Study Guide: Muslim Brotherhood and more on Egypt

  1. Egypt revolt is 'step towards Islamic Middle East'

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Osama+bin+Laden+has+suffered+kidney+failure,+bone+marrow+disease,+liver+ailments,+cancer+and+depression+-+when+he+wasn%27t+playing+soccer,+raising+Arabian+horses+or+sneaking+into+Albani%22&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbo=u&tbs=nws:1&source=og&sa=N&tab=wn <http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=%22Osama+bin+Laden+has+suffered+kidney+failure,+bone+marrow+disease,+liver+ailments,+cancer+and+depression+-+when+he+wasn%27t+playing+soccer,+raising+Arabian+horses+or+sneaking+into+Albani%22&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbo=u&tbs=nws:1&source=og&sa=N&tab=wn>

  1. QUOTE FROM 2000: "THE WORLD IS LESS, NOT MORE DANGEROUS, THAN A DECADE AGO. AMERICA IS RELATIVELY STRONGER TODAY THAN EVER BEFORE, NOTWITHSTANDING THE MISGUIDED CLAIMS OF MESSRS. BUSH AND MCCAIN."

http://books.google.com/books?id=N7byI1yLTJgC&pg=PA3357&lpg=PA3357&dq=%22THE+WORLD+IS+LESS,+NOT+MORE+DANGEROUS,+THAN+A+DECADE+AGO.+AMERICA+IS+RELATIVELY+STRONGER+TODAY+THAN+EVER+BEFORE,+NOTWITHSTANDING+THE+MISGUIDED+CLAIMS+OF+MESSRS.+BUSH+AND+MCCAIN.%22&source=bl&ots=c5fgw8Z5fv&sig=NAJG0o5X-Drfpj5QXXCc8ZmYAhY&hl=en#v=onepage&q=%22THE%20WORLD%20IS%20LESS%2C%20NOT%20MORE%20DANGEROUS%2C%20THAN%20A%20DECADE%20AGO.%20AMERICA%20IS%20RELATIVELY%20STRONGER%20TODAY%20THAN%20EVER%20BEFORE%2C%20NOTWITHSTANDING%20THE%20MISGUIDED%20CLAIMS%20OF%20MESSRS.%20BUSH%20AND%20MCCAIN.%22&f=false <http://books.google.com/books?id=N7byI1yLTJgC&pg=PA3357&lpg=PA3357&dq=%22THE+WORLD+IS+LESS,+NOT+MORE+DANGEROUS,+THAN+A+DECADE+AGO.+AMERICA+IS+RELATIVELY+STRONGER+TODAY+THAN+EVER+BEFORE,+NOTWITHSTANDING+THE+MISGUIDED+CLAIMS+OF+MESSRS.+BUSH+AND+MCCAIN.%22&source=bl&ots=c5fgw8Z5fv&sig=NAJG0o5X-Drfpj5QXXCc8ZmYAhY&hl=en#v=onepage&q=%22THE%20WORLD%20IS%20LESS%2C%20NOT%20MORE%20DANGEROUS%2C%20THAN%20A%20DECADE%20AGO.%20AMERICA%20IS%20RELATIVELY%20STRONGER%20TODAY%20THAN%20EVER%20BEFORE%2C%20NOTWITHSTANDING%20THE%20MISGUIDED%20CLAIMS%20OF%20MESSRS.%20BUSH%20AND%20MCCAIN.%22&f=false>

  1. U.S. open to a role for Islamists in new Egypt government

http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-fg-us-egypt-20110201,0,2958266.story <http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-fg-us-egypt-20110201,0,2958266.story>

Muslim Brotherhood Logos

El-Baradei & National Association for Change

http://egyptelections.carnegieendowment.org/2010/09/22/national-assocation-for-change <http://egyptelections.carnegieendowment.org/2010/09/22/national-assocation-for-change>

  • The National Association for Change (NAC) is a broad opposition coalition pushing for pro-democracy constitutional reforms created by former International Atomic Energy Association head Mohammed ElBaradei and a close group of supporters.
  • The association is the product of an initial meeting in February 2010 at ElBaradei’s home of approximately 30 politicians, intellectuals, activists, and other prominent figures in Egypt who identified with the renewed call for democratic reforms that the return of ElBaradei has prompted
  • The Muslim Brotherhood’s endorsement of the National Association for Change’s signature campaign has given the initiative a significant boost and engendered hopes for cooperation between opposition forces with different ideological orientations in the 2010 elections. It has also alienated some NAC sympathizers who are strongly opposed to the Brotherhood.

