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Imagine it’s 1984. Ronald Reagan is president. The Cold War is
raging. The Evil Empire is alive and well. U.S. military forces are
being rebuilt. Somebody gets the bright idea to hold unprecedented
live-fire exercises for Army special operations units in selected
Americans towns and cities.
In the dead of night, Delta Force troops sweep into towns firing
weapons, burning down buildings and exploding grenades. Civilians are
Yet, there is a virtual blackout on coverage of the events. Mayors
tell newspaper reporters that they can’t talk for national security
reasons. Police chiefs won’t comment. The Pentagon downplays the
Now, what do you think the reaction to this would be from liberals in
the press, left-wing political activists and civil libertarians?
Even while America was engaged in a titanic struggle against the
Communist Soviet Union, such maneuvers would have been unthinkable,
incomprehensible, dumb. Why then have those predictable voices of
dissent about all things military been so still in the last week as the
U.S. Army invaded a good portion of Texas and Louisiana with just such
Finally, yesterday, The New York Times carried its first story on the
Texas developments — an Associated Press report designed to minimize
concerns about militarization, I am still waiting for the first sign of
outrage from anyone to the left of Attila the Hun.
But it’s not just the left that’s uncharacteristically silent. The
Republicans and conservatives — even in Texas — don’t seem to
understand the grave threat such exercises represent. Gov. George W.
Bush, considered a front-runner for the 2000 GOP presidential
nomination, professed ignorance over the maneuvers. It hadn’t yet been
reported in The New York Times.
Now let me say that I respect the military. It has an important role
in defending America. I am no pacifist. But I also believe in the
Constitution of the United States. The law is quite clear in America
that the military is not to serve as an occupying force or to be
directed in any way against the people of the states. It should also not
be used to intimidate civilians, to make them fear their own government.
I believe that is exactly the purpose of these exercises in Texas and
the vicinity. It’s part of a trend I call the militarization of the
federal government. Washington is playing gunboat diplomacy with its own
people — showing off its power and might, just in case anyone gets any
ideas about rebellion or resistance.
We’ve seen it in the civilian sector of government. More and more
federal employees are being trained, equipped and armed as police agents
than ever before. There are more than 80,000 armed federal law
enforcement agents prowling around the country at last count. That in
itself is the virtual standing army over which the founding fathers had
nightmares. Add to that figure the U.S. military forces, which,
apparently, are no longer prohibited from domestic missions.
Remember, it’s not just about the Texas maneuvers. Just a few weeks
ago, President Clinton was telling the nation that what we needed was a
new “domestic commander-in-chief” to protect us from threats to our
infrastructure — be they from terrorism or other internal threat.
Hmmmmmm. Let’s see. Live-fire military exercises in civilian
population centers … the arming of more federal law enforcement agents …
the creation of a new commander-in-chief for domestic preparedness …
and, of course, the continuing effort to disarm law-abiding civilians
throughout the United States through a concerted legal attack on gun
manufacturers, a media assault on the Second Amendment and political
targeting of pro-gun laws in all 50 state legislatures.
What’s wrong with this picture? Why should the government have all
the guns? Does anyone remember why the Second Amendment was crafted by
our founders? Do you think it was intended to protect hunters or to
provide defense against criminals?
No way, the founders blessed us with the Second Amendment because
they understood the biggest threat to the freedom of the American people
would come from government. And the best way to hold a government in
check — in fact, the only way — is through a vigilant and well-armed
Does anyone get it anymore? Left? Right? Middle? It’s your freedom
that is at stake.