Because of my on-going association with higher education, I often overhear liberals pontificating with authority on topics about which they, in reality, know little or nothing. I was recently a fly on the wall as two liberal professors ranted and raved about the United States being a morally corrupt nation that owes the rest of the world an apology for a long list of supposed sins. The focus of their conversation was the infamous three-fifths principle in the Constitution that counted slaves in the Southern states as three-fifths of a person when determining the number of Congressmen a given state would be allowed.
Admittedly, the day on which this principle was included in the Constitution was not one of our nation’s better moments. On one hand, it is an unfortunate example of economic expedience trumping morality. But, on the other hand, including this principle in the original document kept the Southern states from walking out of the Constitutional Convention and preventing ratification. Political decisions of major importance are rarely easy. In the halls of government, expedience often trumps morality—at least in the short run. Those who bother to study their history before condemning our country know that the three-fifths principle was as repugnant to some of our Founders as it is to most Americans today. They also know that its inclusion in the Constitution is only half of the story concerning this principle.
The other half of the story is that even those who supported the three-fifths principle out of political or economic expedience knew it was morally insupportable over the long run. They also knew the day would come when this principle would be expunged from the law of the land, and they adopted a Constitution that made provisions for doing so. In other words, they adopted a Constitution that would allow America to eventually become a better country than it was when the Constitution was originally written. Liberals are reluctant to acknowledge this simple but monumentally important example of the Founder’s foresight because doing so undermines the very foundation of their “we-hate-America-worldview.”
In ratifying the Constitution—although hardly a perfect document—the Founders laid the groundwork for overturning the morally repugnant three-fifths principle and establishing a framework for a better America than the one that existed in their day. This is the beauty of the Constitution and evidence of the true character of America. We don’t always get things right the first time, but we have a Constitution that allows us to correct our wrongs as we recognize them. This is why it is intellectually dishonest to discuss the failings of our great Republic without also acknowledging what we have done to correct them. This is precisely where liberals go astray: they constantly criticize America for its failings—and they do so without even a nod to historical context—but they ignore what we have done to rectify those failings. This is why liberals hate America. They focus entirely on one side of the ledger—the debits—and ignore the other side—the credits.
When the volume of their conversation subsided somewhat, I stopped by the table occupied by the two college professors who hated America. Invited to join them, I asked for their opinion on a simple scenario every college professor is accustomed to facing. “Gentlemen, have you ever had a student who was spotty in his attendance, lackadaisical in his work, and, as a result, did poorly on the first test in your class?” They both nodded “yes,” one with a dismissive wave of the hand that told me I was asking the obvious. I continued. “If as a result of his poor grade on your first test, the student really buckled down and became a model student, passed all remaining tests, never missed another class, and turned in pristine homework assignments, and did this for the remainder of his undergraduate career, would you recommend him for admission to graduate school or turn him down because of his initial missteps?”
Both professors acknowledged that their view of the student in question would be positive and they would gladly recommend him for graduate studies. I then asked, “If you would do this for a student, why won’t you do the same for our country?” There was a pregnant pause in the conversation while my colleagues digested what had just happened, but only a brief pause. Being a liberal, one of the professors—the first of the two to recover his wits—quickly responded, “It’s not the same thing. You cannot compare a student turning things around and doing the right thing to a country that writes a Constitution institutionalizing slavery, even if its citizens finally do the right thing.”
My response was this: “Maybe you can’t make that comparison. But any person with an ounce of intellectual honesty can. Only a person who is determined to hate our country would refuse to take the longer-term view in such cases as this. And while we are on this subject, let me remind both of you that the country you love to hate is the country that gives you the freedom to run it down while paying you a salary financed by the taxes of fellow citizens, many of whom don’t share your views. Frankly, you both should love America even more than those who aren’t so critical of her. This comment effectually wore out my welcome, so I bid the professors a good day and let them get back to showing their lack of appreciation to the country that gives them their right of free speech.