What it means to be American
I was thinking about the constitution today, and sudden realizations about the world started to take hold. These realizations centered around the "arguments" that my dad said to me the other day, stating "I would gladly give up the 4th amendment in order to be safe." I decided I had to send my father an email, expressing how I see what he thinks, and so below is that email, reproduced.
WE THE PEOPLE give the constitution its weight, and its meaning. The constitution, by starting off with those words, is revolutionary. And yet...who are those people? I believe that people like you are in fact in the majority in this country. I mean, look at who was elected, if you want any more proof of that?
These people are tearing down the constitution, bit by bit. Given they don't care when the bill of rights is violated - as long as they are "safe," (and of course, whether they are safer is rather questionable, to put it mildly!) then why not live in China? I am serious. At least in China, you KNOW your emails may be read, and the internet is blocked. Given that is what you and much of America are claiming is desirable, why NOT move to that country? I mean, you all are always saying "If you don't like it...LEAVE!" Well...aren't you all the ones twisting the original intent and meaning of the constitution? If you all hate America so much, why don't YOU all leave?
In fact, I *love* America. I love the flag, and I love what it stands for. I hate these so-called "people" in the White House, and I am disgusted that you actually believes that it's worth it to give up a pound of liberty for an ounce of safety, when that ounce of safety is only an illusion, anyway!
Let's extend this "argument" to where it really belongs. If you are so terrified for your safety, then shouldn't you also be terrified of murderers, drug dealers, rapists, thieves, swindlers, arsonists, larsonists, extornionists, etc? I mean, logically, those people also infringe upon your safety. It's not just terrorists who are out there committing crimes! There's a whole host of criminals in this country! So...logically, if you're so willing to give up freedom in exchange for temporary (and fake) safety, then why not give up freedom to protect against those crimes as well? I mean...there's simply no logic behind giving up freedom ONLY to go after terrorists, if you are that fearful for your safety. So what does that mean? Buh-bye 4th, 5th, and 6th amendments. Buh-bye 1st amendment. (freedom of expression, and freedom of religion for nonChristians) So long, it was nice knowing ya!
So what is a world like without the Bill of Rights, or anything even similar to that? Oh, that's right...CHINA! But besides that, you claim to be extra patriotic. As an example, you had an American flag on the front porch of the house. The mentality of this faux-patriotism is for to people feel a yellow ribbon on an SUV actually supports the troops. But let's look at what it really means to be American. The founders of this country...they specifically rebelled against King GEORGE, at least in part, because of the following reasons...
- The issuance of general warrants - That's what you and Bush n' friends want to institute again! (except without even the pesky business of getting warrants)
- Restrictions on freedom of speech and religion - Yup - Bush n' friends want to restrict that!
- No due process at trials - See above
- Taxation without representation - I am taxed up the wazoo and my views are completely ignored!
WOWSERS! So all of the things that Bush n' friends want...they go against the very foundation of this country! In fact, they very clearly oppose the constitution itself!
So what does that mean? It means that Bush n' friends, while waving their flag around, are in fact UNAMERICAN. We need to change the national dialogue. That is what I call anyone who stands for what Bush n' friends stand for. UNAMERICAN.
I will end this by quoting from what a friend of mine had to say about this all...I was discussing with a friend about how you said you would give up the 4th amendment in order to be "safe." This was his reply.
...my dad said "I would gladly give up the 4th amendment in order to be safe."
I love that. Does he not think the Founders mulled over that very choice? Does he somehow think the Founders lived in a world without threat or peril? Does he not know that the earliest years of this Republic were spent on a veritable knife edge, surounded by foreign empires? Hell, they had protection as part of the British Empire. Trouble was, that was all they had.
Franklin, of course, summed it up best: "Those that would give up essential liberty in pursuit of a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security." And your father was exactly the sort of person he was speaking to.
The more important question is, would your father be willing to give up the Fourth Amendment and still not be safe? And what does he mean by "safe"? How safe are you if you have to be careful what you say or write or think? How safe are you if you have to wonder whether the person you are speaking to is who he or she says she is? How safe are you if you have to wonder who is making note what you say to a friend or a relative? Or, for that matter, inventing what you say to a friend of relative?
Also, your father does not seem to realize that he is not giving anything up -- it is being taken from him.
I'm neither a scholar nor a historian, but I have taken the trouble to educate myself about the founding of this Republic. One of the conclusions I come to, and one of the things that makes the founding of this nation truly unparalleled in all of human history, is that the Founders consciously and explicitly rejected the notion that the end justifies the means. The Constitution, if you think about it, is concerned almost exclusively with means. More importantly, it is concerned with what means are not acceptable.
For that reason, I consider the idea that the end justifies the means to be the single most un-American idea there is.
But what do I know?
Things to mull over. Now you know why I am so upset by how you think. I view my way of thinking as rather conservative - in line with the way the framers purposely crafted the constitution. You, on the other hand, are the radical who wants to overturn the very foundation this country rests upon.