Half a century ago the philosopher Leo Strauss remarked that the passage in which the Declaration of Independence proclaims its self-evident truths “has frequently been quoted, but, by its weight and its elevation, it is made immune to the degrading effects of the excessive familiarity which breeds contempt and of misuse which breeds disgust.”
I’ve had occasion to test this claim. The last few years, we’ve spent July Fourth at the house of friends who have had the assembled company read the entire declaration. It’s a longer document than one thinks; the charges against the king take quite a while to get through.
(This is my favorite part:)
But I can report from firsthand experience that the declaration as a whole, and not just its most famous phrases, remains remarkably immune to the degrading effects of excessive familiarity. (gee, ya think?)
Oh, come on, I could more easily believe they wadded the thing up and used it to start the charcoal to roast Iraqi babies than I could that they stand around reading it and savoring every word.