Tuesday, January 03, 2006

What are we fighting for?

“Civil liberties mean nothing if you’re killed by a terrorist”
-Cal Thomas

Read that opening quote again. I’ll note, for purposes of explanation, Thomas is a syndicated columnist and ideologue who has consistently backed up the Bush Cabal over the last few years in this deceptive maze we call an administration. Thomas is regularly printed in one of Iowa's favorite farcical news-oriented publications, The Des Moines Register, as well as many other newspapers and would-be newspapers.

“Civil liberties mean nothing if you’re killed by a terrorist”

Now read that sentence above a few more times for good measure. It was the subject of a column Thomas wrote last week. I don’t think it’s necessary to summarize the column any further – the title says it all pretty well.

Now read it just one more time for me, baby, before we continue.

Now stop – and think.

The claim makes sense on its face, after all. I’ll give Cal that much. When unexamined, the statement seems intuitively logical.

Freedom doesn’t matter when you’re dead. Why not? Because you’re dead. You have no privacy left to be violated, no liberty left to exercise.

I can see how civil liberties might become a little superfluous to someone who has left the mortal coils.

Terrorists aside, civil liberties mean nothing if you’re killed by a falling toaster. Or a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Why not? Because you’re dead.

But that can’t really be what Cal means. He’s obviously criticizing those who think the current powers-that-be have gone crazy by stripping away our liberty in the name of fighting terrorism.

Is he trying to say you’ll wish you had given up more freedoms to an Orwellian nation-state when “the terrorists getcha”?

Methinks he is!

What he’s saying is the same broken record which has been playing for more than four years now. It starts with “Everything Changed After September 11,” a track which has been more overplayed than the Macarena. It then busts into the patriotic dance song “Do It! (For Your Country)” which leads into “We Don’t Call It Torture Here.” Later on is the melodious “They Hate Us ‘Cause We’re Free” and the raucous “Democracy In The Middle East.” The record ends with “Trust Me, I’m Doing This For Your Own Good,” which sounds like a love song written by Charlie Manson.

In the American revolution, we had “Give me liberty or give me death!”
A courageous, principled vow.

Imagine if a man of Thomas’ apparent disposition were to have written the Constitution.
“Habeas corpus - Who needs it? Bill of Rights? Ha! Bill of Lefts, more like it. Out the window!”

Our Founding Fathers certainly are not as clean as they are made out to be in fifth-grade History textbooks, but they did have a sense of reality.

Some of them were drunkards, slave owners, madmen and worse. They often settled disputes by dueling with pistols at dawn, a practice which certainly wouldn’t be tolerated by politicians today (although perhaps its not such a bad idea).

But they were bright enough to coin wisdom such as “The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance” and “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Freedom isn’t free
So it is said. Yet how easily the fearmongers would have us relinquish the freedom for which so many have died over the ages.

The nation repeatedly is told “the terrorists” hate our freedom.
That’s why they want to destroy us, we’re told.
And in the next breath:
In order to fight “the terrorists,” we’ve got to give up some of our freedom.

Many citizens seem happy to give up a little bit of their freedom, and then a little more, if the people in government can persuade them “the government” will somehow protect them, and thus ease their nagging fears of atomic Armageddon, biological outbreak or immigrant populations.

And that’s what really scares me. Not the fact so many politicians could be so blind or corrupt as to allow America to enter ill-advised, illegitimate wars and run up $8.2 TRILLION in debt (absolute power corrupts absolutely, after all) but that so many people could enjoy it and support it wholeheartedly.

And just when some of the administration loyalists are starting to have second thoughts about our horrible misadventures in Iraq, here comes Syria, Iran, and maybe even North Korea!

There’s a whole “Axis of Evil” left to dismantle. And if that doesn’t fly fast enough, down south we’ve got Venezuela and Bolivia, just a few of the Latin American countries who are asserting enough independence from the U.S. to piss off the wrong people.

I felt the Iraq War coming in 2002, and wrote as much in a newspaper column back then. Well my friends, the drums of war are beating again. Against whom, I’m not sure, although I’ve placed $20 on Iran. My buddy took N. Korea.

As the new year gets old and your intellect gets pounded by propaganda, just remember:

America stands as a beacon of Freedom to the world. But that Freedom is under attack, and we are at War. In order to preserve our Freedom, we must sacrifice Freedom, lest “the Terrorists” use our Liberty and Decency against us.

And once our Freedom has been duly sacrificed, what then are we fighting for?


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