DERRICK G. JETER

Engaging Ideas at the Crossroads of Faith & Freedom

Come to the Not So New Website

Dear Readers,

Many of you follow my updates on WordPress, but I’m no longer posting articles to this site. If you’re a follower and would like to keep up to date with my writing please visit my not so new website: www.derrickjeter.com. You can sign up for the rss feed there: http://www.derrickjeter.com/feed. If you’re on Twitter, follow me @derrickjeter. You can also sign up for my monthly e-newsletter.

I look forward to “seeing” you at the not so new site: http://www.derrickjeter.com. Thanks for reading and following.

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New Website for Derrick

Dear Readers:

I occasionally get notices from WordPress that I’ve received a new follower or subscriber. I’m very grateful for all those who follow my writing, but if you’ve subscribed to the WordPress blog you’ll not get updates for new content. I’ve moved my website and blog to www.derrickjeter.com. You can subscribe by email there or join the feed at http://www.derrickjeter.com/feed.

Thank you for following and reading. And please leave comments at the new site.

Derrick G. Jeter

New Website and Blog Site

Dear Family, Friends, and Readers:

I’m proud to announce the launch of a new website and blog. You can find all the material that was previously on this WordPress blog, plus many extras. I hope you enjoy the new look and the new features. Drop me line and let me know what you think.

Visit the new site at www.derrickjeter.com.

P.S.: To my subscribers, if you didn’t receive the new article “Newspeak and the Controllers of Thought” that was published on the new site, please log on to www.derrickjeter.com and subscribe to the RSS feed. I value your readership and don’t want to lose a single subscriber, so please visit me at the new site and let’s keep the conversation going.

Thank you for reading and commenting!

Derrick

We the People Celebrate the Constitution

In the summer of 1787, fifty-five delegates met in secret at Philadelphia’s State House (later known as Independence Hall) to propose and debate a new national system of government. Since before George Washington’s victory over the British at Yorktown in 1781, the United States had been governed under the Articles of Confederation, which went into effect in 1777 and were fully ratified by the thirteen states in 1781. But by the spring and early summer of ’87 it had become abundantly clear that the Articles were too weak for a burgeoning country. A new, stronger, and more centralized form of government was needed.

What those fifty-five delegates hammered out over that hot summer in Philadelphia was something entirely new—a constitutional republic.

Upon finishing their work, thirty-nine of the fifty-five delegates placed their signatures on the new United States Constitution. When Benjamin Franklin walked out into the bright sunshine, a Mrs. Powel cornered Franklin and asked, “Well, Doctor, what have we got—a republic or a monarchy?” Franklin answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.”

Well, the Constitution has been amended, debated, obscured, banded about, and forgotten but we’ve kept it for 224 years. It is easy to take the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for granted. So, on this Constitution Day We the People, as others before us have done, ought to pause for a moment and give thanks for what those men did during that summer in Philadelphia and to appreciate, once again, the remarkable achievement that is the United States Constitution.

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We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge, or gallantry would break the strongest cords of our Constitution as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and a religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. (John Adams, “To the Officers of the First Brigade of the Third Division of the Militia of Massachusetts,” October 11, 1798)

Our Constitution professedly rests upon the good sense and attachment of the people. This basis, weak as it may appear, has not yet been found to fail. (John Quincy Adams in a letter to William Vans Murray, January 27, 1801)

The whole history of this country shows a British instinct—and I think I may say, a genius—for the division of power. The American constitution, with its checks and counter checks, combined with its frequent appeals to the people, embodied much of the ancient wisdom of this island. (Winston Churchill, November 11, 1947)

The British race have always abhorred arbitrary and absolute government in every form. The great men who founded the American constitution expressed this same separation of authority in the strongest and most durable form. Not only did they divide executive, legislative and judicial functions, but also by instituting a federal system they preserved immense and sovereign rights to local communities and by all these means they have maintained—often at some inconvenience—a system of law and liberty under which they thrived and reached the physical and, at this moment, the moral leadership of the world. (Winston Churchill, Woodford, Essex, January 28, 1950)

The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. (David Davis, Ex Parte Milligan, 1866)

The voice of the Constitution is the inescapably solemn self-consciousness of the people giving the law unto themselves. (E. L. Doctorow, “A Citizen Reads the Constitution,” 1993)

