Thursday, July 4, 2013

Too Many Americans Don’t Deserve Liberty

Right: Nazi defendants wait to be tried at Nuremberg

"Those who would sacrifice an essential liberty for the purpose of a temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." - Benjamin Franklin

"In every government on earth is some trace of human weakness, some germ of corruption and degeneracy, which cunning will discover and wickedness insensibly open." - Thomas Jefferson, in 'Notes on Virginia'.

"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves therefore are its only safe depositories. AND TO RENDER THEM SAFE, THEIR MINDS MUST BE IMPROVED." - Thomas Jefferson, 'Notes on Virginia'.

"Need a reason to worry about the NSA spying scandal? Try this: you legally protest an oil company in your town, are arrested, and wind up in court facing federal terrorism charges and a personal eternity behind bars. The evidence presented against you was gathered by NSA monitoring of your telephone usage and social media communications.” - William Rivers Pitt's blog post, 'You, TERRORIST!'

" I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America. And we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return"-  Sen. Frank Church, referencing the NSA in 1975.

Today, July Fourth, Americans celebrate their independence and “liberty” but the sad fact is too many haven’t a clue. Hell, most can’t even name three of the Bill of Rights far less describe what they’re about. The word “liberty” (like “freedom”) is too easy to bandy about and is often lost in a morass of rhetoric – usually in propping up a specious nationalism or exceptionalism, as if we believe we’re the only nation to discover it. But I can tell any American reading this that’s a myth, because in places from Germany to Barbados to Switzerland people enjoy REAL liberty and often far more than we brag about. For example, in Austrian town squares (Innsbruck, Salzburg) we saw street characters panhandling with assorted unique outfits – from “Mozart” to “Charlie Chaplin”. In most U.S. cities they’d be run off – costumes or not. Is that liberty? You tell me. But we’ve all been brainwashed to believe we have a lock on the magical entity called “liberty”.

What is worse, the last 3 weeks have shown me that too many Americans don’t deserve liberty. We know who they are: the ones who have called for Edward Snowden’s head, labeled him a “traitor” – acting like sheeple instead of free-thinking people. They’ve meekly followed and imbibed the propaganda spewed by the corpora-media and the security state which is the real culprit. (In terms of trashing the 4th amendment). They’re the one who’ve followed the lead of the American puppet media by making Snowden and his travails, asylum seeking and persecution the story instead of the vile overreach he disclosed – which as others have pointed out – leads the way to tyranny (especially via the COG program)

What does that make these mock Americans? In my book it makes them “Good Germans”. Go back to the end of World War II and the American occupation of Germany in the years after 1945. We assailed the “weak” German people and mocked them for not standing up to the growing metastasis of Hitler’s Reich which they obviously saw but did nothing about. Hell, too many sided with Hitler, praised him and embraced his ideology while turning a blind eye to the wrongs. The last straw was the Enabling Act (1933) which essentially obliterated the last vestiges of the Weimar Republic. Our military also dragged out these “good Germans” and trotted them into the remnant concentration camps to see first hand what their Fuhrer and his minions did. They were marched in and forced to look at the naked, gassed bodies stacked like cordwood until they puked.

Meanwhile, our then military leaders rounded up the remaining high profile Nazis, including Hermann Goering (see photo) , and dragged them before a Tribunal to be accountable for their actions. (Read the book, ‘Judgment at Nuremburg’ or see the movie). Though they gave the excuse they were only “following orders” we didn’t buy it. We demanded a higher moral standard that NO one is obliged to follow orders to serve such vile ends and there exists higher moral law that trumps “orders” or “oaths”.

The U.S. insisted instead that violating a government order was mandated by the principle (VI) that the United States trumpeted in the Nuremberg war crime trials. Principle VI came to be known as the Nuremberg Code and clearly states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to orders of his government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him."

Note this Principle’s injunction is exactly analogous to what Edward Snowden followed. He had allegedly binding orders and “oaths” by which the government found it expedient to limit his actions, but he saw (as the U.S. military leaders did at Nuremberg) that the option of a higher moral choice dictated he inform the American people – whose liberties were at stake and threatened – of what was being done in their name. As Robert Scheer noted in a recent blog (June 25, ‘The Good Germans in Government’):

"Read the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and tell me that Edward Snowden is not a hero in the mold of those who founded this republic. Check out the Nuremberg war crime trials and ponder our current contempt for the importance of individual conscience as a civic obligation”

So why have so many of our compatriots mindlessly branded him a traitor? Because those forlorn consumers have lost track of their rights as well as obligations as citizens, and basically surrendered them to the state. Columnist John Kass summed it up in his piece ‘We Gave Up Our Freedom After 9/11”. As he writes:

"We gave up our freedom after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. President George W. Bush and congress ceded it away. We were afraid and we gave it up."

Well, not all of us did! Instead we recognized how the Bushies were emulating the Nazis! Those of us who are now labeled “traitor –supporters” or civil liberties “extremists” have refused to whine and pout for the spy state to "keep us safe", i.e.  from events that have the same probability of occurrence as large asteroid hits. We instead doubled down on our commitment to organizations like the ACLU or became members of the ACLU’s Guardians of Liberty, fully recognizing what the Bushies were up to because we paid attention instead of going shopping at the Mall (as Bush ordered after 9/11).

Am I a civil liberties “extremist”? Damned right if that means a citizen who understands that the Constitution is not just “a piece of paper” (as Bush once called it) and that the rights inherent in the Bill of Rights are real, apply to individuals, and not mere “compromise abstractions” but rather hold the key to American identity – what truly sets us apart. And once those rights are gone, believe me they won’t be coming back! Once they are gone we will cease to be the nation my ancestor,  Conrad Brumbaugh,  envisaged and fought for in the Revolutionary War as one of the Pennsylvania Regiment.


What would Conrad think now nearly 240 years after the War of Independence? He’d likely barf nonstop at the spectacle of what too many of the current crop of Americans have devolved to: arrant, whiny, weak, sissy consumers,  who’d rather calumniate someone trying to preserve their liberties than recognize the real threat to their existence. He’d then likely crawl back into his grave shaking his head but echoing Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote.

And all those soldiers supposedly “fighting for our freedoms” ? Hell, they're not even allowed to access the UK Guardian website, lest it contaminate their minds, see e.g.   Some freedom. Maybe those troops need to fight for their own freedoms, as opposed to ours. If they aren't even allowed the basic freedom of what to read, what the hell are they fighting for anyway?

See also the planned demonstrations sponsored by the civil liberties group  'Restore the Fourth" and targeting  faux liberal  (but definite Neoliberal) Dianne Feinstein:

Readers would  also do well to bear in mind the words of Bruce Schneier, a security specialist, who wrote in The New York Times:

"The argument that exposing these documents helps the terrorists doesn't even pass the laugh test; there's nothing here that changes anything any potential terrorist would do or not do."

If our minds are "to be improved" to the extent of keeping the government - OUR government- on the straight and narrow (as Jefferson enjoined us), we need to have the critical thinking skills as well as historical ballast to recognize PR that doesn't pass laugh tests when it's trotted out. Irrespective of who it issues from.

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