Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
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Phone (800) 869-1884
Fax (425) 451-3959
September 14, 2001
A Bill of Rights Culture is the Only Answer
Black Tuesday and the Passive American: A BILL OF RIGHTS CULTURE IS THE ONLY ANSWER
"We must give up some of our freedoms to help combat terrorism."
The predictable words -- and actions -- are beginning to spew from political, military, and law enforcement officials and their supporters. For safety, for security, for the greater good, they somberly tell us, we must comply with their agendas. To be protected from terrorism we must submit to more restrictions -- on our ability to travel, our freedom from arbitrary searches, on the privacy of our communications, on our right to bear arms, on our ability to conduct business hidden from the prying eyes of government.
- Sen. Judd Gregg (R-New Hampshire) has called for a global prohibition on encryption products without backdoors for government surveillance.
- Travel regulators have banned knives on planes. (Does this mean even the pilots can't protect themselves and passengers against hijackers?)
- ISPs who were reluctant to cooperate with the FBI's invasive Carnivore program are now rushing to comply.
- The Senate has, in the wake of Black Tuesday, voted to increase the FBI's authority to tap the phones of anyone suspected of terrorism. As we've seen by all these other random restrictions, we are ALL suspects in the eyes of the U.S. government.
- Perhaps most ominously of all, the Washington Post quoted House Democrat Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) as making the self-contradictory, but entirely predictable statement, "We're in a new world where we have to rebalance freedom and security. We can't take away people's civil liberties . . . but we're not going to have all the openness and freedom we have had." The Post ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A28636-2001Sep14.html) then went on to describe how every war or crisis of the last 100 years has been use to increase government power -- often in the most draconian ways.
Freelance supporters of the Surveillance State are rushing to urge everyone to comply. One liberal talk show host responded to callers who complained that Big Brother policies at airports were a problem, "Big Brother is the only thing holding us together!"
He offered no evidence to show how Big Brother made us safe on Tuesday, September 11.
WE MUST THINK FREE, NOT PATRIOTICALLY JERK OUR KNEES
Soon we may be at war. And as always at such times, we'll be expected to "pull together," "do what our leaders tell us is necessary," and sacrifice more freedom in the name of "safety and security" or patriotism. And, as the reality of the Day of Horror seeps in, who doesn't feel an urge to strike back, to "get behind our government," to "show those murdering bastards they can't push Americans around," and to "do whatever it takes to defend the greatest country on earth"? -- even if that means sacrificing individual liberty to "the cause."
Whatever happens from here on out, we need to remember that Big Brother is NOT holding us together -- that he never can and never will. We must remember that the kind of restrictions on the liberties of ordinary Americans that were entirely ineffective in preventing the attacks of Tuesday, September 11, 2001 will not magically prevent future attacks merely because their severity is increased.
What did all of Big Brother's efforts do to prevent Tuesday's slaughter? The violations of freedom we've already been subjected to in the name of safety -- airport x-rays, ID checks, disarmament, body searches, and the whole gamut -- became a sick a joke when the day arrived that we needed them to protect the country against the world's worst criminals. In fact, Daniel Pipes of the Wall Street Journal was quick to point out how the government's reliance on mass eavesdropping and tracking actually diverted resources from more effective anti-terrorism methods, such as actually studying and infiltrating genuine terrorist groups.
Yet now the government proposes a giant national effort to do more of the same -- to impose more ineffective, wasteful, and oppressive mass surveillance and restrictions.
New restrictions on the freedoms of non-violent people will do nothing to make America or the world safer. They'll make us less safe, as well as less free.
There are at least two reasons for this.
The first is that more restrictions, and more power placed in the hands of government, will simply, in the long run, create more rage and therefore more desire to strike violently. (As we also saw, some restrictions, like those that forbid armed citizens on planes, also make it harder for Americans to protect themselves and their country.)
The second is something we observed, tragically, though cell phone calls from four doomed, hijacked planes: the fatal passivity and dependence that seems to be becoming the norm in American behavior.
THE PASSIVE, UNTHINKING AMERICAN
It appears now that a handful of heroic passengers on one flight, having learned via telephone that two other hijacked planes had already smashed into the World Trade Center, decided not to allow themselves to be used as weapons of war. These passengers on United Flight 93 attacked the hijackers who were in control of the plane. Doomed in any case, they ended up dying in the woods and fields of rural Pennsylvania, rather than passively allowing their captors to get away with an even more horrendous mass murder.
