I love when films like “National Treasure” (2004)—that are designed for pure puzzle solving fun, but also subliminally evoke a greater appreciation for our national history and provide a civics lesson—thus hitting one out of the ball park, with regard to relevancy today about our current national governmental crisis.
The following the Declaration of Independence quote that was featured in the film—and excerpted in the film clip above–really moved me. Here is that quote again:
“… But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. …” Declaration of Independence
Nicolas Cage’s character of Benjamin Franklin Gates goes on to explain to his computer geek caper partner Riley Poole:
“If there is something wrong, those you have the ability to take action, have the responsibility to take action.” (“National Treasure”, 2004)
Back to our real lives, we are a nation of laws. So I hope that our elected officials will act responsibly—and use the laws that apply in this situation.
And for us, as voters, if our elected officials do not act in the best interests of the nation—but they act only for the best interests of a privileged few–then we have a responsibility, too, to vote them out of office, and to vote persons into public office who will serve the public good.
A visually more readable stone engraving of the Declaration of Independence appears below:
And enjoy the rest of the film, “National Treasure”. It’s a corker!
January 10, 2018–Addendum by Grati
I was reminded at a university conference session today, about incorporating meaningful dialogues about race, class, and gender into our curriculum–and that the “Declaration of Independence” has some glaring flaws embedded within its lofty writings, including that of the consitution, etc.. Those “Declaration of Independence” flaws being not applying the rights it so eloquently seeks to women, indentured servants, slaves, indigenous peoples, etc. Well, there is more to it.
Remember in the musical “1776” when Abigail Adams asks her husband John Adams to “remember the ladies”? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1776_(film) It was a request that went unheeded. Women had to take up their own cause for suffrage–the right to vote–which didn’t occur until the 19th amendment was passed in 1920 nationwide. We celebrate that date every August 26th. For more info, you can visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women%27s_suffrage_in_the_United_States.
The 1790’s Naturalization Act determined who was allowed to be considered a citizen of the U.S.–with all rights and privileges attached to being a citizen. Except it excluded from citizenship: indigenous peoples, indentured servants, slaves (still enslaved or freed). etc. I only learned about this shameful legislation during my doctoral studies about fifteen years ago. For more info, read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalization_Act_of_1790
Then we look at our nation’s long disgraceful history of slavery and subjugation. Though the Emancipation Proclamation was enacted in 1863–it didn’t really free anyone who was enslaved. But it is more generally celebrated with Juneteenth each year–perhaps as a start. It took another 101 years til 1964 and the Civil Rights Act legislation enacted–buidling greatly upon the seminal 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education Suprement Court ruling.. And yet, with the most recent presidential election and the debates about voter registration “fraud” being bandied about — as if it were non-fake-news, and the voting fraud commission just recently abandoned by the Trump administration this week (hurrah!)–we are reminded again that voting rights for African Americans has to be “renewed” every couple of years. They are citizens of our nation, and their right to vote should be absolute. For more information, please visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourteenth_Amendment_to_the_United_States_Constitution
So when I waxed nostalgic in my post above about the film “National Treasure” reminding everyone about how great the “Declaration of Independence” was, I was only focusing on one limited aspect of the intent of the “Declaration of Independence”–when it is a larger and more complex topic. So my post above is admittedly a fluff piece. But I’m glad that I decided to delve further into the issues with you, surrounding our national conversation about what it means to be an American citizen–it’s rights and its responsibilities as a society, and to each other–in this addendum comment..
P.S. I’m not an expert on history, but I have informed myself through my focus of my graduate studies on race, class, and gender and STEM careers.
P.S. And for anyone wanting to further delve for yourself, you might look into a method of theoretical/rhetorical/social, etc. analysis called “Critical Race Theory”, here: