Our Civil Liberties Are Not at Risk

Those opposed to almost everything this country is doing domestically to protect Americans from terrorists claim that we are overriding fundamental Constitutional rights. They often cite the 4th Amendment (or 5th, 6th or 8th) as being black-on-white against phone surveillance of terrorists, data mining, or any form of common sense profiling and interrogation. They are wrong.

At most what we are dealing with are interpretations by some courts as to the meaning of certain constitutional amendments, not, however, their fundamental and obvious intent. Most of the interpretations being advanced by our critics were not known to the Founding Fathers or Chief Justice John Marshall. They were creatively deduced 15 decades after the country’s birth by the Warren Court and other recent decisions. Moreover, many of these elaborate interpretations were controversial when issued, and remain so.

It is hard to accept claims that our Constitution is being trampled when those who wrote the Constitution and the earlier courts that reviewed it and the nation that lived by it did so absent “understandings” that have recently evolved. Nor did these legal musings, to begin with, deal in the context we are now dealing with: the terrorist phenomenon.

Despite the hysteria, the nation is not in constitutional jeopardy. There are three different groups that are creating this ruckus: the “more-moral-than thou-ers,” the “professional know-it-alls,” and the wannabes, “the parrots.”

The “more-moral-than-thou” individuals see themselves as ethically superior to most Americans. As such, they will condemn whatever most of their countrymen consider necessary. Nothing we do will ever be moral enough. To agree with the rest of us is to no longer be better than the rest. They are guided by ego, an inflated sense of who they think they are.

Many were raised on the idea that dissent, unremitting dissent against society, means one is better than one’s society. Thus, they will never stop dissenting and attacking. Without it, they are bereft of identity.

Rarely are representatives of Human Rights Watch or Center for Constitutional Rights heard in the media condemning Islamic atrocities and its ferocious violations of the most basic human rights. They reserve most of their ire for America or Israel, more horrified by panties atop a terrorist than the beheadings of innocent Americans. Facts, accuracy, indeed morality itself, are not the criteria which guide them. Believing themselves to be more moral — better — than their countrymen is what animates them.

In the liberal world, one receives no sainthood-points for condemning jihadist barbarism — it simply means one agrees with the average American. Such a view does not engender either cocktail party invitations or international adulation. Nor will consistent and sharp criticism of Islamic violations bring one acclaim in the Muslim world since civil liberties are not the calling card and ardor of Arabia.

Thus America is indicted if there exists but one interpretation contrary to its conduct, while America’s enemies are guilty only if absolutely no redeeming justification can be found. To the more-moral-than thou crowd, America fails unless it scores 100, while its enemies pass if scoring but 3 on the scale of 100. To them, nice guys must finish last.

If civil liberties are what guide this crowd, why are the severest critics of the Bush Administration regarding this issue those newspapers, such as the New York Times, that refused to print the Islamic cartoons read around the world? Certainly the right of the public to see the news is fundamental to the Bill of Rights. It is not simply an interpretation, a penumbra, a shade of a meaning. The more-moral-than-thou crowd is ever ready to give up Real rights so as to accommodate Islam but unwilling to spare mere interpretations to accommodate the safety needs of fellow American citizens.

Years of their own bias have made this crowd more afraid of conservative America than the obvious repression most of us see coming out of the radical Islamic world. To them, this repression is, of course, not organic but simply a reaction by good willed people to what they deem American intrusion, meddling, and other forms of Western imperialism. We are to believe that the terrorist enemy simply “wants to be heard” and, when all will be properly negotiated, will then live by Roberts Rules of Order.

Similarly, the same college faculties howling over the administration’s “abuse of civil liberties” systematically engage in a stifling political correctness which harangues those with dissenting views and thwarts on-campus speech and opinions that are conservative. In many classrooms, free speech rights reportedly are allowed only to those critical of America and the administration, not to those who wish to express defense of it.

Less dangerous and obnoxious are the “know-it-alls,” who see themselves as owning the inside track as to how civil liberties should be defined. These consist of activist judges, lawyers, professors, and talking heads who maintain they possess an enlightened, modern view of what things should mean and how our society should operate. In control of our laws, they are not about to take a back seat to temporary administrations. This is their province, their power, their standing. They have built their careers and identities on notions now being challenged. At stake is their celebrity.

Purists and academics often live in the world of theory, not reality. They are not necessarily bad people. Many are simply inflexible as well as impervious to the necessary guide that, as Ecclesiastics long ago wrote “to each and everything there is a season.”

Then there are the “parrots,” intellectual wannabes who mouth clichés they think render them sophisticated and “deep.” They tell us that “freedom is more important than security”. When it comes to choosing my own doctor over national health care — I agree. Likewise, I would rather fend for myself than have a socialist government guarantee my income by telling me where I must work. However, I don’t agree if it means stopping my elected government from doing the necessary things to protect my country from enemies sworn to kill us all.

In fact, my daily life is as free today as it was six years ago. What are these fundamental freedoms that have been taken from me of which I seem unaware? Indeed, John Murtha seems free to rebuke publicly the Commander-in-Chief and give comfort to our enemies. The New York Times is bashing the current President with more freedom and abandon than any other prior President. Cindy Sheehan is in the news every week. The more these critics grouse about having lost their freedom, the more they’re out there exercising these freedoms!

It is all a lot of hyperbole. Only terrorist “freedoms” are being challenged. Those that try to scare us by announcing we are living in “a police state” do not know what a police state is. They are betraying their ignorance.

The steps being scrutinized, which are few and initiated expressly to protect us, are to let us continue to live in both long term freedom and security. What freedom and what security do the “parrots” think we will have if jihadism takes over the West and America? There will be none. No freedom of religion, nor freedom of speech, no freedom to live. It will be a Dark Ages.

These juvenile protestations that “our freedoms are being taken away, day by day, by George Bush” bespeak a distressing ignorance by so many as to what we and the world are up against. Many still do not apprehend the earth-shattering gravity of our situation. They still do not think our very freedom is at stake. They are not willing to do anything to fight, nothing in behalf of the freedom they espouse. They assume an Islamic takeover will curtail none of their freedoms, but simply will replace meat and potatoes with falafel and goat cheese, exchange baseball hats for keffiyahs.