But That Could Never
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety,
deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin.
Genocide, atrocities, oppression. You hear about it happening in the Sudan, North Korea, China, Rwanda all around the globe. We say: "That can't happen here, not in the USA." We like to see ourselves as fundamentally different. It's easy and comforting to demonize other peoples and say: "We could never do that."
But are we really that different? We're all the same species: Homo sapiens. We're not a genetically distinct population here in the USA, so our differences must be cultural. The United States have a culture and a legal system rooted in English Common Law. Culture and law comprise a thin veneer.
Pre-Nazi Germany was considered part of the nice, normal, orderly, civilized world. Look at what happened there, once they elected the wrong people. But that could never happen here, our government could never do that to us.
Of course, our government has committed it's own atrocities. Just ask some Native Americans about those small pox infected blankets that we gave them as gifts. I know that was a long time ago. Then ask some Japanese Americans about the interment camps they were sent to during WWII. What if we didn't have the ability to house and guard all of them? How much of a stretch would it have been for the government to set up some gas chambers and crematoriums and start "processing" the detainees? Who would have missed them once they were all gone? We didn't seem to have any qualms about nuking two cities full of Japanese civilians, along with our own servicemen held as POW's. And for those who think we "just had to drop those nukes on Japan to end the war and save more lives" click here and here to find out that our government already knew the Japanese were looking for a way to surrender with honor before we dropped the bombs. If that's still too long ago, what about My Lai? Not typical behavior for our troops, but commited by American hands. Or ask some Arab-Americans about what's happening now.
Before you think that I'm down on Americans or on humanity in general, let me assure you that I'm not. Brave individuals have stood up to all the genocides and abuse I've referenced. The problem is that strong central government can hijack nations and lead them into madness, either by lying to the people about some "danger" or through coercion.
The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed and hence clamorous to be led to safety by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.
Yes, I know, 9/11 was no "hobgoblin." I stood on the roof of my office building and watched the last tower collapse. The questions are: "How much of our freedom is the government asking us to give up, how much intrusion must we endure and how much security will it really buy? Is the way we're conducting the "War on Terror" just making us more enemies than it's getting rid of? Also, will we ever get back the freedom we "temporarily" give up?
Our government has all sorts of contingency plans drawn up, where they "temporarily" suspend our inalienable rights, just in case there's some big emergency. Can you feel a "Level Red Homeland Security Alert" coming on?
The internet is chock-full of paranoid websites about deep dark conspiracies to enslave us all. Given the inability of most human beings to keep a secret, and the vast number of individuals who would have to be involved to pull off such a coup, I don't buy it. Still, take a look at this Senate Iran-Contra testimony, originally reported in the Miami Herald on July 5, 1987. Even though I don't buy the conspiracy theories, it amazes me how many times people with good intentions go out and pave a bit more of the road to Hell.
Even if the facilities the conspiracy theorists call "U.S. concentration camps" are unused military bases, emergency relocation centers for citizens displaced by nuclear or biological attacks, or detention centers for terrorists and/or illegal aliens, it does not mean that they can't end up serving as concentration camps to hold U.S. citizens like you and me under different circumstances.
Given humanity’s propensity for committing atrocities under the guise of "doing it for the common good," or because "we were just following orders," it's still possible that the horrific events that the conspiracy theorists fear may yet come to pass, even if there's no conspiracy.
I assume you all have heard of Adam Smith's theory of "the invisible hand of the free market," if not, follow this link. I believe I've found the yin to Mr. Smith's yang: The invisible hand of government tyranny.
Just as the butcher and the baker working for their own self interest manage to feed us without caring about our welfare, the bureaucrats and politicians working for their own self interest and "our own good" manage to take our money and our freedom without following some devious master plan to enslave us. This is how government works. It does not create it only takes from those who do. It can't grant us rights that we're born with only infringe on them, and then, (if we're good little boys and girls), spoon feed them back to us until we misbehave, then they take them away again.
Just as there is no central planner guiding the free market to bring goods and services to where they are needed, yet they manage to get there; government grows in size and power and restricts our freedom without a central cabal plotting our enslavement just droves of bureaucrats making decisions that are in the best interests of the government and themselves.
