Most Serious Warning Ever
by Richard J. Maybury
In politics, one of the few things you can be certain about is, those who take away your liberty are not doing it to benefit you. I warn often about the government using the war as a pretext to tear up the Bill of Rights. Wars are always, among other things, the power junkie's excuse to become the tyranny he professes to be fighting.
A secret Department of Justice (DOJ) report recently leaked to the press gives the government's view on its legal duties in this war. It turns out, unsurprisingly, that the US government is superior to the rest of mankind, it's not required to obey any laws. When officials declare a national security emergency, the DOJ report claims, the US government is no longer bound by the Geneva Conventions, which it agreed to, or the Nuremberg decision, which it led and endorsed. Further, asserts this report, US troops who do as they are told when directed to commit a war crime are protected by the Nazi defense of "just following orders."
I am not joking, this is as deadly serious as it gets. Ask a librarian for "What On Earth Were They Thinking?" The Economist 19 June 04, p.31. Also, the article by Jess Bravin, Wall Street Journal, 7 June 04, p.1. Officials have successfully spun this DOJ report as a minor facet of the torture scandal, but it is far more. The report claims that in war, the president can do anything he pleases, he "enjoys complete discretion in the exercise of his commander-in-chief role." Never before has the US government claimed so much power.1
What keeps this from being just another political laugh is, the report was not written by politicians, it's the work of career attorneys from every branch of the armed forces - Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard - in consultation with attorneys in the Justice Department. This means the fascism revealed in the report is not a flash-in-the-pan political whim, it is systemic, entrenched in the bureaucracy. Benjamin Franklin was right, those who give up liberty to achieve safety will have neither. If the Geneva Conventions and Nuremberg decision are out the window, can the Constitution and Bill of Rights be far behind? How long until they bring out the leg irons and barbed wire? As Ronald Reagan so often warned, "government is not the solution, it's the problem." That goes for war and foreign policy as well as the economy.
Please also read It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis. Although the novel's economics is too far left for my taste, and it uses the Great Depression rather than a war as the "national emergency" that brings fascism to America, its insights about the way Americans have been trained to think, or not think, are as timely today as when Lewis wrote it in 1936. As you read the fascist "Fifteen Points of Victory" in Chapter 8, ask yourself how many Americans would vote for these today. A majority, I think.
When a government has most of the guns, which Washington does, the only way to protect ourselves is to make officials unwilling - ashamed - to use them. This requires free speech and a free press, but these freedoms must be used early, before they can be taken away.
"What good fortune for governments that the people do not think." --Adolph Hitler. Nearly everyone in history who has seen his country slide into oppression tells essentially the same story about how he ended up in chains. He saw the warning signs, but did not speak out when he could, and then it was too late.
Clearly, the warning signs are here. Each of us has three choices. We can (1) sit trembling with our loved ones, waiting for the jackboots on our doorsteps, (2) get out of the country or (3) make like Paul Revere and sound the alarm.
If you care about America, this could be your last chance to save it. I hope you will do all you can to persuade your fellow citizens to pull their heads out of the sand.
Deluge newspapers with letters to the editor.
Call radio talk shows.
Post your thoughts on the Internet.
Tell your friends.
The message all Americans must receive is, anyone who lays so much as one finger on the Bill of Rights is a traitor, cut from the same cloth as Osama bin Laden. These people deserve all the scorn we can heap upon them. They must be shunned and laughed at for their so-called patriotism.
Power seekers are hyper-prestige seekers, the one thing they cannot stand is ridicule. (Who can?) We have proof this can work. In the Great Depression, America was plunging into fascism, but thanks to Lewis, Mencken and others, and their heavy use of ridicule in works such as It Can't Happen Here, catastrophe was averted. We can do it again.
If you'd like to use this article to help spread the word, you have my permission to make as many copies as you wish, by any means, and distribute them as widely as possible by any means. (It must be copied in full, word-for-word, with no changes, and contain the notice Copyright (c) 2004 by Richard J. Maybury.)