Tuesday, September 19, 2006


I was reading Keith Olberman's blog about the President's apparent fury at Colin Powell's letter opposing any narrowing of the Geneva Conventions. That's when I got a little scared. One can argue (not very convincingly IMHO) that "alternative" interrogation techniques are necessary when faced with an Islamofascist menace. Then, arguing that the President should be granted expansive power to spy on anyone at anytime - temporarilly, of course - is necessary to protect America. All the W-stickered folks driving down Interstate 65 (the majority in Red Alabama) would feel that this is reasonable.

What scared me was the realization that the greatest danger is not to the Constitution. It may yet be rendered moot, but that is not it. This grave threat is not to our servicemen and -women, although they will face greater risks if ever they are captured. This calamitous eventuality is not that we might lose our moral authority and hence the hearts and minds of potential allies- it may be too late, there. The danger that most scares me at this moment is that, by letting our guard down, by attempting to trade freedom for security, we will walk blindly down the path to tyranny.

Sounds melodramatic, I know, but there was nothing inherent in the German psyche that caused so many to tolerate or even support the Nazi party. There was nothing insane about the French who turned their neighbors over to Madame Guillotine. There was nothing depraved about the great mass of Southerners and other Americans who tolerated slavery. By and large these were fairly normal people dealing with the conditions of their times, the insecurities and deprivations. They were people just like you and me who, preyed on by demagogues of fear and hate, felt they had no other choice.

So there is the terror that has been kindled in my heart tonight. I fear that America, my country, will allow itself to ruled by obedience to authority, intolerance of dissent, suspicion of difference, and blind reaction to fear.

1984? Perhaps not, but history teaches us to be wary. I just don't know that we have the strength and wisdom to keep the watch.

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