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Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them

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John W. Whitehead, Rutherford
Waking Occasions

If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what by no means was and by no means can be.”—Thomas Jefferson

We’re approaching essential mass, the purpose at which all hell breaks unfastened.

The federal government is pushing us ever nearer to a constitutional disaster.

What makes the outlook a lot bleaker is the utter ignorance of the American individuals—and people who symbolize them—about their freedoms, historical past, and the way the federal government is meant to function.

As Morris Berman factors out in his guide Darkish Ages America, “70 percent of American adults cannot name their senators or congressmen; more than half don’t know the actual number of senators, and nearly a quarter cannot name a single right guaranteed by the First Amendment. Sixty-three percent cannot name the three branches of government. Other studies reveal that uninformed or undecided voters often vote for the candidate whose name and packaging (e.g., logo) are the most powerful; color is apparently a major factor in their decision.”

Greater than authorities corruption and ineptitude, police brutality, terrorism, gun violence, medicine, unlawful immigration or another so-called “danger” that threatens our nation, civic illiteracy could also be what lastly pushes us over the sting.

As Thomas Jefferson warned, no nation might be each ignorant and free.

Sadly, the American individuals have existed in a technology-laden, entertainment-fueled, perpetual state of cluelessness for therefore lengthy that civic illiteracy has turn into the brand new regular for the citizenry.

It’s telling that People have been extra capable of determine Michael Jackson because the composer of quite a few songs than to know that the Invoice of Rights was the primary 10 amendments to the U.S. Structure.

The truth is, most immigrants who aspire to develop into residents know extra about nationwide civics than native-born People. Surveys point out that half of native-born People couldn’t appropriately reply 70% of the civics questions on the U.S. Citizenship check.

Not even the authorities bureaucrats who’re presupposed to characterize us know a lot about civics, American historical past and geography, or the Structure though they take an oath to uphold, help and defend the Structure towards “enemies foreign and domestic.”

As an example, a pair trying to get a wedding license was just lately pressured to show to a authorities official that New Mexico is, the truth is, one of many 50 states and never a overseas nation.

You can’t make these things up.

Right here’s a basic instance of how surreal the panorama has develop into.

Simply in time for Invoice of Rights Day on December 15, President Trump issued a proclamation affirming the significance of the Invoice of Rights in guarding towards authorities abuses of energy.

“The Founding Fathers understood the real threat government can pose to the rights of the people… That is why those first 10 Amendments to the Constitution, among others, protected the right to speak freely, the right to freely worship, the right to keep and bear arms, the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the right to due process of law. As a part of the Constitution, the supreme law of the land, the Bill of Rights has protected our rights effectively against the abuse of government power for 227 years… Since there will always be a temptation for government to abuse its power, we reaffirm our commitment to defend the Bill of Rights and uphold the Constitution.”

Don’t consider it for a second.

The federal government doesn’t need its abuses checked and it definitely doesn’t need its powers restricted.

For that matter, that is not a president who holds the Structure in excessive esteem.

In any case, Trump routinely rails towards the rights enshrined within the first ten amendments to the Structure, decrying the free speech rights of protesters, denouncing the media (which enjoys freedom of the press) because the enemy of the individuals, supporting authorities efforts to grab personal property by way of asset forfeiture and eminent area, refusing to denounce using internment camps to detain Americans, sneering at due course of, and encouraging cops to make use of extreme drive towards suspects.

As regulation professor Garrett Epps notes:

“Donald Trump ran on a platform of relentless, thoroughgoing rejection of the Constitution itself, and its underlying principle of democratic self-government and individual rights. True, he never endorsed quartering of troops in private homes in time of peace, but aside from that there is hardly a provision of the Bill of Rights or later amendments he did not explicitly promise to override, from First Amendment freedom of the press and of religion to Fourth Amendment freedom from ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’ to Sixth Amendment right to counsel to Fourteenth Amendment birthright citizenship and Equal Protection and Fifteenth Amendment voting rights.”

To be truthful, it’s not all Trump’s fault.

Certainly, we wouldn’t be on this sorry state if it weren’t for Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush and the injury their administrations inflicted on the freedoms enshrined within the Invoice of Rights, which traditionally served because the bulwark from authorities abuse.

Within the so-called named of nationwide safety, since 9/11, the Structure has been steadily chipped away at, undermined, eroded, whittled down, and usually discarded to such an extent that what we’re left with is however a shadow of the strong doc adopted greater than two centuries in the past.

The Invoice of Rights—462 phrases that symbolize probably the most potent and highly effective rights ever assured to a gaggle of individuals formally—turned a part of the U.S. Structure on December 15, 1791, as a result of early People reminiscent of James Madison and Thomas Jefferson understood the necessity to guard towards the federal government’s inclination to abuse its energy.

But the truth we should come to phrases with is that within the America we reside in right now, the federal government does no matter it needs.

Make no mistake: if our particular person freedoms have been restricted, it is just in order that the federal government’s powers might be expanded at our expense.

The USA Patriot Act, handed within the wake of the 9/11 assaults, drove a stake by means of the guts of the Invoice of Rights, violating no less than six of the ten unique amendments—the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh and Eighth Amendments—and probably the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments, as nicely. The Patriot Act additionally redefined terrorism so broadly that many non-terrorist political actions reminiscent of protest marches, demonstrations and civil disobedience have been thought-about potential terrorist acts, thereby rendering anybody needing to interact in protected First Modification expressive actions as suspects of the surveillance state.

Since 9/11, we’ve been spied on by surveillance cameras, eavesdropped on by authorities brokers, had our belongings searched, our telephones tapped, our mail opened, our e-mail monitored, our opinions questioned, our purchases scrutinized (beneath the USA Patriot Act, banks are required to research your transactions for any patterns that increase suspicion and to see in case you are related to any objectionable individuals), and our actions watched.

We’ve additionally been subjected to invasive patdowns and whole-body scans of our individuals and seizures of our digital units within the nation’s airports and at border crossings. We will’t even buy sure chilly drugs on the pharmacy anymore with out it being reported to the federal government and our names being positioned on a watch record.

Authorities surveillance, militarized police, SWAT group raids, asset forfeiture, eminent area, overcriminalization, armed surveillance drones, entire physique scanners, cease and frisk searches (all sanctioned by Congress, the White Home, the courts and the like), and so forth.: these are merely the weapons of the police state.

The facility of the police state depends on a populace that meekly obeys with out query.

Keep in mind: on the subject of the staggering lack of civil liberties, the Structure hasn’t modified. Quite, it’s the American individuals who have modified.

Those that gave us the Structure and the Invoice of Rights believed that the authorities exists on the behest of its residents. The federal government’s function is to guard, defend and even improve our freedoms, not violate them.

It was no idle happenstance that the Structure opens with these three highly effective phrases: “We the people.” Those that based this nation knew fairly nicely that each citizen should stay vigilant or freedom can be misplaced. As Thomas Paine acknowledged, “It is the responsibility of the patriot to protect his country from its government.”

You haven’t any rights until you train them.

Nonetheless, you possibly can’t train your rights until you already know what these rights are.

“If Americans do not understand the Constitution and the institutions and processes through which we are governed, we cannot rationally evaluate important legislation and the efforts of our elected officials, nor can we preserve the national unity necessary to meaningfully confront the multiple problems we face today,” warns the Brennan Middle in its Civic Literacy Report Card. “Rather, every act of government will be measured only by its individual value or cost, without concern for its larger impact. More and more we will ‘want what we want, and [will be] convinced that the system that is stopping us is wrong, flawed, broken or outmoded.’”

Schooling precedes motion.

Because the Brennan Middle concludes “America, unlike most of the world’s nations, is not a country defined by blood or belief. America is an idea, or a set of ideas, about freedom and opportunity. It is these ideas that bind us together as Americans and have kept us free, strong, and prosperous. But these ideas do not perpetuate themselves. They must be taught and learned anew with each generation.”

