Justice James Wilson is one of the least known, yet most prominent figures in the history of the United States. Justice Wilson was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States and a signer of the Declaration of Independence. Justice Wilson was one of the original six Justices appointed by President George Washington to the Supreme Court and arguably the most significant influence in the drafting of the original seven articles of the United States Constitution.
Unfortunately, outside of the hobbyist and scholars of U.S. history, Justice James Wilson’s name is not registered in the collective conscience of American society. There is an excellent reason why Justice Wilson is a forgotten hero of the republic. In his time, Justice Wilson was one of the first American legal philosophers, and he was noted to have an impressively lucid mental ability to present solid arguments in support of the inalienable freedoms and rights that should be afforded to all people.
If Justice Wilson were alive today, assuredly, he would be deeply disheartened at the discovery that the most enduring contribution that his legacy left for society, was a perversion of something he said in support for the rights of the people. In the 1793 Supreme Court ruling in Chisholm v. State of Georgia, Justice Wilson commented, “should one propose a toast to the United States of America, and not the people of the United States of America, they are not acting politically correct.” What his words meant was that the republic should never consider itself more prominent than any on citizen within it and if a politician was to ever discount the feelings of every person in the United States, then that politician was derelict of their elected duty. Regrettably, the only thing that history salvaged from this landmark opinion was the term, “politically correct” when Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin both used the term to facilitate their competing ideologies of fascism and socialism.
Justice Wilson also left another bit of critical lost wisdom. In his role as the first legal professor of the University of Pennsylvania, Justice Wilson gave a lecture in which he said that America children must be taught the principles of why the United States acted upon revolutionary beliefs in setting up a new country. He said, if we do not teach our children the principles, they will not have a solid foundation, which will place them in a cruel dilemma of condemning the concept of revolt and insurrection against one’s government, while celebrating and revering the heroes of rebellion and revolution every July 4th. Unfortunately, after Justice Wilson’s death, that concept was locked away in the annals of America’s forgotten history.
On Tuesday, February 21, 2017, reports came out that some teachers at a public high school in Westminster, Maryland were forced by the administration to take down several “We the People” posters that were hanging in their classrooms. The posters featuring a Muslim, Latin, and African-American women were the work of artist Shepard Fairey. The posters were designed by the artist to promote diversity, and they featured the iconic red, white and blue shading that have become famously associated with Barack Obama’s 2008 “Hope” campaign posters. The likeness of the pro-diversity posters to Obama’s 2008 campaign artwork was understandable since Fairey was indeed the artist who created them.
The reasoning for censoring the posters was because administrators for the Carroll County Public Schools had deemed the signs to be “anti-Trump.” Steven Johnson, the Carroll County assistant superintendent, compared the posters to the Confederate Flag. Johnson said the issue with the posters was the symbolism they represented. Johnson clarified this by saying, “The Confederate flag in and of itself has no image of slavery or hatred or oppression, but it’s symbolic of that.” Johnson’s association with them being “anti-Trump” was because the posters were carried by some people in various protest against President Trump.
Aaron Huey the photojournalist who partnered with Fairey to create the “We the People” posters said that the posters are “definitely NOT anti-Trump in nature.” The posters were designed to promote diversity and support the fact that Muslims, Hispanics, African-Americans, and women were indeed Americans. Assistant Superintendent Johnson, consented that, “these posters make absolutely no mention of Trump or any other political issue.” However, in the eyes of the Carroll County Public School system the posters were guilty of being inappropriate by their association to the act of political protest.
Ultimately, the decision by the Carroll County school administration is representative of one of the most disheartening and frightening examples of how much Justice Wilson’s words were ignored during America’s growth. Justice Wilson helped shape and form the United States of America on the belief of diversity, inclusion, and freedom from persecution for all citizens within its borders. How Justice Wilson and the rest of America’s forefathers were able to found a nation in on principles of liberty and inclusion, because of the initial sparks of protest.
The United States of America has not collapsed nor is it not still a powerful beacon of freedom and hope for the entire world. However, at some point we the people, have got to end this divisive rhetoric that is making everything so polarized based political relationships. America is not a nation founded on the belief of sanitizing its citizens to become all like-minded clones. The United States of America was not established on the belief that the country should representive of any one kind of people, regardless of their culture, ethnicity, religion, or political party of choice. We have got to start treating each other as Americans. Because if we don’t, we may end up turning into a nation that doesn’t look like America at all. Instead, we will become something else.