We also know that, on at least one other flight -- American Airlines Flight 77, which smashed into the Pentagon -- passenger Barbara Olson learned from her husband, U.S. Solicitor General Theodore Olson, of the World Trade Center catastrophe. During two separate calls, Mrs. Olson (a well- known author and conservative television commentator) asked her husband what the pilot -- standing next to her in the back of the plane -- should do.
Picture that. Passengers and crew have been herded -- and note that word well, herded -- to the back of the plane. Even the pilot, the leader, the chief decision-maker, does nothing. Can't think what do to. Can't act. Instead of attempting to save their own lives and the lives of others on the ground, what do they do? They expect a federal government official to make the decision for them. THE EVIDENCE SAYS THAT THESE PEOPLE DIDN'T EVEN FEEL EMPOWERED TO DEFEND THEIR OWN LIVES WITHOUT FIRST ASKING THE ADVICE OR PERMISSION OF WASHINGTON, D.C..
And why should we have expected otherwise? Americans have been told repeatedly never to resist crime, always to submit to any demand a thug makes of them. Always go along -- for safety's sake. Go along in order to avoid angering the criminal. We've been told always to submit, as well, to any demand made by anyone who appears to be "in charge." These people on Flight 77 -- and presumably on two of the other flights -- were apparently so paralyzed by their conditioning that they couldn't assert themselves even when the alternative was certain death.
Even as pathetically disarmed as they were, they could have battered the hijackers with their briefcases, with their shoes, their purses. They could have overwhelmed them with sheer numbers of bodies. They could have gouged at their eyes with fingers or car keys. Could have knocked them unconscious with luggage from the overhead racks. Could have tripped them, stomped on them, tied them up with cords from audio headsets.
But except on United Flight 93, they apparently did nothing. And so three planes flew, sure and true, into the heart of three American landmarks, slaughtering thousands.
THE ONLY TRUE SECURITY MEASURE: A BILL OF RIGHTS CULTURE
We must take back America as a country. We must make it free and independent again -- no longer the would-be ruler of its own people, and no longer playing at being the world's supercop. Only by doing that will earn the world's peace and respect.
We must take our own individual lives and independent spirits back from would-be rulers and criminals, as well.
If we consent, passively, to give up more freedoms -- even "temporarily," or "as an emergency measure" -- we'll be doing the opposite. We'll be less safe, less free.
To restore American freedom and personal courage, we must restore the Bill of Rights -- in our country and in our hearts and minds. If we understand the Bill of Rights, we'll understand what we're fighting for -- and why. If we let it slip away what's left won't be worth fighting for.
This means not merely having an intellectual or legal understanding of the Bill of Rights. This means not merely memorizing the Bill of Rights or teaching it to our children. This means understanding the concepts of individual liberty that underlie the Bill of Rights -- then living those concepts, breathing them, eating the, dreaming them, holding them as the most central values of our lives, in the same place we hold our beliefs in the diety, or our dedication to our families, or to truth or justice.
We must behave as free people, expect and encourage others to behave as free people -- and have zero tolerance for anyone who abuses freedom or uses his authority to violate the Bill of Rights.
If there ever was a time in history to get behind the Bill of Rights and promote it, it is now. If we yield to this mushy thinking that the road to freedom and safety lies in GIVING UP freedom and the Bill of Rights, then we might as well bow down in defeat right now.
If we don't defend our rights, we'll have no rights. If we don't defend ourselves, our family members, and our fellow citizens -- AND defend their freedoms -- then our lives will be no more valuable than those of cattle and sheep. And the America we end up with won't be the America we thought we were fighting for.
If you want to be a passive herd beast -- obey whatever the authority of the moment, be that a bureaucrat or a hijacker, tells you to do. Listen to their lies about "safety and security" and obey, obey, obey.
But If you truly want to combat terrorism or terror-war, learn the Bill of Rights, teach the Bill of Rights, and enforce the Bill of Rights with every action of your life.
FIGHT BACK WITH THE BILL OF RIGHTS.
The Liberty Crew
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