What if Freedom Were Temporary?
by Andrew P. Napolitano
Recently by Andrew P. Napolitano: Can Congress Steal Your ConstitutionalFreedoms?
What if our rights didn’t come from God or from our humanity, but from the government? What if the government really thinks we’re not unique individuals with immortal souls, but just public property? What if we were only entitled to our natural rights if it pleased the government? What if our rights could be stripped away whenever the government considers us to be its enemy?
What if this could all be accomplished with the consent of the people? What if the people’s own representatives subverted the Constitution? What if the people were so afraid that they accepted the subversion? What if the government demonizes an external enemy and uses fear of that enemy to suppress our freedoms? What if people are afraid to protest?
What if the government knows this, and thus chooses enemies that are easily demonized, whether they pose real threats or not? What if threats become imminent dangers precisely because the government allowed them to happen? What if government scapegoating of an external enemy is as old as the government itself? What if the government has used scapegoating again and again to scare people into giving up their freedoms voluntarily? What if the government has relied on this to perform the same magical disappearing-freedom act time and again throughout history?
What if the government could lock you up and throw you in jail indefinitely? What if that jail was in Cuba? What if the government has written laws to let it keep you detained forever without letting you see a lawyer or a judge? What if you were just speaking out against the government and it came to silence you? What if the government could declare you its enemy and then kill you? What if your elected representatives did nothing to stop the government from doing this? What if the government claimed that your words made you a warrior, even though there never were any armed hostilities in your neighborhood and you never threatened anyone? What if the government could classify the entire country as a battlefield and, ultimately, a prison? What if the government’s goal was to be rid of all who disagreed with it?
What if the real war was a war of misinformation? What if the government constructs its own reality in order to suit its own agenda? What if civil liberties don’t mean anything to the government? What if the government just chooses to allow you to exercise them freely because you don’t threaten it at the moment? What if the government released a report calling you a domestic terror threat, just because you disagreed with the government? What if the government coaxed crazy people into acting like terrorists, just to keep you afraid? What if the government persuaded you to believe that the greatest threat to your freedom is an impoverished and uneducated Third World population 10,000 miles away? What if the real threat to your freedom is a rich, powerful and all-seeing government? What if that government thinks it can write any law, regulate any behavior and tax any event no matter what the Constitution says?
What if the government is always the greatest threat to freedom because only the government can constitute a monopoly on the use of force? What if, in fact, at its essence, government is simply a monopoly of force? What if, in fact, at its essence, government is simply the negation of freedom? What if the government monopoly incubated, aided and abetted enemies’ freedoms? What if, when the danger got more threatening, the government told you to sacrifice more of your liberties for safety? What if you fell for that?
What if those who traded liberty for safety ended up in internment camps? What if the greatest threat to freedom was not any outfit of thugs in some cave in a far-off land, but an organized force here at home? What if that organized force broke its own laws? What if that organized force did the very same things to those it hates and fears that it prosecutes people for doing to it? What if I’m right and the government’s wrong? What if it’s dangerous to be right when the government is wrong? What if government is essentially wrong and always dangerous?
What if these weren’t just hypothetical or rhetorical questions? What if this is actually happening to us? What if the ultimate target in the government’s war on terror is all who believe in personal freedom? What if that includes YOU? What do we do about it?
Andrew P. Napolitano [send him mail], a former judge of the Superior Court of New Jersey, is the senior judicial analyst at the Fox News Channel, and the host of u201CFreedomWatchu201D on the Fox Business Network. His latest book is It is Dangerous to be Right When the Government is Wrong: The Case for Personal Freedom.