commentary (2005-52)

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The (Un)patriotic Act

Our country’s leaders should be embarrassed

The (Un)patriotic Act

by Steve Dupree

Contracts are written because of the anticipation of conflict. If, in fact, everyone could always be counted upon to be fair and reasonable and always be amenable to reaching a conclusion that was in the best interest of all concerned parties, there would be absolutely no need for contracts (or much need for lawyers). 

In our sporadic and spontaneous interactions with our fellow humans, we also anticipate occurrences of conflict. For those situations, where no specific and/or superseding contract exists, we rely on the blanket contracts that we know as laws. When all are in agreement or when all are acting in the best interests of their fellow humans, those laws need not be invoked or enforced.

The information I opened with isn’t some sort of startling revelation to most of us current Americans. I strongly suspect that it would have been considered an unnecessary statement of the obvious to some very early Americans as well. Yes, those who composed the documents on which our very nation is founded were well aware that they were not doing so for utopian times. They were aware that what they composed would be referred to in times of stress and conflict because, indeed, that is exactly why it was written. Those documents, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights specifically, but not exclusively, are our home base. They are where we should turn in times of confusion. They serve to reestablish and remind us of what it means to be a citizen of the United States. Why then should it be asked, no, demanded, by our government that we forsake those very documents at the time they become most relevant?

I am speaking of the ill-named and ill-considered Patriot Act, that vile abrogation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of all Americans and the responsibilities of those in government. In the process of becoming the leader of this nation, one swears this oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

You will doubtless notice that nowhere in that oath does it offer an exception. It doesn’t say, “... unless terrorists’ attack.” It doesn’t say, “... unless the people allow me to get away with ignoring this oath.” The President of the United States, who strives mightily for many months to get the job, who begs for your trust and votes, who claims time after time that (s)he is better for the job than the others who seek it at the same time (and ostensibly, those who don’t). That individual, knowing full well what will be required to swear upon inauguration, willingly and intentionally takes that oath. There are absolutely no excuses for that individual to do anything other than what he or she is sworn to do.

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”  This is the oath to which your congressional representatives swore. Rather obviously, it too is without exception for acts of terrorism or citizen neglect.

Like the presidency, one expends extraordinary effort in achieving that position and, according to the oath itself, those elected swear  freely and without reservation. Neither of the oaths of office seem to suggest that the Constitution may be even partially abrogated due to external (or internal) stresses. 

As a matter of fact, as I pointed out above, during such times of stress is exactly when we need the Constitution the most. The more Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda push against us and our Constitution, the stronger our resolve to defend the freedoms outlined therein should be. Caving in on something so basically American does not present us attractively to the world nor does it compare us favorably to our predecessors.

Our military has always risen to the occasion when called upon to protect the nation. That is due in no small part to our military being us, the citizens of our nation. We serve when called upon, and when being sworn in, we also promise to defend the Constitution. I have extreme reservations about weakening that oath by treating the Constitution as something that is nice to have around but unnecessary in times of war or other national stress.

Given recent history, I am much more inclined to trust our military, where the defense of the Constitution is concerned, than I am our elected officials. The Patriot Act is unconstitutional and an embarrassment to Americans everywhere.

The following quotation is inscribed on a plaque in the stairwell of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty and is usually attributed to Ben Franklin: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” What about that do you not understand?

© 2005 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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