Positive Vs. Negative Rights, Plus Hamas & Hitler – With Professor Mark David Hall & Jonathan Richie: Today we are tackling some interesting questions. What are unalienable rights? Are they the same as an alienable? What are negative rights? How about positive rights? Why does it matter? Why did a Pakistani actress cite Adolf Hitler in her Twitter quote? What does history show about the Muslim contribution to the Nazis? Tune in to hear some special guests answer these questions and more!
Air Date: 05/20/2021
Guest: Professor Mark David Hall
On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton
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Faith and the Culture
President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”
Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live, we’re taking the hot topics of the day from a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. And every topic of the day has a biblical, historical, and constitutional perspective. It’s our job to seek those out so that we know what the right position is on all of those different types of issues.
Today is Foundations of Freedom Thursday, so we’re taking questions from our audience. You can send those into [email protected]. That’s [email protected]. Always good to have Mark David Hall with us; Mark, thanks for some time today. Thanks for coming back.
Oh, happy to be here.
Alright. So we get these questions from time to time. This is a good one, actually, came from a guy in Denmark. And he asked about unalienable rights. He says, “Are inalienable rights the same as negative rights and contrary to positive rights, and if not, what are the differences?”
So Mark, this is going to be one of your best challenges as a professor and a writer. In 10 minutes, you get to explain this whole thing, the history of unalienable versus… Well, we won’t even get to inalienable or unalienable, well, let’s just do unalienable verse negative rights. What are negative rights?
Sure. Well, I think to answer this question, context is key. So if we can begin in the American context, the American founding, this is of course where we get this notion of unalienable rights the first becomes prominent. I would define an unalienable right as a basic human right based on the natural law and God’s natural law. And so there’s something that all humans possessed every place every time, right. So the right to life, the right to liberty, these are rights given to us by God and they cannot be taken away from us.
Unalienable, technically means that we cannot give it away even if we wanted to. We cannot properly give away our right to life or a right to liberty. Now this differs, of course, from inalienable civil rights. So for instance, you have a right to your car.
I could come and offer you money in exchange for your car, and you could agree with that. Right? So that’s an inalienable right. You could give up your right to your car, but you simply it’s inconceivable, it’s not possible for you to give up your right to life or liberty…
At that point, you were saying an inalienable right, not unalienable rights?
That’s right. Exactly.
Just be clear on that second part of the car, it is an alienable rights. Two different words there, folks, not all rolled into one. Go ahead, brother.
That’s right. Yeah, no, thank you. It’s a very important distinction. So inalienable versus unalienable, you cannot give up an unalienable right. I won’t say in the American founding, every right that the Founders were concerned with was a negative right. And that simply means that the government can’t take it away from you.
The government cannot take away your ability to do engage in freedom of speech, to worship God according to the dictates of conscience, or to publish your thoughts on the president, something like that, right. So that’s a negative right. The government can’t keep you from doing something.
This is very different from a positive right. A positive right means that you have a right to something from the government. So for instance, nowadays in the 21st century, people talk about having a right to healthcare. And what they mean by that is that the government must provide me with healthcare, not that the government can keep me from getting healthcare, right. So, positive right is very, very different than a negative right.
Positive rights, pretty much no one was talking about them until about the mid-20th century. The UN Declaration on human rights talks about a whole host of positive rights. But again, this is a relatively recent phenomenon. And it’s one that departs pretty significantly, I would say from the way that Americans and even Europeans historically have thought about rights.
Yes. As I’m thinking through the even the Constitution itself, it seems like the only thing they really say the government is expected to do for sure is to protect those unalienable rights and preserve. In fact, it says in the Declaration, that’s the reason we create government in the first place, is to protect those rights. Yeah, I mean, the Founders didn’t go running around talking about all the things government owes you.
No, I think that’s exactly right. The only thing, if you read through the Bill of Rights, that kind of seems like a positive right is a right to have an attorney. And yet as understood until really the mid-20th century, what this means is that if you or I were accused of a crime, we could go out and hire an attorney and the government couldn’t keep us from doing that. But there was no sense that the government had to provide us an attorney.
Government’s Number One Job
So yeah, every right in the Bill of Rights, every right really conceived of by the Founders was a negative right, government’s number one job, its main job is the protection of our negative rights, all sorts of other good things are left up to the people or voluntary society. So even important things like education, and helping the poor and whatnot, there’s no right poor people to be supported by the government or to be educated by the government.
