On September 11, 2001 a horrible crime was committed.
On September 12, 2001 the American people became suspects.
They were seemingly little things. I am not going to bore you with the details. However, twice in a little over a year, I have been interrupted in providing financial services by the grotesquely misnamed Patriot Act.
Perhaps the best distinction between patriotism and nationalism I can think of came from the retired pundit Charley Reese, who once wrote that:
“Americans need to understand the difference between patriotism and nationalism. A patriot loves his land and his people. A nationalist loves his government. The patriot voluntarily does what is necessary to protect his land and his people. A nationalist blindly obeys his government.”
In neither case, did I know that I was running afoul of the law. How can I – or anyone else – comply with laws they don’t know exist? No one would have been harmed had I violated either provision. If there is no victim, there is no crime. There is just an “offense”.
The Patriot Act was passed overwhelmingly in both houses of congress and signed into law by Duh-bya in the panic following the 9/11 attacks. Legislators were given 20 minutes to read and analyze this 300-page bill. (Obamacare was not the first law to have been ramrodded through like this.)
Its advertised purpose was to keep us safe from terrorists. How? By taking some of our freedom, most significantly our Fourth Amendment protections against warrantless searches. And the American people, for the most part, drank the Kool-Aid. After all, if you weren’t doing anything wrong you had nothing to fear.
There is a problem with this line of thinking, and a big one. How “secure” can we the people truly be when our government presumes criminals? When the presumption of innocence is lost, nothing else matters.
It could have been worse. Two business transactions went south costing me, perhaps, a month’s mortgage in commissions. It’s not as if I was the victim of a police beating, indefinite detention without trial or a drone strike.
But my clients might be terrorists, right?
Any of us might do something evil some time. If you are reading this, you have the capacity to broadcast a message on Facebook, Twitter, WordPress or any number of other outlets stating that “Newman is a child molester.” Should you be arrested merely because you have the tools to do something bad?
Do you want to put the country on North Korean mode to stop this? North Korea has absolutely ironclad national security. Cuba’s is almost as rigid. And they haven’t had any terrorist attacks. Would you want to live in either society?
Judging by refugee traffic on the DMZ and in the waters off south Florida, not very many people do.
Jeff Foxworthy built his brand with hundreds of one-liners beginning in “You might be a redneck if…”
Foxworthy was funny.
The “homeland security” apparatus is not funny. Neither the Nazis nor the Communists felt up their subjects in the name of “security.” The American government does. Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 empowers the president to imprison anyone anywhere indefinitely without any of the protections of due process.
Uncle Sam can rape you and imprison you without trial.
But Al-Awlaki was a terrorist, you say.
NO! Some very powerful person said he was a terrorist.
And if an accusation is all it takes to have someone killed, how “secure” are you? Look what happened to Christopher Dorner.
I love this country and its heritage of liberty. My heroes are those who have fought – and in many cases bled and died – for this liberty. I hate the very common belief that whatever the government does in the name of “national security” is somehow “patriotic” and for our own good.
Archie Bunker once told Mike and Gloria that “When your government lies to you it’s for your own good.”
Archie Bunker was funny.
“Homeland security” isn’t.
When your government can presume you guilty and intrude on your most insignificant, victimless activities in the name of “security”, it poses a far greater threat to you than any drug, terrorist or other bogeyman from which it purports to protect you.
Can someone get Lee Greenwood on the phone?
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