There’s a motion underway to require that each one public-school college students move the civics portion of the U.S. naturalization check—100 primary details about U.S. historical past and civics—earlier than receiving their high-school diploma, and that’s a begin.

Thoughts you, it’s solely the primary of many steps.

If there’s to be any hope for restoring our freedoms and reclaiming our runaway authorities, we should begin by respiration life into these three highly effective phrases that set the tone for every thing that follows within the Structure: “we the people.”

Individuals get the federal government they deserve.

As David Fouse writes for Nationwide Evaluate, “A government by the people, for the people, and of the people is only as wise, as just, and as free as the people themselves.”

It’s as much as us.

We’ve got the facility to make and break the federal government.

We the American individuals—the citizenry—are the arbiters and supreme guardians of America’s welfare, protection, liberty, legal guidelines and prosperity.

It’s time to cease ready patiently for change to occur. Do greater than grouse and complain.

We should act—and act responsibly.

Get outraged, get off your duff and get out of your home, get within the streets, get in individuals’s faces, get right down to your native metropolis council, recover from to your native faculty board, get your ideas down on paper, get your objections plastered on protest indicators, get your neighbors, family and friends to hitch their voices to yours, get your representatives to concentrate to your grievances, get your youngsters to know their rights, get your native police to march in lockstep with the Structure, get your media to behave as watchdogs for the individuals and never lapdogs for the company state, get your act collectively, and get your home so as.

In different phrases, get shifting.

A wholesome, consultant authorities is tough work. It takes a citizenry that’s knowledgeable concerning the points, educated about how the federal government operates, and prepared to make the sacrifices crucial to remain concerned, whether or not meaning forgoing Monday night time soccer so as to attend a metropolis council assembly or risking arrest by picketing in entrance of a politician’s workplace.

Don’t await issues to get as dangerous as they’re in France, the place civil unrest over a authorities  proposal to boost taxes on fuel has become violent clashes between protesters and the police.

No matter you do, please don’t hinge your freedoms on politics.

No election will ever really alleviate the struggling of the American individuals.

Regardless of which celebration controls Congress or the White Home, the federal government as we’ve got come to realize it—corrupt, bloated and managed by big-money firms, lobbyists and particular curiosity teams—stays largely unchanged. And “we the people”—overtaxed, overpoliced, overburdened by huge authorities, underrepresented by those that ought to converse for us and blissfully unaware of the jail partitions closing in on us—proceed to trudge alongside a path of distress.

Keep in mind what Noam Chomsky needed to say about politics? “It is important to bear in mind that political campaigns are designed by the same people who sell toothpaste and cars.”

In different phrases, as I clarify in my e-book Battlefield America: The Conflict on the American Individuals, we’re being bought a rigorously crafted product by a monied elite who’re masters within the artwork of creating the general public consider that they want precisely what’s being bought to them, whether or not it’s the newest high-tech gadget, the most well liked toy, or probably the most charismatic politician.

It’s simply one other Blue Capsule, a manufactured actuality conjured up by the matrix as a way to hold the populace compliant and satisfied that their vote counts and that they nonetheless have some affect over the political course of.

Don’t purchase any of it.

The Structure is impartial in relation to politics. What the Structure isn’t impartial about, nevertheless, is the federal government’s obligation to safeguard the rights of the citizenry.

“We the people” even have an obligation that goes far past the act of voting: it’s our job to maintain freedom alive utilizing each nonviolent means out there to us.

As Martin Luther King Jr. acknowledged in a speech delivered on December 5, 1955, simply 4 days after Rosa Parks was arrested for refusing to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery metropolis bus: “Democracy transformed from thin paper to thick action is the greatest form of government on earth.”

Know your rights. Train your rights. Defend your rights. If not, you will lose them.

Concerning the Writer

Constitutional lawyer and writer John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute, the place this text (A Disaster within the Making: Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them) was initially revealed. He’s the writer of A Authorities of Wolves: The Rising American Police State and The Change Manifesto.

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A Disaster within the Making: Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them was final modified: December 12th, 2018 by WakingTimes

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