by Art Thompson, CEO
by Arthur R. Thompson, CEO
The American student is not only being deprived of comprehensive education about our heritage and the Constitution, but when the Constitution is taught, the study does not get into the idea that the Constitution is inclusive.
The Constitution is inclusive in its standards for limited government and the protection of the God-given rights of the people.
If you take away any part of it, it will destroy the whole of it. In other words, abrogation of one part can be used to destroy the remainder. This reality is not well appreciated even in conservative circles.
In destroying the Constitution, the freedom and independence of the American people is ended.
The Constitution, as a document, can be left in place, saluted once in a awhile in speeches by politicians who take an oath to uphold this Law, but if it is not adhered to, it is no more than a piece of paper. Nice to refer to, nice to display in Washington, D.C., while those intent on ruling us ignore, deliberately misinterpret, and abrogate it.
Let us make a point that the Constitution was written neither for an agrarian society nor an industrial country. It was written based on human nature and the nature of government and the need to limit government and thereby government power, in order to maintain liberty. It is relevant to any community provided that they have a basis of morality and the concept of God-given rights burning in their chest.
The purpose of my column on this subject is to enable you to point out to others the fallacy of the opinion that the Constitution is not relevant to today or that certain portions can be ignored in today’s world for the exigency of the times.
Let me give you a few examples, some obvious, some more subtle.
Perhaps the most obvious is the First Amendment. Any portion of this protection, abrogated, can destroy the Constitution. We see the idea of not establishing a religion, meaning a state religion, is being used to stifle Christianity and, to a degree, Judaism. Since the basis for the Constitution is Judeo-Christian, such an attack on public prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the very existence of God in the schools erodes the self-rule aspects of liberty. In other words, a moral society is self-ruling. The erosion of that morality leads to the destruction of the underpinnings of the Constitution.
Self-rule is the essence of freedom. This requires a moral citizenry.
As I am inclined to do, let me once again quote John Adams: “The Constitution is for a moral people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Likewise restrictions on the free exercise of religion deny the private sector the liberty to worship as we choose. Restrictions can come as the result of zoning, education, and even on the tenets of one’s religion.
Zoning plays a role in restricting Bible study in homes or home churches in some cities. It does so in the name of restrictions against too many automobiles on a neighborhood street or too many people in a home. These are actual ordinances in some areas and have been used to stop peaceful assembly.
Some of these restrictions came about due to the problems of the 1960s and 1970s with pot parties, drunken revelry, loud rock music, and too often the ensuing vandalism. Some areas went so far that the law would have prevented a Billy Graham revival meeting.
It was too easy to pass laws against assembly rather than enforcing other laws that would have solved the problem, such as laws against disturbing the peace or vandalism. While the argument can be made that these are local or state laws, not national laws and are therefore, not restricted by the Constitution, it sets a dangerous precedent.
In regards to religious education, while the American people have been slowly winning the battle, home schooling and other private, Christian education have been discouraged, even attacked, by government.
The last portion of free exercise of religion and subsequent religious tenets is under major attack by the use of what has become known as political correctness. More and more in the Western world, and spreading into the United States, is the idea that calling a sin a sin is the worst of sins. The repercussion of such an attitude is the growing number of laws penalizing religious expression such as calling homosexuality a sin.
We have already demonstrated the abridgement of the freedom of speech and assembly in the name of political correctness and safe neighborhoods. Again, while much of this attack on freedom of religion is local or state imposed, it is undergoing extensive use and threatens to become a nationally imposed law through the courts.
Federal courts are increasingly ruling against Christians and Jews by banning the Ten Commandments in public places, even banning God from the schools.
Let us make a major point. Federal enforcement of no religion by the state is a state religion in and of itself, and is a violation of the First Amendment.
