While we’re celebrating the Fourth of July this year, we all need to remember the official name of the holiday — Independence Day. (Yes, I know you know that already.) If there was a truth-in-labeling act for holidays, we’d have to call it Bow Down And Worship Our Perfect Government Day. This would reflect the attitude of too many Americans.
Remember the original meaning of the word “Patriot”? The original Patriots overthrew their colonizers. They were rebels. This word has mutated beyond any possible recognition since the founding of our country. Today’s “Patriots” (at least that’s what they call themselves) insist on unquestioning blind allegiance to the government. What happened?!?
“There should be a revolution every twenty years.” Can you name the left-wing rabble-rouser who said that? Would you believe Thomas Jefferson. When Jefferson got elected president, he repealed the Alien and Sedition Act — passed by Congress two years earlier — which called for imprisonment of anyone publishing “false, scandalous or malicious writing.” The law had been passed in order to stifle dissent from the minority party — Republicans.
The popular American archetype has always been the cowboy riding off into the sunset. Americans have always been proud of their independence, self-reliance, rugged individualism. “Don’t tell me what to do.” “Don’t fence me in.”
At some point that changed to “hey, don’t question our leaders.” “Oh, OK, I’ll happily bend over and let you do what you want to me. No Sir, I’m not questioning your leadership Sir.” “Sure, you can go ahead and spy on me and monitor every move I make. I don’t have anything to hide.” What the F#% happened?
The War on Drugs has probably been the most disgraceful and most long-standing assault on our Constitution. This is how everyone slowly got used to having Big Brother towering over us. After several decades of draconian prison sentences for victimless crimes, Americans have gotten numbed to the feeling of an Omnipresent Orwellian government regulating everyone’s every move. This got the government’s foot in the door and laid the groundwork for the Patriot Act.
The manufactured hysteria over ***DRUGS!!*** is so prevalent that we’ve all just sat on our hands while millions of people have been incarcerated for crimes that affected nobody else. Millions of otherwise-sane people support this War on American Citizens just because, well, we just can’t allow this sort of thing, this, this permissiveness. Drugs are bad, M’Kay?
This isn’t a partisan issue. Some of the most gung ho drug warriors have been Democrats, and some conservatives have actually remembered their own slogans about individualism and limited government.
Debra Saunders, a conservative columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle (yes they do exist in San Francisco), periodically writes about specific individuals who have been caught in the middle of the War on Drugs. She gives the person’s name and a brief biography, and a description of the crime and sentence: thirty years in prison, maybe even life without parole, for a woman whose boyfriend is a drug dealer, or someone who was a passenger in a car where a drug deal was being made. Putting a human face on these tragedies really brings home the total insanity and perversion of the War on Drugs.
And just to show how sick and twisted some people are, Debra Saunders gets a certain amount of hate mail after each one of these columns. People tell her the War on Drugs doesn’t go far enough, these wicked drug abusers are being coddled and should get even longer sentences, etc.
Believe it or not, there’s actually an Amendment to the Constitution which guarantees equal protection under the law. And yet our prisons are filled with non-violent drug users who are serving far longer sentences than most armed robbers and rapists. Whose definition of “equal protection under the law” is this?
Now there’s a bill working its way through the House of Representatives which would provide up to ten years in prison for anyone who knows about illegal drug use and doesn’t report it to the police. This bill, introduced by Essen Scheisse Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin, has been publicized by many bloggers but there hasn’t been a peep out of the mainstream media. Is this the America we want? “Independence Day”? Independent from what?
If you think the War on Drugs is one of the most stupid and mean-spirited projects in our government’s history, please check out the Drug Policy Alliance. They’re trying to inject a little sanity into our government’s drug policies.
After four or five decades of the War on Drugs, we were numbed and sedated and stupefied enough that we were ready to bend over and spread ’em for: the Patriot Act.
If you liked the illegal searches brought on by the War on Drugs, you’ll love the Patriot Act. Now you can have your library records searched. Your home or place of business can be searched without a warrant, and they don’t even have to inform you.
If your response to the above paragraph is “so what, what are you hiding?” or “they can search me; I don’t have anything to hide” — you don’t deserve to live in a democracy. You need a one-way ticket to the police state of your choice.
Certain provisions of the Patriot Act have been deleted in the House, but they’ll probably be reinstated by the Senate. Bush has threatened to veto the bill without those provisions, and his bitches jump when he says jump.
The generalization is that liberals are against the Patriot Act and conservatives are in favor of it. But there are a lot of exceptions, and there’s a growing bipartisan concern about an out-of-control federal government. Two rightwing former Congressmen, Bob Barr and Dick Armey, have strong Libertarian beliefs and have worked extensively with the ACLU. Senator Larry Craig, R-Idaho, has been one of the biggest critics of the Patriot Act.
Downsize DC is a very worthwhile non-partisan organization that’s working to fight the growing intrusiveness of the federal government. They’re against Big Government — Period. You won’t agree with them on everything unless you’re a Libertarian. But at a time like this, people of all political viewpoints need to band together. We all need to stand guard against Big Brother. He’s watching.
Another bipartisan grassroots issue is the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on property rights. If a developer wants to raze your house and build a hotel or office building on “your” property, this constitutes “public use,” same as a railroad or highway. Pretty sick “reasoning,” huh? If you’re pissed off at this decision (isn’t everybody?), you might want to join the Castle Coalition to prevent your property from being seized by the government.
Americans of all political viewpoints need to be aware of the dangers of giving the federal government too much power. Remember, they work for us; it’s not the other way around. Hahahahahaha. Seriously. That’s how it was originally supposed to be. Our Founding Fathers would be spinning in their graves if they saw this lazy corrupt trust-funded group of self-serving country-clubbers trampling over the rest of us. And to top it all off, these underworked, overpaid, overfed blobs just voted themselves another pay raise. Tea party, anyone?
We need to remember Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” We need to maintain a balance of liberty and security, and in the past few years we’ve tilted waaaay overboard on the side of security.
This year when we’re celebrating Independence Day, let’s all remember that cowboy riding off into the sunset; Clint Eastwood saying “feel lucky punk?” Think of the Patriots dumping tea into Boston Harbor. And for God’s sake break out of that hypnotized, stupefied mindset of “Great Leader has spoken. We must listen and obey.” It’s way too unbecoming, too perverted, for a country that was founded by rebels.