Sunday, June 28, 2015

Speaking of the war on equal rights ...

My last blog was focused on my struggle to understand the necessity to drive marriage equality all the way to the SCOTUS.  It seems to me that the 14th Amendment is not really very difficult to interpret: "No person" is to be denied equal rights without due process.  What's to be interpeted there?  I made mention of the war on equal rights, and I need to expand on that a bit.

This "war" springs from the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York in 2001.  With the aid of the military-industrial complex and religious tribalism, we as a nation have succumbed to fear as a result of that attack - an irrational fear of terrorism from the outside - you know, islamic jihadists and all that.  It's an irrational fear because the actual American death toll from terrorism (excluding military casualties in our ill-conceived, ineffective military actions against terrorism) doesn't warrant the level of fear that has been generated.  We'll never solve the problem of external terrorists by military action.  Some of the "patriotic" conservative politicians have joined hands with the terrorists in promoting this unreasoning fear for their political (and pecuniary) gain, aided by some media pseudo-pundits* and the news media in general.  We're allowing this exaggerated threat to frighten us to give up our Constitutional freedoms in the name of "security".  This is precisely what we've been warned not to do by no less a person than Benjamin Franklin:

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.

What we've done is to give the terrorists precisely what they want:  to transform ourselves into the de facto enemy of muslims around the world.  Along that path, we're denying ourselves the very freedoms of which we're so proud that have distinguished this nation for much of our history.  We're losing the war on terrorism, badly.  Not only are terrorist actions causing us to waste vast resources on "security theater" as well as huge military expenditures leading nowhere, but we (including the courts!) have gutted the 4th Amendment:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Our lives are being tracked by the so-called National Security Agency (better named the National Insecurity Agency!) without warrant or probable cause, police are being transformed into a paramilitary arm of the government with the apparent right to use deadly force with impunity whenever they wish, and so on.  Edward Snowden, like Daniel Ellsberg (remember the "Pentagon Papers"?) before him should be honored as a hero for exposing the NSA's intrusions into the lives of ordinary Americans.  Instead, he's cast as a traitor and so has been forced to become a fugitive from the "American Justice" for being a whistle-blower.  We're sleepwalking our way into becoming a fascist oligarchy and international bully.  The "collateral damage" from our foreign incursions recruits new terrorists every day.  Ordinary Americans are being bombarded with propaganda about the terrorist bogeyman from islam, while the real threat, resulting from real acts of murder, is home-grown terrorism from right-wing extremists willing to commit any crime to advance their cause.

What makes our nation attractive to the residents of other nations is its opportunities.  Those opportunities spring from the freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution.  We're being led to yield those freedoms for the illusion of our own "protection".  What we truly need protection from are those who would gain from our irrational fears.  Those who profit from that fear are the real enemy and we need to stop giving in to this pressure from our enemies (foreign and domestic) to sacrifice our essential liberties.

*A true pundit is:  a person who knows a lot about a particular subject and who expresses ideas and opinions about that subject publicly.  That is, a subject matter expert.  Most of the media's pseudo-pundits are pretty far from experts in their public proclamations of their opinions about various topics.

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