Constitution a suicide pact?


They’re not like you and me, those folks who say we are justified in torturing, in keeping people in prisons forever without trial, in bombing villages to kill a single person, in spying on everyone’s phone calls and emails. Indefinite detention, murder, a police state, all these are justified now because we are in danger. The Constitution, they say, is not a suicide pact.

They are willing to forgo all the freedoms, all the justice on which our lives here as Americans are based. They are willing to tear up the Constitution. Because they are afraid. They are more afraid to die than you and I are, for they are willing to give up every ideal they have so long as they are not hurt.

Not physically hurt that is, for they are willing for the government to spy on us, to shame us, to demand of us what we know is wrong. To say the Constitution is not a suicide pact is to dishonor every soldier that has fought or is fighting now. They would not be fighting for our freedoms, for our ideals, then; they are fighting only for our survival at any cost no matter how bad.

Yet is our survival so threatened? Is there really a chance that one of our cities will be wiped out? That crazed fanatics will invade New Mexico? That there will be house-to-house fighting? No, they say, for our troops are over there.

Over there? Where? Wherever our leaders tell us there is a threat: Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Yemen and England, too, where so many troops are stationed.

And the troops in Germany are protecting us. From what? Not from Germans. They are there to provide support so we can invade any country we want.

Next it will be Iran. That country is a threat, we are told, and anyone here who says differently is suspect, worthy of being spied on. And if one of us were to try to make peace, to approach our foes such as the Taliban to say that war is wrong, that we can live together, they will be arrested, for our new laws say that to counsel the enemy in any way is aiding the enemy.

As if preaching peace were the equivalent of giving them guns. It is equivalent, though, for those who have to keep us in fear, for those who profit from war, from those who wish to be elected by appearing stronger, more forceful in the face of threats they themselves manufacture.

The Constitution is not a suicide pact, they say. And with that they accept loss of all our freedoms. When soldiers fight only to protect us from manufactured fears, they are not acting honorably but only helping to establish a police state. They are not fighting for our freedoms, for freedoms are the first casualty of any war. We have lost so many of our freedoms already.

Those who are fighting for our freedoms are those who stand up to authority — in peace, without violence — who say again and again that torture is wrong, that locking up people forever without trial is wrong, that spying on people who protest peacefully is wrong, that harassing people because they are black, or brown, or Muslim is wrong, that using violence to control oil markets is wrong, that war is wrong.

Those who curtail our freedoms in the name of protecting us have made this country into the horror that Osama Bin Laden said we were. Vicious, frightened, evil in our hatred of other religions, greedy, with no ideals. They’re not like you and me.

Come join us every Friday on the Plaza at 4:30 p.m. to fight for our freedoms by saying peacefully, again and once again, that war is wrong, that we must stop war by stopping the causes of war.

Arf, formerly known as Dr. Richard L. Epstein, is the author and publisher of books on reasoning and is head of the Advanced Reasoning Forum in Socorro.