It is an excellency of this Constitution that it is expressed with brevity, and in the plain, common language of mankind. (Oliver Ellsworth during the ratification debates of Connecticut, 1788)

In these sentiments, Sir, I agree to this Constitution with all its faults, if they are such; because I think a general government necessary for us, and there is no form of government but what may be a blessing to the people if well administered; and believe farther that this is likely to be well administered for a course of years and can only end in despotism, as other forms have done before it, when the people shall become so corrupt as to need despotic government, being incapable of any other. I doubt too whether any other convention we can obtain may be able to make a better Constitution. For when you assemble a number of men to have the advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those men all their prejudices, their passions, their errors of opinion, their local interests, and their selfish views. From such an assembly can a perfect production be expected? It therefore astonishes me, Sir, to find this system approaching so near to perfection as it does. . . . Thus I consent, Sir, to this Constitution because I expect no better, and because I am not sure that it is not the best. The opinions I have had of its errors I sacrifice to the public good. I have never whispered a syllable of them abroad. Within these walls they were born, and here they shall die. . . . On the whole, Sir, I cannot help express a wish that every member of the Convention who may still have objections to it would, with me, on this occasion doubt a little of his infallibility, and, to make manifest our unanimity, put his name to this instrument. (Benjamin Franklin to the Constitutional Convention, September 17, 1787)

I have always regarded that Constitution as the most remarkable work known to me in modern times to have been produced by the human intellect, at a single stroke (so to speak), in its application to political affairs. (William Gladstone in a letter to the committee in charge of the celebration of the centennial of the U.S. Constitution, July 20, 1887)

The fathers who contrived and passed the Constitution were wise in their generation; as time passes, we come more and more to realize their powers of divination. (Learned Hand, The Spirit of Liberty, 1959)

In questions of power . . . let no more be heard of confidence in men, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution. (Thomas Jefferson, draft of the Kentucky Resolutions, October 4, 1789)

Our peculiar security is in possession of a written Constitution. Let us not make it a blank paper by construction. I say the same as to the opinion of those who consider the grant of the treaty-making power as boundless. If it is, then we have no Constitution. If it has bounds, they can be no other than the definitions of the powers which that instrument gives. It specifies & delineates the operations permitted to the federal government, and gives all the powers necessary to carry these into execution. Whatever of these enumerated objects is proper for a law, Congress may make the law; whatever is proper to be executed by way of a treaty, the President & Senate may enter into the treaty; whatever is to be done by a judicial sentence, the judges may pass the sentence. (Thomas Jefferson in a letter to Senator Wilson Cary Nicholas, September 7, 1803, regarding the Louisiana Purchase)

It is also not entirely unworthy of observation, that in declaring what shall be the supreme law of the land, the Constitution itself is first mentioned, and not the laws of the United States generally, but those only which shall be made in pursuance of the Constitution, have that rank. Thus, the particular phraseology of the Constitution of the United States confirms and strengthens the principles, supposed to be essential to all written constitutions, that a law repugnant to the Constitution is void; and that courts, as well as other departments, are bound by that instrument. (John Marshall, Marbury v. Madison, 1803)

The people made the Constitution, and the people can unmake it. It is the creature of their own will, and lives only by their will. (John Marshall, Cohens v. Virginia, 1821)

I wish the Constitution, which is offered, had been made more perfect; but I sincerely believe it is the best that could be obtained at this time. And, as a constitutional door is opened for amendment hereafter, the adoption of it, under the present circumstances of the Union, is in my opinion desirable. (George Washington in a letter to Patrick Henry, September 24, 1787)

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Please share these ideas of Constitutional liberty with your friends. If you’d like to read more about American liberty, please see Derrick’s book, O America! A Manifesto on Liberty, available at Amazon.

Before the Towers Fell

When Chris Williams, Jan White, and I traveled to Boston on September 8, 2001, the events of 9/11—the destruction and death—were as alien to our minds as little green men from Mars. In fact, the entire weekend seemed like something from another world, and it began with a ridiculous trip from the Boston airport to our downtown hotel.

After stuffing ourselves into an airport shuttle and snuggling up to strangers, we braved the frantic twists and turns through Boston’s ever-congested streets. Each time the driver slammed on the brakes, we hoped against hope we wouldn’t be wacked in the back of the head by luggage piled to the ceiling.

