Tags: Unresolved | Challenges

Unresolved Challenges

Monday, 30 June 2003 12:00 AM

Phrases like ‘self-government’ and ‘the power of the people over themselves’ are misleading. We all face limitations … most not of our own making.

J.S. Mills observed, “The people who exercise the power are not always the same people with those over whom it is exercised.” The will of the people is really mutually exclusive, for what that really means is the will of the most numerous or the most active part of the people, the majority – "or those who are successful in making themselves accepted as the majority."

That truism has, can and will work for good or ill:

I don’t agree with much of what Nat Hentoff writes in a recent Village Voice piece (http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0327/hentoff.php), but I don’t disagree fully either. He notes that author/entrepreneur Steve Brill, discussing his new book, "After," about post-9/11 America, told the June 3 New York Times: "We have to acknowledge that we stood the system on its head. But maybe it was for a good reason. It was a national emergency."

There is inherent danger and hypocrisy in that “ends justify the means” rationale.

The war on terrorism is real. It represents a very real and present danger notwithstanding whine and cheese protestations to the contrary. Although I have been (and remain) a consistent proponent of the "kick ass and take names" lobby, and believe we need to kill the bad guys before they kill us, I still recognize some core problems.

Any effort to negotiate, engage or appease terrorists is akin to spitting into a hurricane to quiet its fury. You can’t modify the language of a rabid animal. You have to destroy it. And it is NOT our fault they hate us.

I support killing all the terrorists we can find. Wrap the bodies in pig guts and dump the remains in shallow graves on a pig farm. Then, after a short tour through the lower intestine of swine, the end product could become fertilizer and assist in creating something other than widows and orphans.

This war presents us with a for-real "Catch-22" … I confess I don’t have an answer and I appreciate that some will consider it presumptuous of me to be critical of smarter folks than me for not solving the dilemma.

However, here’s the point. If we are fighting a war

In an age of ubiquitous moral relativism, where do we find principles to which we are to remain loyal? It should be a no-brainer – in the founding documents. Read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. THAT is what America is!

Or should be …

Every elected official and Cabinet poobah puts his or her hand on a Bible and swears a sacred oath to "preserve and protect the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

To a reasonable person, if someone has sworn an oath to "preserve and protect" and subsequently embarks on a course to undermine, abrogate and marginalize that to which they have sworn fealty, then that person must be guilty of fraud, perjury or treason.

Nat Hentoff noted that John Ashcroft claimed, "in his testimony, that the president does have the power to arrest citizens on any American street, designate them ‘enemy combatants,’ and imprison them indefinitely, without access to lawyers or their families."

The attorney general said, "The last time I looked at September 11th, an American street was a war zone." And what does that mean? According to Hentoff, "all of us, not just aliens in America, can become the disappeared."

When Ben Franklin said "Those who would sacrifice a little freedom for a little security deserve neither," he was talking about the very challenges we face today.

America is the land of the free and home of the brave. At least it used to be and can be again.

In the movie "Rob Roy" there is a wonderful scene in which the hero is asked by his sons, "What is honor?" Rob responds, "Honor is something no one can give you … and no one can take away. It is a man's gift to himself."

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Phrases like 'self-government' and 'the power of the people over themselves' are misleading.We all face limitations … most not of our own making. J.S. Mills observed, "The people who exercise the power are not always the same people with those over whom it is...
Monday, 30 June 2003 12:00 AM
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