Friday, July 04, 2008

This is not America

SINCE IT'S INDEPENDENCE DAY, I think it behooves me to wax political, something I don't usually do here. What I've been wondering is: Does anybody read the writings of the Founding Fathers any more? Common Sense? The Declaration of Independence? The Constitution for the united States of America, even? (I know lawyers and federal judges don’t read the Constitution, but what about the rest of us?)

Does anyone take seriously anymore the founding documents of the uSA and the antecedent philosophical manifestos, except as a source of empty slogans and selective prooftexts in support of a few “approved” causes here and there?

I guess not. If Americans were familiar with this country’s history we’d realize we have already become the tyrannical empire that we rebelled against in 1776. The difference is it’s not London, but Washington -– followed by its once-proud creators-turned-subsidiaries, the states – who crush us with taxes, regulations and indignities small and large. And they do this with an intensity the British Empire never could have imagined. Rather than redcoats, it’s black-pajama-clad, masked, body-armored FBI, BATF and SWAT teams and local cops stomping around like imperial stormtroopers, grabbing people left and right, demanding our papers, surveilling us everywhere we go, trampling our rights and our lives. Shooting first and asking questions later.

Rather than a King George overseas, we now have a would-be King George ensconced right here at home. Of course, the overgrowth of Washington government didn’t begin with Ridiculous George; the disease has been growing for decades.

I indict the so-called education system, particularly the government schools, which simply don’t teach American history, don’t teach civics, don’t teach us the meaning of those vague terms like “freedom” and “liberty.” As Orwell prophesied, such words have become Newspeak – their meaning surreptitiously replaced with meanings almost diametrically opposite. When George W. Bush talks about “freedom” today he means something very different from what George Washington meant.

Whereas freedom used to mean the right to pursue happiness unrestricted by coercion of any kind – above all, government coercion – now it means the right to a feeling of security. Whereas freedom once was understood to be a right inherent in man, now it is a privilege meted out by government as it pleases. Whereas freedom once was understood in explicitly political terms -- as noted above, it meant freedom from government coercion -- now it’s been conflated with consumer choice: since you can choose from millions of products to buy, you are therefore free. Where once upon a time everyone understood freedom could not be imposed and foreign militarism could not achieve it, now we drop it on other countries from B-52 bombers. Why don't we just drop all the pretenses and call ourselves the New British Empire?

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