It appears that a strengthened U.S.A. Patriot Act will soon sail through Congress with little opposition or consternation on the part of the American people. The new Patriot Act is even more stringent than the original. In addition, many of the more egregious elements of the Patriot Act which were originally scheduled to sunset are made permanent in the latest version. And the vast majority of the American people do not seem to mind.
For one thing, Americans seem to have accepted the notion that they must rely on the federal government to take care of them. Lost to most is an independent, self-reliant spirit. After all, Americans already look to Uncle Sam for food stamps, welfare payments, commercial and farm subsidies, and faith-based handouts; why should they object to the federal government's promise to now provide their complete security even if it does mean the sacrifice of their liberties? To most Americans, security seems much more valuable than freedom!
It is incumbent upon each of us to remember that this is exactly the way Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party took control in Germany. They did not seize power by force; the German people happily gave them power on the promise of national security.
Since 9/11, even those Americans who in the past have championed freedom and independence now demonstrate an obvious readiness to gladly yield their liberties. It does not seem to matter one iota that they are losing their right of privacy and their right to be secure in their own homes.
When told that the Patriot Act is practically a carbon copy of Hitler's Enabling Act, most Americans either yawn with indifference or retort with disbelief. They seem to be oblivious to reality.
For some, their personal support for President Bush will not allow them to look objectively at the details of his Patriot Act (or virtually anything else he does). They truly don't want to believe that Bush could ever promote something untoward. Yet, was this not the same reasoning used by the German people in the 1930's? They loved and trusted Hitler so much, they could not bring themselves to believe that anything he did could be wrong.
Americans need to reread the principles expressed by their Founding Fathers. Specific to the topic, Thomas Jefferson rightly said, "In questions of power, then, let no more be said of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution." It would seem many Americans today no longer believe that.
For others, the fact that they do not believe themselves to have yet been personally affected by the new Gestapo-like powers given to the executive branch by the Patriot Act gives them a sense of (false) peace. Their attitude is usually expressed by statements such as, "Well, if you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to fear." Of course, such thinking is extremely naïve and short-sighted.
Our entire way of life is predicated upon the conviction that we are presumed innocent of any wrongdoing and only by a substantiated and cumbersome process of discovery and prosecution can that assumption be taken away from us. The Patriot Act totally reverses that historic principle.
Now Americans are presumed to be guilty of wrongdoing and mechanisms are in place to begin the process of proving it; and, furthermore, the discovery portion of this process may now be done under cover of darkness and secrecy. Gone is the presumption of innocence. Under the Patriot Act, gone is the right to an attorney. Gone is the right to habeas corpus. Gone is the right to a speedy trial. Gone is the right to be secure in your papers and effects. The Patriot Act is turning America into a Nazi-style police state. And that is not hyperbole!
Furthermore, Americans need to wake up to the reality that there already exists a gargantuan effort afoot to put a military-style federal apparatus in place. For example, according to syndicated columnist Charley Reese, "In recent years, federal law enforcement has expanded to the point where there is now an equivalent of five military divisions armed and invested with the power to make arrests." And this does not include the fact that certain of our military and C.I.A. personnel are also being trained and instructed in domestic law enforcement. Can people not see the writing on the wall?
Another thing people need to think about is the definition of "wrongdoing." The argument that, "If you haven't done anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about" loses its legitimacy when "the powers that be" can alter what "wrong" is at will.
The Patriot Act so loosely defines "terrorism" that virtually anyone or anything could be considered "an act of terrorism" including speech! Plus, Bush lovers need to remember that Dubya will not be president forever. They need to think about the likes of Hillary Clinton or Janet Reno interpreting and enforcing the Patriot Act!
Then again, we have to consider that there is a sizeable percentage of the American people who have already surrendered their liberties as a state of mind. They have been successfully programmed to accept any and all government fetters. In their minds, they are already slaves to the state! After all, freedom is first a matter of the heart.
The bottom line is, in the name of safety and security, the American people, as did the people of Germany in the 1930's, are willingly surrendering their liberties. One more 9/11-style attack will probably mean the end of whatever freedom is left. And sadly, the vast majority of the American people will probably be ok with that, as well.
At the end of the day, however, the loss of freedom will not bring America peace and safety. Instead, destruction and tyranny will result. A simple look at German history proves that.
Of course, America's founders rejected tyrannical government. However, it appears that many of today's Americans share more in common with German history than with their own.
© Chuck Baldwin
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