The interpretation that the ACLU and our government has set for the First Amendment will destroy the remainder of the Constitution if we are not allowed true freedom of religion, speech, and assembly. In addition, the idea that freedom of speech means that we can tolerate sins such as pornography, homosexuality, and other immoral practices will destroy the very underpinnings of the Constitution and our ability to rule ourselves. They break apart local community life. Immoral practices across the board require intervention at some point. It is best not to let them get started. They are destroyers of civilization.
It matters little if it is a small western town or an empire spanning two continents; immorality will act like a cancer until the body politic is destroyed from within. Only after some form of trauma will the situation change in either case.
Government education no longer seems to teach this wisdom as it once did. Nor do our schools teach that the First Amendment meant anything other than our ability to oppose our government, not to impose filth on a community or slander our neighbor.
All of this is simply good common sense. Our country’s Founders did not spell everything out since they felt some things were obvious. There was even a debate over the need for a Bill of Rights because at the time such rights, and the subsequent fight to codify them, were obvious. No longer.
It is interesting to note that only freedom of the press is mentioned in the Constitution as a right that must be protected. It was well understood that if we could not have freedom of the press, it would not be long before we lost our liberty.
We had two methods of communication when the Constitution was written: oral and print. Both were mentioned and protected. Yet every new innovation in communications invented since has come under the regulation of the federal government: telegraph, telephone, television, radio, etc. Now Obama is starting a campaign to bring the Internet under federal control.
The longterm interference by government in this regard demonstrates the constitutional ignorance of the American people over an extended period of time. The worst examples of this were government regulation and control over the press during the Civil War and to some extent during the original Sedition Acts, and the two World Wars. The excuse was always that it was for the war effort. The same excuse is used today in regard to the Fourth Amendment.
Recently the Federal Trade Commission staff issued a discussion draft entitled, “Potential Policy Recommendations to Support the Reinvention of Journalism.” In the name of a hurting industry with many media outlets shrinking or disappearing, they make a series of recommendations.
These recommendations include changes in the copyright law, new regulations, and taxation that make it obvious that in the long run people such as Representative Henry Waxman want control over the media: newsprint, radio, television, and Internet.
Among the proposals are licensing the news, including licensing fees. As they acknowledge, “a compulsory license places an effective tax on certain conduct.” But it is for the public good you understand, along with increased government subsidies, a journalism division of AmeriCorps, increased funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a National Fund for Local News, a tax credit for the employment of journalists, increased taxes on advertising (2 percent), cell phone fees (3 percent), and a 7 percent tax on commercial radio and television based on the claim that they are given a monopoly to broadcast at no charge and that this constitutes a “massive public subsidy.”
They also recommend a system whereby journalists can check government facts — the implication being that there are too many facts about government that are not true posted on the Internet.
As we read in the Second Amendment, the security of a free people is tied to the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Perhaps, of all parts of the Constitution, this one is more understood and organizationally supported to protect the original intent than any other.
We have to remember why our Founders included this in the Bill of Rights. They had just used their arms to separate themselves from a tyrannical government. They wanted to make sure that their progeny would have the same opportunity should the need arise. It was not for hunting purposes, it was for defense — against the danger from an individual or an out-of-control government.
Depriving the citizen of self-defense will destroy freedom. After all, if the people are disarmed why would a government then fear the people? The government could do anything it wanted. At that point the Constitution would be dead.
In the name of security and the war on terror, the Fourth Amendment is violated with impunity at our major transportation hubs. Americans stand in line every day to be searched — their person and their possessions. Yet the Fourth states that such an activity can only be carried out based on probable cause and supported by oath.
Transportation hubs have become areas outside the Constitution and all people who enter are presumed guilty until they prove themselves innocent by being scanned with their possessions, often it includes physical searches of body and baggage.
Good people think nothing of it since they have not been taught the basis of the Constitution and do not seem to realize that their rights are being destroyed while they are convinced that it is for their own good. As the American people have become accustomed to this, the custom is becoming more wide spread elsewhere. Your papers please!
