Sunday, January 09, 2011

The House Read...

...The Constitution the other day, or at least followed it up to their turn to read a section aloud. They did not read all of it; they left out most of things changed by subsequent Amendments, including the "three-fifths compromise," by which slaves were counted as 3/5 of a citizen* and the requirement that "No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein, be discharged from such Service or Labour, but shall be delivered up on Claim of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due."

This irked James E. Clyburn, who called it "revisionist history." Of course, as a Representative since 1993 and former Majority Whip, you'd think he was in a pretty good position to read those sections out loud himself, perhaps getting even more attention if he'd had to read them out of their actual order.

Nope; he chose to be miffed about it to the WaPo, referring to the "living document" and how the House members should've "talked about how this country wrestled with things like race and gender." But sir, they did; were you paying attention? Your peers read, out loud and officially, the 13th, 14th and 19th Amendments -- which were the "living document" results of "wrestling with race and gender."

Which one might think a Congressman would know. Wouldn't you?
* Count your blessings, if being counted is a blessing: some of my ancestors fell under "excluding Indians not taxed," and were not even fractionally counted. I missed learning if they read that part. Of course, my ancestors later decided to become taxable citizens instead of walking of Oklahoma, too.


Montie said...

Though it pains me to say so, this is an example of why Attorney General Holder may have been right when he said that we are a nation of cowards when it comes to the race issue.

The 3/5ths clause was put into the Constitution specifically to rein in the number of representatives alloted to "slave states". The slave states wanted to hold individuals as property with no civil rights afforded to them, yet have them counted as "citizens" by census in order to increase their power in the Federal Government by having increased representation.

The 3/5ths clause was a compromise between the slaveholding and non-slaveholding states. If we still actually taught history and the constitution in schools it wouldn't be "offensive" to anybody.

They also left out the prohibition amendment, but left in the amendment repealing it, which if you listened to the whole thing wouldn't make sense.

Roberta X said...

I just don't get why someone like Rep. Clyburn didn't leap at the chance to step up and read that section like an Old Testament prophet pronouncing doom, prefaced or followed by, "and with the passage of the 13th Amendment, this injustice was removed from our Constitution." Unless he finds there's more mileage in outrage than in triumph...

Anonymous said...

Of course there's more mileage in outrage. The purpose of "discussion" in politics is not to enlighten, but to improve one's position and power. Had the good representative actually read those "missing" parts aloud, and had he explained that we as a nation had made changes to help stamp out slavery and its ilk, he'd have cleared the air, but lost the ability to sit on his moral high-horse.

You tell me - which position serves you better if your choice is to be duplicitous?