Thankfully, we eventually came to a screeching halt somewhat near our hotel in the Back Bay area of Boston. We peeled ourselves off our newfound friends, bid them safe journey to their destinations—and God’s grace if they didn’t make it—and freed our luggage from the bottom of the pile. The driver pointed to our hotel . . . down the street . . . and held out his hand for a tip. I gave him a dollar—my thanks for not killing us on the way to the hotel and my displeasure for not dropping us off at the front door.

Walking down the street, we passed a bar with plate glass windows. I glanced in and, while I thought nothing of it at the time, I didn’t notice any women inside. Soon after, we reached the hotel, an older but quaint abode. Chris and I approached the desk while Jan stayed in the lobby watching our bags. Since Chris had made the reservations, she spoke first: a room with two twin beds for Chris Williams and Jan White. The clerk searched his computer. Yes, he had her reservation, but he didn’t have a room with two twin beds; he only had a room with one queen-sized bed.

As Chris tried to straighten out her room reservation, I noticed two women had come into the lobby and struck up a conversation with Jan. These women politely asked where Jan was from and what she was doing in Boston. Then they wanted to know what she was doing that evening. Jan said something about going to dinner with Chris and me. They looked at the front desk . . . saw Chris standing there . . . and then said they’d be happy to show Jan and Chris a good time.

I turned back to Chris, still haggling with the hotel clerk, and joked, “Jan has just been propositioned by two lesbians and I think you’ve just been invited to an evening of fun.” It was then I heard the clerk say, “Oh, I’m sorry. I misunderstood. We rarely get reservations for two beds in this hotel. We do have one room on another floor, if you don’t mind being separated from Mr. Jeter. You’ll like it . . . it’s quieter on that floor.”

What did he mean by that?

Then it dawned on me . . . the all male bar, the two lesbians propositioning Jan, and the queen-sized bed. I turned to Chris, “If sometime during our stay in this hotel I grab you and kiss you smack on the mouth, don’t be offended. It will be the greatest service I could do for you and for me this whole trip. And I guarantee Joe and Christy will thank me for it!” That clued Chris in, but Jan was still having a pleasant conversation with the two lesbians.

No doubt about it, we had just checked into an all gay hotel.

I wasn’t in my room two minutes before the phone rang. I picked it up and said, “Are you ready to go?”

All Chris could muster was, “Get me the hell out of here!”

While I explained to the hotel clerk that we had obviously made a mistake in making reservations at this hotel, and we wouldn’t want to keep his usual clientele from having rooms for the night, Chris made quick arrangements for a taxi to pick us up and drop us off at Faneuil Hall, across the street from City Hall. There, a client was to meet us and, after we took her out to dinner, deliver us to our usual hotel—the one we had always stayed at during our travels to Boston.

Sitting in casual business attire on a curb at the base of a statue of Samuel Adams in Boston’s bustling downtown on a Saturday evening . . . while watching three suitcases alone as Chris and Jan went shopping, I looked like the best-dressed, well equipped homeless man Boston had ever seen. Fortunately, I didn’t have to wait long. Our client arrived, we took her to the Oyster House, and she took us to a clean, and traditional hotel outside the city.

When I settled into my room, I had a good chuckle and thanked God that the most exciting part of the trip was behind us.

Unknown to us that Saturday evening, however, the most exciting part of the trip was before us.

A plot to murder thousands of innocent men and women was unfolding that very night in Boston, New Jersey, and Washington D.C. Within a few days the plot would prove successful. And life as we knew it would never be the same.

Sunday, September 9, was an uneventful day of sightseeing in and around Boston. On Monday morning, September 10, we were to finish our business in Boston, and then complete our New England trip that evening at the Rhode Island headquarters of CVS Caremark. The next day we were to fly out of Logan Airport—the very airport from which American Airlines Flight 11 and United Flight 175 departed. CVS, however, needed to push back our meeting a day, so on Tuesday, September 11, 2001, instead of boarding a plane in Boston we climbed into a rental car headed for Rhode Island.

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If you’d like to read the rest of the story of my 9/11 experience and the troubling questions I wrestled with after the events of September 11, 2001—question many wrestled with—please purchase A 911 for 9/11: Finding Answers to the Evil of September 11, 2001 available from Amazon. All proceeds from the sale of the book, from September 11, 2011 to September 11, 2012, will go to benefit The National September 11 Memorial and Museum Foundation.

