The exclusions that Paine includes in Common Sense are undoubtedly still with us today. Religious intolerance, while not as explicit today, is still a very real problem in America. In Common Sense, Paine excluded Quakers and Jewish people explicitly and Catholics implicitly from his vision of a unified American people. In modern America, when it comes to exclusions for religious reasons non-Christians and Atheists are those most commonly left out of “the people.” After September 11th, it became abundantly clear how religiously intolerant some Americans could/can be. One unambiguous example of this intolerance is the debate over the Islamic center near Ground Zero. Few would question that Islamophobia in America has been on the rise since September 11th.
Atheists and non-Christians are excluded from “the people” by the assertion of many that the United States is “a Christian nation.” It is interesting to speculate what the speakers of this phrase really mean. All Americans are Christian? Clearly this is not true. All Americans should be forced to become Christian? The first amendment speaks pretty clearly on that issue. Those who are Christian deserve more rights than those that are not? This certainly does not sound very American. Many equate secularization with “letting the terrorists win,” not so subtly equating atheists with terrorists. A recent Daily Show segment pokes fun at the inability of Americans to stay united even after such focusing events as September 11th. (Sorry, I could not embed it properly because it’s not on youtube, but it’s great and you should still check it out!)
Paine also implicitly excluded slaves and anyone else that was not white from his vision of American society. Today people who are not white are excluded from society. Evidence of this can be found in the many racist attitudes of some Americans. Groups like the Ku Klux Klan, Neo-Nazis and anti-immigration organizations all demonstrate that racism is still alive and well in the United States. Racism and the accumulation of privilege help to explain why most credible reports still show a significant income gap between those belonging to different races. A Pew Research Center analysis of government data from 2009 provides evidence that “the median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black household and 18 times that of Hispanic households.” http://pewsocialtrends.org/2011/07/26/wealth-gaps-rise-to-record-highs-between-whites-blacks-hispanics/The efforts of some individuals to exclude others leads to inequalities and disparities between those of different groups.
Paine does not specifically mention women as being excluded, but he might as well have. With the exception of calling on a Jersey Joan of Arc to rescue the Americans Paine apparently did not feel that women were important enough to reference specifically or to hypothesis about how the Revolution would affect them. Given the period in which it was written, it is not surprising that Paine would neglect to give women much ink in Common Sense. Women today still experience exclusion today. By most data research, women still make only $.77 per $1 that men make. This is attributed to many women being pigeonholed into pink-collar jobs with little chance of advancement and jobs that simply are not paid as well as jobs that are traditionally held by men.
Exclusion and inequality are still very much with us today.