To Our Readers

By John Flanagan

Saturday, April 10, 1999

High principles,
low popularity

MITCH Kahle and his Citizens for Separation of State and Church have earned a lot of grief lately protesting the fishy symbols some legislators chose to display on their doors. Such issues have never been popular.

In July 1970, for example, at noontime in a busy downtown square named after Caesar Rodney, a Delaware patriot, reporters from the Wilmington newspaper set up a card table. On it, they placed petitions that read:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

"That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

"That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."

This, of course, is the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, signed by Caesar Rodney himself. His heroic 80-mile overnight ride through a thunderstorm to cast the deciding vote for independence on July 2, 1776 is the stuff of Delaware legend.

Few passersby signed in 1970. In fact, several threatened to have the petitioners arrested.

That was a hot summer. On April 30, Richard Nixon had sent U.S. and South Vietnamese troops into neutral Cambodia. On May 4, during the subsequent protest, National Guardsmen killed four students at Ohio's Kent State University. More than 100 colleges closed when students rioted to protest military actions in Ohio and Southeast Asia.

Church and state, the rights of man, the pursuit of happiness, it's all very heady stuff. Watch your back, Mitch.

John Flanagan is editor and publisher of the Star-Bulletin.
To reach him call 525-8612, fax to 523-8509, send
e-mail to or write to
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

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