It’s a pretty simple idea, really. Humans have a God-given right to self-defense. Despite what’s commonly called The Bill of Rights, the U.S. Constitution doesn’t confer this or any other right. The first ten Amendments protect our “inalienable” rights from the government. Even if you don’t believe in God it’s a pretty compelling set-up; one that’s protected individual liberty for over three centuries. Not so says Norman Lear, the man who unleashed right wing straw man Archie Bunker into our cultural gestalt. His HuffPo screed Paul Ryan: God Says That I Can Carry a Gun? makes it clear that the founder of People for the American Way has a different view of the American way . . .
Religious Right leaders are excited that Rep. Paul Ryan, in accepting Mitt Romney’s invitation to be his running mate, said that our rights come from nature and God, not from government . . .
Now, am I crazy to suspect that his “God not government” usage is less an homage to Thomas Jefferson or John Locke than it is a rhetorical boost for the right-wing project to claim a divine mandate for the Tea Party’s radically restricted view of the role of government?
Trick question! It’s both. And the idea of a restricted government is no more radical today than it was when the Founding Fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution. Or, more accurately, it’s just as radical as it was when the Founding Fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution. And just as valid.
But that’s my take. Norman has other ideas.
Let’s celebrate the legacies from our founders, and at the same time maintain a healthy skepticism toward those who use the rhetoric of nature and God to deny the government’s role in promoting the general welfare or securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.
Oy vey. Anyway, do you believe our gun rights are God-given/”natural”?