In what used to be called the "Old World," men and women ruled and held rank in society by right of heredity. One's legal rights and privileges depended on who one's parents were supposed to be. If you were the first born son of the Emperor of Omnium, you too would be the Emperor of Omnium. You had no choice in the matter, and a strictly enforced public orthodoxy required that you be treated accordingly. You might be happy to be as naked as the rest of the jaybirds, but severe penalties would descend upon anyone foolhardy enough to suggest that the emperor wore no clothes.
This was the "Ancien Regime"the old order. But some revolutionaries came along and put an end to it in America, on July 4, 1776. Those revolutionaries proclaimed that "all men are created equal," that no one had a right to special privileges in society because of his ancestry, that every man possessed equal rights by nature and each citizen must be equal before the law. In light of this principle, and only in its light, no man was held by nature or the grace of God to be the master or the slave of another. Because of this principle, and only because of it, the slavery that had been exported from the old world to the new was held by slaveholders themselves to be a violation of the rights of human nature. Their selfish interests might keep them from abolishing this relic of the old order, but their principle condemned them for failing to do so. When they were able to establish a "more perfect union," this principle taught them how far from perfection they remained.
The "New World" revolutionaries thought that this principle inaugurated a Novus Ordo Seclorum, a new order of the ages. Because of it, primogeniture and entail, the twin pillars of feudalism, were abolished, and the supreme law of this new land prohibited the granting of titles of nobility.
More than 30 years ago, those titles returned under the strange dynastic principle of "Affirmative Action." The old dynasties were replaced by the Marquis of Minority and the Earl of Under-representation and all their progeny. Our most prestigious educational institutions became the churches where the new sacred orthodoxy is incessantly preached, requiring allunder threat of ostracism, unemployment, lawsuit, and violent assaultto praise the new emperors' invisible gowns. As a result, for decades the nation has been riven by dynastic struggles among aspiring Queens of Gender Equity, would-be Satraps of Sexual Orientation, and the like. And now, in the highest of high churches in the land, high-priestess Sandra Day O'Connor has proclaimed ex cathedra that for perhaps another 25 years the country must bow down to the greatest pretender of them all, the Duke of Diversity.
This Fourth of July is a good occasion to renew our honorable resolve to treat the new aristocracy and all its defenders just as we treated the old. The Duke, himself, will breathe a sigh of relief when we finally allow him to admit that he's as naked as the rest of us jaybirds.
To fortify your resolve, here's some Fourth of July reading relevant to the affirmative action debate.