Colleges shredding the United States Constitution? That’s what happened at Vassar College. An undercover reporter, working for Project Veritas, a non-profit established by James O’Keefe, approached the Assistant Director of Equal Opportunity at Vassar, Kelly Grab, to complain that when she was handed a copy of the Constitution on campus it triggered a panic attack.
Consequentially, the decision was made to shred the document. It was all caught on tape.
According to Campus Reform, when the undercover reporter complained about the Constitution to Wendy Kozol, Professor/Chair of Comparative American Studies at Oberlin, Kozal replied with, “[t]he Constitution in everyday life causes people pain,” adding that she rarely discusses the Constitution in class, and that when she does she tends to focus on specific amendments. She goes on to suggest that student groups host a dialogue concerning “the ways in which the Constitution in everyday life causes people pain.”
This disdain for the United States Constitution on our college campuses is not only routine, it is unfounded and frightening. The ultimate irony is that the Constitution is the very document which protects the administrator and college student’s liberty to shred it in the first place. Open debate is the foundation of freedom, yet, open debate about the United States Constitution rarely occurs on college campuses, instead it is simply thrown under the rug or trampled on with rhetoric and bias.
So how does one talk with an anti-Constitutionalist? And I might add, it’s not because one wants to do so but because one has to do so. The first question to ask when someone says he/she does not like the United States Constitution is simply, “Which part?” Rarely can anyone list a specific part. This is because, the majority of the time, dislike of the Constitution is not founded on facts but on partisan politics. It is a kneejerk reaction. If by chance, someone has a specificity the amendment process is the proper response. If a citizen doesn’t like something about the United States Constitution then the citizen is empowered, ironically and brilliantly, by the very document itself to amend it.
This enlightenment is to be followed by a reminder that an amendment to the Constitution is always started on a grassroots level and the best way to start the amendment process is by utilizing four out of five of the rights laid out in the first amendment - which are, by the way, protected by the check and balances in Articles I, II and III: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to petition and freedom to assemble.
The next quest, when speaking to an anti-Constitutionalist, is to list some of the most pertinent aspects of the United States Constitution that are taken for granted.
The Amendment Process in Article V, which may happen either within the Congress, or if Congress does not listen to the will of the people, between the states in a convention of states – both ways must then be ratified by three fourths of the states, a double check.The Impeachment Process in Article II Section 4, a process to impeach the President of the United States, which includes all three branches of government in order to temper passion and invoke reason in the process.Habeas Corpus, in Article I, Section 9, Clause 2, which insists that legal justification must be given in order to hold someone in jail.
This is rather important to everyone. Declaration of War in Article I, Section 8, Clause 11, which prohibits the ability of the President to declare war at his or her own discretion. This always rings a bell when a young man is reminded of the draft card he has to sign when he gets his driver’s license at the age of eighteen. The Treaty Ratification Process in Article II, Section II, Clause II – which prevents the President from singularly making treaties with foreign nations like a dictator or monarch, having huge impacts on the citizens, without a check from the SenateExclusive Rights for a limited time given to authors and inventors in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8 which created the boom of industry and discoveries in the 19th century and inspires such today
This is a short but worthy list for a nice, educated conversation starter. The anti-constitutionalist fervor is based mostly on a lack of knowledge and the flames of uninformed passion create a dangerous vulnerability for both our Republican form of government and our liberties. Don’t wait to have a cool, temperate discussion with your political opponent. If you wait much longer, you right to do so may be in shreds.
• Janine Turner is an actress, author, and founder and co-chair of Constituting America.