Modern nations are founded on the principles of justice, fairness, equality, and individual freedom of religion and speech, among others. According to the founding fathers of America, unalienable rights are those which God gave to man at the Creation, once and for all. By definition, since God granted such rights, governments could not take them away. In America, this fundamental truth is recognized and enshrined in the nation’s birth certificate, the Declaration of Independence:
“All men are created equal… [and] are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Declaration of Independence was written by Thomas Jefferson, a slaveholder, and what he really meant was that all rich, white, land owning males are created equal, and guaranteed to the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
To the slave, in America, the celebration of freedom was absent. There was no liberation. There was no release from the oppression that they were dealt with. There was no reason to celebrate the Fourth of July like any other white American would, because it meant nothing to them. Frederick Douglass wrote about this in his What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?Of all the contradictions in America’s history, none surpasses its toleration first of slavery and then of segregation. Meting out of this injustice came to be known as racism which is the belief that a particular race is superior or inferior to another. Speciesism, an offshoot of racism, is a prejudice or bias in favour of the interests of members of one’s own species and against those of members of other species. Speciesism is the idea that being human is a good enough reason for human animals to have greater moral rights than non-human animals.
According to Peter Singer, if we were to compare attitudes about speciesism today with past racist attitudes, we would have to say that we are back in the days in which the slave trade was still legal.
Our struggle for freedom is not complete until we recognize the unalienable rights of non-human animals in our constitution. Srila PRabhupada, the founder of the Hare Krishna movement says:
“A cow is born in America, and a gentleman is born in America, but the state takes care of the gentleman, not of the cows. They say “national”, “nationality.” Why nationality is refused to the animals? Just like a few years ago the nationality was also awarded to the black man. This is nice. Why one section of humanity should be denied nationality? That was very nice. National means the living entity born in that land… that is natural. If a child, even of an Indian, is born in your country he immediately gets the citizenship? That is the law. So the conclusion is that anyone who is born in this land, he gets nationality. But why we should refuse nationality to the poor animals?