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Letter: Ancient mechanical law supports idea of unconditional equality

Lincoln (movie, 2012)Martin Luther King Jr.Abraham LincolnMoviesTony Kushner

As we celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, we are reminded that equality is unconditional, something we basically knew from the start.  And it wasn't born out of the Great Charter of the Liberties of England, or the Magna Carta; the Declaration of Independence; the Constitution or even the Bill of Rights. Rather, as Abraham Lincoln said in the movie "Lincoln": "it was right there all the time; there in Euclid's (Father of Geometry) 'Elements,' a 2,000-year-old book of mechanical law."

In fact, Abraham Lincoln, who explored and wrestled with passage of the 13th Amendment focusing on the abolition of slavery, unflinchingly put Euclid this way in the movie "Lincoln": "Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other."

Never mind interpretations of Lincoln's conclusion by mathematicians, theoreticians, or  philosophers, for Tony Kushner's, writer of the movie script, interpretation of Lincoln's meaning is starkly clear to us: "white men were men, as black men were men, and both being equal to men were equal to each other."

Dr. King's basic reasoning augmented all of this: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

We arrived at this point of discussion after having been told of a recent Associated Press poll that said: "Majority harbor prejudice against blacks. . . . In all, 51 percent of Americans now express explicit anti-black attitudes, compared with 48 percent in a similar 2008 survey. ... In short, racial attitudes have not improved in the four years since the United States elected its first black president."

Notwithstanding the polls, for as Euclid, Abraham Lincoln and Dr. King are telling us: "Things which are equal to the same thing are equal to each other."

There you have it. Piggy backing on Euclid's 2,000-year-old "Elements" was a major turning point in racial justice in America. 

Sherman Howell

Columbia

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