There was an amusing letter to the editor in Wednesdays Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (yes, I am slow to get to the newspaper…shocking, ain’t it?). The letter is headlined “Obama’s misquoting Constitution instructive” and is the third letter at the link.
Mr. Rusk, Sr. is upset with President Obama for misquoting the Constitution of the United States:
On multiple occasions President Obama has misquoted a key part in the opening lines of our most important protection from tyranny. His reading is “…all men are created equal and endowed with certain inalienable rights…”
Attentive readers have probably already noted that the “quote” is not even from the Constitution, but from the Declaration of Independence. Details, details.
Readers may also be asking what is wrong with the quote. I know I did. One problem is the word “inalienable”.
If you are unclear on the difference between his “inalienable” and the proper word “unalienable,” consult a good dictionary.
I consulted four or five online dictionaries and my real life dictionary. They all agree that unalienable is a variant of inalienable. So even if the President is using the wrong word, the meaning is the same.
Mr. Rusk then complains about Obama’s omission of the phrase “by their Creator”. Fair enough. Of course it is not clear that the President considers himself to be quoting the Declaration in the first place. Obama’s freely inserts biblical and foundational phrases into his public rhetoric all the time. That he would frequently talk about how all men are created equal and are endowed with certain inalienable rights is not all that surprising. Indeed, anyone who has listened to enough of Obama’s public speech would be surprised if he was not using such language.
Finally, Mr. Rusk asks:
If our creator is not the source of our rights, who or what then is? Certainly not this or any other government.
Well, we are all entitled to our own opinion. There are plenty of people that do not believe in a god, but still accept that human beings do in fact have rights. These rights are simply inherent. They do not “come” from anywhere. Note that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights does not invoke god or even mention god.
To depend upon a creator for your rights is problematic when faced with those who do not believe in a creator.
Mr. Rusk’s letter is so problematic that it leads one to wonder if some liberal wrote it trying to make Conservatives look bad (my money is not on this possibility).