Fear Vs Freedom
It was fear, during the early 1940s, that led to thousands of citizens being rounded up and forced into internment camps by their own government. This wasn't Nazi Germany, but the American government. Citizens of Japanese, German, and Italian descent were held against their will in what would later be acknowledged as "race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership."
It was fear, in the 1950s, that lead to mass accusations, investigations, loss of careers and even imprisonment. Victims were surveilled, interrogated, publicly accused, and black-listed by their fellow citizens and their own government. This wasn't Communist Russia, but, ironically, the United States government and citizens during the "Red Scare."
It was fear, in the early 2000s, that lead to a government program that sought, captured, and permanently stored all electronic data on its own citizens - without informed consent, warrants, or oversight. This was not draconian China, but the US government, in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11.
"Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." - George Santayana
Fear is a powerful force, but we cannot kick the Constitution to the curb every time something scary happens. As a citizen of a Democratic Republic, which was founded on the premise that each person possesses "inalienable rights," I believe that freedom is not an afterthought, but of utmost importance.
I take issue with those who seem to think that freedom is a nice idea when everything is moving along smoothly, but should be abandoned at the first hint of trouble. I believe the opposite: freedom is not simply a nice idea, but it is the foundation and bedrock of who we are as a nation and is ultimately what affords us the greatest levels of safety, peace, and happiness.
Our forefathers felt the same and I believe we should familiarize ourselves with their words.
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death! -Patrick Henry - March 23, 1775
"The hand of heaven appears to have led us on to be, perhaps, humble instruments and means in the great providential dispensation which is completing. We have fled from the political Sodom; let us not look back, lest we perish and become a monument of infamy and derision to the world!..................
.................If there is any man so base or so weak as to prefer a dependence on Great Britain to the dignity and happiness of living a member of a free and independent nation - let me tell him that necessity now demands what the generous principle of patriotism should have dictated................
..............We have now no other alternative than independence, or the most ignominious and galling servitude. The legions of our enemies thicken on our plains; desolation and death mark their bloody career; whilst the mangled corpses of our countrymen seem to cry out to us as a voice from heaven - "Will you permit our posterity to groan under the galling chains of our murderers? Has our blood been expended in vain? Is the only reward which our constancy, till death, has obtained for our country, that it should be sunk into a deeper and more ignominious vassalage? Recollect who are the men that demand your submission; to whose decrees you are invited to pay obedience! Men who, unmindful of their relation to you as brethren, of your long implicit submission to their laws; of the sacrifice which you and your forefathers made of your natural advantages for commerce to their avarice - formed a deliberate plan to wrest from you the small pittance of property which they had permitted you to acquire."
Samuel Adams - 1776
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