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Independence Day ‘Across the Pond’

Robin Beres writes at Richmond Times-Dispatch:

President Obama’s domestic policies have done little to move this country forward and his foreign policy is a disaster. Sometimes when he speaks off-the-cuff without a teleprompter, he sounds downright awkward. And when he’s off duty and wears those ridiculous mom-style jeans, it’s embarrassing to admit he’s the commander-in-chief of the world’s largest military.

As for the two presumptive candidates who would replace him: Donald Trump’s buffoonish behavior is disturbing. That he is vastly unprepared and unsuited to run this nation is obvious. And a President Hillary Clinton would be an unmitigated disaster. Her performance as secretary of state was abysmal. And just wondering — will she wear a pantsuit to her Inaugural Ball?

OK, some of the statements above are uncalled for. But because I am an American, I am free to publicly make those comments about our president and any other political figure without fear of legal reprisal or worse. There aren’t that many places on this globe where similar comments could be made.

Our Constitution protects the civil liberties of Americans to an extent that few other nations enjoy. Many of the freedoms enumerated in that amazing document were first established in the Magna Carta, signed by King John of England in 1215 and arguably the world’s greatest influence on civil rights. That document’s influence on the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution and its Bill of Rights, is clearly evident. Even today, the principles codified in the 801-year-old Great Charter continue to influence Western constitutional philosophy.

For centuries, Great Britain has been renowned for its tolerance of free speech. Other European nations are more ambivalent. In April, German Chancellor Angela Merkel authorized criminal proceedings against Jan Böhmermann, a comedian whose crude mockery of Turkey’s president created a political firestorm. In Germany, defaming a foreign leader is illegal and can carry a year-long prison sentence.

Since 1998, the United Kingdom has included the European Convention on Human Rights in its laws. This convention imposed limitations on British speech that might be deemed a danger to national security, could possibly threaten someone’s health or could damage another person’s reputation. Since the United Kingdom’s inclusion in the convention, statements made by a British subject that would previously have been tolerated in the British Isles could be subject to prosecution under European Union laws.

Over the past 18 years, the British people have slowly ceded an ever-growing number of decisions and regulations to EU rule. European policy eventually dominated everything from what type of bananas the UK could import to how it ran its own immigration policy.

It’s not hard to see why the British people began to resent having little or no control over matters of national concern — especially unchecked immigration.

***

It’s also understandable why the majority of British citizens voted last week to dump the UK’s membership in the European Union. Average Brits (just like many average Americans) are upset that a wave of foreigners, with different lifestyles, attitudes and beliefs, will forever change their culture.

More than 600 years ago, the first Duke of Lancaster, John of Gaunt, worried about the future of England under the reckless reign of Richard II. In William Shakespeare’s “The Life and Death of Richard II,” Gaunt makes a speech to the Duke of York that to this day remains the pre-eminent description of England and her people. It explains well the reason British citizens voted to leave the EU last month:

You can read the rest of the story here.

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