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The Perils of Rights-Talk By: David Yeagley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, March 04, 2002

Despite the heightened sense of duty and civic responsibility the nation has seen since September 11, many people today still believe America owes them whatever they want. "The pursuit of happiness" means they have the right to own what someone else has earned, just by desiring it.

Rights-talk is the disease of American culture. It’s too often the disguised clamor of greed and envy. If people can’t get everything they want, they claim they’ve been wronged. They demand their "rights."

Not surprisingly this language strikes a chord on the left. Many Leftists believe the poverty of the downtrodden is caused by the wealth of the rich. This attitude is the very doctrine of Leftist Marxism. Poverty is caused by the unequal distribution of wealth, and the Marxist idea of "equality" denies anyone (except Marxist leaders) the right to have more than anyone else.

But even under this scheme, it’s always the men in power who decide what "rights" are.

"Rights" are simply privileges granted by the ruling class. Rights change, evolve, and even disappear, depending on who’s in charge.

American rights are the most costly privileges. Of these rights former president Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "They may be considered inalienable rights, but they were bought with blood, sweat, and tears."

In other words, we could easily lose "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," even if they’re "inalienable."

Yet the left denies this important truth. Lawrence Hinman, (Contemporary Moral Issues, 1996) views rights as morals. John Rawls (Theory of Justice, 1971) says rights are related to equality. Of course the "equality" Rawls and his ilk have embraced has been the false religion of the last century. Their coinage is only the latest gloss on the ancient notion of "class struggle."

Rights talk encourages people to feel denied and discontented. This can cause revolution. I remember such teaching when I was at Yale Divinity. "In the name of God," many said to the Third World, "rise up and claim your rights." It was the "theology of revolution."

Former president Jimmy Carter’s globalist "Human Rights" campaign of the late ‘70s got the whole world thinking it had a right to the American dream.

The Left teaches not only that everyone is "endowed" with the right to American prosperity, but also that if you don’t have it, it’s because the "Great Satan" America has denied it to you.

But does the Creator endow economic rights?

The Bible rebukes the wealthy who oppress the poor (James 5:1-6), but it condemns neither wealth nor poverty in themselves.

Moreover, the Tenth Commandment, "Thou shalt not covet," disregards personal status (Exodus 20:17). A poor man can be guilty of envy as easily as a rich man, if not more easily. Poverty doesn’t excuse greed. Just because the Bible warns the wealthy not to oppress the poor doesn’t mean that Scripture allows the poor to covet, accuse the rich, or to be discontent.

Even as a modern Comanche Indian, I’ve never understood "rights."

I know a stronger people overcame my own people. But I’m really not interested in hearing the conqueror read me what he thinks my rights are. I want to know how he got stronger than me. That is the vital information. His strength determined my "rights."

For many minorities, including many Indians, the "rights" game has become a demonic sport. Minorities delight in torturing poor whitey’s conscience. The more pain they can provoke, the more goodies they can get.

But a career of pricking the white man’s conscience is not my idea of being a "noble savage."

Unearned "rights," like hand-outs, tend to foster greed and discontent, and devalue everything in society.

Forgive me for sounding like Friedrich Nietzsche, but only the strong deserve the spoils of strength. (The Genealogy of Morals, 1887.) For the weak to demand the fruits of strength is blasphemous.

Aristotle (The Politics ca.340 BC) said the weak cry for equality when they realize they can’t otherwise obtain their desires. The claim of equality is simply the delusion ‘I deserve what you have.’ Never mind independent achievement.

As an American Indian patriot, I say we shouldn’t let a theoretical version of "equality" destroy what America has achieved in reality.


Dr. David A. Yeagley is a published scholar, professionally recorded composer, and an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies. He's on the speakers list of Young America's Foundation. E-mail him at badeagle2000@yahoo.com. View his website at http://www.badeagle.com.

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