Now, over time, of course, some states have passed laws saying, for instance, that everyone in the state has to attend schools until the age of 16 and that public schools will be provided. And so that is a positive right of sorts, it’s right created by the government.
And yet there’s nothing constitutionally that would keep a state, let’s say, Texas, from abolishing public schools, so you could do so. So there’s no natural right to an education by the state. But we’ve created that as a matter of positive law.
And that could also, I guess, fit under the Declaration in terms of deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. So the governed decided to ask the government for that power, give government that power to provide that education because the people wanted that positive right?
No, that’s exactly right. So we can create positive rights, but they’re very different than these unalienable rights spoken of by America’s Founders.
So it also sounds like that’s tied to, in some ways, enumerated powers, because the Founders view was the government would only have those powers that we gave it. So we have to agree as a people that we’re going to confer upon the government that particular power to provide or protect a right, especially a positive right here.
And so they believe that you’d have to have some pretty significant support and large majorities to give that new power to government, if you came up with some new positive right that you wanted. Does that make any sense, that’s circle I just went in there?
No, no, that makes all the sense in the world. And important distinction I would make here is between the power of the national government. As you alluded to, and I think you and I are very old fashioned in this respect, I think the national government only has those powers that the Constitution gives it in Article 1, Section 8, especially but the 14th Amendment and few other Amendments.
Article One, Section Eight
And so really, you can read through Article 1, Section 8 and see the national government should do things like have a military, do foreign affairs, have a post office, but that’s it. I would say, according to Founders, all the other things that governments do all the time, these really should be done by local governments or state governments at the highest level, right.
So things like education helping the poor, providing medical treatment, and that sort of thing, these should be debated at the state level. And here I would say, state governments actually have a plenary grant of power. They can do whatever the people within the states want them to do. The national governments a very different animal, it only has those powers that are explicitly given to it. Now, as you know, of course, since 1936, the US Supreme Court has just allowed the national government to do pretty much whatever the people want the national government to do. And I think that’s a very unfortunate development, but that’s where we are today.
Yeah, man, this has been really helpful, Mark. I’m so glad that we got this question because this does help. The whole positive, negative right thing helps to understand enumerated powers and limited government and why the Founders had the views that they had. So just really illuminating. So appreciate you, man.
Thanks for coming on. Thanks for what you’re doing at George Fox. Thanks for all your books you put out. We’ll have links to all your books and everything today at our website, but just really appreciate your time today, man.
Hey, thanks so much, Rick.
And thanks again to Mark David Hall for joining us from George Fox University. And we’re back with David and Tim Barton in studio. David and Tim, so a lot of basics here really in the philosophy of rights that lays the groundwork for why the Founders set our system up the way that they did.
Positive Vs. Negative Rights
Honestly, this isn’t a topic we’ve covered a lot in terms of this whole positive versus negative rights. I’ve heard other people talk about it a lot. We haven’t covered it a lot. I love how Mark David Hall described that, it really does back up the argument for enumerated powers.
Yeah, Rick, I really appreciated how he pointed out that so much what people argue for today are positive rights, when in the reality what the Founding Fathers largely put forward were the negative rights. And so then giving the enumerated powers as you’re mentioning to the federal government saying, look, here are the specific things you can do. But more specifically, here’s the things you can never touch.
And even with those negative rights, also identifying the inalienable rights, the God-given or as Mark David Hall pointed the basic human rights, these are things that every human has that is innate to them, because God gave it.
But we also recognize that the role of the federal government is to do very limited things and they can never touch certain things, which is why those are negative rights, things that cannot be touched: really a great explanation.
And, Tim, with what you were saying on how they’re negative rights in so many ways, I think negative rights are actually positive rights. I think it’s really good to have a right to life. That’s a positive right. But in terms of definition is you’re setting in forth, it really isn’t. It’s the inalienable rights that are the negative rights.
Do you guys remember when Obama made a big deal about the Bill of Rights is all about negative rights and media picked up on that and said, oh, yeah, it’s so negative the Bill of Rights and Constitution, it’s so limiting, it’s so restraining and it’s so restrictive? Do you guys remember that been an issue back in his administration?
I do not.
