After Jeffries and Rep. Marcia Fudge of Ohio, disgraced tax cheat and Representative from new York Charlie Rangel took the floor. Amid rambling comments about the need for reparation payments to blacks to compensate them for slavery, the Congressman asserted: "How can we be able to say that white and black in this country are equal and that those who work hard and live by the rules have the same opportunities as each other, when we know that we have this cancer?"
I have news for Rep. Rangel and for all the other Black Caucus racists. Equality is not a right. It's a personal responsibility. It's something you have got to earn – not something somebody gives you.
The Declaration of Independence was a pronouncement that the British colonies in North America were divorcing themselves from the feudal caste system that persisted in England and in Europe at the time. The words "All men are created equal" was a rejection of aristocratic privilege. It was not a declaration of egalitarianism. Thomas Jefferson, who penned those words in 1776, was saying "No man is to the manor born, and no man is born a serf. All men are created equal." And that's all he meant to say.
That those words were not intended as a guarantee of social and economic equality is attested by Jefferson's following words: "...that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." The pursuit of happiness, Mr. Rangel – not the guarantee of happiness! As Benjamin Franklin said, "The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself."
Jefferson and the 56 other men who affixed their signatures to the Declaration of Independence were well aware that, while all men may be created equal, what they do with that creation is their own responsibility and their own liability. You can be a Nathan Hayes and respect and obey the rules of society, or you can be an O. J. Simpson and sacrifice your equality for incarceration. You can be a Larry Elder and join in the goals and struggles of society as an equal, or you can be a Jesse Jackson and stand off to the side complaining about alleged inequality.
Standing around whining that white folks aren't doing for you what you're too lazy to do for yourself is not a viable route to equality, Mr. Rangel. Such behavior is not only childish, it's counterproductive. The more you blame others for your own shortcomings, the less likely they are to help you earn equality. If there is a cancer, Mr. Rangel, it is in your body – the body of the black community.
Yes, I realize it's difficult for blacks – as it was difficult for my grandfather when he came to the United States from Germany – as it was difficult for me growing up during World War II with a German name, or for my Uncle Wilhelm Zimmering, who lived in West Chicago Illinois and told people he was Norwegian.
But we German-Americans had it easy compared to the Japanese-Americans in World War II. Roosevelt had them all rounded up and incarcerated in internment camps. Many of them are still incarcerated in such places as the Rohwer Japanese cemetery at Pendleton Arkansas.
But the Japanese-Americans who survived did not let unjust slavery or differences in their physical appearance stand in the way of achieving post-war equality with white America. They just did it.
Maybe there's a lesson there, Mr. Rangel.
"The claim to equality… is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. What it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority that the patient refuses to accept. And therefore resents." – C.S. Lewis