El Baradei Quote

  • "The Muslim Brotherhood is a conservative religious group, like Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem and Evangelists in the United States. They are a minority in Egypt and do not have power to undermine our constitution, which guarantees a civil government to lead the country", announced ElBaradei

El Baradei SOT (CNN, Jan 30)

  • “The Muslim Brotherhood has nothing to do with the Iranian model, has nothing to do with extremism…They are part of the Egyptian society, as much as the Marxist party here. I think this myth that has been perpetuated and sold by the regime has no - has no iota of reality

Rosie O’Donnell SOT (“The View,” ABC, 2006)

  • Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam (applause) in a country like America

RIOT PAMPHLET

Egyptian Activists' Action Plan: Translated

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/01/egyptian-activists-action-plan-translated/70388/# <http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/01/egyptian-activists-action-plan-translated/70388/>

Egypt protest leaflets distributed in Cairo give blueprint for mass action

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/27/egypt-protest-leaflets-mass-action <http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jan/27/egypt-protest-leaflets-mass-action>

  • The leaflet includes aerial photographs with approach routes marked and diagrams on crowd formations. Suggested "positive" slogans include "long live Egypt" and "down with the corrupt regime". There are no signs of slogans reflecting the agenda of the powerful Muslim Brotherhood. It advises demonstrators to wear clothing such as hooded jackets, running shoes, goggles and scarves to protect against teargas, and to carry dustbin lids – to ward off baton blows and rubber bullets – first aid kits, and roses to symbolise their peaceful intentions.
  • Diagrams show how to defend against riot police and push in waves to break through their ranks. "The most important thing is to protect each other," the leaflet says.

MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD / US CONNECTIONS

Jodie Evans, Bill Ayers & Bernardine Dohrn - Flotilla

http://biggovernment.com/taylorking/2011/01/29/did-muslim-brotherhood-learn-day-of-rage-egypt-protest-tactics-from-obama-allies-bill-ayers-and-code-pink/ <http://biggovernment.com/taylorking/2011/01/29/did-muslim-brotherhood-learn-day-of-rage-egypt-protest-tactics-from-obama-allies-bill-ayers-and-code-pink/>

  • Code Pink co-founder Jodie Evans, accompanied by the former Weather Underground terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn – organized an inside-outside game of political theater to bring pressure on the Mubarak regime to allow the aid for Hamas to be delivered though Egyptian checkpoints.
  • Evans and Code Pink lobbied Mubarak’s wife for assistance, as well as the U.S. embassy in Cairo. On the other hand, the group led hundreds of Western leftists in challenging the Egyptian government with boisterous street protests.
  • Code Pink was not shy about its support for Hamas. The group bragged that Hamas terrorists guaranteed their safety in Gaza. <http://biggovernment.com/taylorking/2010/01/12/hamas-terrorists-guaranteed-code-pinks-safety-in-gaza/>
  • Code Pink had also allied itself with the Muslim Brotherhood. Code Pink took out banner ads on the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English language Web site asking jihadis to “join us in cleansing our country” <http://biggovernment.com/taylorking/2010/01/11/obama-ally-code-pink-invites-muslim-brotherhood-join-us-in-cleansing-our-country/> of so-called war criminals which included former President George W. Bush and wife Laura.
  • Ayers & Dohrn participated in the Weather Underground’s 1969 “Days of Rage” in Chicago.  Last Friday’s rioting in Egypt was also called “Days of Rage.” It is telling that the protests Friday in Egypt were dubbed by the Muslim Brotherhood, a “day of rage.” <http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Egyptian+opposition+promises+rage+today/4182700/story.html>  The Brotherhood said its members will demonstrate “with all the national Egyptian forces, the Egyptian people, so that this coming Friday [today] will be the general day of rage for the Egyptian nation.”

Code Pink Ads on Muslim Brotherhood Website

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_D2s5woTPKs8/S0s1zFoD0rI/AAAAAAAABWA/VhrHTqLQr8o/s1600-h/MB_CodePink.jpg <http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_D2s5woTPKs8/S0s1zFoD0rI/AAAAAAAABWA/VhrHTqLQr8o/s1600-h/MB_CodePink.jpg>

“Arrest the War Criminals” & “Women Say No to War”

Code Pink Statement published by Muslim Brotherhood

http://biggovernment.com/taylorking/2010/01/11/obama-ally-code-pink-invites-muslim-brotherhood-join-us-in-cleansing-our-country/ <http://biggovernment.com/taylorking/2010/01/11/obama-ally-code-pink-invites-muslim-brotherhood-join-us-in-cleansing-our-country/>

Code Pink Letter to First Lady Suzanne Mubarak

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jodie-evans/a-letter-to-her-excellenc_b_403245.html <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jodie-evans/a-letter-to-her-excellenc_b_403245.html>

  • At this year's end, we have organized a march of nearly 1,400 international citizens to come together and march with the families of Gaza on the anniversary of the terrible 22-day Israeli invasion. We know you share our painful feelings about the human rights violations in Gaza -- violations which must be all the more painful for their proximity to you. We appeal to your compassion for those women, men and children and the conditions in which they live. The delegates on this march are bringing winter jackets for children, as well as children's medicines and school supplies.
  • We once again ask you to intervene on our behalf. Please help us travel to Gaza from December 29-January 2 to deliver much-needed aid and to march hand-in-hand for justice and human rights for all.

