Madison and Jefferson Were UnPATRIOTic
(AntiWar.com) -- by Dr. Brian Phillips --
“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.”
- Thomas Jefferson
As a history teacher, I spend a great deal of time with the Founding Fathers, and, as an American citizen, I was raised to see them, their ideas, and the heritage handed down from them as significant and valuable. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most Americans think they value the heritage of their country.
But, in reality, the average American merely gives lip service to the ideas of liberty and freedom espoused in our founding documents and by our Founding Fathers. In other words, Americans may “value” these things, but only as one values a work of art at the Louvre. You appreciate it from a distance and know it will never be in your house.
This is evidenced not by how many Americans own a copy of the Constitution or by how many could name all the presidents, but by how freely Americans willingly surrender what belongs to them.
Wednesday was the 10th anniversary of the PATRIOT Act. On Oct. 26, 2001, President George W. Bush signed the 315-page legislation into law even though the House was only given 15 minutes to consider its contents. Then Attorney General John Ashcroft told Congress it was much too urgent to delay. This was done in the name of keeping Americans “safe” and protecting America, the “brightest beacon of freedom and opportunity in the world.”
“Freedom and opportunity” were, according to Bush, what motivated the 9/11 attacks against us, though Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda explicitly claimed other motives. Bin Laden said, “We swore that America wouldn’t live in security until we live it truly in Palestine. This showed the reality of America, which puts Israel’s interest above its own people’s interest. America won’t get out of this crisis until it gets out of the Arabian Peninsula, and until it stops its support of Israel.”
If it seems strange that American leaders ignored those stated motives in favor of the “freedom and opportunity” story, how much worse is it that they responded with the PATRIOT Act? Are freedom and opportunity preserved by allowing the government to track its own citizens? What about wiretaps? Search and seizure without a warrant or even stated probable cause? Does that sound like freedom? How about the government’s ability to detain someone indefinitely without charge? Or its ability to place American citizens on a “kill list” without first granting them due process? What kind of “opportunity” do Americans have when they are groped at every airport, train station, bus station, and (coming soon) highway by TSA agents?
The real problem is that too many Americans do not think in these terms. They respond to such questions with a pitiful “times have changed” argument as if we are the only society in history to be challenged with the issues of liberty and government tyranny. Times have changed, and it is most evident in the willingness of Americans to gladly have their own rights trampled in the name of safety...MORE...LINK
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