Wednesday, July 05, 2006

It's a Hollow Feeling This Fourth of July

America. Land of the free, home of the brave. I used to enjoy the 4th of July, with all its connotations to freedom and democracy. This year it rings hollow.

We may still be the home of the brave – witness the troops risking their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan – but we are no longer the land of the free, and now I feel sad when I see pictures of the Liberty Bell accompanied by the slogan, "Let Freedom Ring."

I blame President Bush and his administration of fear-mongers, willing to strike fear of terror in the heart of every American to fulfill his bid for unbridled executive power, for the demise of our civil liberties. We had an attack on 9/11 and yes, many people died. But that did not warrant taking away the very constitutional rights that made us the beacon of liberty in the free world. I also blame the radical right henchman in Congress, like James Sensenbrenner and Tom Tancredo, as well as xenophobic Americans, who would put a "closed" sign on the Statue of Liberty.

I look to where we are headed. Records of our telephone calls and financial records will be logged into a secret data-mining program. The cop who stops you for a traffic ticket will punch a few keys on his dash-mounted computer and pull up everything from your credit record to your lawsuit against your neighbor. Our e-mails and Google searches will be scrutinized for inappropriate content. "Sneak and peek" search warrants will be used to enter our homes without leaving so much as a piece of paper to let us know law enforcement was there. Maybe they won't take anything and will just turn on your computer and make a copy of your hard drive. Maybe they will leave an unseen device that will record a copy of every keystroke you type.

I never used to be a paranoid person. But our Supreme Court is close to being stacked with right-wing ideologues and Congress keeps stripping judges of their power to serve as a check and balance on a runaway executive branch that operates in unprecedented secrecy and a Congress that wants to treat the Constitution as a rough draft by passing unnecessary and misguided amendments. Today is a day we should be reveling in the greatness of our nation, but instead I fear for the health of our democracy.

Jeralyn Merritt blogs daily at TalkLeft: The Politics of Crime

Here are a few of the responses to this blog:

  • “I see the military pushing back. I see the Supreme Court pushing back. I see Americans no longer buying Bush's crap. There are good reasons to celebrate today. I will raise a beer to honor the idea of America, and the 67% who see we need to take a new course.”
  • “The great nation that once was America is slowly fading away, thanks in large part to this fascist administration. But the blame also falls on a subservient press and a cowardly populace that has decided it would rather be safe than be free. As long as Americans can drive their SUV's, eat their Big Macs and watch their favorite shows on cable, the freedoms they have now and possibly forever given up are a small price to pay. One day they will look back and wonder when it was all taken away from them. The American people have gotten what they more, no less. It’s not a Republican or Democratic problem so much as it is an American problem. We have gotten fat and lazy and too self absorbed to worry about our liberties being taken from us. The powers that be have now consolidated their powers to the point that any attempt to roll them back will only be met with the phrase “it’s all about national security." The USA is closer to the old USSR than to the old USA. Shame on us all. Our forefathers would be ashamed of us. And rightfully so.”
  • “Bush told America Saddam and the terrorists were threatening our way of life. You know, "they hate us cuz we're free." While America was so preoccupied with the terrorists and Saddam, they didn't notice George at the paper shredder with the Constitution in hand.”
  • “I am not celebrating today. I'm staying home. I will not celebrate until freedom comes back to America. It was never a perfect country, but it was never neo-fascist like it is now. It used to be our home, not a corrupt empire. We used to have representatives, not thugs and gangs. Why on earth should I celebrate liberty and freedom when the "free press" right this very minute has been threatened with jail? What freedom is left when all our civil rights are being eroded away and even established law (as Judge Roberts puts it) is in jeopardy? Our tax money is being drained through this black hole called the Dept of Homeland Security, and we cannot dare challenge the King. And we are to celebrate? For one to celebrate a victory over tyranny, doesn't one have to win it first?”

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