Do not be misled. There is no compromise in our nations security by obeying the Constitution, as a warrant can be obtained in secret and even after the fact. The notion that any President has forsaken the very foundation of our countrys system of government whereby one branch (judicial) checks another branch (executive) from overreaching is an alarming fact. It is a modern day tyranny that must rouse our uniquely American sense of democracy and rekindle the historical embers from which our Declaration of Independence and Constitution arose. It is patriotic to stand against a government that violates its citizens rights. Indeed, it is our heritage and obligation, a tenet of our countrys greatness.
To ignore Big Brothers spying is to repeat our mistakes (e.g. internment of the Japanese) and allow the insidious degradation of our fundamental liberty. For if we are complacent, and anesthetize ourselves with the un-American mantra I dont care, I have nothing to hide, we have just sold our democratic heritage, and those who gave their lives for it, out. We will have turned our back until these rights are a historical footnote, a quaint luxury of the past when there was no omnipresent terrorist threat.
How we protect our civil liberties during a time of crisis is how our nation is, and should be, judged. If they mean anything, we must not cut and run from them when their real value is put to the test.
Thomas Jefferson said, Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the boisterous sea of liberty. Now is not the time for timidity. These rights have earned more than lip service.
It is our freedom, constitutionally protected, that we point to when justifying our attempts to spread democracy, not our economy or standard of living. Is this freedom not the very concept we are trying to bring to those in Iraq at the expense of countless lives?
Freedom is indeed not free. The cost of it might be less efficiency, and the guilty may occasionally go free, but we know we have the right to think and say what we believe, regardless of governmental eavesdropping, unlike North Korea. The right to be free from government spying is about as American as it gets. If we do not raise our collective voices in opposition, we have acquiesced, and should not be surprised to watch our liberties continually erode.
As we learn more about the Presidents spying in the upcoming hearings, we must be prepared to ask tough questions of him and ourselves. Is fear sufficient justification for taking our liberty? It takes courage to stand in the face of fear. Our nation can proudly make that stand for the whole world to see, and give discomfort to our enemies.
Blake Ringsmuth is a Traverse City attorney.