Where Does the Shadow Lie?

by Mark Pettifor

In the first book of Tolkein's Ring trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, Frodo is lamenting the fact that the One Ring of Power has landed in his lap, and that he seems about to embark on a perilous journey.

"I wish it need not have happened in my time," said Frodo.

"So do I," said Gandalf, "and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time given us. And already, Frodo, our time is beginning to look black…"

President Bush, in his State of the Union speech, echoed similar sentiments, calling this a "decisive decade in the history of liberty," and saying that "we've been called to a unique role in human events." He called on America to renew her stand to protect the "non-negotiable demands of human dignity: the rule of law; limits on the power of the state; respect for women; private property; free speech; equal justice; and religious tolerance."

What puzzles me is how the President, and apparently every other cheerleader for this war, has arrived at the conclusion that the greatest threat to these time-honored American principles is somehow to be found hiding in remote regions of the world, and how by ferreting out these nefarious terrorists and bringing them to justice, those principles will somehow be safe again from attack.

Who, or what, are the real enemies of those seven principles he mentioned?

Well, let's look at a few, shall we?

First, the rule of law. To paraphrase a well-known quote, if the lawmakers make too many laws, then respect for the law disappears. Well, I guess we know who the culprit is in this case – the State.

Second, limits on the powers of the state. I think this is pretty obvious, but lets mention it anyway. Do governments, once they obtain and begin to exercise a certain power over their citizens, ever relinquish that power back into the hands of those citizens? To quote Seinfeld, "Not bloody likely!" Once again, the State is what we should be keeping an eye on. Did the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11 diminish the power of the state?

Don't make me laugh. The State always uses crises to expand its power.

Next, respect for women. How do terrorists show disrepect for women in particular, above and beyond their general disrepect for human life of any gender? Sure there are repressive cultures. Is it our "duty" to make their culture just like ours, in the name of combatting terrorism, or in the name of eliminating disrepect for women? If you want to point a finger at an entity that disrespects life, point it once again at the State. I do not wish to minimize the impact of the deaths that occurred on Sept. 11, but governments have been responsible for far, far more deaths in this century than all the combined terrorist groups that have ever existed throughout history.

Even our government has shown it's own form of disrespect for women by allowing, through it's courts and system of laws, the practice of abortion to emotionally scar and ruin the lives of women for decades.

Private property. Free speech. How have terrorists attacked these great icons of American life? Yes, they destroyed a lot of wealth on Sept. 11. But how much more wealth has been, and will continue to be, destroyed by that great parasite called the State, through taxation, regulation, corruption, and waste?

What have the terrorists done to limit our speech? If anything, they spurred it on, causing a great dialogue to begin, and a great soul-searching. But once again, who or what is usually standing there waiting to reject what you want to write or say in public? Is it a terrorist? Nope. It's the State.

I could go on, but I think you've got the point by now. The darkness that threatens Western Civilization and the best of who we are as a nation, as the Shadow from Mordor threatened Middle Earth in Tolkein's work, is not terrorism. It is not groups of individuals with bombs in their shoes or box-cutting knives in their carry-on bags. It is our own complacency, and our acceptance of the legitimacy of the State in every aspect of our lives.

Like the Hobbits living in the Shire, we have been too busy with our own happiness and in fulfilling our selfish desires to notice the shadow growing at the periphery of our vision. Now that we have been awakened to the peril that is around us, we mistakenly believe the whisper in our ear that Terrorism is what we must fear, and what must be destroyed. Whatever "Ring of Power" the free people of this nation still possess should not be given up to the State under some false promise of safety and security in the future. To do so would be to eventually doom the "Quest" that our Founding Fathers began all those years ago – the great American Experiment in self-goverment.

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