Code Pink – Ayers, Dohrn, Evans pics from Egypt

http://biggovernment.com/taylorking/2011/01/29/did-muslim-brotherhood-learn-day-of-rage-egypt-protest-tactics-from-obama-allies-bill-ayers-and-code-pink/ <http://biggovernment.com/taylorking/2011/01/29/did-muslim-brotherhood-learn-day-of-rage-egypt-protest-tactics-from-obama-allies-bill-ayers-and-code-pink/>

Code Pink Release posted on Muslim Brotherhood Website

http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=20231 <http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=20231>

Large Delegation, Mostly Americans Launch Campain Urging Obama To Visit Gaza From Egypt

GAZA FLOTILLA & MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

THIS IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE JEWISH CENTER FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS REPORT ON THE FLOTILLA.

YOU CAN READ THE ENTIRE REPORT HERE:

http://www.jcpa.org/text/Turkey_Muslim_Brotherhood.pdf <http://www.jcpa.org/text/Turkey_Muslim_Brotherhood.pdf>

IHH Was Not Acting Alone – The Role of the Global Muslim Brotherhood Network

  • The Gaza flotilla incident brought into sharp focus an even more significant longterm development: the growing relationship between the Erdogan government and the Global Muslim Brotherhood, which has given rise to some of the most notorious Islamist terrorist groups – from al-Qaeda to Hamas.
  • Since 2006, Turkey has become a new center for the Global Muslim Brotherhood, while the Hamas regime in the Gaza Strip acted as the main axis for this activity. The AKP allowed key elements of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and above all the International Union of Muslim Scholars, led by Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, to operate freely on Turkish territory, with its active support, as witnessed by the large number of conferences held recently in Istanbul and sponsored and/or attended by Global Muslim Brotherhood leaders.
  • However, as this report demonstrates, the IHH was not acting alone but rather was an integral part of a Turkish Muslim Brotherhood network comprised of seven NGOs with strong links to each other, to the Global Muslim Brotherhood, and to the Turkish political establishment.
  • The Turkish/MB network has been supported by nearly the whole of the Global Muslim Brotherhood, whose affiliates, from a number of Middle Eastern countries, provided passengers for the Mavi Marmara. In addition, the Global Muslim Brotherhood frequently held press conferences and demonstrations to demonize Israel, initiated legal actions against Israeli leaders, and delivered aid to those in conflict with Israel. The Turkish/MB network played a major role in supporting the Gaza flotilla prior to its launching through statements and press conferences, and one of its most important leaders, MAZLUMDER Chairman Ahmet Unsal, was on board the flotilla. In the aftermath of the flotilla, the Turkish/MB network continued its support in more official statements, and at a post-flotilla event in Kuwait, Turkish/MB network leader Gazi Misirli revealed that MUSIAD had played a major role in funding the flotilla by “coordinating” donations. In addition, the Turkish/MB network was in ongoing contact with Hamas leaders

Wade Rathke

http://chieforganizer.org/ <http://chieforganizer.org/>

  • On his blog, Rathke wrote about Egypt:  “But in the meantime keep your running shoes handy and in good repair. The streets are on fire and we need to keep our feet in shape so the dogs can keep barking.”
  • Rathke is the founder of ACORN International

Wade Rathke & Drummond Pike

http://www.organizersforum.org/index.php?id=362 <http://www.organizersforum.org/index.php?id=362>

  • Both men are on the board of directors of the Organizers Forum
  • The mission of the Organizers Forum is: to strengthen grassroots organizations by increasing capacity and stability of these democratic structures, to link organizing networks, and to improve on the skills and strategies employed by both community and labor organizers.
  • The Organizers Forum plans to host its fall 2011 International Dialogue in Egypt where they will meet with labor and community organizers and other activists in Cairo
  • There are exciting changes and developments that are currently taking place in Egypt with elections coming soon to determine leadership transitions in what has been an autocratic regime, now challenged by the Muslim Brotherhood and succession and democracy issues

Muslim Brotherhood

http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/viewSubCategory.asp?id=1235

  • Accordingly, the Brotherhood seeks to establish an Islamic Caliphate spanning the entire Muslim world. It also aspires to make Islamic (Shari’a) law the sole basis of jurisprudence and governance. Toward this purpose -- encapsulated in the Brotherhood’s militant credo: "God is our objective, the Koran is our Constitution, the Prophet is our leader, struggle is our way, and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations" -- the Brotherhood since its founding has supported the use of armed struggle, or jihad.
  • The Brotherhood supports the waging of jihad against non-Muslim "infidels," and has expressed support for terrorism against Israel, whose legitimacy the Brotherhood does not recognize, and against the West, particularly the United States
  • Outlawed in Egypt in 1954, the Brotherhood temporarily receded as a political force. It re-emerged under Anwar Sadat, a sympathizer of the group. Taking advantage of the Brotherhood’s militant aversion to secularism, Sadat sponsored it against his communist and socialist political opposition. Later, however, the Brotherhood joined the political Left in opposing Sadat’s peace treaty with Israel, believing the normalization of relations with Israel to be a betrayal of Islam.
  • Outside the Middle East, the Brotherhood has expanded its operations to the United States. Muslim activists affiliated with the Brotherhood have founded the Muslim Students' Association <https://mail.google.com/groupprofile.asp?grpid=6175> , the North American Islamic Trust, the Islamic Society of North America <https://mail.google.com/groupprofile.asp?grpid=6178> , the American Muslim Council <https://mail.google.com/groupprofile.asp?grpid=6146> , and the International Institute of Islamic Thought <https://mail.google.com/groupprofile.asp?grpid=6180> . The Brotherhood also reportedly exercises a strong influence in Muslim communities throughout Europe.

