Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Freedom? Who needs it

An excellent, if somewhat difficult-to-read article that follows up on my previous post on surrendered freedoms. The article compares the laws enacted by the Bush Administration to early laws enacted by Hitler, which allowed him to disband parliament, consolidate executive power, and eventually exterminate Jews, homosexuals, and political dissidents - legally.

The key point is not to compare Bush to Hitler, but to highlight the banal ordinariness of the citizens who perpetrated [the Holocaust]. Faced with economic uncertainty, political chaos, and a powerful foreign enemy...the German people gave up their freedoms in small increments, much like we've done here in the U.S.A.

While we may prefer to believe that the Good German institutions capitulated to Hitler under the black boot of the SS, current scholarship confirms that Nazification, like segregation in America, was largely voluntary, even in the free press.

This shouldn't be stunning at all...Bush has signed a law that allows him to declare anyone, U.S. citizen or not as a terrorist, suspend their habeus corpus rights, torture them, and inter them indefinitely. And it was greeted with a collective yawn - even from the "liberal media".

The lesson here is crucial: never willingly surrender your freedom, even a tiny amount. The process is always incremental, and the ramifications of each surrender is never fully explored or understood at the time. You allow the NSA to monitor your phone conversations, because you're not saying anything seditionist anyway. You allow your bank records to be snooped, because you're not writing checks to terrorists. You allow your president to torture people, because they're bad people, and it's ok to torture a few bad people to save a lot of good people, right?

And you never imagine that someday, you could be classified as one of those "bad people". Your neighbor, or your friend, your wife, your the whim of a man who gives no reasons for his actions other than discussion with a mythical god...could strip them of the rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, bypass the due process afforded in the Constitution, and interrogate them with techniques they aren't allowed to discuss with their lawyers. And he could do this all within the law, a law that when signed, was greeted with a collective yawn.

Think really, really hard the next time some politician asks you to forfeit a small freedom for the sake of your security. Think really, really hard about voting for a politician who thinks that your Constitutional rights aren't very important. We aren't standing on the edge of the abyss of fascism, we're already tumbling down the sides. The bottom isn't nearly as far away as it looks.


At 12:00 PM, Blogger sparrowlegs said...

There are many dichotomies with the status quo American "logic":

The American populace is shocked and demands government intervention when an oil company has a banner year. Meanwhile, they yawn as they drop 50K for their new Hummer.

The American people celebrate as their newly elected president sends them a $500 (a little more than 1 percent of a meager 40K annual income) tax relief check. Meanwhile, they yawn as their newly elected president plunges his country into record-breaking debt.

The American people are proud that they live in a country which boasts a freedom of religion and a separation of church and state. And yet are confused when someone wishes to have god references removed from their money, pledge of allegiance, and inscriptions on government buildings.


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