In the back pages of the 1944 Sunflower, my grandfather’s yearbook, an advertisement, placed by The State Savings Bank, reads: “Students of [Topeka High School]: Congratulations on having been born in the United States. Defend our Federal Constitution and our Bill of Rights.” Another page lists the recent graduates who had died, were missing-in-action or had been taken as prisoners of war in service to those documents. Who today can recite the ten amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights?
“Human beings are what they understand themselves to be,” wrote philosopher Michael Oakeshott. If they believe themselves the inheritors of a hard-won civilization founded on the fundamental natural rights of life, liberty and property it is because their culture has endorsed such a belief. When Governor Inslee insists that it is “just too dangerous” to gather with your family this Thanksgiving — or, under the threat of penalty, to operate your business or attend church — he is engaging in a kind of suggestio falsi, i.e. deliberate deceit, to convince you otherwise. Let us remind him of Article I, Section 7 of Washington’s Declaration of Rights: “No person shall be disturbed in his private affairs.”
“Civilization,” the old folk saying goes, “began with ‘Please?’ and ‘Thank you.’” If we believe ourselves subjects beholden to the state — instead of a free people “endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights” — it will end with those very words too.