http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/20.pdf <http://www.investigativeproject.org/documents/misc/20.pdf>

The Brotherhood listed some 29 likeminded "organizations of our friends" seeking to realize the same goal. These included:

Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF)

http://www.adl.org/main_Terrorism/backgrounder_holyland.htm <http://www.adl.org/main_Terrorism/backgrounder_holyland.htm>

  • The Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development (HLF), once considered the largest Muslim charity in the U.S., has been shut down by the government for funding Hamas <http://www.adl.org/main_israel/hamas_facts.htm> .
  • On May 27, 2009, a federal judge in Dallas handed down sentences ranging from 15 to 65 years in prison to five of the charity's founders and former fundraisers. The federal government proved to the jury that the defendants funneled over $12 million to Hamas after the U.S. government had designated it a foreign terrorist organization in 1995.
  • The Justice Department contended that HLF provided more than $12 million to individuals and organizations linked to Hamas between 1995 and 2001. In addition, the group reportedly raised a total of $57 million since its incorporation in 1992, but only reported $36.2 million to the IRS.
  • A first trial ended in a mistrial in October 2007 when the jury failed to come to a unanimous decision on most counts.

TARIQ RAMADAN

  • Ramadan is a citizen of Switzerland
  • Ramadan's grandfather founded the Muslim Brotherhood
  • Ramadan has been banned from entering France
  • Ramadan was banned from entering the US in 2004 due to accusations of supporting the militant Palestinian group Hamas.
  • Labels US security policy as "draconian" and "hostile to freedom"
  • Declares there is a "double standard" in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
  • Often criticized as a "charlatan" who says one thing to European audiences and something else to Muslims
  • Time magazine named Tariq Ramadan one of the 100 innovators of the 21st century

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/nyregion/08muslim.html <http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/08/nyregion/08muslim.html>

  • In the summer of 2004, Mr. Ramadan, a Swiss citizen, was preparing to travel to the United States to become a tenured professor of religion, conflict and peace-building at the University of Notre Dame <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/u/university_of_notre_dame/index.html?inline=nyt-org>  when the Bush administration revoked his visa <http://www.nytimes.com/2004/08/26/national/26scholar.html> .
  • The government cited a provision of the Patriot Act <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/u/usa_patriot_act/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier>  that allows the barring of foreigners who “use a position of prominence within any country to endorse or espouse terrorist activity.” Officials eventually pointed to Mr. Ramadan’s donations of about $1,300 from 1998 to 2002 to a Swiss-based charity that the Treasury Department later categorized as a terrorist organization because it gave money to Hamas <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/h/hamas/index.html?inline=nyt-org> , the militant Palestinian <http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/p/palestinians/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier> group.
  • Mr. Ramadan, now a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Oxford, contended he was unaware of any links between the charity and Hamas or terrorist activities. The professor, who had visited the United States dozens of times, said he believed that the organization was involved in legitimate charitable activities.
  • The civil liberties union challenged the exclusion in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Mr. Ramadan and three organizations that had invited him to speak: the American Association of University Professors, the American Academy of Religion and PEN American Center. His lawyers argued that the exclusion was an illegal form of censorship, motivated by the professor’s political views and criticism of American policy.
  • But he has also antagonized a wide range of critics, who have accused him of being a radical in a moderate’s clothing, and of speaking in contradictions. Some have tried to draw direct links between his teachings and the Islamic radicalism espoused by his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, a sometimes-violent political group in Egypt. But Mr. Ramadan, who has rejected violence in the service of Islam, accuses his critics of not reading him carefully enough — or not reading him at all.

Peace Professor Singled Out Jews of France,  NY Sun,  January 7, 2004

  • On November 14, 2003, the French newspaper Le Parisien published an article quoting a former French intelligence officer and investigator for the families of the victims of the September 11 World Trade Center bombing, Jean Charles-Brisard, that Mr. Ramadan was suspected by European intelligence agencies of meeting Al Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri in 1991.
  • Mr. Ramadan in October published an article on an Islamic Web site,Oumma.com, singling out some of France's Jewish intellectuals for supporting the war in Iraq and thus, he said, placing the allegiances of their religion ahead of their obligation as scholars.
  • In it he wrote that the analysis of French Jewish intellectuals was "increasingly oriented toward a community-based concern that tends to relativize the defense of universal principles like equality and justice."

Tariq Ramadan: some call him "the most dangerous man in Europe", others "the Martin Luther of Islam". Just how sinister is he?

