30 Sep 2011
I remember when many liberals and Democrats claimed to be very upset when the George W. Bush administration decided it was OK for the US government to wiretap citizens’ phones, eavesdrop on citizens’ communications, even put people in prison and hold them there, incommunicado, while subjecting them to “enhanced interrogation techniques,” indefinitely, without even bothering to charge said citizens with a crime; all this without any judicial or legislative oversight whatsoever. While Bush was in the White House, many of us Libs and Dems pretended to be very concerned about civil liberties.
Now that a Democrat is in the White House, we are treated to the disgusting spectacle of libs and Dems cheering and partying because the Executive Branch has gone far beyond Bush — the Executive Branch is now literally killing US citizens who are suspected of Terrorism, without bothering to charge them with a crime or present any evidence. No judicial or legislative oversight, no accountability, just a drone and a missile.
The kooky-con Right saw nothing amiss with the Bush administration’s terrible civil-liberties record — they either slumbered contentedly or led cheers for it. Torture? Surveillance with no warrant? Indefinite imprisonment without habeas corpus? Right on, they shouted. As soon as a Democrat moved into the White House, the kooky-cons suddenly woke up and got very concerned, afraid that their President was a Socialist Nazi dictator, an enemy of the Freedom they suddenly remembered they’d once thought they loved.
Meanwhile, the pseudo-lib Left pretended to be deeply concerned when Bush locked Suspected Terrorists up without charging them with any crime, but now that the President, who happens to be a Democrat, is not just locking terror-suspect citizens up but killing them, without bothering to charge them with any crime, these quondam civil libertarians are cheering and partying. Go Dems!
We live in a society that has really lost its way, readers. If you’d told me fifteen years ago that I’d see Americans cheering and partying because the US government was killing US citizens without bothering to charge them with a crime, I’d have told you you were a fool — Americans would never stand for that, much less cheer about it. But now we live in that America: our civil liberties, the core of what makes America special, what makes America the best country on earth, are disappearing, and most of us aren’t sorry to see them go — we’d apparently rather not have freedom, because with freedom comes the responsibility to use it wisely, and we’d rather have the illusory sense of safety that comes from living in a Security State instead. And things are going to keep getting worse for a long time before they get any better, I fear. I see very little reason for hope in the foreseeable future.
UPDATE: Who gets it?
Here are some people who seem to get it:
- Amy Davidson, who writes the excellent “Close Reads” blog for The New Yorker, gets it.
- When it comes to civil liberties and the Bill of Rights, Glenn Greenwald always gets it.
- Kevin Williamson, at NRO’s blog “The Corner,” gets it.
- Ron Paul (with whom I usually disagree quite strongly) gets it.
- The ACLU, needless to say, gets it.
- Jake Tapper asked White House spokesperson Jay Carney some good, tough questions about Awlaki’s killing. Carney’s answers were, sadly, very bad indeed.