The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Search Results

The Declaration of Independence and human rights

leave a comment »

To commemorate the 4th of July, here’s Declaration of Independence, as published by The Pennsylvania Packet, one of the great Philadelphia newspapers of the day.

According to EarlyAmerica.com:

Congress had appointed a Committee of Five to draft a statement to the world presenting the colonies’ case for independence. The committee consisted of John Adams of Massachusetts, Roger Sherman of Connecticut, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Robert R. Livingston of New York and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia. The committee assigned Jefferson the task of writing the original document. After minor alterations were subsequently made by Franklin and Adams, the document was submitted to Congress.

Two passages in Jefferson’s draft were rejected by the Congress — an intemperate reference to the English people and a scathing denunciation of the slave trade. Otherwise, the Declaration was adopted without significant change…

Declaration of Independence

In these days of controversy over the treatment of immigrants and the detention of suspected terrorists, perhaps it’s useful to remind ourselves that this founding document of America acknowledges that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among them are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Further, securing those rights – the rights of all, not just citizens – is the reason for which governments “are instituted.”

Nothing could be more American.


Tags: , , , , , , , Monte Asbury

Written by Monte

July 4, 2008 at 10:33 pm

Human rights and the image of God

with one comment

Jim Wallis quotes the Pope’s U.N. speech:

The life of the community, both domestically and internationally, clearly demonstrates that respect for rights, and the guarantees that follow from them, are measures of the common good that serve to evaluate the relationship between justice and injustice, development and poverty, security and conflict.

I hear it this way: “Human rights” is a measure of the morality of our world.

The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security.

Promoting human rights = improved worldwide security. Imagine, say, Israel and Palestine, and how different American policy would be toward them if human rights were the goal. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

May 1, 2008 at 2:56 pm

Muslims champion human rights

leave a comment »

My blogging friend Honestpoet at Enough is Enough found the stirring words of The St. Petersburg Declaration at Secular Islam Summit. Secular Islam SummitI admire them greatly.

We are secular Muslims, and secular persons of Muslim societies. We are believers, doubters, and unbelievers, brought together by a great struggle, not between the West and Islam, but between the free and the unfree.

We affirm the inviolable freedom of the individual conscience. We believe in the equality of all human persons.

We insist upon the separation of religion from state and the observance of universal human rights.

We find traditions of liberty, rationality, and tolerance … in the rich histories of pre-Islamic and Islamic societies. These values do not belong to the West or the East; they are the common moral heritage of humankind. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

March 29, 2007 at 12:29 pm

Jews plead for rights of Palestinians

with 4 comments

Amy GoodmanFascinating and hopeful new outspokenness is developing among some UK Jews about Israeli-Palestinian relations. Consider this excerpt of an interview by Amy Goodman of the ever-excellent DemocracyNow! (and by all means, if this subject intrigues you, click on the title and read the entire interview at DN’s site):

Independent Jewish Voices: New British Group Speaks Out on Israeli Policies in Occupied Territories

This week in Britain, a group of prominent British Jews launched an organization to counterbalance what they perceive as uncritical support of Israel by major Jewish institutions in the UK. … The IJV Declaration states that “those who claim to speak on behalf of Jews in Britain and other countries consistently put support for the policies of an occupying power above the human rights of an occupied people.” … members urge … Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

February 9, 2007 at 4:46 pm

Posted in Politics, Social change

Harkin: An Apology For Slavery

with one comment

Iowa’s Sen. Tom Harkin spoke on June 18th in support of a bill that made an official government apology to black Americans for slavery in the United States, and for the government’s long failure to act against it. I am proud that one of my state’s Senators was a key mover in the apology. Every time America honestly faces the dark sides of its past, we become a better people.

Does it end racial division? Of course not. But, as with all trauma, healing only happens in small steps. Words are always part of those steps.   Some may say “Talk is cheap, nothing is solved, this Senate didn’t cause slavery anyway.”  But we are responsible for our history, and I’ll take an apology over official silence any day.


Today, Senator Tom Harkin delivered remarks on the Senate Floor just prior to the passage of S. Con. Res. 26, which he introduced and co-sponsored. The transcript follows.

“Madam President, the clerk just read for the first time ever in this body what we should have done a long time ago. An apology for slavery and the Jim Crow laws which, for a century after emancipation, deprived millions of Americans their basic human rights, equal justice under law and equal opportunities. Today the Senate will unanimously make that apology. Read the rest of this entry »