(New Statesman, June 1, 2004)

  • Most loaded of all was Ramadan's use of the term "communitarian politics" as a charge against the liberal intelligentsia. In French, it carries with it not only an attack on the intellectual integrity of individuals, but also a challenge to the fundamental principles of the Republic.
  • Ramadan was, in other words, not only accusing Jewish intellectuals of Jewish self-interest but also, in an echo of the Dreyfus affair, of deliberately acting against the interests of the state. This is precisely why the level-headed and highly respected Kouchner called him "a most dangerous man".
  • Ramadan's response to his critics is that he does not want to be drawn into "a discourse of hate". He adds that all Muslims must know how to rise above such predictable enemies. "There are certain insults which are unworthy and which we do not have to answer," he say

Court rules Swiss authorities wrong to fire Muslim teacher who defended stoning for adultery

(AP, April 3, 2004)

  • Tariq’s brother, Hani Ramadan, was suspended from duty in October 2002 after he wrote an article on Muslim Shariat law for the French newspaper Le Monde. Besides defending stoning for adulterers, he also said AIDS was a form of divine retribution against sinners

http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2010/04/an-evening-with-ramadan.html <http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2010/04/an-evening-with-ramadan.html>

  • I cited quotations from al-Banna expressing pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic views; I quoted Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a follower of al-Banna who is a hugely popular TV preacher on Al Jazeera, expressing similar views. And I asked Ramadan why he had never acknowledged, let alone condemned, these things…
  • But he refused to acknowledge that his grandfather and the Muslim Brotherhood in its origins were characterized by anti-Semitic or totalitarian views. It seemed clear that there was a limit to what he would allow himself to say or think, and that I had found it.

http://www.time.com/time/subscriber/2004/time100/scientists/100ramadan.html <http://www.time.com/time/subscriber/2004/time100/scientists/100ramadan.html>

  • Detractors claim that Ramadan's messages are filled with a double language. His followers, they say, can decipher his words as a call to furtively spread fundamentalist Islam in society under the cover of modernism and integration.
  • Critics have denounced as anti-Semitic Ramadan's recent critique of "Jewish French intellectual" reaction to the intifadeh. They were appalled when he suggested last year a "moratorium" on the stoning of adulterers in order to consider the legitimacy of the act.

By July 9, 1776, a copy of the Declaration of Independence reached New York City, where British naval ships occupied New York Harbor. Revolutionary spirit and tension were running high. George Washington, commander of the Continental forces in New York, read the Declaration aloud in front of City Hall. The crowd cheered wildly, and later that day tore down a statue of King George III. They melted down the statue to make 42,000 musket balls for the ragtag American army.

America's separation from Great Britain was officially in writing. Now came the hard part.

The Declaration of Independence defines who we are, what we believe, and what we aspire to be. It is a mission statement. But no one said it would be easy to implement.

The Declaration was not simply an official announcement of our split from Great Britain. If it was just that, it could've been a lot shorter. It was also an announcement that we're starting a new company, and here's what we're basing it on. It didn't just declare independence — it declared principles. It declared how we were going to organize ourselves once we were out on our own, and it set up guardrails to help ensure we didn't end up like the country we were leaving in the first place.

The Founders set us up for success, but America is now fumbling it away, largely thanks to our dangerous drift from the original blueprints.

In our national discourse, it's hard to find agreement even on fundamentals like the Declaration of Independence anymore. There's no time for old-fashioned things like the Declaration when social media can fuel our outrage around the clock.

We have lost touch with our national DNA.

How often do we jump to outrage before we have any kind of perspective on a matter? In 2017, President Trump had only been in office for one month before over 100 activists rewrote a version of the Declaration of Independence, rewording it with Trump in the King George III role. Trump had been in office for a single month. The focus has shifted from unity to partisan winning at all costs. We have lost touch with our national DNA.

Our basic knowledge of the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights is so weak that we don't have a clue how they relate to each other. As of late 2017, 37 percent of Americans could not name any of our First Amendment rights. And 33 percent of Americans could not name any branch of our government.

Here's another example of our painful misunderstanding. In a Psychology Today article written before the 2016 presidential election, Dr. Mark Goulston was trying to figure out a way to understand Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. This is what he came up with:

Trump represents the Declaration of Independence. Clinton represents the U.S. Constitution.

He tries to explain that Trump supporters are eager to declare their independence from the political swamp system. For the Constitution side of things, he wrote:

It [the Constitution] may have stood the test of time for so long because it was drafted following a long, costly and awful war that the founding fathers wanted to prevent from happening again. That intention possibly enabled them to create a document that was relatively free from special interests and personal agendas. [Hillary] Clinton is more like the Constitution than the Declaration of Independence and appears to be more about getting things done than declaratively taking a stand.

Besides being a completely bogus way to interpret Hillary Clinton, this comparison makes your brain hurt because it so fundamentally misunderstands the relationship between the Declaration and the Constitution. They are not rival documents.

He says the Constitution has stood the test of time because the founders wrote it to prevent another long, costly war. What? No. It stands the test of time because it was designed to protect the “unalienable rights" of the Declaration.

He goes on to say that we need a new Constitutional Convention because, “We may just need to retrofit it to fit modern times."

