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Get Up, Stand Up, Don’t Give Up the Fight: Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them

John & Nisha Whitehead

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”
Thomas Jefferson

If America’s schools are to impart principles of freedom and democracy to future generations, they must start by respecting the constitutional rights of their students.

Take the case of Lucas Hudson.

With all the negative press being written about today’s young people, it’s refreshing to meet a young person who not only knows his rights but is prepared to stand up for them.

Lucas is a smart kid, a valedictorian of his graduating class at the Collegiate Academy at Armwood High School in Hillsborough County, Fla.

So, when school officials gave Lucas an ultimatum: either remove most of his speech’s religious references from his graduation speech—in which he thanked the people who helped shape his character, reflected on how quickly time goes by, and urged people to use whatever time they have to love others and serve the God who loves us—or he would not be speaking at all, Lucas refused to forfeit his rights.

That’s when Lucas’s father turned to The Rutherford Institute for help.

In coming to Lucas’ defense, attorneys for The Rutherford Institute warned school officials that their attempts to browbeat Lucas into watering down his graduation speech could expose the school to a First Amendment lawsuit.

Thankfully for Lucas, the school backed down, and he was able to deliver his speech as written.

It doesn’t always work out so well, unfortunately.

Over the course of The Rutherford Institute’s 42-year history, we have defended countless young people who found themselves censored, silenced and denied their basic First Amendment rights, especially when they chose to exercise their rights to free speech and religious freedom.

In case after case, we encounter an appalling level of ignorance on the part of public school officials who mistakenly believe that the law requires anything religious be banned from public schools.

Here’s where government officials get it wrong: while the government may not establish or compel a particular religion, it also may not silence and suppress religious speech merely because others might take offense.

People are free to ignore, disagree with, or counter the religious speech of others, but the government cannot censor private religious speech.

Unfortunately, you can only defend your rights when you know them, and the American people—and those who represent them—are utterly ignorant about their freedoms, history, and how the government is supposed to operate.

As Morris Berman points out in his book Dark Ages America, “70 percent of American adults cannot name their senators or congressmen; more than half don’t know the actual number of senators, and nearly a quarter cannot name a single right guaranteed by the First Amendment. Sixty-three percent cannot name the three branches of government. Other studies reveal that uninformed or undecided voters often vote for the candidate whose name and packaging (e.g., logo) are the most powerful; color is apparently a major factor in their decision.”

More than government corruption and ineptitude, police brutality, terrorism, gun violence, drugs, illegal immigration or any other so-called “danger” that threatens our nation, civic illiteracy may be what finally pushes us over the edge.

As Thomas Jefferson warned, no nation can be both ignorant and free.

Unfortunately, the American people have existed in a technology-laden, entertainment-fueled, perpetual state of cluelessness for so long that civic illiteracy has become the new normal for the citizenry.

In fact, most immigrants who aspire to become citizens know more about national civics than native-born Americans. Surveys indicate that half of native-born Americans couldn’t correctly answer 70% of the civics questions on the U.S. Citizenship test.

Not even the government bureaucrats who are supposed to represent us know much about civics, American history and geography, or the Constitution although they take an oath to uphold, support and defend the Constitution against “enemies foreign and domestic.”

For instance, a couple attempting to get a marriage license was recently forced to prove to a government official that New Mexico is, in fact, one of the 50 states and not a foreign country.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Those who gave us the Constitution and the Bill of Rights believed that the government exists at the behest of its citizens. The government’s purpose is to protect, defend and even enhance our freedoms, not violate them.

It was no idle happenstance that the Constitution opens with these three powerful words: “We the people.”

Those who founded this country knew quite well that every citizen must remain vigilant or freedom would be lost. As Thomas Paine recognized, “It is the responsibility of the patriot to protect his country from its government.”

You have no rights unless you exercise them.

Still, you can’t exercise your rights unless you know what those rights are.

“If Americans do not understand the Constitution and the institutions and processes through which we are governed, we cannot rationally evaluate important legislation and the efforts of our elected officials, nor can we preserve the national unity necessary to meaningfully confront the multiple problems we face today,” warns the Brennan Center in its Civic Literacy Report Card. “Rather, every act of government will be measured only by its individual value or cost, without concern for its larger impact. More and more we will ‘want what we want, and [will be] convinced that the system that is stopping us is wrong, flawed, broken or outmoded.’”

Education precedes action.

As the Brennan Center concludes “America, unlike most of the world’s nations, is not a country defined by blood or belief. America is an idea, or a set of ideas, about freedom and opportunity. It is these ideas that bind us together as Americans and have kept us free, strong, and prosperous. But these ideas do not perpetuate themselves. They must be taught and learned anew with each generation.”

