A Work In Progress
This is only an intro. I have only briefly touched on the main issue. The paper is in rough form, it will be revised with a more objective tone, and a considerable amount of this intro will be cut out. I will also include sources for my seemingly unfounded statements. I plan on writing my final paper in a more formal layout. I would appreciate any advice on where to go with the paper from here ~ I was going to give a couple more historical examples then go into the meat of the argument, suggestions please.!
Historically, this recent barrage on civil liberties is normal to say the least. We are going through a typical reactionary measure, though it is with out reason or logic, to strip citizens and non-citizens alike of their rights that were handed down to them in the constitution. At other times in history America has acted similarly to nation security issues, after WWI, WWII, and during the cold war, and she has eventually found herself to be wrong. Our Freedoms are laid out in the constitution and are not up for debate, unless an amendment is to be made. Incarceration of foreign nationals with out due process is a dangerous proposition and it is one with dire consequences, but to understand the full scope of the situation, an element of history must be applied first, regarding civil liberties in America. To transgress the line constitutionality for the sake of a goodnight’s sleep is the decision of a generally uneducated populous that is unaware of historical events, and the consequences that follow such transgressions.
Fear is a strong motive and people are usually willing to give up rights while under fear; this does not make it a logical decision to do so. Our rights are set out for a reason, to give all people on American soil equal protection and freedom, that should not be compromised for the sake of immediate responses. During the Woodrow Wilson administration American rights were compromised. The media was full of war time propaganda portraying the Germans as a savage group who has infiltration our society. This exaggeration is similar to the Iraqi weapons scare tactics used recently. Although America was washed in fear during WW1, it hid it self behind some delusional sense of nationalism. The Committee on Public Information (CPI) distributed a large portion of this war time propaganda and urged citizens to have a sense of nationalism. Their view of nationalism was characterized by urging the public to report anyone who disagreed with the war or that might contain some descent from national goals. Reporting your neighbors who might simply be interested in peace is not a far from our recent nationalism. Shortly after 9/11 President Bush gave a speeches urging everyone to help seek out terrorist and many innocent neighbors were subsequently being investigated by the FBI. Nationalism motivated by fear or war can be a dangerous attitude, making us susceptible to gross losses of civil liberties.
If certain rights are denied to specific groups or individuals, where is the legitimacy of such rights; this would void any validity held by the constitution. Our constitutional rights are granted to us unconditionally to protect us from ourselves. Shortly after the declaration of War in 1916, congress passed the Espionage Act of 1917. The government now had a new weapon to fight obstruction to the war inside our boarders; current “weapons to fight terrorism,” such as the Patriot Act I and II, which are so ironically named, echo these past transgressions. The Espionage Act gave government agencies broader rules when combating “spying, sabotage, or obstruction;” yet these terms were never defined and were left up to interpretation. This mirrors the current administration’s use of the term “terrorism” or “terrorist,” which is only loosely defined. To date people ranging from underage drinkers with fake identification to drug dealers have been labeled terrorist. These kinds of actions must not be permitted; it is our national duty to protect civil liberties and by no means should a foreign national or any citizen be held with out the due process granted to him under the constitution. Under the new regulation a suspected terrorist, possibly a foreign national, could be put in jail with out due process.
The next thing on the Wilson Administration’s agenda was the Sabotage Act and the Sedition Act. These acts went even further into civil liberties and were fuel by the familiar patriotism we see today. These acts went as far as to make it illegal to criticize the president or the government. Civil liberties are the foundation of this country and there was a time when a peaceful protester was put in jail. This is likened to the absence of protesters at the white house on George W Bush’s second inauguration. They were absent because they were not allowed; in a country where free speech is one of our dearest uncompromising rights, it is now treated as a privilege in certain instances.
Shortly after 9/11 the government rounded up over a thousand people and put them in jail unjustly; when it was all said and done only a hand full even had remote ties to terrorist organizations, but what is a terrorist organization? Well the Justice Department labels Cat Stevens, famous singer song writer, as a terrorist. He was recently flying to America when he was stopped upon arrival and immediately deported back to England. The Justice Department said he was giving terrorist groups money; in actuality the government had not yet to date even looked into the allegations. It was later reported that the Cat Stevens was giving a Middle Eastern charity money; which the Justice Department claimed was a terrorist organization, but controversy still surrounds the situation and Cat is still on the No-Fly list. This kind of misinformation is exactly why the government should not have more power to take our rights. On a side note, immediately following 9/11 Cat Stevens was performing fund raising concerts to aquire money for the victims’ families; but the Justice Department most likely never looked into that. The government is not without faults and it is up to the people to safe guard our rights.
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