Find out more about the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum at www.911memorial.org.

Will the Arab Spring Produce a Waterless Cloud?

Liberty has come to Libya . . . or so it appears. After four decades of tyranny, the Libyan people have thrown off the shackles of oppression and are free to determine their destiny.

This is good.

But troubling reports foreshadow a future of further tyranny, not freedom.

The Libyan “Draft Constitutional Charter for the Transitional Stage” states in Part 1, Article 1: “Islam is the Religion of the State and the principle source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia).”

If Part 1, Article 1 of the draft constitution is adopted in a post-Muammar Gaddafi constitution then the idea of liberty in Libya will take on a different meaning than liberty does in Western countries. This is not something new under the sun—understanding the nature of liberty in the Middle East has been the challenge from the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq. Since then, we’ve tested George W. Bush’s doctrine of exporting democracy to Islamic states. Thus far it remains to be seen whether Iraq, or any other Islamic country, can establish and maintain lasting liberty as understood in the West.

We rightly celebrate the 2011 “Arab Spring” that toppled long standing dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, but we should tempter our celebration with realism. The Arab Spring may not bring gentle showers of freedom to these North African countries. Rather, it may produce waterless clouds—forming a shadow of liberty without the substance.

Durable liberty is only possible under the rule of God, the rule of law, and the rule of representative government. This is the tradition of Western countries, including the United States—a tradition stemming from the authority of God and His Word, the Bible.

Yet, philosopher Vishal Mangalwadi in a May 20, 2011, interview with the Christian Post asked: “why is it that no Muslim nation in 1,300 years has been able to create and sustain a free society?” The secret of American liberty, he argued, is “in God we trust.” But what about Islamic freedom? “Why did . . . Islam fail to produce liberty?” Mangalwadi wondered in The Book That Made Your World: How the Bible Created the Soul of Western Civilization. Islam believes, as does Judaism and Christianity, in the authority of God and his word. However, Mangalwadi argued in The Book that Made Your World:

A key factor is that Islam denied God the power and love to come to this earth to establish his kingdom. If God does not come to establish his rule, then we have no option but to be ruled exclusively by sinful men. . . . Islam has never been able to foster a reformation that could undermine human totalitarianism, because it rejects the very notion of God coming to establish his kingdom. It also fails to empower the people by its refusal to translate the Qur’an into the languages of the people. [340]

The revolutions of the Arab Spring holds out the promise of liberty. But enduring freedom is never won through revolution alone—through the force of arms alone. Enduring freedom is only won when the force of arms is accompanied by the force of the Spirit—a revolution of the Spirit. Only then can the seeds of liberty take root, flourish, and bear fruit. Without the Spirit of God all that one can hope for is an exchange of one tyranny for another tyranny.

History bears this out.

The Russian Revolution under Vladimir Lenin threw off the chains of the Tzars only to shackle the people behind an iron curtain of the godless Soviet Union. The Cultural Revolution of Mao Zedong drove out the “corruption” of Western ideas only to corrupt the people with Marxist ideas leading to the slaughter and oppression of millions. And the Cuban Revolution of Fidel Castro deposed the dictator Fulgencio Batista only to impose another dictator which nearly ignited a nuclear holocaust and continues to deny freedom to the Cuban people. These Eastern, Asian, and Hispanic revolutions—to say nothing of the revolutionary history of Central and South America—did not replace the heavy yoke of despotism with the light yoke of liberty. Rather, these revolutions replaced one tyrannical yoke for another tyrannical yoke.

Not even the godless French Revolution established longstanding liberty. Influenced by the atheistic writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s “social contract,” Maximilien Robespierre led a revolution that devolved into the Reign of Terror. Eventually, the impious mob turned on their leader and sent Robespierre to the guillotine, executing face up so he could see the blade fall. What followed the bloodbath in France was the dictatorial reign of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

That was then. This is now.

What will happen to the newfound freedom in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia remains to be seen. But history is a stubborn guide—and it points to the truth that without the God of the Bible alive in the hearts of men the Arab Spring will prove to be nothing but a waterless cloud. As Robert C. Winthrop, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1847–1849) said: “Men, in a word, must necessarily be controlled, either by a power within them, or by a power without them; either by the word of God, or by the strong arm of man; either by the Bible or by the bayonet.”

