While conservative movement figures are busy being reminded of Hitler and Nazis by Barack Obama and the ominous figure of Dennis Kucinich, police and the FBI have been targeting leftist groups that are planning or may be planning to protest the Republican National Convention in St. Paul for armed police raids and detentions.
But heck, these folks must have deserved it right? They must have ... why else would they be targeted? That's what Lady of Liberty (and concentration camps) Michelle Malkin thinks when the government spies on peaceful leftist groups - that if any "leftist" does something wrong then every "leftist" can justifiably be made the target of surveillance. Of course, if an Obama administration were to start targeting Michelle Malkin for surveillance because of her opposition to abortion on the grounds that some abortion opponents bomb family planning clinics she'd understand, I'm sure. Principles are what Malkin and friends are about, after all.
But back to the police raids: this type of assault on the First Amendment obviously doesn't rise to the level of Nazi brown shirt thuggery against the Left, nor the sort of tactics that Robert Mugabe currently employs in Zimbabwe against his opposition, but is that really the standard we want to apply? The point is that we shouldn't even be taking - in the (quoted from memory) words of Paxton - a step in that direction.
We can talk about how America stands for freedom and all that, but like Rachel Dawes told Bruce Wayne in the 2005 film Batman Begins, "it's what you do that defines you." If you target opposition groups for para-military raids so that they can't disturb the image you want to sell at your convention; if you use the military to engage in massive unchecked surveillance of your country's citizens; if you create legal blackholes where you can deny people habeus corpus and torture them; if you kidnap people and drop them off in a country that has been known to boil prisoners alive (Uzbekistan); if you launch an unprovoked war justified by lies and deception on a non-threatening country bringing death and ruin there; and if you remain silent while all that is going on and you turn your back on the values and principles that are supposed to be the bedrock of American democracy, then that will be what comes to define you.
Will John McCain (or anyone in our political/media class) denounce this unAmerican action of treating American citizens exercising their Constitutional rights like terrorist suspects?
[T]here is a widespread sense that the targets of these raids deserve what they get, even if nothing they've done is remotely illegal. We love to proclaim how much we cherish our "freedoms" in the abstract, but we despise those who actually exercise them. The Constitution, right in the very First Amendment, protects free speech and free assembly precisely because those liberties are central to a healthy republic -- but we've decided that anyone who would actually express truly dissident views or do anything other than sit meekly and quietly in their homes are dirty trouble-makers up to no good, and it's therefore probably for the best if our Government keeps them in check, spies on them, even gets a little rough with them.It seems like it is now more appropriate than ever for me to finally review the copy of Bill of Wrongs: The Executive Branch's Assault on America's Fundamental Rights that the ACLU courteously sent me last December. Once I finish reading the library books I have out I'll write it up.
After all, if you don't want the FBI spying on you, or the Police surrounding and then invading your home with rifles and seizing your computers, there's a very simple solution: don't protest the Government. Just sit quietly in your house and mind your own business. That way, the Government will have no reason to monitor what you say and feel the need to intimidate you by invading your home. Anyone who decides to protest -- especially with something as unruly and disrespectful as an unauthorized street march -- gets what they deserve.
By the way, on the ACLU's front page you can find this article.
"The physical removal of ABC reporter Asa Eslocker from public property and his subsequent arrest are a blatant assault on the First Amendment. Arresting a reporter for simply doing his job is both unconstitutional and un-American. That free speech is curtailed during the Democratic Convention underscores the need for continued protection of civil liberties, regardless of the party in power."Boy, I sure can see why Bill O'Reilly would think the ACLU is a "fascist organization." Nothing more fascist than believing that anyone and everyone should have the protections of the Bill of Rights "regardless of the party in power." And there is nothing more anti-fascist than former regular O'Reilly Factor guest host Michelle Malkin's approval of Ben Shapiro suggesting that Bush administration critics might need to be put in concentration camps.
At some point, opposition must be considered disloyal. At some point, the American people must say "enough." At some point, Republicans in Congress must stop delicately tiptoeing with regard to sedition and must pass legislation to prosecute such sedition.Gee, convenient of Mr. Shapiro not to mention which authoritarian act of tyranny he approves or disapproves of being used against the "disloyal opposition."
"Freedom of speech!" the American Civil Liberties Union will protest. Before we buy into the slogan, we must remember our history ...
During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the internment of hundreds of thousands of Japanese-Americans, as well as allowing the prosecution and/or deportation of those who opposed the war. The Allies won World War II...
This is not to argue that every measure taken by the government to prosecute opponents of American wars is just or right or Constitutional. Some restrictions, however, are just and right and Constitutional -- and necessary. No war can be won when members of a disloyal opposition are given free reign to undermine it.
Update: Democracy Now's Amy Goodman was arrested Sept. 1.