This is the primarily leftist idea that America is up against today — that the founding documents worked well for their time, but that they now need an overhaul. Progressives seem to live by the motto, if it ain't broke, fix it anyway. Rather than “fixing" things, however, when we understand the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights as they already are, we discover that they still work because they're tied to universal principles, not a specific point in time.

Here's one way to think about the Declaration, Constitution, and Bill of Rights. The Declaration is our thesis, or mission statement. The Constitution is the blueprint to implement that mission statement. And the Bill of Rights is our insurance policy.

Aside from the practical business of separating from Great Britain, the gist of the Declaration is that humans have natural rights granted us by God, and that those rights cannot be compromised by man. The Constitution, then, is the practical working out of how do we design a government that best protects our natural rights?

The creation of the Constitution did not give us rights. The existence of our rights created the Constitution. The Constitution just recognizes and codifies those rights, clarifying that the government does not have authority to deprive us of those rights.

The Founders were extremely paranoid about corruption and abuse of power. They designed a system to avoid as much of that as possible.

The Progressive and postmodern idea that rich white guys founded America as an exclusive country club for enriching themselves doesn't hold water. If that had been their true intent, they seriously handicapped themselves with the emphasis on rights and the checks on power that they included in these three documents. Any honest reading of the Constitution, and of the massive ratification debates that dragged on in individual state legislatures, makes one thing very clear — the Founders were extremely paranoid about corruption and abuse of power. They designed a system to avoid as much of that as possible.

Still, this Declaration-Constitution-Bill of Rights-trifecta thing is just a conservative line, right? It's just something we say because we're stuck in the past and we're in denial about the new and improved, diverse, post-gender, postmodern America, right?

As the Declaration puts it, “let facts be submitted to a candid world."

In 1839, on the 50th anniversary of George Washington's inauguration as the nation's first president, the New York Historical Society invited former president John Quincy Adams to deliver a speech. As the son of John Adams, John Quincy wrote a speech about something near and dear to his — the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He said:

The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States, are parts of one consistent whole, founded upon one and the same theory of government… it had been working itself into the mind of man for many ages… but had never before been adopted by a great nation in practice…

Even in our own country, there are still philosophers who deny the principles asserted in the Declaration, as self-evident truths — who deny the natural equality and inalienable rights of man — who deny that the people are the only legitimate source of power – who deny that all just powers of government are derived from the consent of the governed… I speak to matters of fact. There is the Declaration of Independence, and there is the Constitution of the United States — let them speak for themselves.

They can, and they do. They don't require any interpretation or updates because our inalienable rights have not changed.

Progressives and Democratic Socialists believe our rights come from the government, but the Declaration emphasizes that our rights are inalienable and are granted to mankind by God. By the way, we usually only use the word “inalienable" now when we're talking about the Declaration of Independence, so we often don't even understand the word. It means something that is not transferable, something incapable of being taken away or denied.

We don't know our founding documents anymore and we're witnessing the disastrous results of this deficiency. We've lost sight of what made the American Revolution so unique. It was the first time subjects who had colonized new lands, rebelled against the country they came from. Government by the people and for the people is a principle that changed the world. Most countries fall apart after their revolutions. We thrived because of the firm principles of the Declaration, and the protection of those principles in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It's a unique system with a remarkable track record, in spite of our human frailty. But this system is not inevitable — for it to continue to work, we must understand and protect it.

From the moment the 33-year-old Thomas Jefferson arrived at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia in 1776, he was on the radical side. That caused John Adams to like him immediately. Then the Congress stuck Jefferson and Adams together on the five-man committee to write a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain, and their mutual admiration society began.

Jefferson thought Adams should write the Declaration. But Adams protested, saying, “It can't come from me because I'm obnoxious and disliked." Adams reasoned that Jefferson was not obnoxious or disliked, therefore he should write it. Plus, he flattered Jefferson, by telling him he was a great writer. It was a master class in passing the buck.

So, over the next 17 days, Jefferson holed up in his room, applying his lawyer skills to the ideas of the Enlightenment. He borrowed freely from existing documents like the Virginia Declaration of Rights. He later wrote that “he was not striving for originality of principle or sentiment." Instead, he hoped his words served as “an expression of the American mind."

It's safe to say he achieved his goal.

The five-man committee changed about 25 percent of Jefferson's first draft of the Declaration before submitting it to Congress. Then, Congress altered about one-fifth of that draft. But most of the final Declaration's words are Jefferson's, including the most famous passage — the Preamble — which Congress left intact. The result is nothing less than America's mission statement, the words that ultimately bind the nation together. And words that we desperately need to rediscover because of our boiling partisan rage.

The Declaration is brilliant in structure and purpose. It was designed for multiple audiences: the King of Great Britain, the colonists, and the world. And it was designed for multiple purposes: rallying the troops, gaining foreign allies, and announcing the creation of a new country.

The Declaration is structured in five sections: the Introduction, Preamble, the Body composed of two parts, and the Conclusion. It's basically the most genius breakup letter ever written.

