Just recently the United Sates senate passed a bill that would allow the military to detain any American citizen indefinitely anywhere in the world, including the United States, without presenting any charges. You read this correctly. The United States military can pluck anyone off the street at will if the president does not veto this bill. So far a wide array of government organizations have come out against this to include the Pentagon and the FBI but, the 60 senators voted for this bill anyway. Many people thought that after the killing of enemy number one, Osama Bin-laden, that such Orwellian legislation would no longer be passed but, I guess this is not the case. We truly live in bizarre times, such legislation is almost unbelievable! Then again, the state of society today would have almost been unbelievable 20 years ago. We really do live in a fantastic age.
I don’t think I should have to go into how monstrous this legislation is. It should be obvious to anyone that this totally uproots the constitution and the hundreds of years of precedent not to use the military to police the civilian population. Instead of focusing on this law that is obviously immoral, I think it would be better to focus on how we got here.
To most lovers of liberty that understand the constitution and the law, this bill is unlikely to surprise them. The eroding of the constitution has been happening for a very long time and no one really seems to care. Children are not taught about natural law in schools and have no idea what it truly means to have a “right.” Most people take their freedoms for granted and never expect the institutions that they have grown to respect to betray them. They are taught that governments are the protectors of liberty but, in reality it is liberty’s major enemy. It can be seen throughout history. When populations are forced into serf like existence, it is usually by their own government, not a foreign power. To expect our country to be somehow unique in all of history in this regard is comfortingly naïve but, is not true, especially when one takes a hard look at our own history thus far. The Federal government deported congressmen in the civil war and used union troops to intimidate Supreme Court justices in the middle of the night. Woodrow Wilson also locked up thousands of people that wrote articles or spoke critically about our involvement in World War I and the draft. FDR locked up thousands of Japanese without charge while allowing German Americans to live unmolested. Though the American people are naturally good human beings, the American government, like any government, often has little qualms about crushing individual liberty if it thinks that it can get away with it. I think part of this is the kind of people that are attracted to government positions. They are not the kind of people that want to work or serve the public but, they want to shape society into their ideal image. They truly think that people are too dumb to rule themselves and must be forced to behave in ways that conform to its rulers ideals.
Another reason that we are here today is because the government over the last hundred years has entered into every sphere of human activity. Slowly the public has become desensitized to government involvement in even the most personal activities. If the government says who you can marry and what you can put into your body, regulate every single economic activity under the sun, and take a cut of every monetary transaction, is it so hard to believe that the government might treat us as their property? If I can’t decide what to put into my own body, is it truly mine? Once you claim that the government has the right to protect you from yourself and violate property rights in every area, it is hard to make the argument that you are still your own person and are entitled to any right whatsoever.
For over a hundred years the American government has also been in charge of education and for over a hundred years the old studies of philosophy, law, and natural rights have given way to simple accreditation instead of learning. The nonsensical idea of appreciating cultural diversity instead of embracing natural law is now the style of education. The public simply does not have the cognitive tools to deal with such assaults on liberty because reason is no longer taught. Children are told what to think, not how to think. Docile consumers are much better than a free thinking public that understands the rule of law.
In more recent times the loss of liberty and the flagrant violations of the constitution have accelerated. The Patriot Act allows roving wire taps and the FBI to search a person’s house without a Judge’s authorization. The TSA is ruthless in sexually abusing old ladies, house wives, and children, while taking pornographic pictures of them. SPC Manning was held for almost a year with no charges being filed. The president has ordered the assassination of an American citizen, an act which also resulted in the death of a sixteen year old, who was an American citizen as well, with no authorization whatsoever. This recent bill is the next logical step of a government that is slowly ratcheting up its police powers. It simply codifies into law what the government has been doing anyway. Hopefully this law is a wakeup call to people telling them where this country is headed. But for those that love liberty, this bill is shocking only in degree, not in kind.
If there ever was anything to the slippery slope argument, this bill is it. I generally don’t like using the slippery slope argument because the incredulity of most people usually just results in them rolling their eyes. But this is a glaring example of how totally true the argument is. If you let the government kill citizens overseas with no charges, one day they will grant themselves the power to lock up citizens at home without charges. Predator drones flying over cities might not disturb some people but, in a few years they might by flying up to people’s windows looking to make sure that you are not doing anything in your house that the government deems a crime. With the list of non-violent nanny state crimes growing everyday, this is truly a scary thought. This is the natural way governments work and when the government starts routinely flying drones up to people’s windows, it is likely most people won’t really care that much, even though we would find it outrageous today. People would have also found the idea of a President assassinating American citizens outrageous during Reagan’s day but, the people today barely raise an eyebrow. We have been headed down this slippery slope for a long time now and I don’t like to think about what the bottom looks like. But if history is any guide, it will be pretty darn scary. Let’s hope we never get there.
Liberty is never taken all at once. It takes years, often decades until one day people start waking up and realizing they are no longer free and have not been for a long time.
Maybe a decade or two from now Americans might wake up thinking the same thing. Maybe liberty is truly the greatest under-appreciated gift in the history of the world. Maybe the constitution’s greatest hour of danger is now.