We Hold These Truths to Be Self-Evident

 On this July 4 I am in Poland, where President Andrzej Duda has just decapitated the judiciary, and Poles are, as I write, in the streets to protest the continuing theft of their democracy. Perhaps because of this, a stirring performance of Krzysztof Penderecki’s “Polish Requiem” I attended at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Kraków last night, a piece originally commissioned by Solidarity in 1980, received a sustained and rousing 30-minute applause.

The ties between Poland and the United States are long and enduring, not least of which because of the many thousands of Poles who have emigrated to the United States for the last four centuries. One of these was Andrzej Tadeusz Bonawentura Kościuszko a military engineer, scholar and ardent freedom fighter, who, in 1776, was appointed a colonel in the Continental Army by George Washington. Rising to the rank of brigadier general, he was integral to the liberation of the original thirteen colonies from British tyranny.

With apologies to, and corrections of, the Founding Fathers, and on the 232 anniversary of the American colonies’ Declaration of Independence from the British Empire, I offer this revision of their words in honor of Kościuszko and in support of democracy and human rights everywhere.

Dear President Trump,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for the people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them to their President, 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 people, of all races, genders, sexualities, nationalities, democratic beliefs and religions, 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 Us, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to elect a new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to affect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shewn, that mankind is more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been our patient sufferance; and such is now the necessity which constrains us to remove you and your Party from power. The history of your Presidency is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

To read the rest of this post, published at Public Seminar on July 4 2018, click here.

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