MSNBC’s Touré Neblett Reacts to Ryan’s Speech: For Women and Minorities, ‘Our Rights Do Not Come From God or Nature’
Near the end of his Wednesday night speech at the Republican National Convention, vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan told his audience and the nation that “sometimes, even presidents need reminding, that our rights come from nature and God, not from government.”
“He loves this line of ‘our rights come from God and nature’, which is so offensive to so much of America,” pontificated the MSNBC personality. “Because for black people, Hispanic people, and women, our rights do not come from God or nature. They were not recognized by the natural order of America. They come from the government and from legislation that happens in relatively recent history in America. So that line just bothers me to my core.”
One cannot prove it, but it actually seems possible that MSNBC is employing a commentator who may not have know that the source of our rights (“endowed by our Creator”) was identified by our Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence. At a minimum, Neblett is in essence claiming that the recognition of the source of our rights in the Declaration was an irrelevant piety that did nothing for anyone except I suppose the now-dead white men who wrote them.
As Hayward somewhat impatiently explained on Thursday, Neblett could not be more wrong (italics are in original; bolds are mine):
TRUE RIGHTS COME FROM GOD AND NATURE; ACCEPT NO SUBSTITUTES
It bothers me to my core that a news network would employ someone who needs a grade school course in remedial civics, but I’m a giving soul, so I’ll provide one. I’ll keep it light and simple.
The Declaration of Independence says: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
This is a very important concept. The signatories of the Declaration were saying that certain rights are built directly into each human being. You don’t actually have to believe in God to understand the concept. You enter this world with unalienable rights that are not granted by the government… and cannot be withdrawn at the pleasure of government. No one can pass legislation to take these rights away. Even if every single one of your fellow citizens votes to strip one of your unalienable rights from you, the government cannot do so, without sacrificing its legitimacy.
From this concept we draw one of humanity’s greatest moral and intellectual achievements: laws that restrain the government. That’s where the Constitution comes in, particularly the Bill of Rights. In essence, it’s a list of things the government cannot do, even with the overwhelming democratic support of its citizens. The Constitution itself can be amended, but that’s very difficult to do, and no such amendment would be legitimate if it were an offense against the very narrow set of rights endowed by our Creator. This is a key component in the transition from away from raw “democracy” and mob rule, toward the vastly superior governance of a lawful republic.
… To address Toure’s specific complaint, the essential truth of our rights descending from God and nature was not altered by any specific government’s failure to recognize them. The “legislation that happened in relatively recent history in America” that he refers to did not create those rights – it acknowledged them. The rights were there all along.
To say otherwise is to do more than just bicker with Paul Ryan’s, or the Founding Fathers’, choice of words. It is the surrender of a crucial concept that illuminates the American understanding of liberty and order – two powerful forces which are not easily balanced. The notion of unalienable rights is a priceless treasure that has implications far beyond any instance of racial strife.
… It should be necessary to explain all this to any adult American. But, sadly, it is, because there are ongoing efforts to play off racial division and bitterness, to bully many of our citizens into abandoning their Constitutional birthright.
It especially shouldn’t be necessary to explain this to someone like Neblett who has his perch because he supposedly has something worthwhile to say about current national and political events. The man clearly doesn’t.
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.