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Liberal Scholar Claims a Period was Added to the Declaration of Independence

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RUSH:  Ladies and gentlemen, the assault on the founding of this country continues by leftists and Democrats everywhere.  There is a New York Times piece that I ran into over the weekend, and you talk about historical revisionism?  The New York Times ArtsBeat reporter is named Jennifer Schuessler.  (She might pronounce it Schuessler, S-c-h-u-e-s-s-l-e-r.)  She's the ArtsBeat reporter, so she reports on the beat of the arts.

She "claims that the removal of a long assumed to be present period at a critical point in the Declaration of Independence [would] radically change the document's meaning from its common understanding. Naturally, the period's removal supposedly provides government with powers at least on par with those of the people."

In other words, her point is that the Declaration of Independence (and the Constitution, by the way, in association) was never meant to limit government to the extent that we all thought.  She's also been "aided by a left-leaning professor's failure to comprehend the English language."  I found this at NewsBusters and then I looked it up on my own, and the New York Times story is this:

"If Only Thomas Jefferson Could Settle the Issue -- A Period Is Questioned in the Declaration of Independence. ... A scholar is now saying that the official transcript of the document produced by the National Archives and Records Administration contains a significant error -- smack in the middle of the sentence beginning 'We hold these truths to be self-evident,' no less. 

"The error, according to Danielle Allen, a professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ, concerns a period that appears right after the phrase 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness' in the transcript, but almost certainly not, she maintains, on the badly faded parchment original." In other words, a period has been added, and it is her contention that adding the period serves to change the original meaning. 

Now, it's absurd on its face. 

Let me just say she doesn't have a point.  This is literally absurd.  But that's not the point.  The point is the attempt here.  Now, the Declaration of Independence is not a legal document in our system anyway, but that's again not the point.  Her effort here is once again designed to continue this all-out assault on your and my understanding of the founding of this country.  I'll get to the entire sentence here in just a second. 

Now, she says that the period is "an errant spot of ink" that was unintended, "contributing to what she calls a 'routine but serious misunderstanding' of the document.  The period creates the impression that the list of self-evident truths ends with the right to 'life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,' she says. But as intended by Thomas Jefferson, she argues, what comes next is just as important: the essential role of governments -- 'instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed' -- in securing those rights." 

So let's take a look here at the two versions.  I'm gonna read this to you with the period in it that everybody has assumed should always be there.  This is from Declaration of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men 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," period. 

There is also, I might add, in the original document, a short dash at this point, which I will come back to in a mere moment.  So let me start again.  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men 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," period, dash.

"That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."  Now I'm gonna read it to you again without a period.  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed bury 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 men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed." 

Now, the meaning, the logic of that sense or paragraph doesn't change at all.  The three God-given rights are still life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Whether there is a period or not does nothing to increase or decrease the perceived importance of "governments in attempting to secure these rights."  However, all of this is moot. 

But I have to repeat: I don't know that this woman even knows that the Declaration is not a legal document in this country.  It's not legal in the sense that the Constitution is.  I don't know if Dr. Jennifer Schuessler even knows this.  But everybody does know that the Founders of this country were rejecting an oppressive government, and were establishing a government "of, by, and for the people" with the consent of the governed.

They were limiting the role of government. 

The first 10 amendments to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, are all about limiting the role of government.  None of that matters.  What is true, the historical record, is now not true.  This is an attempt... She's a college professor.  She's teaching college students.  She is attempting to convince them (and anybody else who will read) here that the Declaration of Independence intended to establish a very powerful government in order to secure the rights of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. 

That's what her intent here is, and she says that that period is not a period; it's a speck of dust that ended up in the original parchment that ended up being transcribed, but it's not there.  And her point is that without the period, the sentence just flows without a stop and grants equal power to government -- in fact, maybe even more power -- to secure those rights.  Now, again, I want to stress here, ladies and gentlemen that this is bogus. 

I'm only bringing this up not because there's an issue here.  The woman has no point, zero, zilch, nada.  But that isn't it.  The point is the attempt and who these people are.  I literally have been beside myself -- I don't know -- the last six years, trying to think of any number of ways to inform the people of this country just who we are up against, just what the modern Democrat Party and its leftist counterculture has become -- and actually has been for quite a while. 

There is an all-out assault on the founding of this country.  Folks, again, I don't mean to be self-serving here.  I really don't.  This is why I have decided to write children's books about the history of this country, about the founding of this nation. It's to counter this kind of stuff.  It's just absurd.  It is meaningless.  It's not educating.  It's not scholarly.  It's not intellectual.  But it is assumed to be all of that. 

Now, I imagine if she's ever asked about it she'd say, "Oh, no! Limbaugh is exaggerating my intent here.  I was just trying to have some fun.  It is an interesting point, but I, dah, dah, dah."  They'll downplay it for public consumption, but I'm telling you that they're gonna do everything they can here.  This is part and parcel of the all-out, encompassing effort to change in as many finds as possible the purpose and role of government in everybody's lives.

