Friday, October 20, 2006
The John Birch Society speaks for me, probably for you too.
After all, what does it mean to say you have freedom of expression, the right to bear arms, freedom from unreasonable seizure, the right to speedy trial, trial by jury, the right to avoid self-incrimination, the right to petition, right to equal protection, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment when "no court, justice, or judge" can comment on your disappearance?
In these dark times it is encouraging to note we are not alone in our concern. Here is what our friends at the John Birch Society have to say about the new face of Compassionate Conservatism:
Absent from any discussion is who is going to protect Americans from the Executive branch, whether headed by President Bush or any other future president who continues to amass power in the White House.
Besides that, this question is worth entertaining as well: If Bush is protecting the American people by taking away our freedoms, then what are we supposed to be fighting for in Iraq?
That's the John Birch Society talking. The title of that article is Saving American Lives By Stripping Away Our Freedoms.
No one is surprised the ACLU similarly opposes this abomination. Unfortunately, I fully expect the Execution Branch will spin this universal condemnation by pointing to critics on the left and right as proof their actions are truly moderate. If history is any guide, the press corps(e) will echo that nonsense as if it made sense. Just once, I would love to see more than one news anchor make the bold statement that when people who routinely disagree find themselves agreeing that some policy is terribly wrong, that probably means it really is terribly wrong.
Lest people think this is just gonna be terrists and furners who will suffer, let me remind you of the case concerning Brandon Mayfield. Remember him? He was the Portland Oregon lawyer the FBI held in detention as a "material witness" because his fingerprint was allegedly found on materials associated with the bombing in Madrid. Never mind the fact they were told that was not true by european agencies. Never mind the fact that Brandon is a privileged white male who served with honor as an officer in the United States Army.
His brother Kent got it right away:
"I think the reason they are holding him is because he is of the Muslim faith and because he is not super happy with the Bush administration. So if that's a crime, well you can burn half of us."
Back then, folks called it "hyperbole", "hysteria", "liberal whining," etc. Now even the John Birch Society is on record agreeing with Keith Olbermann.
Never mind the fact that the military didn't ask for the "Military Commissions Act," the latest in misleadingly named laws. They know this law is not for their protection. Not by a long shot. The reason the Execution Branch was so gung-ho to get this signed was to protect contractors working on covert operations. That's right. The major beneficiaries of this are people outside the chain of command, outside the scope of congressional oversight, and now outside the rule of law.
The only relevant questions now are "Who is next?" and "How many?"
For those pinning their hopes on a Supreme Court overturning this abomination, may I remind you "no court, justice, or judge" has jurisdiction here. If you think they will not stand for this, let me remind you the Supreme Court ruled the "Indian Removal Act" of 1830 was unconstitutional. How did that work out? (Hint: Can you say "Trail of Tears?") President Jackson's famous retort to the decision forbidding the forced removal of the Cherokee from their ancestral lands in Georgia was brief and to the point. "John Marshall has made his decision; let him enforce it now if he can."
That open contempt for law is why Andrew Jackson will always be remembered for the death of thousands and the opening salvo of what eventually became a genocidal policy known as Manifest Destiny. That stain to our national honor has grown darker with the passage of time and will never be washed away. This week, a new stain has sullied our national fabric. Only time will tell how dark, how deep, and how wide it will become.
I wonder what future historians will call the present atrocity and how we will explain it to our children and their children. I am already changed by this event. For the first time in my life I have empathy for the Germans who bowed their heads in shame and said "We didn't know." I used to dismiss that with an air of moral superiority. Now I'm not so sure. I doubt the silent crowds watching the thugs work over Jews on Kristallnacht really understood the only relevant questions that night were "Who is next?" and "How many?"