There is a movement underway to require that all public-school students pass the civics portion of the U.S. naturalization test100 basic facts about U.S. history and civics—before receiving their high-school diploma, and that’s a start.

Lucas Hudson would have passed such a test with flying colors.

On graduation day, Lucas stepped up to the podium and delivered his uncensored valedictorian speech as written, without any interference by school censors.

As Lucas’s father relayed to The Rutherford Institute:

“In the end, Lucas got to give his entire speech the way he wanted to give it, and everybody was paying attention.  Nobody got hurt.  Nothing bad happened.  It was just a young man using the First Amendment rights to speak his mind regarding his personal beliefs. [Lucas] never thought a few sentences in a speech would create such a controversy in his world, but this speech turned into a defining moment for him.  He will never be the same after this experience, but this permanent change is a good thing.  When it mattered, Lucas stood up for himself, and when those he stood up against tried to push him down, [The Rutherford Institute] came to his aide and backed him up to make it a fair fight. I am comforted to know you are defending the rights of the people.  These fights matter.  Every time you defend the rights of one person, you defend the rights of every person.  You helped my son fight for his rights against the school, and, in doing so, Hillsborough County Public Schools will think twice before infringing on the rights of future students. Your defense of Lucas became an inspiration for the students in his school and sparked a healthy and meaningful debate among the teachers, students, and parents about the value of the First Amendment and the need for limits on government control over our personal beliefs.  You are fighting for good and doing important work.  Don’t ever stop. Thank you, Rutherford Institute, for being there for my son when he needed you most.”

America needs more freedom fighters like Lucas Hudson and The Rutherford Institute.

It’s up to us.

We have the power to make and break the government.

We the American people—the citizenry—are the arbiters and ultimate guardians of America’s welfare, defense, liberty, laws and prosperity.

We must act—and act responsibly.

A healthy, representative government is hard work. It takes a citizenry that is informed about the issues, educated about how the government operates, and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to stay involved.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, it’s our job to keep freedom alive using every nonviolent means available to us.

As Martin Luther King Jr. recognized in a speech delivered on December 5, 1955, just four days after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery city bus: “Democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action is the greatest form of government on earth.”

Know your rights. Exercise your rights. Defend your rights. If not, you will lose them.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His book Battlefield America: The War on the American People (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at [email protected]. Nisha Whitehead is the Executive Director of The Rutherford Institute. Information about The Rutherford Institute is available at www.rutherford.org.

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Howard
Howard
Jun 6, 2024 4:14 PM

Too bad the Whiteheads missed the perfect opportunity to use the nationwide suppression of First Amendment rights of college students protesting the genocide of Palestinians as the very essence of what their article is about.

purgatorium
purgatorium
Jun 6, 2024 3:53 PM

Another article about the masonic toilet paper called “The Constitution”. The perfect device for oppressed slaves to believe they are free and have “god-given rights”.

Paul
Paul
Jun 5, 2024 8:48 AM

Are we living under God’s law, or man’s? Make your choice. I live under God’s law. No man can alter it.
No man has the right to tell another man what to do, how to live.
If you opt to live under man’s law, then you are rolling out a red carpet for your own subjugation.
Up to people now to remove themselves spiritually from the matrix.
I mean how much longer do people need to wake up, really.

purgatorium
purgatorium
Jun 6, 2024 3:55 PM
Reply to  Paul

Divine beings do not make laws- laws are for slaves and people who don’t want freedom or responsibility.

Paul
Paul
Jun 6, 2024 8:50 PM
Reply to  purgatorium

Please point me to any system which has no laws.

Howard
Howard
Jun 6, 2024 4:23 PM
Reply to  Paul

The Israelis are living under “God’s law” and are practicing it to the letter just as God revealed it to prophet(s) in the Bible.

Interesting note: I wanted to pinpoint which prophet specifically it was who said God ordered the complete destruction of the Amaleks (apparently it was Samuel) – so I Googled. DID NOT GET A RESPONSE. In fact, our beloved fried AI asked me if I meant Daleks instead of Amaleks.

Paul
Paul
Jun 6, 2024 8:55 PM
Reply to  Howard

If only they had recognised Yeshua Hamashiach.

kc skellen
kc skellen
Jun 5, 2024 8:22 AM

This a. m. I attempted to contribute a donation to Dr. John Campbell’s African outreach program. My PayPal account, that I have had forever in good standing, was evaporated. I was told I did not exist, my phone number did not exist, my email did not exist. I guess you could say today is the day I officially got labeled a dissident. This is how it starts, they just keep taking a little more and then a little more until all your freedoms are gone