Obama Changed the Tone
Yeah, that was a big deal that came up. And at the time, I thought, well, yeah, they are negative. But it’s interesting, Obama really changed the tone on what that is. And as you’re explaining, Tim, and a positive right is really not a good right in the sense that it’s the government given right and a negative right, it really is a good right in the sense as a God-given right. There’s a big difference.
Well, and specifically the negative right are things that government cannot touch. And so one of the things as the Founding Fathers laid out the Bill of Rights, they said, there are certainly things we want to identify. In the 9th Amendment of the Constitution, they say that there are other of these unalienable rights that are not identified in this specific Bill of Rights. And just because it’s not here, doesn’t mean we don’t have them.
And so the negative rights are what was specifically written in the Bill of Rights. Not all inalienable rights were in the Bill of Rights. But the ones that were written there are considered the negative rights that government can never touch those, that is why they are called negative. Government can’t get involved and interfere with those things.
So Mark David Hall really did a great job kind of breaking down the difference between negative rights, positive rights, and alienable rights. And even though dad, as you mentioned, it’s kind of different terminology than what we would think of today. It certainly is also a different ideology from what the Founding Fathers intended, where they said, there’s a very small capacity of things that government can get into.
Rick, as you mentioned, those enumerated rights, there’s only a couple things we believe is the role of government. And beyond that, it’s really up to the individual, or maybe up to local government, or states or your local school board or school district, whatever it is. It’s a very different philosophy from where we are today, where people are asking the federal government to do so many more things in granting them power.
And one of the things we’ve talked about for a long time is the more power you give to government, the more power government has to use against you. And the Founding Fathers had come from a place where they’d seen a lot of government abuse, and they wanted to make sure there were limitations put on that federal government so that they wouldn’t see the same level of abuse they’d received under the king.
And really, what tyrants and dictators and monarchs had done for centuries and centuries and centuries of existence in human history. This is where America was so different, recognizing those inalienable rights, and then the negative rights, the rights the government could never take away from you.
Inalienable Or Unalienable?
You know, there was a conversation I had one time with Newt Gingrich, where we were talking about inalienable rights, and I had just seen something out of Noah Webster’s dictionary, that just really changed my understanding of it. And I was looking at whether the Founding Fathers used the word unalienable or inalienable, which they use.
What’s their difference in meaning between the two? And as it turns out, John Adams sometimes spelled it inalienable, sometimes spelled it unalienable, and really, the two things were the same.
But what really got me Noah Webster’s dictionary was the word lien, like unalienable. You know what a lien is on your house, your car, something else? It’s when someone says, well, I’m going to put a lien on your house, and that goes up as collateral. And if you don’t pay your debt, then you’re going to have to give me your house, your car, whatever it is.
And according to Noah Webster, an unalienable right is a right that you can’t put a lien against it. In other words, it can never be taken away from me. It’s not something you can put up as collateral, because it’s not something like you own or possess, like the right to healthcare, or the right to education, the right to insurance. You can’t put it up because it comes from God. It can never be taken away from you like your liberty. You can’t put that up as a lien or your life or whatever.
And I thought that’s a really interesting term. I would never have thought about unalienable as meaning not “lienable”, not able to put a lien on it. And so those are the rights that the Declaration sets forth. The Constitution embodies the Bill of Rights. I mean, those are the negative rights, if you will, and negative only in the sense that it keeps government from touching them. It says no to government.
Positive rights are the rights that government give, but that’s what makes government grow. And so, positive rights is what causes an increase in government. Negative rights is what causes a limited government. And that’s where you get more freedom, is with negative rights and a limited government.
Alright, guys, very unique Foundations of Freedom Thursday today. So we’ve answered one question with a special guest. We’re going to come back from the break and go to another question and another special guest. Stay with us, you’re listening to WallBuilders Live on Foundations of Freedom Thursday.
The Courageous Leaders Collection
Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then let no more be heard of confidence in man that bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”
Hi, friends, this is Tim Barton of WallBuilders. This is a time when most Americans don’t know much about American history or even heroes of the faith. And I know oftentimes we, parents, we’re trying to find good content for our kids to read.
And if you remember back to the Bible, to the book of Hebrews, it has the faith Hall of Fame where they outline the leaders of faith that had gone before them. Well, this is something that as Americans, we really want to go back and outline some of these heroes, not just of American history, but heroes of Christianity in our faith as well.
