At Veterans United For Freedom, we continue the tradition of our forefathers as the “keepers of liberty” that was gifted to us by the generations before us. This organization was formed because as veterans we took an oath to defend the constitution and see that liberty is under attack. It is under attack from governors who want to decide what supplies are essential. It’s under attack from local governments deciding which groups can exercise their first amendment rights. It’s under attack by cities that demand their residents leave their second amendment rights at the city limits. When governments violate our rights it is our duty to speak up and address the issue.
While governments infringing on our freedoms is nothing new, many others are willing to take up the cause of freedom when governments run afoul of our constitution. The issue is that liberty is under attack by individuals as well and nobody seems willing to stand against it. In a relatively new phenomenon, Americans are increasingly eager to deny others their freedoms for the sin of disagreeing with them. Many people call this the “cancel culture”, but oftentimes it much more nuanced. Take for example Proposition 8 in California. This political movement to define marriage as between one man and one woman passed and became state law by a majority of voters. After being struck down by the California State Supreme Court people who supported the law began being targeted. In a famous example, the founder of Mozilla had donated to a Prop 8 campaign and was then forced to resign from his position leading his company. This man’s sin was to support a law that the majority of voters supported and his livelihood was jeopardized because of it. There are countless less-famous examples of people who have been targeted for their beliefs, such as the woman in Duluth, Minnesota who was let go from her job for the sin of supporting a sitting member of Congress, Pete Stauber. These examples are not liberty and not what our founding fathers envisioned for our great nation.
But the threat to liberty isn’t just people being targeted publicly, it has now come to individual interactions as well. In an environment of hyper political correctness, people now feel that they must censor themselves in order to not offend other people. If you do offend other people, suddenly your rights as an American are no longer important and it is OK to shout you down and deny you your first amendment rights. A casual scroll through your personal Facebook feed will probably show you countless examples of this. We have created an environment where free speech is not allowed, and the social rules are utterly confused based on your level of “wokeness”. For example, in the wake of the George Floyd murder, white people can apparently no longer be silent but if their believes don’t align directly with Black Lives Matter talking points they have to shut up. If white people are not asking questions on how to be anti-racists they’re racist bigots but if they have to ask questions they’re inadvertently racist bigots. For black people it’s just as confusing. Black people must have a voice and must be listened to, unless their viewpoint also goes against the current Black Lives Matter talking point, then they’re an “Uncle Tom” and their voice must be silenced. People are so sensitive to what other say or believe they have no problem telling other what to think, what to believe, and what to say while telling them what they cannot think, what they cannot believe, and what they cannot say. This is the antithesis to liberty. Just because it is not a government denying citizens their rights does not mean we should stand by and do nothing.
Our founding fathers left us a framework for how to govern and ushered in the most prosperous nation this world has ever seen. As we look back to our founding documents and philosophies of our founding fathers, it’s important to understand how they came to the conclusions they did. Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence and most of the Constitution was heavily influenced by the English philosopher John Locke and his book “Two Treaties on Government”. If you’re an American and have not read the Two Treatises, you really should as it gives you a much better understanding of our founding documents. You will have a better understanding of John Locke’s Social Contract Theory and how it applies to today. In short, Locke argues that we all sign a social contract to join a civil society and it is government’s role to ensure all are playing by the rules of the civil society. Part of the social contract is that nobody’s rights trump anybody else’s rights. In a functioning society, one’s right to be offended does not trump somebody else’s right to free speech. In a functioning society, having a differing opinion should not mean you should lose your job. Americans have broken the social contract and liberty is suffering as a result. It is long past time that the government finds ways to ensure that all are following the social contract. If government is unwilling or unable to enforce the social contract, then individuals need to demand others do. We all have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, now is the time to embrace those ideals and demand that we all live free.