The Dead Messenger
The Dead Messenger
Jun 4, 2024 4:18 PM

‘Eternal vigilance’, defending our ‘rights’ relentlessly, in perpetuity, about every tiny thing, and trying to use the corrupted system’s own rules to do so, rules which can be and are ignored and circumvented routinely by the public ‘servants’ nominally supposed to respect and uphold them, and who are also the targets of the remediation, is a preposterous proposition, and always has been, but is especially so now. It would take up most of the time of one’s life, if done thoroughly, even if nothing else was crazy about it, but it’s also a ridiculously lopsided contest which we should finally recognize the futility of. I’m glad this boy got to give his speech, but most parents should be removing their children from schools offensive to basic natural law tenets, teaching CRT and gender fluidity, railing about hate speech, requiring masks, and distancing and shots, et al. Support needs to be… Read more »

purgatorium
purgatorium
Jun 6, 2024 4:01 PM

We have no energy to withdraw, we are under constant attack. You cannot pretend the Borg does not exist because they will not let you – they need to feed on us.

We did not start this fight and many of us are failing to fight it because we are isolated from each other and have neither the weapons nor the numbers.

The Dead Messenger
The Dead Messenger
Jun 10, 2024 6:00 PM
Reply to  purgatorium

Agreed about the isolation, but not with you about the overall assessment, if for no other reason than you’re suggesting a purely black-pilled path of no remedy, no improvement, no hope, but also because with each add’l withdrawal, and the creation of communities of the withdrawn, the odds improve, and the energies of the conscious increase.

You certainly sound like you need to find an immediate community of like-minded allies and friends, and I hope you will seek and find that.

les online
les online
Jun 4, 2024 12:19 AM

‘Democracy has been imbued with a primitive metaphysical
potency that seems a stand-in for religious faith.’
‘The word Democracy is everywhere in the Western world
these days. Hardly a day goes by without pleas to defend it,
protect it, or celebrate its virtues with pompous cliches.
Precise and neutral usage has given way to an ideological
tinge that is as electrified as it is vague.’
‘But more interesting than simply laying out further instances
of double standards and hypocrisy is to seek to grasp what
explains the proliferation of democracy as a meme in exact
proportion to the decline of the real thing.’

https://karlof1.substack.com/p/crooke-the-folly-of-diplomacy-via

Researcher
Researcher
Jun 3, 2024 9:54 PM

“US was a land grab, not a freedom machine.”

Ah, “voters” and “voting” as if it’s that’s what’s been missing to set us all free from unlawful criminal corporate governance and private debt enslavement under the Papal Cestui Que Vie trusts, worldwide.

Whitehead’s version contradicts the reality of the formation of the USA, a Crown Temple estate.

Literally nobody
Literally nobody
Jun 3, 2024 9:52 PM

What happened with the mandatory medical treatment if late? Was it a right to ignore it or be saved by it?
Rights are confusing

Erik Nielsen
Erik Nielsen
Jun 3, 2024 8:35 PM

Exactly what I have pointed out the last 20 years.

“It’s up to us”, “You have the power to make a regime change operation”. “We the American people—the citizenry—are the arbiters and ultimate guardians of America’s welfare, defense, liberty, laws and prosperity.”

What does that mean? It means YOU must act—and act responsibly—and act NOW rather than tomorrow. Its all up to YOU, to act!

Sal P
Sal P
Jun 3, 2024 8:21 PM

“I heartily accept the motto, ‘That government is best which governs least’; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe — ‘That government is best which governs not at all’; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.”
– Henry David Thoreau

Johnny
Johnny
Jun 4, 2024 12:34 AM
Reply to  Sal P

He was an anarchist at heart.
Good on him.

Erik Nielsen
Erik Nielsen
Jun 4, 2024 9:03 PM
Reply to  Sal P

What government? The people elect or select or accept their government. People cannot continue to run away from their responsibility with a pointing finger.

The people have an obligation to get comprehensive knowledge about their society before they involve themselves in politics for example by voting. Have they done that? Not.

Thereof we have the phrase “the people have the politicians they deserve”. I mean they voted them in, they accepted them, they even praise them. So?

Raoullo
Raoullo
Jun 3, 2024 11:52 AM

“A healthy, representative government is hard work. It takes a citizenry that is informed about the issues, educated about how the government operates, and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to stay involved.” Dear John & Nisha Whitehead, if you happen to have an educated citizenry, why on earth would you still want a representative democracy–with all the flaws that comes with it? In this information age, why should I entrust someone else with the prerogative of voting on and ennacting laws when I’m more than capable of representing myself? I believe that until we recognize the inherent pitfalls of this so-called democratic representative arrangement; a system that’s in fact designed to only represent a corporate and financial oligarchy, and that mostly legitimises their dominance in the eyes of the populace; until then, it will never be possible to achieve any reforms that put the interest of the people first,… Read more »

sherkying
sherkying
Jun 3, 2024 2:22 PM
Reply to  Raoullo

** This representative democracy *** seems to be a new push happening in alt media to make out the system needs ”just a few good people” to be in it to work.
Unfortunately the system is created that way for the function to happen in a away to scam people as that is what the whole government system is.

