Respect versus Idolatry
When Republicans read the United States Constitution in the House of Representatives, they censored the embarrassing passages of the document, you know, the part about slavery and African American being 2/3s people in Article I, Section 2.
I am glad that people are ashamed of slavery. On the downside, the efforts to depict the Constitution as perfect strike me as idolatrous.
I admire the founding fathers because they were human beings with warts and flaws that achieved an extraordinary feat.
Covering up their errors is not doing them a favor. More importantly, the United States Constitution is not the tower of Babel. It was not supposed to reach into heaven but it was a pragmatic compromise to address existential challenges of the American people.
Therefore, the Constitution requires permanent adaptation to a changing environment and the changing needs of the American people. Furthermore, the Constitution can also be improved. It was not meant to be perfect and it is not perfect.
The genius of the founding fathers was, in part, that for all their passion, principles, and insights, they could compromise with each to address the problems of the day.
Slavery was part of that compromise. It was the price for consensus. As a result, millions of Americans suffered exploitation, torture, and deprivation. 500,000 Americans had to perish during the Civil War before slavery was formally terminated.
It’s disrespectful to those who suffered to pretend that their fate and their lives were not codified in the United States Constitution.
Tragedy is as much part of the United States Constitution as glory. Acknowledging that not only celebrates the inclusion of those who were once left out, women and African Americans, but it also renders those who opposed inclusion more humane because it helps us to appreciate their misguided but sincere notion of virtue.