“It’s Déjà Vu All Over Again”
It’s déjà vu all over again.
On the day I write this blog to you, I stood on Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg and felt the initial stirring of the American Revolution. Eighty-eight original buildings restored and brimming with our history asked me to never forget the idealism and principles that gave birth to our nation. I sat in Bruton Parish Church in the pew where Patrick Henry sat and looked to my left and thought I saw a fleeting image of George Washington, for he too worshiped with Patrick Henry and other revolutionaries. I listened as an actor portrayed Patrick Henry and told an awestruck audience of the debate and decisions made in Williamsburg that propelled thirteen diverse and disjointed colonies to stand against the greatest military power on earth, Great Britain, and demand liberty or death.
I am inspired by the day and dismayed by a recent decision made by the president because it is “déjà vu all over again.”
An Old Story
An old story is repeating itself. Citizens of our country are being denied their rights. We have a long history of this kind of injustice, and it is time it ends. What is most disturbing is that in this instance it is the president of the United States that is perpetuating the injustice. Read on…
In the emergent years of our nation only men could vote—White men who owned property. You may not be aware, but the 14th Amendment speaks of life, liberty and property. Obviously, the founding fathers valued ownership and this voter restriction established political control by a relatively small group of white men. Men without property were denied the vote even though they were citizens of the United States. They could fight for the country and die for the country, but not vote in its elections.
Women encountered a similar barrier, but in 1848 Elizabeth Cady Stanton organized the Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York and used Thomas Jefferson’s words from the Declaration of Independence to outline the grievances of women as they began the long journey to equal citizenship under the law. This is another example of a group of citizens of our nation being denied a right common to others.
African Americans faced a similar challenge. The 15th Amendment may prohibit discrimination based on race, but barrier after barrier was erected to deny millions of descendants of slaves born in America and therefore citizens of our nation the right to vote.
A Recent Injustice
Now another form of limited citizenship is being put forth, in this instance, by the president. Full citizens of our nation, transgender citizens, are being denied the opportunity to serve in the military.
Remember, the government is compelled under the spirit of the Constitution to insure the rights of the people regardless of color, religion, gender, lifestyle, etc. The founding fathers could not foresee the various categories of citizens and the labels placed upon them, but the intent is evident. If you are a citizen, you have the rights of a citizen. It is time we stop referring to people based on labels and simply call one another citizens of the United States.
And remember that the citizens the president wants to defrock from the military and deny entry into the armed forces are people willing to risk their lives for us.
And what are the grounds for denial? Don’t they own enough property? Is it the pigmentation of their skin? Could it their gender? No, it is because they are labeled transgender. Can you see “it’s déjà vu all over again”?
As the old pattern encircles me, I am turned round and with every revolution Jesus’ words come more and more into focus, …they know not what they do. Perhaps in this instance, it is more accurate to say, “He knows not what he does.”
No Partial Citizenship
Let all of us, including the president, honor a fundamental principle; if you are a citizen of the United States, you are a full citizen with all the rights of citizenship. There is no such thing as a limited, partial or restricted citizenship. You are either a citizen or you are not.