A Shocking and Sad Commentary

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Historian
and Yale Professor Dr. Jay Winik’s recent commentary in the Wall
Street Journal, “Security
Comes Before Liberty
” (read it with the lights on), shows an
excellent grasp of history but fails and frightens in its conclusions.
Each of the American leaders mentioned in the article pushed the
country further and further away from the original concept of the
United States. Unlike what Dr. Winik maintains, civil rights in
this country were not returned to their previous levels after they
had been curtailed in the name of national security. Each time there
was a small erosion of our rights and monumental growth in the scope
and breadth of our government. Our country, which has become an
empire, was not built in a day but with one small step at a time.
As with wartime taxes, social programs, the institution of executive
orders and the like, our government has shown a remarkable inability
to keep itself in check.

The
greatness of this country comes from the people and not from the
government. Dr. Winik is certainly correct in his analysis of the
dictatorships of each of these presidential regimes. But I believe
his ultimate conclusion indicates a true lack of understanding about
the foundations of this country. His words should scare any liberty
loving American to death. Dr. Winik seems to believe that the preservation
of this country should be accomplished at all cost and that we must
trust the government to do whatever needs to be done in its self-preservation.
I believe the preservation of this country means nothing when compared
to the individual liberties believed by our founders to be as necessary
as breathing.

Dr.
Winik also seems to postulate that somehow the acts of our Presidents
should be revered, that simply because they’re history they take
on an almost gospel like reverence. I would answer that each of
these Presidents violated the law and could and should have been
tried and convicted of treason.

The
thought of placing your life in the hands of any human being should
be a scary prospect. Trusting our Presidents with the ultimate care
of each of us is a dangerous game. The reason: concentration of
power breeds corruption and ultimately dictators. Our founders knew
this and that is why we have three governmental branches, not just
one.

The
sole area of Dr. Winik’s commentary that I agree with has to do
with the rights of those who are not citizens of this country but
are living within our boarders- those on visas, green cards, etc.
Our immigration policy should reflect concern for our citizens and
not non-citizens. Certainly no one should be abused in any sense.
They should simply be deported. But again, this action concerns
“non-citizens”.

As
with gun control laws, law-abiding citizens are the ones that will
ultimately pay the price for increased restrictions on civil liberties.
There has been no information presented to the public which proves
the just passed homeland security measures would have done anything
to prevent the September terrorist attack. What would have aided
their apprehension is tighter immigration control which does not
impede the rights of citizens. This, coupled with a balanced foreign
policy toward the Middle East, should have been the first steps
taken by our government to ensure our future safety. Unfortunately
our leaders don’t seem to have the stomach to stem the flow of new
human fodder for the voting booth or the willingness to occasionally
say NO to Israel.

As
with Lincoln, Wilson and Roosevelt, today’s leaders will opt to
sacrifice the lives of our soldiers and the liberties of our citizens
before they would begin to question whether we actually did something
to precipitate the attacks. At very least our policies created an
environment which provided moldable masses eager to be led by a
nut like Bin Laden. But there is no self-examination when you are
infallible, the greatest, the best and above reproach.

I
actually owe Dr. Winik a debt of gratitude. He has provided an accurate
assessment of a few of America’s best-known leaders who were willing
to put themselves and the government ahead of the people. Thank,
indeed.

The
naivete of Dr. Winik’s analysis amazes me. He has accepted the actions
of each of these men on their face instead of reflecting on the
myriad of issues involved in World War II or the War Between the
States for example. The actions of these leaders cannot be analyzed
in a historic vacuum. And this is what he has done. Bottom line:
His commentary left me with a lingering chill. Perhaps, though,
his thoughts will propel others as it did me to further speak, shout
and thrash about as much as necessary to ensure the United States
is still a country worthy of our citizenship.

October
27, 2001

Mr.
Dantre’ (send him mail)
is a Peabody award winning journalist currently working for WSB
Radio in Atlanta. His is a regular contributor to the Sierra
Times website.

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