furia furialog · New Particles · The War Against Silence · Aedliga (songs) · photography · code · other things
Literally the point of this country is to have a place where the basis of all laws and collective decisions is the simple shared belief that all people are equal. That's it, that's why we have a country.  

ALL PEOPLE. All genders, all colors, all points of origin, all beliefs about unprovable things. Literally nothing could be less American than trying to assign different rights to different people.  

Muslims are exactly as welcome here as Christians and atheists. Christians are exactly as welcome here as Muslims and Buddhists. Atheists are exactly as welcome here as Wiccans and Jews. ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL. You may believe any edicts of any gods, as long as your god accepts that all people are equal. If you want to worship a god that believes some people are better than others, you can do it silently and undetectably inside your own head, or you can find another country that is based on some other idea. In this one, all people are equal.  

So of course black lives matter. Of course immigrant lives matter. Of course indigenous lives matter. Of course all lives matter. Of course you can't kill or hurt or rape or abuse or cheat or discriminate against people because of some way in which they happen to be different than you. THIS IS AMERICA. ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL.  

Of course homosexuals can marry. Of course we do not discriminate against trans people or people in wheelchairs or people who think cilantro tastes like soap. Of course everyone should have health care and education. Of course women can vote. Of course people are entitled to justice and fair laws. Of course those of us that find fortune will help those of us who suffer. Of course we do not accept slavery or hereditary castes or monarchy or theocracy or oligarchy or hate crimes, because this is AMERICA. Literally the point of having an America is that this is the place where ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL.  

And, less glamorously, this is thus also the place where we have agreed to take on all the messy and difficult problems that happen when you have a country based on that deliberately and awesomely oversimplified premise.  

What is the proper way to run federal and local governments in a country where all people are equal? There's not one simple obvious answer.  

How, exactly, do we provide health care to everybody? There's not one simple obvious answer that follows smoothly and inarguably from the idea that all people are equal.  

How does a symbolic-currency economy work? How does limited corporate liability work? Do we do things to make sure food and bridges and dentists are safe? Who pays for scientific research? How do we interact with other countries that are based on other ideas? How do we deal with people who violate this basic principle, like murderers or racists? How do we deal with people who violate some secondary or tertiary principle we have added or derived? Do criminals become temporarily less equal, and how so and for how long? How do we treat animals? How do we treat plants? How do we treat the atmosphere, or asteroids, or Pokémon that don't even evolve? Are taxes the right way to balance individual potential and the collective good? If so, how, specifically? We don't get a functioning country for free, we have to work for it.  

How do we resolve conceptual conflicts between earnest beliefs that abide by this common assumption but require additional decisions? For example, when does a new person become a person, is it conception or birth or some other point? We must find a way to agree on an answer. We must adopt some new shared assumption that we agree will govern our collective decisions, even if it goes against some people's personal beliefs. This can be profoundly painful, in the most literal sense of "profound", but it's the price for the privilege of holding personal beliefs in a shared society.  

And, for that matter, where is the line between rights and privileges? IS there a line? If we believe that all people are equal, what is the function of our physical border? Obviously people from other places are also people, and thus have equal rights once they are here. THAT'S THE WHOLE POINT. Do they have equal rights to come here? They are people, so they must. The moral urges for free trade and open borders and welcoming refugees and helping the vulnerable and needy are obvious results of the very idea that defines us. Of course we welcome you. Can we even have a notion of citizenship, with additional responsibilities and privileges, that is still based on the core truth that all people are equal? Maybe. Probably, in some form. But every complication we add must be connected rock-solidly to the bedrock of the idea that all people are equal.  

And when in doubt, simplify. ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL. States' rights? Maybe, yeah, I guess, but given that we all believe that all people are equal, maybe states' rights is kind of actually not really a thing, at least not for anything that matters. Different approaches to decriminalizing marijuana or regulating goat farming or funding charter schools? Sure, if states or towns are ways to experiment with tactical alternatives, then OK. But all people are equal, so anything that would make a person feel less equal when stepping over a state or city line is clearly and inherently and obviously un-American. No, you can't have slavery in Alabama. No, you can't treat Muslims differently in Texas. No, you can't keep homosexuals from marrying in North Carolina. No, you can't abolish abortions or head-scarves or reggaeton in one state because you can gerrymander the voting districts. ALL PEOPLE ARE EQUAL. That's the condition of being one of these united states.  

If you want a racist/sexist/genderist/theocratic/"traditional"/Satanic/artisanal/whatever republic, and of course you are entitled to want anything you want, best of luck to you in your travels. It's a big planet, maybe you'll find an empty bit for your new country, and maybe you'll run it better than we've run this one. Or, there's Mars! But here in the United States of America, all people are equal. That's how we do it. It's not always easy or straightforward, but it's not complicated to understand, and it's not optional or negotiable, and it applies to everything, and it applies to everyone, and it applies to all the people you love and all the people you hate, and all the people you don't understand yet, and you, and me. Yes. All of us. It's that crazy. It's exactly that crazy. This is the country that is exactly that crazy and amazing and brave and human and inept and persistent. That is literally exactly precisely the point.
Site contents published by glenn mcdonald under a Creative Commons BY/NC/ND License except where otherwise noted.