From Chris Rock:
With time standing still, Rock was right. There was slavery in much of the British Colonies, and Independence Day did not end that immediately. It took about 90 years and a civil war to do that, although many slaves gained their freedom in the interim.
In 1776, most of the world was a pretty brutal place, with slavery widely practiced and not just by Europeans.
Yet time didn’t stand still.
The principles recognized in the Declaration of Independence, and then in the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights, laid the foundation for the freedoms gained by free men and women and slaves as well. Those documents stood almost alone in the world in embracing individual liberty and autonomy.
The reality of the world on July 4, 1776, or even on July 5, 1852, doesn’t change the meaning of our national Independence and its founding documents.
Those principles led over time to a country in which someone like Rock could get fabulously wealthy telling jokes and insulting people, and could get away with attacking a cameraman who asked a question Rock didn’t like:
“When you said the Tea Party was insane and racist–” he begins, before getting cut off by Rock. He then attempts the question again, but this time the comic charges back at the camera, wrestling it to the ground.
The majesty of the Declaration of Independence stands in such sharp contrast to Rock’s foul mouth:
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed….
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Chris, your freedom to be a jerk and blow-hard stems from that Independence Day.
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