Big Al
Big Al
Jun 3, 2024 8:48 PM
Reply to  Raoullo

I haven’t been playing for a long time now, and I’m still fucking losing. I’m not going to play in November and Trump or Biden, evidently, will still be elected as President. We need a whole lot more than just not voting. And direct democracy has its pitfalls and can be just as easily manipulated and corrupted by those with wealth as a representative system can, i.e., like completely controlling the media for one. Also, there’s that mob rule thing, where the majority of the citizens take away the rights of a minority (as opposed to a minority taking away the rights of the majority). I’m in favor of direct democracy, at least as part of an overall political system, like with referendums and initiatives, but the fact is, there ARE a lot of ignorant, apathetic, and incapable people in the U.S. You might be capable, but do you really… Read more »

Raoullo
Raoullo
Jun 4, 2024 12:45 PM
Reply to  Big Al

Good reasonning. You provide an example of the type of exercise that can take place once people realize they”re the but of the joke and that the system itself needs to be replaced, not just applying cosmetic changes. All the points you make are valid and deserve consideration. Note that I never asserted that direct democracy–whatever that means–was the solution, I simply pointed out the obvious redundancy of having representatives in a system where the citizenry is ‘informed, educated and willing to sacrifice,’ as the Whitehead put it. I do agree that that’s a very tall order. My point is strictly to point out how oxymoronic it is for someone to repeatedly consent to be represented by vile grifters and expect their life to improve! I don’t pretend having the solution, but sure as hell know that these fools don’t represent the solution–rather the opposite. What I say is that… Read more »

underground poet
underground poet
Jun 3, 2024 11:49 AM

It appears the political theater is already captured by the financial elites, the Fed and Treasury in particular.

And its doubtful any future freedom fighters can alter the course of this history. It would be like hamas rising up to defeat Israel.

niko
niko
Jun 3, 2024 10:06 AM

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niko
niko
Jun 3, 2024 9:35 AM

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niko
niko
Jun 3, 2024 9:34 AM

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Johnny
Johnny
Jun 3, 2024 9:33 AM

‘Serve the God who loves them’
Really?

That’s a big step backwards, surely.

Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen
Jun 3, 2024 2:55 PM
Reply to  Johnny

Indeed. Are we swapping one tyranny for another? OTOH, I would propose that today the greatest threat to “democracy” is coming from secular religions

TRT
TRT
Jun 3, 2024 4:08 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

The only alternative to the new dominant secular religion that has strong support appears to be old-fashioned religion. During covid many people had to seek religious exemptions to avoid the injection. So if we’re lucky enough to stave off secular totalitarianism we may get a theocratic form of it. It would be nice if we could do better and reject all forms of tyranny.

Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen
Jun 3, 2024 4:16 PM
Reply to  TRT

RE: It would be nice if we could do better and reject all forms of tyranny.
“It would be nice…” Hardly revolutionary, but I guess we’ll have to settle for that…

TRT
TRT
Jun 3, 2024 5:23 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

I thought it was an obvious understatement…

Tom Larsen
Tom Larsen
Jun 3, 2024 9:15 PM
Reply to  TRT

My comment was not intended as a criticism but rather an acknowledgement how weak and small in number those who would genuinely oppose tyranny are.

TRT
TRT
Jun 3, 2024 9:35 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

Sadly true.

Johnny
Johnny
Jun 4, 2024 2:10 AM
Reply to  TRT

Rejecting tyranny?
That’s called anarchism.

No Gods (man made at least).
No masters (all man made).

Erik Nielsen
Erik Nielsen
Jun 3, 2024 8:51 PM
Reply to  Tom Larsen

Sure. First it was the Doos, then we got the Muslims, then it was China with Putin in between, the Global Corona and Clima, and suddenly secular religions in bold is the greatest threat to our planet.

A certain secular religion with its “Thou shall not kill” and another certain secular religion with its “usury ban” jeopardizes our MIC democracy and culture as the greatest threat.

Can you catch that? “Thou shall not kill nor make usury” is the greatest to “democracy””. How can anyone be so infantile to make such a statement???

Arent we getting more of the same hangers paid leftist “influence trolls” here?

Erik Nielsen
Erik Nielsen
Jun 4, 2024 9:06 PM
Reply to  Erik Nielsen

threat. (Too many after corrections because of the new system :-D).

purgatorium
purgatorium
Jun 6, 2024 4:04 PM
Reply to  Johnny

The idea that a God will need to be “served” is indicative.