Tuesday, June 12, 2007

The road to hell is paved with good intentions

So goes the old saying.

It seems as if people are unconcerned that are basic rights are slowly being trampled on and sucked away. They don't see the forest for the trees. I find this trend more then just a little unsettling.

So let me be perfectly clear. In 1930's and 1940's Germany, Hitler passed a variety of laws aimed at "non-citizens", all of which were designed to give the German people a focus for their anger, frustration and resentment. So, when Hitler's true purpose, the genocide of the Jewish people, no one said a word.

If you don't think it is happening here, think again.

From todays NY Times: udges Say U.S. Can’t Hold Man as ‘Combatant’

"All three judges yesterday agreed that a new law, the Military Commissions Act, did not defeat the court’s jurisdiction. The law says the federal courts have no jurisdiction to hear challenges from any non citizen “who has been determined by the United States to have been properly detained as an enemy combatant.”........The appeals court yesterday ordered the trial judge in the case to issue a writ of habeas corpus directing the secretary of defense to release Mr. Marri from military custody “within a reasonable period of time to be set by the district court.” The government can, Judge Motz wrote, transfer Mr. Marri to civilian authorities to face criminal charges, initiate deportation proceedings against him, hold him as a material witness in connection with a grand jury proceeding or detain him for a limited time under a provision of the U.S.A. Patriot Act.

But the military cannot hold him, Judge Motz wrote. “The president cannot eliminate,” she wrote, “constitutional protections with the stroke of a pen by proclaiming a civilian, even a criminal civilian, an enemy combatant subject to indefinite military detention.”

Now, lets look at a few of Hitler's 25 points:
"4. Only a member of the race can be a citizen. A member of the race can only be one who is of German blood, without consideration of creed. Consequently no Jew can be a member of the race.

5. Whoever has no citizenship is to be able to live in Germany only as a guest, and must be under the authority of legislation for foreigners.

6. The right to determine matters concerning administration and law belongs only to the citizen. Therefore we demand that every public office, of any sort whatsoever, whether in the Reich, the county or municipality, be filled only by citizens. We combat the corrupting parliamentary economy, office-holding only according to party inclinations without consideration of character or abilities.

7. We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to sustain the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) are to be expelled from the Reich.

8. Any further immigration of non-citizens is to be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans, who have immigrated to Germany since the 2 August 1914, be forced immediately to leave the Reich."

That was only the beginning. At first his focus and that of his party was only on Jews, but soon it would expand.

Gerda Lerner:

"We can learn from history how past generations thought and acted, how they responded to the demands of their time and how they solved their problems. We can learn by analogy, not by example, for our circumstances will always be different than theirs were. The main thing history can teach us is that human actions have consequences and that certain choices, once made, cannot be undone. They foreclose the possibility of making other choices and thus they determine future events."

If we don't find a better way to deal with this, other then the gross violations of human rights, the destruction of our Constitution, then one day we too will be facing the consequences of our choices. For so long we've existed in a vacuum, with the mistaken belief that somehow we're better then the rest of the world. We're not, everything we do and do not do, as an impact on the world.

First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Perhaps it is time to see that what Neimoller said so eloquently 60 odd years ago has just as much importance then as it does today.

First they came for the Muslims
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Muslims.
Then they came for the Activists
and I did not speak out
because I was not Activist.
Then they came for anyone not fitting their strict definition of American Christian
and I did not speak out
because I was not an fundamentalist American Christian.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Substitute any word you like, Democrat, Libertarian, Constitutionalist, Environmentalist, Feminist, Humanist, soon we'll be able to include so many other people, anyone who even looks like they're of Middle Eastern descent, anyone who is not Christian, anyone who is not a Patriot as defined by Bush and his cronies, anyone who is against war, anyone who speaks out.

If you think for one minute that you don't fall into one of these categories you wrong, because you do, and you will.

Our Constitution was written to DENY unchecked authority, to keep people safe from the abuse and misuse of power. This country was founded on the idea that NO ONE MAN HAD THE RIGHT OR THE POWER TO MAKE DECISIONS UNCHECKED.

It scares the hell out of me that George Bush believes that he is exempt from this tradition, this belief, this set of guiding principles that has kept our freedoms intact for over 200 years.

No comments: