The Corner

The E-Word

In Impromptus today, there are the usual disparate items: President Obama and the extent of his radicalism; the gushing of Iraqi oil (hey, didn’t we invade in order to steal that?); the rollercoaster career of Tiger Woods. But there is one rather curious item I’d like to spend a little further time on here.

Among the U.S. postage stamps now on offer is one that says “Equality.” A reader of ours noticed it on an RSVP envelope. As a little protest, he wrote beneath the stamp, “in France.”

People wonder, as well they should, “What in the world is wrong with equality?” We are equal, after all, in the eyes of God. (You can say that, right? The Ninth Circuit won’t confiscate our computers, will they?) “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 . . .”

Some of us believe that America should stand foursquare for equality under the law and equality of opportunity. Equality of outcome, of course, is a different thing altogether.

I suppose the reason some of us flinch at the word “equality” is that it has been brandished by so many bad people, for so many bad purposes. The word has acquired a taint, at least for me. “Social justice” is a benign phrase, or benign-seeming. But look out for those who spout it! “Peace” is another one to beware of. (I’ve written an entire book about that, basically.)

The “Equality” stamp is part of a series of four stamps, each bearing the American flag and one word. The other three words are “Freedom,” “Liberty,” and “Justice.”

What is the difference between freedom and liberty? Are they not synonyms? Well, that’s a whole ’nother can of worms, and we don’t have the time.

P.S. “Justice” can be a damn slippery one too. “No justice, no peace!” they shout. What they may mean is, “Submit to our demands, or else.”

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