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The Great Illusion: Trading Liberty For Security

In the six years since 9/11, the United States has become a weaker nation. I don’t just mean economically, or militarily, or in terms of national sovereignty (which is all true). Amidst all the rhetoric about “getting tough on terror” and standing up to “those who hate our freedoms,” why is it that most Americans are sitting down? Why is it that most Americans can so easily endorse so-called “liberation” campaigns overseas, but are shrinking with fear and ignorance in the face of attacks on our own freedoms at home?

Just six months after 9/11, the deceptively-named Patriot Act was signed into law. It significantly infringed on the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Seventh and the Tenth Amendments, it destroyed the 4th Amendment allowing for warrantless searches of Americans. The Patriot Act has been followed by a string of legislation and executive orders that are blatant Constitutional and Bill of Rights violations. Bills like the Patriot Act II (which eliminates whatever rights were left from Patriot Act I) the Military Commissions Act I and II (where non-allegiance to Bush is declared terrorism and habeas corpus is eliminated), the John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007 (allows the deployment of troops anywhere in America without the consent of the governor or local authorities), as well as the NSA’s un-warranted domestic survellience programs. Any one of these government actions would have sent the 1773 ‘Sons of Liberty’ into an uproar, and yet where is the uproar now?

Norman Vincent Peale has said, “There was a time when the American people roared like lions for liberty, now they bleat like sheep for security.”

Trading liberty for security is an illusory trade. Let me repeat this: trading liberty for security is an impossible and false idea, which ironically results in losing both liberty and security as well as, in many cases, life itself. Note the careful elimination of liberties as the Nazi’s rose to power in Germany, or the outlawing of free speech and dissenting parties like Stalin did in the Soviet Union, or the drastic increases of secret intelligence agencies as both Hitler and Stalin took power.

One of our founding fathers, the great James Madison once said, ““Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.”

It is nothing new, this idea of quietly taking liberty in order to implement tyranny. We must be aware of this.

It is necessary then, for us to now “turn our hearts to our fathers” and remember what it means to be a true patriot, through the words of a modern patriot in Oregon:

It was December 16, 1773 and the Boston Tea Party was to be hosted by angry but determined patriots. These colonists and immigrants had decided enough was enough. And it is a mistake to think their grievance was solely motivated by the unfair taxation of tea that led to the ruin of American tea merchants.

The gathered group of men hated the military presence of King George III’s army. And they still had a score to settle with the British who had massacred 5 of their fellow Bostonians less than 4 years before.

. . . all of us want to protect our families and fellow countrymen from attacks from others who would do us harm.

However, none of us should ever allow our government to exploit the need we all have to be secure in our homes as a justification to spy on law abiding citizens who are guilty of nothing more than exercising their constitutional right of freedom of religion, assembly and speech.

When will we as citizens decide that enough is enough? It’s time to peacefully oppose the erosion of our liberties.

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One Response

  1. I am flattered you quoted my piece…thank you.

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