They Thought They Were Free
January 13, 2009 Leave a comment
“…What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security….”
“…To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it – please try to believe me – unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, “regretted,” that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these “little measures” that no “patriotic (insert country)” could resent must someday lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head…”
“You see,” my colleague went on, “one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not? – Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty…”
-Milton Mayer, “They Thought They Were Free” UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS (1955)
President Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney knowingly lied to start a preemptive and illegal war against Iraq and admit they (along with Donald Rumsfeld) sanctioned torture. Congress passes the ‘Patriot Act’ without reading it. Bush admits he ordered the spying on of ALL emails and other electronic communications (landline phones and cells) of ALL Americans. Bush orders the repeal of habeas corpus (they don’t have to bring you in front of a judge and can keep you incommunicado), and search warrants are a thing of the past.
Feds can break into your house, without warrant, when you are gone, download your computer and search your papers…when you are gone…without warrant. They can threaten anyone who sees them…with warrantless arrest if they tell you what they saw. These laws will remain on the books, and they have already been used in non-terrorist related cases.
“You have nothing to fear unless you break the law…ever heard of mistakes made by police, ever heard of government authorities going after someone with a dissenting viewpoint, or payback to whistle-blowers? The side effect of what’s going on is a slow introduction of the tightening of freedom of speech and civil liberties of all Americans.
We must, it seems, come to terms with the fact that the government actually thinks they own us, they can financially mortgage our futures (and our children’s children’s, childrin’s) and to a very large degree decide what our future will be by manipulation of laws.
What recourse does the common person have when government goes amuck, “for our own protection’, and there is no more “free press” or ability to publicly dissent?