They'll change the culture. They'll stop at nothing.  Your right to life, your right to liberty, your right to pursuit of happiness is all government's responsibility; the Founding Fathers wanted a big government to grant those rights and then to protect those rights.  Now, there's another big area where her argument falls flat totally, and that's the right to life, because this government does not stand for that. 

This government's for the right to abortion. 

Now, you can get mad at me all you want, but I'm just telling you facts here. 

There are any number of ways to refute this, is the point.

Now, there's another thing.  If you look at the original document... I don't have it here to show you, but if you take the time to look at graphic portrayals of the original document, pictures, you will find -- scattered throughout the Declaration -- that there are flourishes, dashes of various length throughout the Declaration of Independence. 

And for the longest time people have wondered, "Well, what are these dashes?  Are they dashes?  Are these decorative?  Or are they there as a form of punctuation?"  They're not straight.  They are "decorative" dashes, if you will, wavy lines of varying thickness -- and they all differ in length. 

Now, the popular conception is that the Founders and the signers of the Declaration, the authors, wrote the thing to be read aloud, and the dashes are indeed dashes, and the longer the dash, the longer the pause one should make in reading the document, either silently or aloud.  And there is, in fact, after this period that this woman says should not be there, there is one of these dashes. 

So her point is lost any number of ways.  But again, I'm just bringing this up to you, not to argue with her, although I find it necessary to refute her anyway.  That's what this is gonna become.  This is another one of these things where we get up and we look at what's happening and we see another assault, and all we have time to do is stand up and say stop.  We're just trying to defend the country.  We don't even have time to advance an agenda.  We're too busy yelling "stop" to the left multiple times a day.  This is just the latest example of the onslaught. 

So I'm gonna read this to you again exactly as it was written and intended to be heard and read.  And something you know.  You've read it yourself.  You've heard it I don't know how many times. 

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men 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." Period, dash.  "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," Well, how in the world, whether you're talking about a nonexistent period, a phantom period, how in the world can you say that the original intent of the paragraph without a period is meant to connote a big government when the last phrase of the sentence is "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"? 

Right there the role of government is subordinated to the people.  But it doesn't matter to this scholar.  It doesn't matter to this feminist who is attempting to claim that the original Founding Father Declaration of Independence was designed to establish a big government in order to secure and provide those rights.  And I just have to say again, that my guess is at some point this is gonna be a subject matter -- a very serious subject matter -- on various cable news network programs.  And you will have scholarly debate on both sides.  You will have people who will argue persuasively that this woman has a point, that there shouldn't be a period in there.  I can hear it now. 

They knew these rights are massive: life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, never been spelled out before, they knew a big and compassionate and powerful government was necessary to provide and secure those rights.  I just want to warn you.  So we've gotta deal with this.  But in doing it we win the argument.  In dealing with it we end the argument, except it's not about winning or losing the argument to the left.  It is about creating a mind-set, creating some doubt, and to continue their illusion, their effort to convince as many people as possible that a big government is necessary, it was desired, it was part of what the Founding Fathers originally intentioned, and therefore we should not object to anything that's happening in America now because it's exactly what the Founders intended.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Ladies and gentlemen, they tried this.  I don't expect too many of you will remember this.  They tried this with the Second Amendment a long, long time ago.  They tried monkeying around with punctuation and pauses in the Second Amendment to try to change the meaning of "a well-regulated militia," comma. "That's a sentence fragment, nobody knows what that means."  They tried, the left did, to persuade as many people as possible the Second Amendment didn't say what it says.  The Supreme Court came and said, "Yes, it does.  It does say that."  But they tried. 

Now, I'll tell you something else.  This assertion here that there should not be a period and that that changes dramatically the whole sentence, the whole paragraph. It's completely incorrect grammatically without a period.  If you don't have a period in this paragraph it is completely ungrammatical and there is nothing else in the Declaration of Independence that is ungrammatical.  Nothing.  They were painstaking about that. 

It's just absurd, but it's tireless.  They cannot stop. They can't accept what is. They don't like it. They're doing everything they can to change it in people's minds.  They're just doing everything they can to get as many people as possible to emotionally accept and support the whole idea of a big, powerful and, by definition, oppressive, 'cause that's the only kind of big, powerful governments there are: oppressive.  

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  I'm sorry, folks.  This Jennifer Schuessler woman just -- I know that it's absurd, but because I know these people I feel it necessary to shout this.  If we are to believe this woman, Thomas Jefferson and the others declared independence from England because they felt that England's royal government and monarchy was not powerful enough. 

That's what she wants us to believe.  We declared independence 'cause we wanted an even more powerful government than that which we were up against, and that is just absurd.  It used to be that people like this were free to think what they want, but they would never be hired anywhere because this is just dumb.  But now this is a tenured position, more than likely.  

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