Monday, December 19, 2011

Why the US is becoming the country in the developed world with the least freedom

Why would a free country vote to abolish its freedom?

Because freedom is essentially something that resides in the hearts and minds of people, and all the institutions that are created, maintained or modified by a people reflect basic attitudes and beliefs for which they are prepared to work and, if need be, to die.

US freedoms were built, like they always have to be built, from the inside out. They are also dying from the inside out.

Once any group of people stop believing in the importance of freedom, or stop being willing to work and die for freedom, then freedom gradually or swiftly dies.

That is what we have been witnessing in this generation, the 2nd or 3rd since America started rejecting its own "soul" (for a discussion of what constituted that soul, see Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi's THE BOOK THAT MADE YOUR WORLD, Thomas Nelson, USA, recently published).

But why do I say that the US is becoming the least free country in the developed world?

Because US legilators have just passed, with an astounding two-thirds majority, a bill with the suitably military name of "HR 1540", which gives the US President power to detain "terrorist suspects" indefinitely. Such suspects, who can be arbitrarily arrested, include U.S. citizens on American soil.

Till recently, Bush and Obama claimed to have the legal power to do these things, but it was not clear whether or not they actually had this power, because their claim rested on obscure and contentious issues in law, custom and Constitution.

Following the passage of HR 1540, however, there can be no further challenge to such Presidential claims. Earlier, Presidents did not indubitably have that power, though they claimed it; now that power has indubitably been given to them by American lawmakers, duly representing the American people.

Why does HR 1540 constitute the end of US freedoms? Because it is the Administration that now defines what is a terrorist, as well as who is or is not a suspect. Any "suspected terrorist" can be arrested at any time, and kept under detention indefinitely - without trial and without bringing her or him before any court: no explanation or defense of the action is necessary at all.

I doubt that President Obama will misuse this authority (though he could of course do so, and there is very little apart from his own conscience now to stop him).

But what will prevent future Presidents from defining as "suspected terrorists" anyone who is a meddling journalist, political opponent, or social activist?

The US's record on freedom is not unblemised. Consider McCarthyism and the resulting vilification and hounding of "suspected Communist sympathisers" from the 1940s to the 1950s.

So what does it take to maintain freedom? The willingness to invest time, effort and (some, at least minimal) money to ensure that public policies and administrative actions are fair, just, and in the public interest.

Given the march of Mammon since a nice man (Ronald Reagan) unleashed it, public spiritedness has declined, and politics has become the province of the huckster, the cowboy and the con artist. That is an inevitable consequence once a culture starts enshrining greed and worshipping money instead of probity and public interest.

Can the US be returned to freedom? In the next few years, probably yes - though it will require at least tens of thousands of people willing to make huge sacrifices to restore the freedoms that have been lost as a result of the passage of this bill.

Want to know how far the US has fallen from its traditions of freedom? Most Americans did not even know that HR 1540 was being discussed, and had no idea what it portended.

My conclusion: Americans have fallen away so thoroughly from their "soul" or their heritage that they have become totally focused on their "security" and have abandoned any interest in even knowing about threats to their freedoms.

How do I know that?

Well, were you watching the blogosphere and the US media???

How much discussion of HR1450 did you see? Sphere: Related Content

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