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If you liked this essay please share it with your friends. You can read more of Derrick’s ideas about liberty in his book, O America! A Manifesto on Liberty. Available at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/America-Manifesto-Liberty-ebook/dp/B005FD0EQ2/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1.

The Myth of “The Orator”

“When Pericles speaks, the people say, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes speaks, the people say, ‘Let us march!’”

Pericles’ praise of Demosthenes’ persuasive appeal could have applied to Barack Obama in 2007 and 2008. But today, the one who won the moniker “The Orator” can hardly win the applause of an audience—conservative or liberal.

During the 2008 presidential campaign Obama’s soaring rhetoric of “hope” and “change” was fresh, exciting, and uplifting, especially after eight years of presidential verbal follies. It appeared the United States would have a president who loved language and knew how to marshal words to persuade, not politic or demagogue. It appeared this generation would have a truly articulate president. Not a bumbling George W. Bush. Not a too slick Willy Clinton. And not a boring George H. W. Bush. Instead, this generation of Americans would have a Ronald Reagan, a John F. Kennedy, a Franklin D. Roosevelt, or an Abraham Lincoln . . . or so it seemed in 2007 and 2008.

Obama burst on the national stage in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention when he delivered the keynote address. A novice to the national scene—he was mere state senator from Illinois then—he electrified the hall with his compelling personal story. And he told it well. That first foray on the big stage was an overwhelming success. Obama certainly had the moxie to play on the national stage. Minutes before mounting the podium he told a Chicago Tribune reporter that he was like basketball star LeBron James: “I’m LeBron, baby. I can play at this level. I got game.” And he sure seemed to have it that night.

Four years later, his performances as the junior United States Senator from Illinois on the biggest stage, during the presidential primaries, drew enormous crowds and thunderous applause. It could be said that Obama had verbal game on par with Demosthenes, Cicero, or Churchill. It could have been said then . . . not today.

In 2008 Obama told an aid that “I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters.” But anything can be said; not everything said is true. What we didn’t know then that we know today is Obama never had game . . . not then, not now.

Phrasemaking is easy. And Obama is a master at it: “We are the change we seek.” “We are five days from fundamentally transforming America.” “Yes we can!” But these are political bromides—platitudes appearing to communicate much while communicating nothing. The style of his speeches is like a beautiful woman you’d like to date . . . until she opens her mouth and you find out how incredible forgettable she really is. There’s nothing particularly interesting or memorable about her words, and her beauty begins to fad when you’d like to have a conversation over dinner.

This is Barack Obama since assuming the presidency.

In a piece published in the Wall Street Journal in 2003, titled “Just the Facts,” Peggy Noonan—a beautiful woman who knows how to speak well—wrote:

Nothing is more beautiful, more elevating, more important in a speech than fact and logic. People think passionate and moving oratory is the big thing, but it isn’t. The hard true presentation of facts followed by a declaration of how we must deal with those facts is the key. Without a recitation of hard data, high rhetoric seems insubstantial, vaguely disingenuous, merely dramatic. Without a logical case to support rhetoric it has nothing to do. It’s like icing without cake.

Once the facts and the declaration are put forward it’s fine to use eloquence if you can muster it, and ringing oratory too if it will help people to see things as you do, and help them lean toward taking the course of action you recommend.

So to sum up: Moving oratory is what you use to underscore a point. It is not in itself the point.

Obama has the oratory part down, but his oratory woeful lacks logic and facts. And today, especially in the economic climate we find ourselves in after Standard & Poors’ downgrade of America’s AAA rating, the icing of high sounding words is too saccharine—it isn’t enough. Throughout his presidency, particularly on the big issues, Obama has claimed that he hasn’t explained enough, hasn’t communicated enough. He’s right. He hasn’t explained or communicated because he hasn’t explained or communicated facts.

And that’s the point. Facts are key. Without them the mystique of The Orator is merely myth.

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If you liked this essay please share it with your friends. You can read more of Derrick’s ideas about liberty and America in his book, O America! A Manifesto on Liberty. Available at Amazon today: http://www.amazon.com/America-Manifesto-Liberty-ebook/dp/B005FD0EQ2/ref=pd_rhf_p_t_1.