Last week in this space, primarily citing firearms laws and the nascent surveillance state in America, I criticized some on both the right and the left for their tendency to accept an inordinate degree of government intervention in certain areas when it served their particular ideology and Americans' overall penchant for denial with regard to emerging government tyranny. Finally, I asserted that if we are to survive as a free nation – possibly even restoring some of the rights that have been usurped or diluted by our government – then we are going to have to become far more scrupulous with regard to our vigilance against tyranny, as well as becoming better informed as to what our constitutional rights actually are.
Despite much relief on the part of conservative and libertarian types following the election of Donald Trump and his proclivity for respecting constitutional law in more areas than most of his predecessors in recent memory, we must be (or become) aware that we are still in a fight for our lives, constitutionally-speaking, and that progressivism is very much alive and well in America.
Today I would like to challenge Americans' tendency to summarily accept the doctrines of institutional orthodoxies, such as certain laws and conventions. There are many dangers associated with such behavior; an extreme example might be German citizens in the 1940s who had nothing in particular against Jews, but who turned their Jewish neighbors in to the Gestapo simply because it was "the law of the land." When people become slaves to the doctrines of institutional orthodoxies, there is a very real danger of their losing their humanity.
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American citizens have been living in a sort of retrogressive groove in this sense for at least a century, as they accept or ignore the myriad laws and dictates of regulatory agencies that chip away their individual liberties.
There are any number of laws and conventions I might use to illustrate this, but some will resonate more readily than others either due to their gravity, or because they have come to light in the recent past.
Firearms laws are far and away among the most dangerous of these. I have repeatedly cited the fact that even those gun control measures most Americans deem "reasonable" have severely eroded our Second Amendment rights, as well as often containing insidious "poison pills" therein that restrict Americans' right to keep and bear arms far more than the ostensible intention sold to the public at the time of their implementation. I have pointed out that federal law bars many people who have been convicted of nonviolent crimes as well as people who have been institutionalized for any mental issues, voluntarily or involuntarily (a woman's nervous breakdown after a rape, for example), from ever owning or possessing firearms or ammunition. Look it up.
A "controversial" sheriff recently declared that the Second Amendment is the only concealed carry permit any citizen needs, and in fact there are 12 states in which the law reflects this. And then there are the Oath Keepers, a constitutionally conscious organization of law enforcement personnel that is active in every state in the Union; some of its members will refrain from arresting individuals whom they discover carrying concealed firearms without a permit despite the law, unless they happen to have outstanding warrants or something of that nature.
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A little-known fact is that the first gun control laws in America had their roots in racist practices, as Oath Keepers Board of Directors member Gregg McWhirter points out in his article "Gun Control is Racism."
Among the dangerous conventions Americans tend to "let slide" is that of the inequality in application of the law when it comes to those in power. As I illustrated many times here during the presidency of Barack Obama, there were many in the higher echelons of our national government who were aware that Obama's birth certificate (the one released on the White House website in April 2011) was created from whole digital cloth. I ascertained this within a half hour after downloading the document myself. This is a crime under federal law as regards individuals employing such information in order to attain high office. Yet, the matter was never brought to light by anyone in government, Republican or Democrat.
There's also a crime on the books called Misprision of felony (18 U.S. Code § 4), which states that anyone possessing knowledge of a felony, and who conceals that fact, is committing a felony. Thus, there are possibly dozens of high-ranking government officials and lawmakers past and present who skated on this issue, whereas you or I would have been doing the perp walk.
Then, there is the recent sexual harassment scandal that escalated into revelations concerning the fact that taxpayers have been funding hush money payments to the victims of sexual harassment at the hands of members of Congress for years. Finally, there are the plethora of illegal and unethical activities in which the Hillary Clinton campaign engaged in torpedoing Bernie Sanders' bid for the Democratic nomination and attempting to defeat Donald Trump.
I could go on and on, but these are just a (very) few of the literally innumerable examples of illegality and misfeasance for which most corporate chieftains – and certainly average citizens – would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. This dangerous and increasingly employed double standard will continue to be the status quo until public outrage, similar to that which got Donald Trump elected, is applied to the erosion of our liberties.