In the free market, when a company fails to perform as promised, it loses customers and money and maybe, it goes out of business. When a government agency fails in its mission, it goes before congress and claim that it was under staffed and under funded and/or it needs more power coerce the public. The agency usually gets more money and power to impose its will upon us and hires more staff. As a result, government grows, and our disposable income and our liberty shrink.
Prior to 9/11 we had the CIA, FBI, NSA and other government agencies working to "keep us safe." Still, they did not foresee the terrorist attacks. In fact, the agent who "connected the dots" was dismissed. Our intel on Iraqi WMD was wrong.
What has it all gotten us? Thousands of U.S. citizens and soldiers killed, our freedoms curtailed and we're deeper in debt. The government got to spend more of our money to fund "Homeland Security," and they got the USA PATRIOT Act. Now we're supposed to be getting an "intelligence czar" to oversee the whole mess. Just what we need- more bureaucrats.
If we were contracting with a private entity to secure our safety, they'd get fired after 9/11 and we'd find another provider, or we'd decide we were better off without that kind of "protection." That's the difference: Governments can't get fired.
Governments are not in the habit of increasing freedom. Freedom is messy. Governments seek to keep order. Once we give up a freedom to the government, it is nearly impossible to get it back. We go along, minding our business; from time to time a "crisis" flares up. The government asks us to trust them to get us through it. They tell us that they have to temporarily suspend some of our rights. Most of us placidly go along. Those who don't are branded as troublemakers or unpatriotic. As long as it's for "the common good," what can it hurt?
Most people mean well, even the ones who work for the government. They fear chaos in the event of a major disaster. They just want to make sure we're safe. Just because there's no vast conspiracy, it does not mean that some people in government are not craven enough use "emergencies" as an excuse to grab power. Remember when President Reagan was shot? What did Al, I'm in control here, Haig do? Government always seeks to grow. It does not willingly give back power it has taken from the people.
Many of my Leftist friends are afraid of Bush, Cheney and Ashcroft. What they fail to understand is it's not a matter of who's in charge, or if they're Left or Right, but how much power the government has. Lincoln, FDR, Bill Clinton, and most other presidents illegally expanded and abused their presidential powers. Our founders set up a limited government because they knew that saints would not be holding office.
My friends think the key is electing "the right people." They don't seem to realize that they might not always turn out to be "the right people," and even if they are, one day they will be replaced. You can't guarantee that "the right people" get elected every time. Thanks to the current electoral system, we're not usually given any real choices on Election Day, any way. This is why we're supposed to have a limited government to limit the damage they can do.
Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. Mao Zedong
What do you know, Chairman Mao got something right! Well, even a stopped clock is right twice a day.
I read in the newspaper about an interesting T-shirt worn by a man of middle-eastern descent. It said: "My Beard Causes Homeland Security Alerts. What Does Your Do?" If I were of middle-eastern descent and living in this country, I'd be scared. If I were South or Central American, I'd be scared. If I were Black, I'd be scared. If I were gay, lesbian or transgender, I'd be scared.
As a straight white male I should feel pretty safe, but I run a website critical of the government, make numerous references to the U.S. Constitution and think we should "police the police." As a result I fit the FBI's profile of a "suspected domestic terrorist," and according to them, you should do your duty and report me, (see the FBI pamphlet, front and back). So now, I'm scared, too. For more insight into who might qualify as a domestic terrorist, click here.
The Pink Pistols have the right idea: Buy a gun. They know the cops will not always be there to protect them. They're very vocal and public about getting carry permits and buying guns. By publicly registering their guns, they send a message to the gay-bashers. Of course, they also send a message to the government by registering: We have guns, but you know where to find us when you want to take them away.
I wish the government did not know who among us has a gun. The only reason the government would need to know if you have a gun, is so they can put you on their list and one day, come and take it away. Governments like lists so neat and orderly. The only people on their list would be honest, compliant citizens. Criminals don't register their guns, so theirs will not get confiscated. To top things off, just remember that the police have no legal obligation to protect you, according to the courts.
Having said this, I must say that I don't own a gun. I've never touched or fired a gun. It's illegal in New York City, where I live, despite the Second Amendment, (there I go, referencing the Constitution again the Feds will have me in Guantanamo in no time). I don't have much interest in carrying a gun around house keys and a wallet are too much junk in my pockets as far as I'm concerned. But I wish the muggers were not so damn sure average citizens like me were unarmed.
Gun control/registration usually precedes confiscation. Confiscation always precedes genocide. But that could never happen here