The Culture Wars, and all of the single-issue politics that form the component campaigns, battles, and skirmishes, are orphans of the First Amendment. The remnants of Constitutional compromise, along with the battles fought over the Bill of Rights, are with us today. As much as economics, education, infrastructure, and defense provide the structure for American prosperity, the expression of our democracy is dominated by short statements that involve none of the above:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Think for a moment how positive many liberals are for an expansive interpretation of the clause leading the First Amendment, and how equally expansive conservative interpretations are for the clause in the middle of the Second Amendment. All Constitutional interpretation is correct, if said interpretation favors one’s individual needs and preferences. At the recent Values Voters Forum, the question of interpretation regarding the First came to a head in the form of a very particular insult hurled by one Christian at another.
(Publisher’s Note: Don’t let your small kids read this…M.C.)
Maybe the issue is too serious for the comparison, but I can’t help thinking of Santa Claus when the subject of Wikileaks is raised. I know; Christmas right? I never have been serious enough for the news. But hey, if the battle of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” is really about whether we Americans are mature enough to take communal showers, then Wikileaks is really about whether it is good and proper to tell your kids the Santa Claus story.
The issues relating to the theft and release of millions of secret documents have dominated news cycles for months now. Should governments have secrets, what limits exist on freedom of the press, and what defines national security? I would argue that another issue, lying just below the surface, is fueling this story. Is the United States government ours, or is it some outside entity bent on malevolent control? If this is still the government of we the people, then only a hypocrite would suggest it not be permitted secrecy. In fact, it is my argument that many who line up now to cheer the perpetrators of this theft are indeed hypocrites.
As I sit down to my laptop to write this post, I am acutely aware that this will be the final post I write and publish in Blogspot. Beginning with Monday’s news cycle, The Rational Middle will be broadcasting from its new address at www.therationalmiddle.com. This move comes just three weeks short of the one year anniversary of the RM. I think it fitting that the final post comes as an acknowledgement of Memorial Day; that I have spent the last 49 weeks posting on a free site is a testament to the country I am proud to call my native home.
Most of America knows what the Miranda rights are, we hear them every time we watch a police procedural show on television. The product of a 1960′s Supreme Court case, Miranda vs. Arizona, it mandates that a suspect be told his or her rights before an interrogation, lest the results of that interrogation be inadmissible in court. The question in today’s headlines is whether this should be extended to terrorist suspects, and whether the extension of such rights is dangerous to America.
I have written many times of my personal beliefs on this matter; liberty and principle don’t matter when they are thrown aside in times of danger. Patrick Henry called us to this ethic when he decried, “Give me Liberty or give me death!” But neither do I desire to be overly critical of divergent opinion; citizens have the right to call for the safety of their families. What then, are we to make of the recent controversies surrounding the “wannabe-bomber” and the “underwear-bomber”?
Nazi Arizona? Well, not quite. The new immigration statute in the state is however, over the top, ill-considered, and ill-conceived. When Governor Brewer signed the measure into law, she opened up Arizona law enforcement agencies to enormous public pressures and liabilities. This is a measure, after all, that is supposed to “fix” illegal immigration in the state. The law, in short, is a travesty.
So what is wrong with this state? To be blunt, nothing that isn’t wrong with the rest of our nation at the moment. We have, collectively, taken leave of our senses. As a nation we have become all to comfortable giving up our hard-earned civil liberties; all we need is the Serpent in the Garden to tell us who the problem is and how to catch them. Currently, we also lack an objective media able to show us the fools we are becoming. In the last decade, some members of the media briefly (and quietly) suggested that the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act were serious violations of the 4th Amendment. The suggestion (for the point of historical context) was that elements of these two acts were reminiscent in tone and scope to the laws passed by the German parliament in the 1930′s.
Ronald Reagan’s administration had its struggles with international terrorism. Early miscalculations in Lebanon combined with the despicable work of the governments in Syria and Lybia captured nearly as many headlines as the Cold War. In the end though, Mr. Reagan and his team had a coherent strategy for dealing with the issue; for the countries that sponsored activity, proportional response and international castigation; for the terrorists themselves, death by special operations or treatment as a common criminal.
Reagan’s FBI director put it best when he stated that treating terrorism exclusively as an act of war elevates the terrorists to the level of nations. The administration wanted to debase the individuals by treating them as the worthless criminals that they truly were. They accomplished this by not allowing them to claim a cause. The old saying that “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” crumbles in the face of justice fairly (and ruthlessly) dispensed. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his ilk are murderers, nothing more. This fact does not diminish the sacrifice and heroism of the citizens of this nation on September 11, 2001. A finding, in our court of law, that these pieces of garbage are nothing more than murderers worthy of execution reinforces the strength of our nation.