Tuesday, December 13, 2011

O'er the land of the unfree and the home of the timid...

      Do you like this revision of the National Anthem's last line of lyrics?

     This little change is about to become reality.... well, no - of course we will keep singing about the land of the free and the home of the brave. Yet the words will be empty and meaningless rhetoric if President Obama signs into law Section 1031/1032 — renumbered as Section 1021 in the conference committee bill - as part of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. If he does not veto this bill, it will signal the end of what is left of this notion that the United States is a place where freedom reigns.
     It is that serious!... what is at stake is what we know as part of the Bill of Rights - that we cannot be held indefintitely and without probable cause, we have the right to an attorney and to a trial by a jury of our peers. The bill that is now passed by both House and Senate will effectively allow our government, military or a police force to arrest any of us, at any time, anywhere and for any reason! The government or the military can hold any American citizen on American soil indefintiely without the right to an attorney, or to be charged and tried in front of a jury .....

     Does this sound free to you?

     So let's say you are part of a movement or group, whether Tea Party or Occupy, and your viewpoints differ from those of the administration's. You assemble peacefully - and protest. Someone is "planted" or trouble brews, and let's say someone throws a stone at a shop window. Now under this new bill - this can be construed and interpreted as a terrorist act - and because it is worded very loosely, your entire group could be labeled as displaying actions that are threatening to the United States. So our government or military could label your group as a National Defense liability. The powers that be could claim that your group (and I quote this piece of legislation)“supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” And so any cause you might be trying to further, be it the right to bear arms or to get the money out of politics, could be slanted, diverted and interpreted to be a potential terrorist act, and you could end up in jail. Entire groups could be unjustly labeled as sympathisers with "enemies of America," and end up in internment camps. Since no trial would be needed, and since there would be no right to an attorney - how would you be able to prove that you were NOT a terrorist?

     Does this sound like home of the brave to you?

     How would this impact your willingness to be any kind of protester of the status quo? How could this possibly affect your desire to assemble peaceably to let your views be heard? Would the threat of being placed in a place that resembles Guantanamo without rights and indefinitely possibly make you think twice before you let your voice be heard?

     Would you be intimidated and worry about the lives of those you love, if you suddenly disappeared? Land of the free - home of the brave no more for sure!!

     Obama is currently weighing whether he can sign this bill including these sections or not. As a Constitutional teacher and expert, he is intimately familiar with the implications. There is nobody, who can say he doesn't understand the stakes. So President Obama, where are your convictions? Since both the politicians of the House and the Senate have signed on to this shameless legislation - can you "man up" and show some backbone?

     And where are we the people?

It seems we are eerily silent. The media have been strangely silent about this too. Where is the outrage?

     I believe we are so mired in "noise" from watching the latest soap opera, the latest reality show, the latest gossip, the latest bet between Romney and Perry..... We are distracted by bogus attempts to pit us up against each other. American people against American people.... Whether you call yourself red, blue, black, yellow, purple.... this is all a country of Americans!

     Come on... this is way too important. Are we to continue acting like easily distracted children, who take delight in schoolyard bullying of those who look, think or appear different from us? Are we going to continue our little game of "us versus them"? What do we gain from that? Little easy victories that make us feel "better than the other guys"? And in the meantime the noose is being tightened around the neck of our democracy. The fabric of the Constitution is being undermined in front of our Kardashian watching eyes. While we are debating whether Angelina Jolie is getting too skinny, and we are stuffing our trunks with stuff we don't need, the very fabric of what it means to be an American is at risk of being irrepairably damaged.

     What I want for Christmas is a President who is able to finally draw a line in the sand! A country that cares enough about its future, and its past, to know that it is now - right here in the present time - that the fate of our collective destiny as a country is being charted....

      So it is time to wake up! People of America - it is time to see beyond the celebrity headlines and the talking heads talking trash!  If there ever was a time to call the White House and let your voice be heard - it is now.... If there ever was a time to call your friends and talk about this piece of legislation, and what it means for you as an American and your freedom - it is now... If there ever was a time to look beyond the party lines and the perceived separations between us as Americans - it is now! One thing should be crystal clear to us all: If we keep fighting the little partisan fights that keep separating us, we will miss the boat on the big and really important stuff. And this is it!

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