I want to let you know about some biographical sketches we have available on our website. One is called The Courageous Leaders Collection. And this collection includes people like Abigail Adams, Abraham Lincoln, Francis Scott Key, George Washington Carver, Susanna Wesley, even the Wright brothers. And there’s a second collection called Heroes of History.
In this collection, you’ll read about people like Benjamin Franklin or Christopher Columbus, Daniel Boone, George Washington, Harriet Tubman; friends, the list goes on and on. This is a great collection for your young person to have and read and it’s a providential view of American and Christian history. This is available at www.wallbuilders.com. That’s www.wallbuilders.com.
Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our country and the freedom of our civil constitution are worth defending against all hazards and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”
Welcome back. Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live Foundation of Freedom Thursday today, a little bit different than what we normally do because we have some special guests helping us answer some of these questions. And our special guests on the second half of the program, Jonathan Richie is back with us in studio. Jonathan, good to have you back, man.
Welcome Jonathan Richie
It’s good to be here.
We saved all the tough questions for you. Just so you know.
Okay. I mean it might be tough for…
This is the stuff, David, Tim couldn’t answer it, I couldn’t answer it. Nobody can. We tried. We called presidents and senators and everybody else, nobody could do it.
Well, I’m not surprised.
You’re on the spot. Alright, no, seriously, this is one David and Tim said, man, we got to get Jonathan hidden here on. This is actually from an article. It’s not so much a question from an audience member, but an article that we saw about a Muslim actress that had made headlines after she literally quoted and said that we needed, she quoted Hitler, talk about some of the Hamas launches and the rockets and all those and said I would have killed all the Jews of the world. So you know, is that typically something that you see in the Muslim community actually shouting out to Hitler?
Well, with the increase of tensions that are going on, and I mean, right, the blatant rocket attacks that are happening coming out of Palestine, what’s been fascinating to see is, in this case, it was a Pakistani actress, who, like you said, went on Twitter and literally quoted and cited Adolf Hitler.
Now, the quote that she used is one of those that’s kind of unverified, but to her, she said it was from Adolf Hitler. So for all intents and purposes, that’s who she is alluding to as her authority in the matter. And the exact quote was, “I would have killed all the Jews of the world, but I kept some to show the worldwide killed them. Adolf Hitler.”
Hitler and Muslims
Now if you are quoting Adolf Hitler in a positive manner, I think already you have a big issue going on. But historically, you can go back to World War II and you see a lot of the Arab Muslim population actually winds up allying themselves with Hitler to fight in the Second World II.
Yeah, I was really surprised at the close connection between Muslims and Hitler in World War II. And Jonathan, I think you pointed out to us that one of the SS units, one of Hitler’s tough units was strictly a Muslim unit, and that the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who is the Muslim leader of Jerusalem actually traveled and met with those folks under Hitler. And then even after World War II, took a very active role in citing Hitler as a reason to exterminate the Jews that had survived the Holocaust.
Yeah, so the story is in 1941, the Mufti of Jerusalem, whose name I’ll offer an attempt of saying it correctly, but I don’t bet to affirm that I’m getting this wrong, right. It’s out Hussein Amin, which sound pretty wrong…
Yeah, I’m not betting to affirm.
But in 1941, the Mufti of Jerusalem goes up to Hitler and meets with him. And actually, their entire meeting is recorded down and you can read the transcripts of it. It’s very interesting. But he says to Hitler that “That Arab countries were firmly convinced that Germany would win the war and that the Arab cause would then prosper, that Arabs were Germany’s natural friends, because they had the same enemies as had Germany. They were prepared to cooperate with Germany with all their hearts and stood ready to participate in the war.”
Now, the sentiment is clearly proven true that this is what he actually thought, because some 20,000 Arab Muslims were trained by the German army and became basically one of the SS units. We actually have in the WallBuilders library one of the Muslim SS units patches.
We have that and it’s documented that they participated in like the final solution. They participated in committing the atrocities against Jews during the Second World II. They participated in the Holocaust.
Yeah, and guys, one of the things too that becomes interesting, as you looking at some of the history, these are some of those things that even though so many people have not heard of this or maybe aren’t familiar with this information, this is something that’s not historically questioned. Right?
This is something like when you look at Japan, right, the Pacific Theater, and we’ve talked about before, back in 2014, when the US AP history standards came out, and in the history standards to talk about that American values were questioned, and maybe even should be questioned, because the atomic bombs were dropped in Japan. And they really give no other context.
