How the war on terror will become a war on liberty.
Over the past three years, the United States government pulled off a remarkable trifecta, the most amazing since 1913 to consolidate power upward.* What we have today is the President’s nearly unrestricted power to wage the War on Terror against any country, group, or individual he pleases. And we have the PATRIOT ACT which makes government spying on Americans, not just “suspected” terrorists, for any possible crime or non-crime, permissible. And then we have the McCain-Feingold Bi-partisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, which effectively repealed the First Amendment freedoms of critics of incumbents and their major opponents.
Under the pretext of fighting foreign terrorists and “cleaning up” the political process, we have enlarged government power and destroyed our own Bill of Rights.
The signs are ominous. Let me put it this way. If five years ago somebody said that in just a few years, we’ll have a President throwing whoever he wants into prison camps, federal agents will spy on us without search warrants, and the denial of free speech rights of activists during election season, he’d be called a paranoid wacko. But the paranoid wacko would have been right.
Who stands to lose from this power-grab by the feds? That question can best be answered by who stands to win. Who wins are the ambitious and the powerful who want to be successful in the current system. This group doesn’t just include the top of the political, corporate, academic, and media worlds, but many other career people in the public service sector, from government employee unions, and teacher’s unions, for whom more government means more employees and more clout. And also, those workers who benefit from government contracts. It’s a huge sector of people willing to go along with things if they feel they personally benefit.
So the losers, the final targets and victims of these powers will be, not only foreign belligerents and terrorists, but also those within our country who come right out and say that these powers are immoral and unconstitutional. You know, people like the “unpatriotic conservatives.”
It won’t, of course, begin with them - it hasn’t begun with them. But there will be a chain, and it may take a generation of government-school propaganda to restore America to what the powers want it to be, a 1950’s pro-government people of shallow religiosity. But at the end of the chain is the conservative Protestant who owns guns and home-schools. Gun owners will be legally-defined “suspected terrorists.” The home school will be a legally-defined source of “anti-American hatred.” And the Roman Catholic who speaks out against birth control and homosexuality will be a target. He’ll be guilty of federally-defined “hate speech,” brought to us courtesy the precedent of McCain-Feingold. And hate speech will be described as “inciting terror.”
And the reforms in the wake of Abu Ghraib will not be reforms preventing torture, but reforms that will better hide torture from public view. The next generation’s young adults will be so brutalized and made stupid by public education, that they won’t think twice about doing to a fellow countryman, what they now don’t think twice about doing to foreigners of a different color, religion, and language.
There will be steps along the way. I don‘t know what all of them will be, or in what order. These, I suspect, will be a few of them:
Shutting down of publishing houses of genuinely subversive books. (I don’t mean the libertarian ones, I mean more extreme ones, which shall remain nameless. The libertarians, however, will be targeted later on for the same reasons.)
Heightened political rhetoric against a “dangerous element” in our society: Christian “fundamentalists” who will be designated, not by themselves or the greater Christian theological community, but by, of course, government experts.
Financial blackmail of the universities, perhaps even the imposition of “national standards” for graduation just like in elementary and secondary schools.
One more incident by a murderous white American fanatic, and Congress, building on Oklahoma City and Columbine, will expand its Terrorism powers even further to gun owners and those who have a known (or just possible) interest in “right wing” causes.
Laws will ban political parties and candidates from participating in “hate speech.” The candidate for the Constitution Party will be indicted - even though he will be clearly innocent under the letter of the (unconstitutional) law. And for the zillionth time, the statement will be uttered by pro-liberty partisans: “Well, now the government has really gone too far!”
Can liberty be restored to the political order? I don’t know. It is good to try, however you see fit, for liberty would best serve posterity. But liberty can’t really be given to us initially, let alone “restored” to us, by the State. For the generally free individual lives according to his principles, his values, his conscience. He doesn’t live in fear, then, of criminal or terrorist attacks, or of poverty, or the scorn of others, or of being fired for being politically incorrect, or the possibility of imprisonment or a death sentence.
The outlook for America and its liberty is bleak. I think the solution is no longer to save “America” but to save ourselves - the friends of liberty - ideally in an organized manner, but at least individually. “America” as we want it to be is gone, folks, and it ain’t coming back.
*In 1913, it was the creation of the Federal Reserve banking cartel, and the Constitutional Amendments establishing the Income Tax and the direct election of U.S Senators (from which they could become unaccountable demagogues who loot the federal treasury rather than protect the interests of their respective states).