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From Citizens to Sheep: Giving Up Our Liberties for Nothing

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Doug Bandow
Campaign For Liberty
Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

The latest attempt to blow up a plane illustrates how the American people have allowed power-hungry politicians and ratings-hungry journalists to stampede us into throwing away our liberties in the name of security.  Writes Glenn Greenwald:

This is what inevitably happens to a citizenry that is fed a steady diet of fear and terror for years.  It regresses into pure childhood.  The 5-year-old laying awake in bed, frightened by monsters in the closet, who then crawls into his parents’ bed to feel Protected and Safe, is the same as a citizenry planted in front of the television, petrified by endless imagery of scary Muslim monsters, who then collectively crawl to Government and demand that they take more power and control in order to keep them Protected and Safe.  A citizenry drowning in fear and fixated on Safety to the exclusion of other competing values can only be degraded and depraved.  John Adams, in his 1776 Thoughts on Government, put it this way:

Fear is the foundation of most governments; but it is so sordid and brutal a passion, and renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable, that Americans will not be likely to approve of any political institution which is founded on it.

As Adams noted, political leaders possess an inherent interest in maximizing fear levels, as that is what maximizes their power.  For a variety of reasons, nobody aids this process more than our establishment media, motivated by their own interests in ratcheting up fear and Terrorism melodrama as high as possible.  The result is a citizenry far more terrorized by our own institutions than foreign Terrorists could ever dream of achieving on their own.  For that reason, a risk that is completely dwarfed by numerous others — the risk of death from Islamic Terrorism — dominates our discourse, paralyzes us with fear, leads us to destroy our economic security and eradicate countless lives in more and more foreign wars, and causes us to beg and plead and demand that our political leaders invade more of our privacy, seize more of our freedom, and radically alter the system of government we were supposed to have.  The one thing we don’t do is ask whether we ourselves are doing anything to fuel this problem and whether we should stop doing it.  As Adams said:  fear ”renders men in whose breasts it predominates so stupid and miserable.”

The government will never be able to make us completely safe, even if strips away all of our liberties.  But if it does the latter, America will have lost the very values which makes our country worth defending.  Then the terrorists truly will have won.

Doug Bandow, American Conservative Defense Alliance

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This article was posted: Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 9:59 am





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