Let Us Be Patriots

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In
the great War of the Colonies'/States' Secession from the mother
country those loyal to King George III were known as Loyalists.
Those supporting the cause of independence and liberty were known
as Patriots.

A
grande dame of my acquaintance was born and raised in a part of
Canada where those Loyalists are held in the highest regard. That's
down in eastern Ontario which was known in (U.S.) revolutionary
times, or immediately thereafter, as Upper Canada, to distinguish
it from French Canada, further down east. The Crown granted land
on the north shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence
River to the tide of migrants seeking relief from the enmity and
(potential and actual) persecution of the patriotic populace of
the new country. They became known as United Empire Loyalists and
were bestowed with a title or, more correctly, a suffix: U.E., a
hereditary construct. Thus Loyalist was a complementary term and
a label of pride.

The
lady, who lived her entire life in her birth town, and aspired to
social status, always felt great chagrin that she couldn't join
with many of her friends in the United Empire Loyalist Society because
she was not descended from any of those first Anglo settlers and
was descended, in part, from Irish immigrants who arrived sometime
after the immigration of the Loyalists from the "States."
I wonder if she ever realized that those Irish immigrants were refugees
of English oppression as opposed to the Loyalists who abandoned
or fled from the new nation to the south out of loyalty to the Crown…,
one might even say, "Patriotism for England."

Of
course, to the U.S. secessionists, the rebels, the Patriots, the
term "Loyalist" was pejorative.

Today
the word "patriot" is getting more exposure and use in
these United States than it has since the War of Colonial Secession.
There is a problem in that it seems to have a different meaning
now than in those thoughty and exciting days.

First,
it has currently been made entirely clear that the patriot is one
who is loyal to the administration and its doings and to (US) "King
George III." This seems a flip-flop of the traditional, even
revered, sense of the Patriot as one who is dedicated to the classically
liberal concepts of liberty, limited government and human rights…,
and the Loyalist as one dedicated to the establishment.

The
media and the (other) voices of the establishment have shamelessly
drummed into us the idea that any expressed disagreements with the
ideas, policies and actions of the administration are unpatriotic,
anti-patriotic, even treasonous. Thank God the first Sedition Act
expired in 1800 and its successors were short lived. We do have
to be on guard against something of that stripe rearing its ugly
head any day now as the current administration gains confidence,
on the one hand or, on the other, becomes more desperate. The former
seems to be less likely as war and Katrina and subsequent developments
reflect poorly on the regime, so we should be more on our guard
against stopgap moves.

In
the mid-seventies I recall some anxious days worrying that Nixon,
in desperation, might try a palace coup. Just a thought!

Second,
the establishment had the chutzpah to name its legislation infringing
on our liberty and rights the USA Patriot Act. This act,
currently being resurrected in the Congress, is the most egregious
and overt suppression of the stated rights of the first ten Amendments
that we have experienced in modern times. The bluecoats would have
been sorely offended. Henry and Mason and Jefferson must be spinning
in their graves.

Back
in 10th and 11th grades a couple of my buddies
and I used to have fun creating crazy acronyms. We never came up
with one as tortured, albeit elegant, as this one:

(a) SHORT
TITLE- This Act may be cited as the "Uniting and Strengthening
America by Providing Appropriate Tools
Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism
(USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001."

In
its original form the Patriot Act was presented to the Congress
to be enacted as permanent, standing law without "sunset"
provisions. Even in those panicky days just weeks after 9/11, there
were those with the presence of mind to impose sunset limitations
on key provisions of the law, especially the more intrusive aspects.

Renewal
or extension of many provisions of the Patriot Act is what is being
considered now, as the sun sets, in Conference Committee to settle
differences between the House version, retaining most of the most
egregiously intrusive stipulations and specifying ridiculously long
ten year sunsets, and the Senate version which does provide a few
protections, mainly in the area of requiring judicial approval of
the more intrusive requests and periodical judicial review of some
of them.

The
Senate version requires specific evidence of likely involvement
in terrorist activities for judicial approval of seizure of records
and with regard to the covert searches it requires the subject to
be notified within seven days after the search (with extensions
available). The House version requires the FBI to state to the court
only that the search is "relevant" to a terrorist investigation.
The House version allows 180 days before the searchee need be notified.

The
original law included, in the seizure of business records, libraries
and bookstores which had to reveal the books borrowed or bought
by specific individuals. There is considerable effort underway to
delete those provisions.

The
Senate would require that the subject of wiretapping be specifically
identified and that the FBI be accountable, after the tap, for the
activity. The House version requires none of that and only requires
that the court be notified if the location of the tap is changed.

How
upset is the voting public over all these invasions of privacy?
Not very, it would seem. Much of the specifics is never brought
out in the popular press which tends to play the Loyalist role to
the ever-growing central state. The opposition to the Act
is mentioned only in passing and the propaganda machines crank out
the steady stream of promises of security afforded by these
"minimal" intrusions.

One
wonders, if a line is ever drawn in the sand, with an objective
of restoring constitutional governance, rights to life, liberty
and property, if the terms "Loyalist" and "Patriot"
will be used. And, if so, which will apply to whom? I urge that
promoters of the USA "Patriot" Act be labeled
Loyalists!

November
8, 2005

Chuck
George [send him mail]
is a retired orthopedic surgeon in Alabama.

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