In the Introduction, step 1 is the notificationI think we need to break up. And to be fair, I feel I owe you an explanation...

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another…

The Continental Congress felt they were entitled by “the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God" to “dissolve the political bands," but they needed to prove the legitimacy of their cause. They were defying the world's most powerful nation and needed to motivate foreign allies to join the effort. So, they set their struggle within the entire “Course of human events." They're saying, this is no petty political spat — this is a major event in world history.

Step 2 is declaring what you believe in, your standardsHere's what I'm looking for in a healthy relationship...

This is the most famous part of the Declaration; the part school children recite — the Preamble:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That's as much as many Americans know of the Declaration. But the Preamble is the DNA of our nation, and it really needs to be taken as a whole:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Preamble takes us through a logical progression: All men are created equal; God gives all humans certain inherent rights that cannot be denied; these include the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; to protect those rights, we have governments set up; but when a government fails to protect our inherent rights, people have the right to change or replace it.

Government is only there to protect the rights of mankind. They don't have any power unless we give it to them. That was an extraordinarily radical concept then and we're drifting away from it now.

The Preamble is the justification for revolution. But note how they don't mention Great Britain yet. And again, note how they frame it within a universal context. These are fundamental principles, not just squabbling between neighbors. These are the principles that make the Declaration just as relevant today. It's not just a dusty parchment that applied in 1776.

Step 3 is laying out your caseHere's why things didn't work out between us. It's not me, it's you...

This is Part 1 of the Body of the Declaration. It's the section where Jefferson gets to flex his lawyer muscles by listing 27 grievances against the British crown. This is the specific proof of their right to rebellion:

He has obstructed the administration of justice...

For imposing taxes on us without our consent...

For suspending our own legislatures...

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us...

Again, Congress presented these “causes which impel them to separation" in universal terms to appeal to an international audience. It's like they were saying, by joining our fight you'll be joining mankind's overall fight against tyranny.

Step 4 is demonstrating the actions you took I really tried to make this relationship work, and here's how...

This is Part 2 of the Body. It explains how the colonists attempted to plead their case directly to the British people, only to have the door slammed in their face:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury...

They too have been deaf to the voice of justice... We must, therefore... hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

This basically wrapped up America's argument for independence — we haven't been treated justly, we tried to talk to you about it, but since you refuse to listen and things are only getting worse, we're done here.

Step 5 is stating your intent — So, I think it's best if we go our separate ways. And my decision is final...

This is the powerful Conclusion. If people know any part of the Declaration besides the Preamble, this is it:

...that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved...

They left no room for doubt. The relationship was over, and America was going to reboot, on its own, with all the rights of an independent nation.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The message was clear — this was no pitchfork mob. These were serious men who had carefully thought through the issues before taking action. They were putting everything on the line for this cause.

The Declaration of Independence is a landmark in the history of democracy because it was the first formal statement of a people announcing their right to choose their own government. That seems so obvious to us now, but in 1776 it was radical and unprecedented.

In 1825, Jefferson wrote that the purpose of the Declaration was “not to find out new principles, or new arguments, never before thought of… but to place before mankind the common sense of the subject, in terms so plain and firm… to justify ourselves in the independent stand we are compelled to take."

You're not going to do better than the Declaration of Independence. Sure, it worked as a means of breaking away from Great Britain, but its genius is that its principles of equality, inherent rights, and self-government work for all time — as long as we actually know and pursue those principles.

On June 7, 1776, the Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania State House, better known today as Independence Hall. Virginia delegate Richard Henry Lee introduced a motion calling for the colonies' independence. The “Lee Resolution" was short and sweet:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

Intense debate followed, and the Congress voted 7 to 5 (with New York abstaining) to postpone a vote on Lee's Resolution. They called a recess for three weeks. In the meantime, the delegates felt they needed to explain what they were doing in writing. So, before the recess, they appointed a five-man committee to come up with a formal statement justifying a break with Great Britain. They appointed two men from New England — Roger Sherman and John Adams; two from the middle colonies — Robert Livingston and Benjamin Franklin; and one Southerner — Thomas Jefferson. The responsibility for writing what would become the Declaration of Independence fell to Jefferson.

In the rotunda of the National Archives building in Washington, D.C., there are three original documents on permanent display: the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence. These are the three pillars of the United States, yet America barely seems to know them anymore. We need to get reacquainted — quickly.

In a letter to his friend John Adams in 1816, Jefferson wrote: “I like the dreams of the future, better than the history of the past."

America used to be a forward-looking nation of dreamers. We still are in spots, but the national attitude that we hear broadcast loudest across media is not looking toward the future with optimism and hope. In late 2017, a national poll found 59% of Americans think we are currently at the “lowest point in our nation's history that they can remember."

America spends far too much time looking to the past for blame and excuse. And let's be honest, even the Right is often more concerned with “owning the left" than helping point anyone toward the practical principles of the Declaration of Independence. America has clearly lost touch with who we are as a nation. We have a national identity crisis.

The Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

It is urgent that we get reacquainted with the Declaration of Independence because postmodernism would have us believe that we've evolved beyond the America of our founding documents, and thus they're irrelevant to the present and the future. But the Declaration of Independence is America's thesis statement, and without it America doesn't exist.

Today, much of the nation is so addicted to partisan indignation that "day-to-day" indignation isn't enough to feed the addiction. So, we're reaching into America's past to help us get our fix. In 2016, Democrats in the Louisiana state legislature tabled a bill that would have required fourth through sixth graders to recite the opening lines of the Declaration. They didn't table it because they thought it would be too difficult or too patriotic. They tabled it because the requirement would include the phrase “all men are created equal" and the progressives in the Louisiana legislature didn't want the children to have to recite a lie. Representative Barbara Norton said, “One thing that I do know is, all men are not created equal. When I think back in 1776, July the fourth, African Americans were slaves. And for you to bring a bill to request that our children will recite the Declaration, I think it's a little bit unfair to us. To ask our children to recite something that's not the truth. And for you to ask those children to repeat the Declaration stating that all men's are free. I think that's unfair."

Remarkable — an elected representative saying it wouldn't be fair for students to have to recite the Declaration because “all men are not created equal." Another Louisiana Democrat explained that the government born out of the Declaration “was used against races of people." I guess they missed that part in school where they might have learned that the same government later made slavery illegal and amended the Constitution to guarantee all men equal protection under the law. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments were an admission of guilt by the nation regarding slavery, and an effort to right the wrongs.

Yet, the progressive logic goes something like this: many of the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, including Thomas Jefferson who wrote it, owned slaves; slavery is evil; therefore, the Declaration of Independence is not valid because it was created by evil slave owners.

It's a sad reality that the left has a very hard time appreciating the universal merits of the Declaration of Independence because they're so hung up on the long-dead issue of slavery. And just to be clear — because people love to take things out of context — of course slavery was horrible. Yes, it is a total stain on our history. But defending the Declaration of Independence is not an effort to excuse any aspect of slavery.

Okay then, people might say, how could the Founders approve the phrase “All men are created equal," when many of them owned slaves? How did they miss that?

They didn't miss it. In fact, Thomas Jefferson included an anti-slavery passage in his first draft of the Declaration. The paragraph blasted King George for condoning slavery and preventing the American Colonies from passing legislation to ban slavery:

He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights to life and liberty in the persons of a distant people who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere... Determined to keep open a market where men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce.

We don't say “execrable" that much anymore. It means, utterly detestable, abominable, abhorrent — basically very bad.

Jefferson was upset when Georgia and North Carolina threw up the biggest resistance to that paragraph. Ultimately, those two states twisted Congress' arm to delete the paragraph.

Still, how could a man calling the slave trade “execrable" be a slaveowner himself? No doubt about it, Jefferson was a flawed human being. He even had slaves from his estate in Virginia attending him while he was in Philadelphia, in the very apartment where he was writing the Declaration.

Many of the Southern Founders deeply believed in the principles of the Declaration yet couldn't bring themselves to upend the basis of their livelihood. By 1806, Virginia law made it more difficult for slave owners to free their slaves, especially if the owner had significant debts as Jefferson did.

At the same time, the Founders were not idiots. They understood the ramifications of signing on to the principles described so eloquently in the Declaration. They understood that logically, slavery would eventually have to be abolished in America because it was unjust, and the words they were committing to paper said as much. Remember, John Adams was on the committee of five that worked on the Declaration and he later said that the Revolution would never be complete until the slaves were free.

Also, the same generation that signed the Declaration started the process of abolition by banning the importation of slaves in 1807. Jefferson was President at the time and he urged Congress to pass the law.

America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough.

The Declaration took a major step toward crippling the institution of slavery. It made the argument for the first time about the fundamental rights of all humans which completely undermined slavery. Planting the seeds to end slavery is not nearly commendable enough for leftist critics, but you can't discount the fact that the seeds were planted. It's like they started an expiration clock for slavery by approving the Declaration. Everything that happened almost a century later to end slavery, and then a century after that with the Civil Rights movement, flowed from the principles voiced in the Declaration.

Ironically for a movement that calls itself progressive, it is obsessed with retrying and judging the past over and over. Progressives consider this a better use of time than actually putting past abuses in the rearview and striving not to be defined by ancestral failures.

It can be very constructive to look to the past, but not when it's used to flog each other in the present. Examining history is useful in providing a road map for the future. And America has an obvious road map that, as a nation, we're not consulting often enough. But it's right there, the original, under glass. The ink is fading, but the words won't die — as long as we continue to discuss them.

'Good Morning Texas' gives exclusive preview of Mercury One museum

Screen shot from Good Morning Texas

Mercury One is holding a special exhibition over the 4th of July weekend, using hundreds of artifacts, documents and augmented reality experiences to showcase the history of slavery — including slavery today — and a path forward. Good Morning Texas reporter Paige McCoy Smith went through the exhibit for an exclusive preview with Mercury One's chief operating officer Michael Little on Tuesday.

Watch the video below to see the full preview.

Click here to purchase tickets to the museum (running from July 4 - 7).