Near the end of his speech at the Republican National Convention, Paul Ryan told the audience that “sometimes, even presidents need reminding, that our rights come from nature and God, not from government.”
I’m not sure what Ryan meant by adding “nature” to “God,” since appealing to nature to establish rights has a sinister history. For example, there was a time that blacks and women were considered to be inferior “by nature.” Aristotle believed in the reasonableness and “natural order” for slavery because there are some people who are “slaves by nature,” a phrase found in his Politics. Aristotle’s views made their way into the thinking of many philosophers and scientists and were used to justify slavery in America.
It’s the reference to God that did not set well with MSNBC’s Touré Neblett. Here’s some of what he said:
“Because for black people, Hispanic people, and women, our rights do not come from God or nature. They were not recognized by the natural order of America. They come from the government and from legislation that happens in relatively recent history in America. So that line just bothers me to my core.”