“Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the other harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear and demonization have long torn us apart.”
President Joseph Biden, Inaugural Address (January 21, 2021)
Not every man has the audacity to denounce invidious rhetoric in a sentence where he also deploys that rhetoric. “Racism,” “nativism” and “fear” are demonizing terms, as are “harsh,” “ugly” and “torn.” The purpose of these terms is to exclude a rival from the forum of public debate with slander and defamation. It is to declare that these are questions on which reasonable men cannot disagree.
Jefferson wrote his deplorable line to affirm that an Englishmen did not forfeit the rights of an Englishmen because he happened to reside in Virginia rather than Nottinghamshire. There was, to be sure, a cloud of Masonic perfume around the Declaration of Independence, but the “men” whose equality Jefferson declared were propertied Englishmen who just happened to reside outside of England. A transatlantic Englishman of property was, he declared, equal to a cisatlantic Englishman of property. Because the British Empire violated this principle, and cumbered transatlantic Englishmen of property with legal disabilities, it was not treasonous for those transatlantic Englishmen of property to declare their independence from the British Empire.
The Declaration of Independence was not, in other words, a declaration of war on every form of inequality, and it was only afterwards retconned into the democratic manifesto that our President vaguely imagines it to be.
It is worthwhile to ask why it was so easily retconned. Some of the answer is that cloud of Masonic perfume. We must remember that the Declaration was not written to inform King George that his American colonies were breaking away. It was written to assure the King of France and British Whigs that the War for Independence was not a revolution. Jefferson splashed on the Masonic perfume, perhaps a little too lavishly, to allay the fears of European powers that American Independence would set a dangerous precedent and inspire other revolutions.
Although it did, as the King of France very shortly discovered.
The problem was the deplorable word equality. Readers of the Magician’s Nephew will recall “the Deplorable Word.” This was a single word that, if spoken, would destroy everything but the speaker of that word. This word was discovered and spoken by Queen Jadis, in the course of a war over the throne, with the promised result that all but Queen Jadis was destroyed. Here is how she described it to the children Diggory and Polly.
“It had long been known to the great Kings of our race that there was a word which, if spoken with the proper ceremonies, would destroy all living things except the one who spoke it. But the ancient Kings were weak and soft-hearted, and bound themselves and all who should come after them with great oaths never to seek after knowledge of that word. But I learned it in a secret place and paid a terrible price to learn it. I did not use it until she forced me to use it.”
Equality is a deplorable word that, when spoken with proper ceremonies to make it an “ideal,” destroys all living things including the one who spoke it. Equality is the universal social solvent that cannot be put back into the bottle, so the argument that transatlantic English gentlemen of property were created equal to cisatlantic English gentlemen of property became, in time, the argument that transsexual American teenagers with athletic ambitions were created equal to cissexual American teenagers with athletic ambitions. It’s the American ideal, and only dastardly demons from Hell will say otherwise.
We all must confess to having spoken the deplorable word—to having used just a drop of the universal solvent to break down some social barrier that offended our pride or thwarted our ambition. To pile metaphor on metaphor, we have all been party crashers who soon thereafter objected to having our party crashed. But once you “break down a barrier” it stays broken down, and there is absolutely no limit to the numbers who can follow you through that breach.
If American history is, as President Biden believes, the progressive actualization of the ideal of equality, then America is a communist country. That is our telos because equality is the deplorable word that destroys everything. It does not act so rapidly as the deplorable word used by Queen Jadis, but it comes to the same thing in the end.
“And on the earth, in every direction, as far as the eye could reach, there spread a vast city in which there was no living thing to be seen. And all of the temples, towers, palaces, pyramids, and bridges cast long, disastrous-looking shadows in the light of that withered sun. Once a great river had flowed through the city, but the water had long since vanished, and it was now only a wide dich of grey dust.”