If You Can Keep It: A Constitutional Roadmap
to Environmental Security by Michael Diamond
Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, April 1999
Reviewed by John D. MacArthur
The framers of the U.S. Constitution understood that the fundamental concern of government was to protect its citizens. Somewhere along the way, though, protecting profits has become the priority, and today we are reaping the consequences at every level of society. Michael Diamond's book is nothing less than a primer for how to quickly and effectively change society from one dominated by profits to one committed wholeheartedly to public health. And the way to do this, he says, was right under our noses all the time.
In his well-documented book, Michael Diamond introduces the reader to long-forgotten language in the Constitution of the United States. Found in Article IV, Section 4 is the "domestic violence clause." Attention to this clause, he says, can make the difference between self-destruction or survival. He calls the procedure set forth in Article IV, Section 4 a roadmap for our survival provided by the framers of the Constitution who knew, in the end, we would be our own worst enemy.
This clause, he argues persuasively, was the most significant in the entire Constitution. Indeed, it was the moving force moving behind the delegates convening in Philadelphia in 1787 to create a new and more powerful federal government. Their survival required a central government that could protect them against "Invasion" (foreign threats) and against "domestic Violence" (threats from within). Diamond leaves no doubt that the latter was considered by the framers as the more weighty worry. Alexander Hamilton believed that "men were ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious." He and his colleagues always considered domestic dangers "more alarming than the arms and arts of foreign nations."
Now, here's the crux of Diamond's historical exploration into the minds of the framers: They considered Article IV, Section 4 to be the emergency part of the Constitution. When threatened with violence that put survival in doubt whether from internal or external causes all priorities were to shift in order to meet that threat. No limits could be placed on how to terminate such dangers. All necessary human and financial resources were to be used. All lesser agendas must be put aside. Competing personal, political, and financial interests must take a back seat until the danger has been met and overcome.
Whether or not there exists a condition of domestic violence today is hardly contestable. This century has seen the planet permeated with chemical compounds toxic to its inhabitants. We have soiled our nest, from aquifer to stratosphere. Our bodies are being invaded by chemicals foreign to our genetic and biochemical constitution and clogged by concentrations of heavy metals far beyond our capacity to metabolize. This subtle yet deadly invasion is taking place at the cellular level and targets our neurological, hormone, and immune systems. The attack has penetrated our last lines of defense: the cell membrane, the blood-brain-barrier, the placenta. It is manifesting as degenerative disease and death, depression and violence, ignorance and apathy. This is self-induced domestic violence and it is threatening our survival.
How can mere words in the Constitution make any difference? Isn't the federal government owned by the economic interests whose "market über alles" mentality assures continued toxic exposures? Diamond answers that question by urging readers to consider the domestic violence clause as a banner under which to rally. All of us live in the shadow of planetary demise. Ill health has become the norm. About half of all Americans suffer from some sort of chronic mental or physical disability or disease. Mental acuity is declining all around us. Toxins are causing mass behavioral and educational declines. In short, says the author, there are more than enough people to unite under this banner and bring about massive changes in the way the federal government works and who it serves. He urges us to rediscover and recognize the power that the founders have bequeathed us, the people, in the Constitution's domestic violence clause.
Now, the clause doesn't just say that the United States shall protect us. It says that "on Application" of the state legislatures, the United States shall protect us against domestic violence. Diamond urges us to begin having Article Four meetings in all fifty states to help one another understand the source of our difficulties and what may be done to correct them. The urgent need to resolve the threats posed by environmental domestic violence can become an undeniable force. It will unite people and bring together diverse environmental and health organizations. Whatever the problem fluoridation, nuclear contamination, hormone-disrupters, carcinogens and whatever the affliction, from ADD to Alzheimer's, Article Four is the banner under which we all can gather to put our nation quickly back on the road to health and safety.
For those who say the federal government is far better at creating problems than fixing them, Diamond reminds us of World War II, when the United States acted efficiently and effectively to counter threats to our survival. In the present emergency, we can do as well. Our government is composed of people. They can be anonymous bureaucrats or public servants. An Article Four movement can help us reconnect with the original spark that ignited hopes for a better world.
Diamond then spells out what only a federal government is capable of doing when it assumes the necessary Article IV emergency powers to deal with our current condition of environmental domestic violence. Here is a partial list:
- Convert the medical/pharmaceutical industry into a public health-delivery system.
- Terminate the insurance industry's relationship with health care.
- Devote all necessary resources to cleaning up the country and reducing toxic exposures.
- Require and help fund the return of agriculture to healthier and safer methods of production.
- Using true health-based criteria, ensure that all chemicals are first proven safe before allowed in products or into the environment.
How can we afford to do all this? Diamond responds that it is now time for the United States to give up its role as the military enforcer of a commercial empire. We must turn our focus away from weapons and military matters; redirect our energies with the same sense of urgency into dealing with the very real threat of environmental domestic violence. When this happens, more than enough resources will be available to fund work pursuant to Article IV, Section 4.
If You Can Keep It contains bold thoughts and an even bolder strategy. All Americans especially the health and environmental community will take heart from this book. It points to a path that is our best and perhaps final option for turning the tide that threatens to inundate us. As one who has studied the lives and works of the founders of this nation, I believe they have found a voice in Michael Diamond's revelatory writing.
John D. MacArthur writes about the human brain and the Great Seal.
Domestic Violence Clause