Saturday, February 11, 2006

A sheep-like nation is allowing Bush to erode our liberties and well-being

If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I’m the dictator.”

— President George W. Bush, Dec. 18, 2000

“As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air — however slight — lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.”

— Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas

What is it going to take for the American people to wake up to the presidential coup d’état that is now under way, a takeover that is occurring in broad daylight by a president who has declared that as commander in chief he has unfettered power to fight an undeclared and never-ending war on terrorism, even if that means ignoring the courts, disregarding laws passed by Congress and circumventing the Bill of Rights in the process?

First the Bush administration rams through the so-called Patriot Act in the hysteria immediately following Sept. 11, 2001, legislation that includes the infamous “sneak and peak” provision. Then they usurp the power of the Senate (though our senators didn’t put up much of a fuss) and use fabricated intelligence to initiate a pre-emptive war against a nonaggressive nation. Next this administration decides that it can detain foreign (and several domestic) adversaries as “illegal enemy combatants” without charge for as long as it desires. After that, it chooses to authorize torture of selected prisoners under the designation of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” Now we discover the Bush administration has used the National Security Agency to eavesdrop on telephone conversations and e-mails of U.S. citizens on American soil without a warrant and that several other government agencies have been illegally tracking our computer activities.

If the president has the unfettered power that he and his acolytes proclaim, what is the logical next step? Dissolving Congress should it endeavor to forestall his illegal activities? Packing the Supreme Court with his supporters should it declare some of his actions unconstitutional? Proclaiming times so dangerous that he must remain in office even after his term is over?

And if he did so, would we finally revolt against this King George as we did against another during the first American Revolution?

I awaken many mornings asking myself: “Why haven’t I taken to the streets with my fellow citizens demanding the resignation of this pretender to the throne?” “How can I go about my usual daily routine, while my country gradually slides into fascism in the name of national security?” “What am I so fearful of that I stand immobilized while innocent men, women and children are being killed in my name?” “How can I, in good conscience, continue to pay my federal taxes knowing that a large portion of them is going to the immoral war in Iraq and other such military adventures?”

In 1775, speaking in favor of action to throw off the tyranny of the British crown, Patrick Henry declared: “Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? ... I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!”

Today we Americans seem to be saying quite the opposite by our acquiescence: “Give me a powerful ruler to save me from the terrorists even if this means surrendering my rights as an American citizen.”

From where I stand, there are worse things than passing from this mortal form. For if I permit the loss of my individual freedom, my personal integrity and the liberties that this nation stands for, am I not already among the living dead?

Bruce Mulkey is an Asheville writer and a communications consultant. A former community columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times, a collection of his commentaries have been published in “Peaceful Patriots: Taking a Stand for Peace in an Era of Endless War,” now available in paperback at or Malaprops. You may contact Mulkey at



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home