The Fifth Amendment is under a more subtle attack. The Fifth was widely invoked by communists testifying before the Congress during the 1950s and 1960s. It was their right to do so. The problem was that it was made to look as though Congressmen were the bad guys when their objective was to ferret out the extent of communist subversion in the United States.
Lest we forget, communism has always been controlled by a foreign power, namely international communism, whether headquartered in Moscow or New York. It is an entity that means to destroy the Constitution and the independence of the American people.
The subtle attack on the Fifth today is being waged in the name of the war on terror as well.
Historically, there are two major types of criminal law: civil and military. Now there is an attempt to create a third set of nebulous laws pertaining to terrorism.
The debate is based on the idea of whether terrorists should be tried at the place of the crime under a jury as the Constitution states, or in a military court somewhere else.
Are terrorists combatants or civilians? There has been no declaration of war and U.S. involvement is based on international agreements, under the United Nations or NATO, which further complicates the matter. Out of this mess one thing is certain: Those in power wish to create a new system of jurisprudence that they can use against those they deem terrorists.
We do not have to recall much more than the Missouri Information and Analysis Center (a branch of the state’s Highway Patrol) and the Department of Homeland Security reports to know that they think the terrorists include what they call “anti-government” Americans as well as real terrorists.
The Code of Military Justice and Geneva Convention govern how combatants should be treated. In a declared war combatants do have certain rights.
We have two documents that secure the right of the accused: the Constitution and the Geneva Convention, regardless of their status. With the war on terror we see that our government wants to ignore both. The trouble is that too many good Americans, since they do not realize the ramifications of such a condition, are willing to allow our government to move forward with treating terrorists differently than others. To do so will come back to haunt all of us later.
Treating combatants outside of the military code can lead to serious consequences. This occurred at the end of World War II when Eisenhower changed the status on paper of German prisoners to “displaced persons,” and starved approximately one million of them to death. As POWs, they had rights, such as visits by the Red Cross, mail, etc. As displaced persons, they had no rights.
The documentation for this is in a book entitled And Other Losses, published in Canada. I have also seen it in a biography of a German who immigrated to North Dakota and became an American citizen and a successful businessman.
I use this example for two reasons: First, we already have the experience of the American government behaving in an unbecoming manner; and second, the average American has never even heard of it.
It does not matter how much we may hate what someone does, we cannot hate the person. We have to treat them as human beings no matter what they have done or in the end we become just like them.
In the case of what we do with terrorists, it may come back to hurt the very people who support the Constitution the most, since in their desire to keep government within its constitutional limits, they are called anti-government extremists, even terrorists.
This is something to think about when advocating the mistreatment of those our government has already called terrorists, whether they are or not; in some cases they are apparently innocent.
A disturbing development is that the Obama administration has gone into hyperdrive from what Bush started in regard to terrorism. They have now decided that terrorists may be detained for life without trial since they do not have enough evidence for a trial.
To quote Obama’s Guantanamo Review Task Force:
Generally these detainees cannot be prosecuted because either there is presently insufficient admissible evidence to establish the detainee’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in either a federal court or military commission, or the detainee’s conduct does not constitute a chargeable offense in either a federal court or military commission.
To quote Tom Eddlem, the former head of research for the JBS: “In other words, the Obama administration officials think the detainees might have committed a crime but can’t be sure, or they are sure the detainees didn’t commit a crime and want to keep them in prison for life anyway.”
There is considerable debate as to whether only citizens or non-citizens as well have constitutional rights. It reminds one of the arguments about whether slaves had rights before the Civil War. I ask the question: if our rights are God-given rights, did He only give them to Americans? By our treatment of others we set the example.
According to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, the Bush Administration knowingly detained innocent people as “terrorists.” In fact, it may have been the majority of the detainees.
Let us not forget that the list of grievances against our government under King George codified in the Declaration of Independence included, “He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power,” “For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by Jury,” and most important to our point, “For transporting us beyond the Seas to be tried for pretended offenses.”
