Letter: How important is equality to Americans?

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 29, 2021

How important is equality to the American people? The historical record suggests that it is of relatively little importance.

The Declaration of Independence states that “all men are” equal, but it was commonly understood that “men” only referred to property-owning white males and excluded all others. The preamble to the Constitution explains that the government it has produced is designed to promote liberty and justice, but there’s no mention of equality.

The goal of the Union government during the Civil War was to preserve the Union, not to abolish slavery. It took the deaths of hundreds of thousands and three constitutional amendments to free the slaves, confer on them the status of citizenship and give them the right to vote. After many generations of struggle, women finally got the right to vote with the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

The importance we attach to freedom is signified by the fact that we fought two world wars to protect it.

For our oath, we pledge our allegiance to our nation with its ideals of liberty and justice. Presumably, equality is not an American ideal.

Maybe, equality matters only to those who believe they lack it. Or, perhaps it matters to people, but they don’t want to share it with others.

— Richard Derr