Two hundred and fourteen years ago today, the state of Virginia became the 10th of 14 states to approve 10 of 12 amendments, thus giving the Bill of Rights the two-thirds majority necessary for ratification. The History Channel's "This Day in History" says of the famous document:
Influenced by the English Bill of Rights of 1689, the Bill of Rights was also drawn from Virginia's Declaration of Rights, drafted by George Mason in 1776. Mason, a native Virginian, was a lifelong champion of individual liberties, and in 1787 he attended the Constitutional Convention and criticized the final document for lacking constitutional protection of basic political rights. In the ratification struggle that followed, Mason and other critics agreed to support the Constitution in exchange for the assurance that amendments would be passed immediately.Any libertarian or lover of freedom should truly appreciate the significance of this day. The Bill of Rights established the rights and freedoms that many take for granted today. They provided the nexus between liberty and order which remains in place over two centuries later. They brought together the Federalists and the anti-Federalists and provided for the birth of the greatest nation in the history of the world.
Free speech, religion, assembly, freedom of the press, freedom to keep and bear arms, right to privacy, fair and speedy trial by jury, protection from self-incrimination and cruel and unusual punishment, and finally, state's rights. These rights and freedoms are what separate us from brutal empires and regimes like the Romans and the Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein. This provides the perfect transition into the most recent fight for freedom: Iraq's.
Seventy percent of the Iraqi population got up and walked, for cars were banned today for their protection, to the polls to vote in the first free elections since before Saddam took power. The fear that the Sunni minority would stay home and not take part, almost guaranteeing a Shiite and Kurdish run government, was ended this morning when they turned out in droves to take part in this sacred process we call democracy. Even in the beginning of America we were not so free, as the minority black population was still confined to the cotton fields of the South. There is no such oppression in Iraq as men and women of all Islamic sects are voting freely.
The only threat faced by the Iraqi people isn't coming from a racist or theocratic government, but rather a freedom-hating insurgency that wants nothing more than to rule the nation in the manner Saddam previously had. Nevertheless, today was relatively peaceful and turnout far exceeded that of the January elections. Saddam's home province saw 80 percent turnout and the hellish city of Fallujah even saw turnout approach 70 percent. The threat of severe injury and even death was no doubt on their minds, but Iraqi voters brushed the fear aside as a minor inconvenience.
Freedom's march is an unstoppable force once in motion; it's momentum is like an avalanche, but the destructive force is replaced by a constructive force. Following the American Revolution and our independence from Britain, the anti-Federalists threatened to boycott the Constitution in much the same way the minority Sunnis threatened to boycott the elections in Iraq. But freedom prevailed nonetheless through patience and compromise. In all occasions, out of tyranny and oppression, freedom is born. Look at America, Europe, and now Iraq.
This day, like the one eight days ago, will live in infamy. But this day has positive connotations, whereas December 7 has negative. December 15 is a great day for freedom in America and now in Iraq. May there be many more December 15's as freedom's spread reaches more nations around the world.