When you start looking at Japan and realize, wait a second, what did Americans drop before we dropped the atomic bombs? We dropped more than 70 million leaflets warning the Japanese about what was coming. We identified more than 32 cities that were targets, military targets because of military installations and military facilities.
And this is something and when you begin to learn more of the story and see the context, you realize, wow, the narrative is being told today is different than what historically happened. And things like leaflets, this is not historically question, this is so historically documented and verified that nobody who studies history doubts.
It’s just that’s not something that’s talked about very often. Similar to the Muslim contribution to the Nazis, right or to this access power kind of thing happening in World War II, this is something that’s very well documented. It’s just that not many people talk about it today.
And even guys, and one of the things several years ago that really was mindboggling is if you look in a lot of the Middle East, right, a lot of the Arab world, Mein Kampf is still one of the top sellers of all books in the Middle East in the Arab world.
So seeing, right, as was identified, this Pakistani actress coming out and referencing Hitler, quoting Hitler about how we need to get rid of all the Jews, and where are they getting these ideas from? Mein Kampf is still a best seller in many of these nations in the Middle East. These are things that are not historically disputed. It’s just not very well known today.
When you look back even that timeframe, it’s interesting to me that one of the signs that was very common that hung in Muslim shops during World War II, it was a simple sign. And what it said was “In heaven, God is your ruler; on Earth, Hitler is your ruler.”
The Grand Mufti
You know, what assigned to be displayed. But the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem had met with Hitler said, look, we have a common interest in making sure there are no Jews. We want all Jews out of Palestine, and we want that gone.
And so after Hitler failed to achieve that purpose in World War II, you get to the point where Israel received its independence or has opportunity for independence in 1948. And at that point, the Grand Mufti and he told the Muslim troops as they’re fighting against Israel and Israel’s independence 1948, he says the entire Jewish population in Palestine must be destroyed or driven into the sea.
“Allah has bestowed upon us the rare privilege of finishing what Hitler only began, let the Jihad begin. Murder the Jews. Murder them all.” I mean, he’s looking as we are the successors of Hitler. Hitler got this job started, we get to finish that job. I mean, what a mindset to have.
Yeah. And you can even see it’s not just this one random Pakistani actress. There is actually another instance of this recently, where a long time CNN contributor, he had been writing articles, I think, for CNN for the better part of a decade with several dozen by lines under his name. He goes on Twitter, and he says, quote, “The world today needs a Hiller.” That’s a CNN contributor who’s saying that.
Yeah, I think I saw there were over 50 articles connected with CNN where he was a writer, editor or something of some level on those articles. And so this certainly is not as maybe unique as it should be that this is just one person.
Now, certainly, we might argue that well, these maybe are more radical people. Certainly, this is a radical position. Anytime you are quoting Hitler in support of the genocide of Jews, you are wrong, right, like that’s not complicated…
Yeah, wakeup call. If you wake up and find yourself on the same side of the aisle as Hitler, maybe you should reevaluate your positions. Right?
Well, yeah, I mean, this is just mind boggling that we are in a place today where this kind of stuff happens. Where for the last several years, we’ve heard people and different commentators and news outlets talk about how maybe Trump was like Hitler and what he’s doing, and he’s like Hitler. And we’ve heard conservatives being called Nazis and all these different things.
And yet, you see here, people who are actually invoking and supporting Hitler in a mass genocide of Jews is what they are promoting and encouraging, and yet, for some reason, many people and media outlets are very conspicuously silent in this moment. And so it is something that is quite boggling.
But Jonathan, as you mentioned, historically, there’s a lot of interesting information historically to even the Muslim connection to the Nazis to the SS to extermination camps. So often when we look at World War II, we certainly hear about Germany and often Japan, sometimes people even forget about Italy on some level, they were involved there.
Well, it wasn’t just those three nations. There were many other Arab nations. And specifically individuals from those Arab nations who were joining with the Germans and what they were trying to do to exterminate the Jews because of that ideology. And that same ideology unfortunately does seem to be alive and well today.
Alright, guys, out of time for this Foundation of Freedom Thursday. Special thanks to Jonathan Ritchie for joining us in studio today. You can send in your questions, [email protected], [email protected], hopefully, to get to some more of those next Thursday for Foundations of Freedom Thursday.
Positive Vs. Negative Rights, Plus Hamas & Hitler – With Professor Mark David Hall & Jonathan Richie
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Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”