Bill of Rights Press

L. Neil Smith's
Number 380, August 13, 2006

"When you let people do whatever they want, you get Woodstock.
When you let governments do whatever they want, you get Auschwitz."

We Have Met the Enemy in the War On Terror. . . and He Is Us
by Doug Newman

Special to The Libertarian Enterprise

Is it just me, or does anyone else feel the vise grip tightening?

Thursday's news read as follows: "Airline passengers around the country stood in line for hours and airport trash bins bulged with everything from mouthwash and shaving cream to maple syrup and fine wine Thursday in a security crackdown prompted by the discovery of a terror plot in Britain."

Imagine this. In "the land of the free and the home of the brave" there is a "security crackdown." Crackdown on whom, may I ask?

United Airlines posted updated TSA regulations—including a ban on all liquids or gels in carry-on baggage—on its web site on August 10, in response to the discovery of the terror plot. Hmm. Perhaps I am na´ve, but I thought that things like this had to be passed by legislators and signed by the president before I could be arrested for violating them.

But no. We have a War on Terror. The executive branch has to act and act fast! It is for your protection. I mean they have to do something.

We are told that we are fighting a war against terrorists who "hate our freedom" and seek to "undermine our very way of life."

If America succumbs to full-blown tyranny it will not be because of crazed, diabolical "Islamo-Fascists." It will be because the American people willingly relinquished their freedom in the name of security.

America has two constitutions. One was ordained and established in Philadelphia in 1787. The other exists in the hearts and minds of the American people and far more important. If "we the people" are ignorant, apathetic and downright unwilling to defend their God-given rights, the written Constitution becomes just a piece of paper.

Ever since September 11, the American people have been all too happy to let the FEDGOV do whatever it pleases. We applaud the USA PATRIOT Act. We submit to the TSA grope-and-grab at airports. We have no objection to warrantless searches. We could care less if Uncle Sam monitors our e-mails and phone calls. After all, "if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear" and "your civil liberties don't matter if you're dead."

My response to this is: "Just how do you know you have nothing to hide?"

Consider the following:

  • Americans have already accepted all ten policy planks of the Communist Manifesto as the law of the land.
  • Millions of Americans don't mind one bit that we have the world's highest incarceration rate.
  • The Federal Register—Uncle Sam's compendium of laws and regulations with which you and I are required to comply—runs 70,000 pages. Do you know what is in there? Do you? If you violate it, prepare to don an orange jumpsuit.
  • The Internal Revenue code runs 11,000,000 words. Again: do you know what is in there?

The worst part of the post-9/11 agenda is Uncle Sam's assumption of power to imprison terror suspects arbitrarily and indefinitely without formal charges, without the right to face their accuser, without a jury trial or without any semblance of due process whatsoever.

What was that about "threatening our very way of life"? This is not the doing of some psychopath in Afghanistan. It is the doing of our own government. And it is all in the name of freedom, of course.

As one observer put it: "On September 11, 2001 a horrible crime was committed. On September 12, 2001 the American people became suspects." Of far greater danger than terrorists abroad is how unquestioningly so many Americans have accepted their new status.

First it was 9/11 and the growth of the surveillance state. Then it was Thursday's unveiling of a terrorist plot in Britain and new restrictions on what we can carry on planes. What will come after the next terrorist episode, be it an attack or an arrest? And how calmly will the American people accept whatever laws or regulations Uncle Sam hands down? As an old German proverb says, freedom dies in little pieces.

During the Clinton years, it was popular to say that you loved your country but you feared your government. Under Bush II, the same people want you to think that if you do not follow in lockstep with your government, you are all kinds of unspeakable things.

Police state groupies tell us that these are temporary measures necessary to keep us safe from terrorists. Ben Franklin once remarked that those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither. The German people in the 1930s were happy to sacrifice their liberties to a leader who would keep them secure. They did this for 12 years. For the 8871st time, Bush II is not Adolf Hitler. However, the American people are in total denial that their own government, left unchecked, can do far more harm than any foreign terrorist.

In the case of Ex Parte Milligan in 1866, Supreme Court Justice David Davis wrote: "The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances. No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences, was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism."

The anarchy of which Justice Davis wrote was that of unrestrained power. When you let people do whatever they want, you get Woodstock. When you let governments do whatever they want, you get Auschwitz.

So what do we do about terror? Simple. Get out of the superpower business. Stop trying to run the whole world. When you have troops in 130 countries, is it any wonder that so many people hate you? Bring the troops home. Use your military to defend your shores and borders and be done with it.

It is hard for a lot of Americans, blinded as they are by hubris, to understand, but most of the world does not want our way of life. And the more bombs we drop, the more they will hate us.

As Pat Buchanan has stated, "To Islamic peoples, whether the Crusaders come in the name of God or in the name of democracy, they are still Crusaders." And they want the Crusaders gone. Buchanan has also stated that, "The price of empire is terror. The price of occupation is terror. The price of interventionism is terror."

Terrorists do not "hate us for our freedom." They hate our relentless meddling in the internal affairs of their nations. The problems of the Arab world are not America's to fix. So let us quit trying to fix them.

The people who have no problem with the advancing police state are many of the same people who so harshly criticized France for not joining America in invading Iraq in 2003. France had a terrorist problem at one point. And then they pulled out of Algeria.

The whole business brings to mind the comic strip character Pogo, who once remarked that "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

Such is the case in the War on Terror. It is not "the terrorists" who want to take away our freedom. It is the United States government, aided and abetted by the ignorance and apathy of so many Americans who will gladly trade freedom for security. The German people did this 70 years ago, with grisly results. Let us pray that this does not happen in America. There is no guarantee that it can't.

Originally published at

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