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Jewish World Review July 5, 2001 / 14 Tamuz 5761

Don Feder

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Consumer Reports

A letter from the
Founding Fathers -- From: The Founding Fathers
To: The current generation of Americans

On this the 225th anniversary of our independence, those of us you call the Founding Fathers have assembled in Continental heaven to assess the condition of the republic we bequeathed to you.

It's true America has become the wealthiest, most powerful nation on earth. But so was the British Empire in 1776.

Before we get specific, we must confess that we are annoyed by your habit of misinterpreting our words. Take the First Amendment, where we said Congress shall make no law "respecting an establishment of religion." You usually neglect the other half of the injunction, "or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

As anyone in the first Congress, which passed the amendment, could have told you, "establishment of religion" means an established church, which all are forced to support. We never intended to create a virtue-less republic, by prohibiting public expressions of faith. In the Declaration of Independence, we acknowledged that rights are endowed by our Creator. Absent a Creator, there are no inalienable rights.

In the Second Amendment, we said the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. In our day, if private citizens hadn't owned guns there would have been no Lexington and Concord. Why would we bother guaranteeing a collective right to arm state militias? The rights enumerated in the first 10 amendments are restraints on government, not grants of power to it.

If you ever wake up to what's going on, your leaders will have cause to fear an armed citizenry.

We viewed elective office as a sacrifice. For your politicians, it's an opportunityr. We rid America of a monarchy. You've established an elected aristocracy. We were farmers, merchants and professionals who resumed our careers after a brief term of service and never lost touch with our constituents.

You are governed by an elite so different from you as to almost constitute a separate species. Your elected rulers hold office for 20 or 30 years, becoming increasingly detached from their roots, while rewarding themselves lavish emoluments and pensions.

We revolted over a modest tax on tea. Your tax burden is staggering. Despite the enormous expenditures of your prodigal politicians, even they can't spend it all. And still, many resist returning the federal surplus to its rightful owners. We rejected taxation without representation. You condone your own serfdom.

In the Declaration, we complained that King George III had "sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance." You complacently tolerate a bureaucracy that resembles all Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Eat out their substance? Today, almost one in 13 Americans works for a branch of government. Harass our people? There are bureaucrats to tell you how to run your business, build on your property and raise your children. Government makes decisions for you regarding your health, safety and welfare.

We envisioned the judiciary as a coequal branch of government that interprets laws based on the clear meaning of language. Your courts have become a law unto themselves -- raising taxes, deciding elections, ordering private relationships and substituting their will for that of legislators.

We warned you against entangling alliances. You are eager to form defensive pacts with postage-stamp countries whose security couldn't conceivably be related to your own. This will only serve to drag you into their petty quarrels, sapping your strength.

We recognized that government and society must rest on divine wisdom. George Washington observed, "Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

You cultivate national immorality, in the apparent belief that abortion, adolescent access to pornography, cohabitation, public distribution of prophylactics and compulsory acceptance of perversion will somehow lead to a society whose citizens have the self-discipline to sacrifice for the common good.

Benjamin Franklin said we gave you a republic "if you can keep it."

From our vantage point, it does not look promising. Were we alive today, we'd raise another rebellion.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest books are Who is afraid of the Religious Right? ($15.95) and A Jewish conservative looks at pagan America ($9.95). To receive an autographed copy, send a check or money order to: Don Feder, The Boston Herald, 1 Herald Sq., Boston, Mass. 02106. Doing so will help fund JWR, if so noted. He is also available as a guest speaker. To comment on this column please click here.

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© 2001, Creators Syndicate