Wednesday, January 25, 2006

American Ideas and Ideals

For those of us who fear that BushCorp is using the terror of 9/11 to destroy the values that make America worthy of saving, Jack Grant, writing at The Moderate Voice, has an excellent (though long) essay on the subject. Here's a taste, but really, you should read it all, isn't your freedom worth it?

There are few things in this world in which I firmly believe, and even fewer that I am willing to stand up for. The ideas of freedom and democracy are among those precious few.

There is a critical difference between ideals and ideas.

The ideal of America has been murdered in the past five years by the actions of the government of the United States, but the ideas underlying America have not yet been destroyed.

The ideas of freedom and democracy are what I believe in. What are the gravest threats to these ideas, an external threat of terrorist organizations who kill people to get headlines, or those who claim the world changed on September 11, 2001 and say that to protect our "freedom" we must push aside the ideas of civil liberties in order to provide safety against terrorist threats?

In other words, there are those who say that we must kill the patient in order to "cure" the disease. This is a solution that appeals to the simple-minded, but not to those who truly understand the fundamentals underlying our Constitution.

What is clear to me is that which is the true threat, and that threat is NOT the one commonly perceived.

It is often quoted, by me as much as by others, something that was written by one of my heroes, Benjamin Franklin, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

Those who proclaim "the world changed on 9/11" as an argument towards undermining the freedoms we had against government surveillance of our lives understand neither the nature of the world before September 11, 2001, nor do they understand the foundations underlying our Constitution.

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