If a person has committed a crime, try them swiftly as the Constitution says and punish them accordingly. If not, turn them loose. If you treat them as second class people, then who loses, them or us? The answer is both.
If we start to consider the rest of the world as second class beings, we erode the very essence of constitutional thought. This is not an excuse for illegal immigrants or terrorists, conditions that must be rectified. It just means that we treat people with justice in the fullest sense of the word. Or, we become like the beasts that we have fought over the last one hundred years.
Once morality is eroded, the Constitution is eroded since the foundation of the Constitution is morality.
There are many other examples of where ignoring the Constitution will destroy the Constitution, but let me add just one more. It is the war powers portion of the Constitution. This too is being distorted in the name of the war on terror and security.
If we are going to war based on United Nations mandates or NATO resolutions, then the Constitution suffers. The Constitution says that only Congress may declare war. However, Congress now passes resolutions in support of a foreign power, the United Nations, which places our armed forces in harms way.
If this is a valid system and the way to operate, then the other side of the coin is likewise valid: What is to prevent the UN from passing a resolution demanding that foreign troops be positioned in the United States? What is good for the goose is good for the gander; tit for tat — or any of the other axioms we learned from our grandparents that makes the point that, if it is good or legal for us, it is also good and legal for the other guy.
It is another reason to Get US out! of the United Nations.
By ignoring the Constitution in this regard, we have opened the door to destroying the Constitution by the possibility of foreign troops being stationed on our soil. We have already formalized this in an agreement with Canada for their troops to come into the U.S. to help in times of crises, both natural and civil.
This was done as part of the growing merger with Canada and Mexico, popularly called the North American Union. We suspect that we have an agreement with Mexico as well, but cannot prove one exists.
The conditions to “invite” foreign troops has been brewing on a number of levels, not the least of them being the growing problem of illegal immigrants and the Atzlan movement claiming the Southwest for Mexico.
The Atzlan movement is a thinly disguised communist revolution that enlists uninformed and misinformed Latinos. There is a serious campaign to radicalize Latinos into a force that would resemble the Hutus in Rwanda in their genocidal campaign against the Tutsi’s, including the brutal use of machetes. Some of the rhetoric we have seen in opposition to Arizona and their immigration law by radical Latinos sets the stage for such an event.
If you have not noticed this development and its recent intensity, it is because the media is not reporting on it. It is widespread, flagrant, and supported with our taxes on our campuses and social services. It reaches into local and state governments as well.
All it would take is for a number of street or drug gangs to start a problem similar to what is happening already south of the border all across our country and the cry for protection would create the condition for foreign troops to come in here to help overwhelmed police departments or in states where the National Guard is stationed overseas and unavailable.
And what troops could help us put down such civil unrest? Well, those who can speak with the Latinos, of course. Besides, they have had a lot of experience with dealing with such people.
The roadblocks on the streets and freeways may become a slight hassle, but it is for our security you understand. Mexico already uses these tactics as part of their anti-drug program. It is also standard procedure in those nations we have occupied as part of the War on Terror.
If this should ever happen, then those who stand still for violations of the Constitution in the name of security and fighting terrorism now would begin to see what they have allowed to happen to their freedoms, but too late.
We have taken a position that The John Birch Society cannot advocate a solution that will in the long run harm the American people and their liberty no matter how expedient it may be for the short term. With government, short term solutions tend to become long term, usually permanent.
There are times that we have to assume some risk in order to maintain our freedom just as a businessman assumes the risk of ruin to start a business that may reward him well if he makes the right decisions.
Too many Americans have been suckered into believing that the only way we can have security is to allow the government to violate our rights. If the terrorism stops, will our rights will be restored? And, will they be protected rights if we stop and start them constantly?
The nature of a civilization is measured by their Faith. As our Faith erodes, everything else erodes as well. The replacement becomes faith in government. This is the real danger with what is happening in America today.