Several blogs I read have been linking to a well-written first-hand reaction of someone outside the United States to the now-entrenched paranoia of the United States. If democracy were sick and terrorism were the disease, the Bush Administration’s “cure” has surely killed the patient.
In fact, this is exactly what has happened.
Glen Martin, Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies at Radford University (Radford, Virginia), has noted,
IN A MEMO not considered important enough to publicize in the mainstream press, Attorney General John Ashcroft recently commanded the Justice Department to resist all requests under the Freedom of Information Act. And President George Bush has ordered the records of recent U.S. presidents sealed from the public.
And we, the American people, have no problem with the idea that this government no longer recognizes that it was created for our benefit. The government of the United States was intended to be a government that “deriv[ed its] just powers from the consent of the governed.” That last phrase is a quote from the Declaration of Independence. Not only that, but the very first sentence of the Declaration of Independence states,
WHEN in the Course of human Events, it becomes necessary for one People to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation. (Emphasis added.)
Yet, in the United States, increasingly, our government created to protect us does not have the respect to “declare” why it treats us all as potential enemies. Information is refused, hearings are held behind closed doors, the Vice-President does not wish us even to know who helped write the energy-industry-friendly Energy Policy for the United States. (Personally, I don’t know how anyone can have doubts about who it was. Bush and Cheney are both well-known to have made millions in oil — this is true even if you think they did it legally, and there’s doubt about that. And the energy industry is currently paying travel expenses for groups of Republican members of Congress to visit a balmy resort to hear what they want in exchange for more campaign money. Does anyone seriously not know that these same people wrote the policy by which taxpayer monies will be transferred to them?)
So serious have governmental restrictions on the people by whose consent it is supposed to govern become that even the American Library Association has joined the growing number of American cities opposing the Federal government. Revolutionary librarians!
And yet all the chest-thumping by the Bush Administration, and particularly John Ashcroft — all the invading of sovereign nations without valid or true reasons and all the threatening of others with the military might of the United States — has done nothing to increase the security of the United States. Instead, having completely forgotten the shame of the United States in forcing Japanese-Americans into internment camps during World War II, now, as the Craig Cox notes in an Utne Reader exclusive,
The attorney general has taken the passage of the Patriot Act and the Homeland Security Bill as blanket authority to push through policies and procedures that not only erode constitutional and civil rights but also fundamentally alter the character of this country.
Our Founding Fathers waged a war against the British Empire because, as they put it, “when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security.” (Declaration of Independence of the United States of America, emphasis added.)
They then took pains to write a Constitution that restricted the rights of the government — but, today, our government uses that same document to restrict the rights of the people, by stating that any rights not explicitly granted to the people don’t exist. (This is a favorite argument of Justice Scalia of the Supreme Court. For more on this, see my article, “MediaResearch: Who’s Ignorant of What Now?,” on TechStop™. Interestingly, though, Scalia is more-than-ready to grant First Amendment speech rights to corporations, even though the Constitution does not contains such a provision and, in fact, our Founding Fathers were wary of the power of corporations and considered such power an evil. They even went so far as to consider an 11th Amendment that would have restricted corporate power. Scalia’s “strict constructionism” is fine when it goes against human beings, but not when it limits corporations, apparently.) The idea that the Constitution should somehow give the government the right to impair any freedoms of citizens which were not explicated within it turns the Constitution on its head; it has everything backwards. The government gets its powers from us; it does not exist so that we can learn what rights John Ashcroft and the White House may deign to give us.
It’s about time for us to wake up and remind Washington of this. It’s time for us to let the government know that we control it and not the other way around.
It’s time for each of us to stand up — as each new move of the Bush Administration makes it clear that they evince a Design to reduce us under absolute Despotism — and for each of us to say, “You see, the trouble is, I’m actually an American!”