By David Rosman August 4, 2010 Columbia MO –
I hate the movie “Forrest Gump.” Not Tom Hanks and not the special effects. I dislike the idea it represents; the dumbing of America. Yet, the movie was not the beginning of the effort to separate the educated from the “citizens,” those who are attorneys and legislators from the “working class.” (Like lawyers and legislators don’t work.)
Edward Larson’s A Magnificent Catastrophe is the story of the events leading up to and during the election of 1800. This is the election where our two party political system was born. This is where partisan politics and partisan newspapers became a mainstay in our democratic lives. This is where the first signs of “intellectuals” becoming political pariahs and distrusted. Yet the men who drafted and signed the Constitution were all intellectuals.
How bad has the dumbing of America become? The New York Times Magazine’s Judith Warner wrote about the Elena Kagen hearing,
“Any hint of an I’m-better-than-you sentiment, especially if that sense of superiority is based on intellect or fancy speech or having attended an Ivy League school, can go over very badly in America today, where “elite” has gone from being a word of admiration to one of insult.”
Warner is right. Quoting from Richard Hofstadter’s “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life,” she continued, “Intellect has been dissevered from its coordinate place among the human virtues and assigned the position of a special kind of vice.”
Today it seems that the neo-conservative groups are championing the dumbing of America and devaluing intellect, intelligence and education so they can better dispense volumes of propaganda. A case in point.
Amendment XIV, Section 1 of the United States Constitution, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Final ratification, July 9, 1868.
Today there is a concerted effort to eliminate the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. The Amendment says in part that anyone born within the confines of the United States is an American citizen. The Amendment does not talk to the legality of the parents.
If only those opposing the 14th Amendment could count.
There is a plethora of people, organizations and web sites devoted to the idea that a majority of the states did not ratify the Fourteenth Amendment.
These people claim that because of military rule, the Southern States could not vote for ratification. In fact, a number of Southern and Border States did ratify the Amendment through the legislative process prior the July 9, 1868 ratification date. At the time of ratification, the U.S. consisted of 37 states of which 27, the required three-quarters for passage, voted for the Amendment. These would include Tennessee, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Florida, North Carolina, Louisiana and South Carolina.
After July 9, Alabama, Georgia, Virginia, Mississippi, and Texas, all ratified the Amendment within three more years.
If those who are oppose to the 14th Amendment knew the Constitution.
A number of the opposition sites stress that the 14th Amendment was not ratified as deemed by Article V of the Constitution which states that three-quarters of the states need to ratify the proposed Amendment. The Constitution does say that is to be done through a Constitutional converntion. However, The National Archives’ Federal Register informs the reader that, “None of the 27 amendments to the Constitution have been proposed by constitutional convention. The Congress proposes an amendment in the form of a joint resolution.” Does this mean that the Bill of Rights is also unconstitutional?
Now, if only those who are opposed to the amendment could read and knew history.
Arizona State Senator Russell Pearce has been on the news a lot lately. He is arguing for a new Arizona state law that would deny “anchor babies,” those who are born in the United States by parents who are not legal residents or citizens by birth or naturalized.
Take a moment to watch the Fox News interview with Mr. Pearce. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fLS0JMVXZB4
Early in the interview, Pearce declares that the 14th Amendment is not Constitutional, denying its legitimacy and possibly its existance. (Confusing at best.) He sites the “Wong Kim decision” as his proof that the 14th Amendment “did not pertain to aliens and those who… did not have legal domicile in the United States.”
Mr. Pearce evidently did not read the entire court decision or the summaries available on various web sites. Here is what the majority (and minority) option said on U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898).[i]
The court decision was based on the Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868 and the Chinese Exclusion Acts (1882), both stating that children of Chinese mothers could not be American citizens and, thus, violated the 14th Amendment. In a “a 6-2 vote that Wong Kim Ark was in fact a US citizen. The court cited the “citizenship clause” of the 14th Amendment, which states that all persons born (or naturalized) in the United States, and (therefore are)subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens. Although the original motivation for this language in the 14th Amendment was to secure citizenship for the freed Negro slaves, the court held that the clause clearly applied to ‘all persons,’ regardless of their race or national origin.”
What Pearce was referring to is the dissenting opinion written by Chief Justice Melville Fuller. Fuller wrote, “the fourteenth amendment does not exclude from citizenship by birth children born in the United States of parents permanently located therein, and who might themselves become citizens; nor, on the other hand, does it arbitrarily make citizens of children born in the United States of parents who, according to the will of their native government and of this government, are and must remain aliens.”
The US-Sino Burlingame-Seward Treaty of 1868 concerned only Chinese children born in the United States of Chinese parents. That treaty said, “Citizens of the United States visiting or residing in China shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities, or exemptions in respect of travel or residence as may there be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation. And, reciprocally Chinese subjects residing in the United States, shall enjoy the same privileges, immunities, and exemptions in respect to travel or residence as may there be enjoyed by the citizens or subjects of the most favored nation. But nothing herein contained shall be held to confer naturalization on the citizens of the United States in China, nor upon the subjects of China in the United States.”
In other words, children born of Chinese nationals in the United States enjoyed the same privileges afforded to citizens of this country, with the single exception; they could not become a citizen through the accident of birth.
In addition to Pearce, there are a number of federal Senators who are pushing this same issue. Senators John McCain (R-Az.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), John Kyl (R-Az.) are prominent, as well as the 93 co-sponsors of Representative Nathan Deal’s (R-Ga.) H.R.1868 – Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009.
They want to recreate the xenophobic laws of the 19th Century. Good conservatives all – Moving backwards seem to be their best asset.
This only proves that the Republican and conservative efforts to “dumbing America” is working. That neo-conservative Senators and Representatives on state and federal levels have forgotten simple math (add, subtract, divide and multiply), and reading. That their analytical and research skills are nonexistent. They have become the perfect politicians.
Congratulations Mr. Pearce, you are the newest poster boy for the Dumbing of America, Inc.
David Rosman is an award winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in Communications, Ethics, Business and Politics. You can read more of David’s commentaries at ColumbiaMissourian.com and New York Journal of Books.com.
[i] (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=169&invol=649 and