The real state of the union, pt1

I’ve got a serious thing for quotes.  It’s one of the reasons I like Maggie McNeill’s blog so much, because she has all these nifty quotes.  I’ll be throwing several quotes at you today, boys and girls.  It’s time we had a little talk.

“History may not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”   Attributed to Mark Twain.

And, even more famously, “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” ~ George Santayana.

If I were to select one carefully crafted motto to assign to modern American society, a nutty epitaph encapsulating our most heartfelt and deeply ingrained social psyche, it would be, “That’s different.”*  We’ve picked up such a talent for convincing ourselves we’re the exception; or, perversely, that we’re quite normal and someone else is the exception.  Americans can be talked into anything by simply explaining why the hundreds or thousands of times this has happened before doesn’t apply to us, oh no.  Millenniums of human history bedamned.

Once government gets its grubby paws on an income source, it will do anything to protect that money up to and including war.

Prohibition does not work.  While it is possible to legislate morality – and in fact is the most likely reason – what one cannot legislate is a change in human nature.  People will do stuff you don’t like.  Most of them can’t be convinced to share your opinion whether you use the soft words or the big stick.  Usually, you might find this really annoying but it isn’t your business.  Get over it.

Every government which claims special powers to persecute a specific class of citizen outside of the normal laws and mores, will then use that same justification to go after people who believed that was merely a one-time special case scenario only applying to those people.

Debt has never been cured by spending exponentially increasing sums of money you don’t have.

“For the greater good” is a rallying cry used by those who would cause pain and suffering, not unthinkingly but deliberately.  Tyrants wade in blood, and claim that it will all be worth it one day.

Power without fear of consequence breeds atrocities.

The government lies.

And we are doing every one of these things today in America. The bleating herd is told that all those police officers who employ deadly force against the innocent, the elderly, the very young, the disabled and above all the unarmed are just a few bad apples, and we lap it up.  Never mind that aiding and abetting, conspiracy to conceal a crime and accessory after the fact are all criminal acts; when one belongs to the largest gang in the nation, such things become mere details.  We’re told exceptions must be made for those whose job it is to lay down their life to protect us, and that only the most ungrateful can’t cut Officer Friendly some slack.  Few will bring up the reminder of cases such as Warren v. District of Columbia (and numerous others) which establish as a fact of law that the police have no duty to protect and anyone who believes so is mistaken.  Fewer still recall the very public, live news feed proof of this when the Littleton Police Department cowered outside of Columbine school.

On March 23, 2010, a health care law was signed which every poll ever taken showed to be opposed by a majority of Americans.  Senate and House phone lines were crashed with the influx of calls from constituents demanding their congresscritter vote according to the people’s wishes.  Millions staged protests.  Now, Republicans are promising to repeal or de-fund the widely (and blatantly obvious) disliked health care law… just as soon as they can agree on what they plan to replace it with.  And Americans still think there is a difference between the Republican and Democrat parties.

TSA (aka Testical Squeezing Authority) claims the right to strip search every airline passenger in America, despite lacking either probable cause or a warrant – and now legally lacking consent, once TSA made it clear that failure to give consent constitutes a crime worthy of arrest, and “do this or else” has never passed legal muster.  The American response?  “Well, if they say we must give up our liberty to stay safe…” and the truly precious, “Don’t like it?  Don’t fly.”  Pity, that, because TSA announced it’s bringing the nude scanners and Burger King Reject Fondles Your Daughter ninja safety kung-fu to “public transportation and busses, rail systems, malls and sporting arenas.”  So it’s more like, “Don’t fly, don’t take the bus, or the train, or the metro, or shop, or buy a ticket to anything.  Hell, just stay home.”  And the response now?  Crickets chirp.  We’ll do anything to maintain our bovine complacency.

Does no one remember what happened the last time demands for “Papieren, bitte!” at the behest of a gun was popular?  Hell, does no one remember that Nazi was a nickname, and what it was short for?  Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, German for National Socialist Worker’s Party.  Party members referred to themselves as Nationalsozialisten (National Socialists), which was shortened to Nazi.

It’s all right there in any history book you care to crack open.  Yeah, I know, Godwin’s Law.  We’re supposed to pretend what happened in Germany was such an exception to the rule of human nature (I’m sensing a recurring theme here) that no honest parallel could ever be drawn.  It was hideous, sure, it’s just, you know, that doesn’t apply here.  That’s different.  There is absolutely no way equating patriotism with being an informer, lists of who is a good citizen and who is not, random checkpoints, “I was just doing my job”, police shooting pyjama-clad families in their homes in the middle of the night, government seizing power and suspending liberty for the public good in a society with a dying economy can in any way be compared to Nazi Germany.

Sure.

Egypt shut down the internet, and the Obama administration announced it is seeking an internet kill-switch of its own, but ours would be totally different than the one they used in Egypt.

Pull the other one, it’s got bells on.

There’s one quote in particular I’ve loved since I first read it.  It was stirring, evocative of all the higher qualities we mere mortals aspire to and yet which are so damned difficult to live.  Integrity.  Courage.  Devotion to an ideal.  Individualism.  Sacrifice.  It reminds me of something you might hear in a Hollywood movie speech from a post-apocalyptic president played by some chisel-jawed actor trying for his third comeback, only someone real actually said this.

If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animated contest of freedom — go from us in peace. We ask not your counsels or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains rest lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen. ~ Samuel Adams

Too right, Sam.

What do you think Samuel Adams would think of the state of our union today?

 

* And it’s less than 140 characters.

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Published in: on February 8, 2011 at 4:26 pm  Comments (7)