. It’s your turn.


The July 25, 2021, editorial from the Union Leader (“History lives! New state law OK’s it” ) claims that the “divisive concepts” language in the budget “is little more than a reminder of Jefferson’s words that all men are created equal.” In celebrating that “history lives,” is the Union Leader ignoring the fact that not all men (or women) were equal in Thomas Jefferson’s time? We know what Jefferson’s words meant by examining his actions, and the actions of government, in that period.

Ten members of the National Woman’s Party, New England division, pay a visit to Congress to demand equal rights, including Sallie Hovey representing New Hampshire. [Photo submitted by the author].

After the Revolutionary War and the establishment of this country, only a very few wealthy white men enjoyed the right to vote and own property. Has the Union Leader forgotten the Civil War, the civil rights movement, and women rallying for the right to vote? If “all men” always meant “all people” as the Union Leader suggests, why were these movements necessary?

There are two American traditions we can do without: worshipping the Founding Fathers like they were omniscient gods, and pretending that our country has always provided the freedoms that so many have had to fight to hold for themselves.

Escaped slave Gordon showing his scarred back at a medical examination, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 1863 — nearly a century after Thomas Jefferson declared all men were created equal. [Photo submitted by the author.]

In fact, the Union Leader’s editorial, in misrepresenting Jefferson’s legacy as being one of profound freedom and not slave ownership, is precisely the type of erasure of factual American history that is sought by the “divisive concepts” language in the budget — to suppress the reality that America has not always been the Land of the Free.

Our country has, however, always been the Home of the Brave — the countless people who insisted on claiming for themselves the very rights that were denied to their ancestors by the Founding Fathers.