“These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”
(Thomas Paine, from “The American Crisis”, 1776-1783)
I’ve been debating over the past few days, just how I was going to broach this subject. I want to present this in such a way as to give you, my fine, young readers, an overall picture of what’s happening both in and to the United States of America these days. The short story is that our freedoms are disappearing. The stone facade of the building is suffering from erosion, and this “grand experiment” in Democracy is failing.
Now, I know those are some radical statements to be making, some might even (albeit erroneously!) consider them treasonous. What I’m about to do with this article is to qualify these statements, citing recent events and developments around the nation…so please bear with me if you will.
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
To the concerned observer, the decline of liberties in America is at times, something akin to a sick, twisted magic show. With a few waves of the wand, (in most cases the wand has been replaced with a police baton or asp!) some misdirection, (the establishment shifts blame to the victim,) a few magic words, and….abracadabra! Freedom of the press is gone…
Last week (August 4th) in NYC, while covering the arrest of a minor by the NYPD, freelance photojournalist Robert Stolarik was harassed, beaten and arrested by officers, who also robbed Mr. Stoarik of his camera equipment and press credentials.(1) (2) The city has responded by attempting to shift the blame for the arrest onto Mr. Stolarik, stating that he “inadvertently” struck an officer with his camera. (IMHO, that still does not give the police the right to dog-pile on the man, hit him with his camera, or arrest him for exercising his press freedom in covering the news.) The have charged him with “obstructing government administration” (raised eyebrow) and resisting arrest. Stolarik is scheduled to appear in court in November.(3)
NYC has been a hotbed of civil rights and liberties battles between the people and the government, especially since the 9-11 attacks. From the NYPD’s recent implementation of a (seemingly discriminate) “stop and frisk” policy,(4) to the OWS debacles, to mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to govern what people eat and drink,(5) it’s not hard to draw a mental picture of Bloomberg, et. al. taking an already slapped Lady Liberty down from her noble pedestal on Ellis Island, and subjecting her to further pain, beating and abuse. (Incidentally, Republican mayor Michael Bloomberg is also the 11th richest man in the nation.)
“When governments fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
It’s sad to see the people of NYC having to live in a climate of fear, one that was initiated by terrorist attacks, and has been perpetuated by the government. No, the government has done nothing to alleviate the situation, and everything to continue and enhance it. They’ve allowed the terrorists to win. They (Usama bin Laden and crew) wanted to instill fear in the people…and the people now fear. The only difference…the main difference…is that this fear is a fear of the government.
“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of the few, but we cannot have both.”
(Louis D. Brandeis, Harvard Law graduate, Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, 1916-1939)
The reason that I stated that democracy is failing (according to some, it has already failed!), is because within this nation in the 21st century, we indeed have “wealth concentrated in the hands of the few.” A government where the wealthy control politics is not a democracy…it is a “Plutocracy,”(6) and it’s not the direction in which our government was meant to proceed. When it was founded and enshrined in the constitution, our government was meant to evolve in a much different way; it was geared toward Social Democracy. One has to look no further than the Preamble of the constitution to see evidence of this;
“We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
People such as justice Brandeis knew what the score was, and had the intelligence to see the dangers that lay ahead. Now, we have inherited and are suffering under those dangers, not only in NYC but in other metropolitan areas as well. For instance; in Fullerton, California last year, six police officers tased and pummelled to death a mentally-ill homeless man, one Kelly Thomas.(7) In Anaheim last month, police shot and killed an unarmed, fleeing suspect.(8) These are just a few of the instances of “poor impulse control” on the part of the armed enforcers of domestic policy, happening on this end of the country. Make no mistake, there are a plethora of examples from all over, one has only to do a Google search to find them. While small-town America has yet to see this degree of heavy-handedness, I fear that it is soon to come.
What I find the most ironic in this day and age, is the politics of the Tea Party. They state that they’re in support of liberty…but for whom? Residing at the extreme right on the political spectrum, their support is thrown behind the Republican party, which in turn, operates in support of the Plutocracy. (“Republican” is an increasingly debateable name for the party these days, since the republic has begun to crumble under the weight of their control efforts!) But seriously folks, which party works more for the liberties of the people? Think about it…
Well my friends, since I don’t want this to assume a “TLDR” (Too Long, Didn’t Read) nature for anyone, I will respectfully pause here. Rest your eyes, go grab a snack and rhuminate on what I have presented here. When we rejoin the discussion in the next article, I will fill you in on some of the latest efforts and undertakings by our government, to keep watchful eyes on its citizenry…including a high-tech system called “TrapWire.”