Do We Still “Hold These Truths”?

On the first page of Natural Right and History (1953) Leo Strauss asks:

Does this nation in its maturity still cherish the faith in which it was conceived and raised? Does it still hold those “truths to be self-evident”? About a generation ago, an American diplomat could still say that “the natural and the divine foundation of the rights of man . . . is self-evident to all Americans.”

Well what about American diplomats today? Looks like the current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, still does:

State Department to launch new human rights panel stressing ‘natural law’

The Trump administration plans to launch a new panel to offer “fresh thinking” on international human rights and “natural law,” a move some activists fear is aimed at narrowing protections for women and members of the LGBT community.

The new body, to be called the Commission on Unalienable Rights, will advise Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, according to a notice the State Department quietly published Thursday on the Federal Register.

“The Commission will provide fresh thinking about human rights discourse where such discourse has departed from our nation’s founding principles of natural law and natural rights,” states the notice, which is dated May 22.

The left is unhappy about this, as you can see, because any reference to the real basis of rights (as Burke might put it) is a clear constraint on the current basis of any claimed right by sheer willfulness. The one truth that is self-evident about the left is that it stands for willfulness above all.

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