Tag Archives: Thomas Jefferson

Presidents’ Thoughts on Dissent

Although I have used most of these Presidential quotes before, I saw them all collected in a Facebook post and thought they were worth seeing again.

WHAT REAL PRESIDENTS THOUGHT ABOUT DISSENT

It is the very nature of fascism to wrap itself in the flag and then call any criticism of its crimes unpatriotic. Here is a trip down memory lane -back to the days when we had real presidents who at least partially understood that dissent is the patriotic duty of citizens to call our nation to a higher standard.

“Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionists and rebels – men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.” -Dwight D. Eisenhower

“Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” -Harry S. Truman

“Without debate, without criticism no administration and no country can succeed and no republic can survive.” -John F. Kennedy

“These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power. Our allegiance to American institutions requires the overthrow of this kind of power. In vain they seek to hide behind the flag and the Constitution. In their blindness they forget what the flag and the Constitution stand for.” -Franklin D. Roosevelt

“I hold it that a little rebellion now and then is a good thing, and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical.” -Thomas Jefferson

“To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” -Theodore Roosevelt

the duty of resistance

History is full of unjust laws. When we know that a law is not just, Jefferson writes that we have a duty to resist that law. I have no problem with that. The question for me is how far to we go in our resistance. Are there limits to our duty to resist unjust laws?

The moral imperative to always move toward justice is clear. Standing against injustice is also demanded by my discipleship to Jesus Christ.

As a practicing Christian, my first and deepest allegiance is always to Jesus Christ. Faithfulness to the gospel demands that I respond to injustice in love.

With the election of Donald Trump this has become an existential issue for me. “When injustice becomes law, how far do I go in resisting? I think this is a question many of us are going to have to ask.