Tag Archives: civil liberties

Long Past Time for Christians to Stand Up

Something very sick, creepy, and evil has taken over the Republican party. It makes one’s flesh crawl. A GOP congressional candidate body slams a reporter, then gets elected. GOP lawmakers at the Texas state house call ICE on peaceful protesters, who just happen to have brown skin. One lawmaker threatens to “put a bullet” through his Democratic opponent’s head. A grisly hate crime is perpetrated in Portland and the present administration has to be vehemently coaxed to make a statement denouncing such acts. The violence, intolerance, racism, misogyny, and lack of respect for the poor and suffering are reaching fever pitch, empowering the sickest elements of our society, and one gets the impression from their silence that many of our elected officials actually find it refreshing. Many Christians helped vote these people into office; they are thus partly responsible. If what calls itself “the church” in this country does not stand up and denounce this brand of behavior, one can only assume it is because they approve.

In the U.S., white supremacy and fascist movements have a long history of Christian support. In the 1930s fascism grew apace here, largely with the help of Christians who believed in an America for whites only. It was only WWII (when Hitler and Mussolini became the enemy) that put a stop to their advancement. But they have never entirely disappeared, just gone underground, waiting for the right moment and the right person to empower their voices. Sadly, such support merely demonstrates the complete lack of Christianity in those who call themselves Christians.

Let’s face it, for a significant percentage of Christians (is it a majority? I don’t know. I hope not), things like democracy, free speech, human rights, and the free practice of  religion are sacrosanct when it comes to themselves. When it comes to others’ exercising those same rights, however, many Christians are not so enthusiastic. Nor, really when it comes down to it, are they that committed to democratic ideals. It seems they would much rather have an iron-willed, jack-booted dictator to kick them in the ass and promote “law and order,” (i.e., silence dissent, show minorities their place, and make other undesirables disappear), than to live in a free society where tolerance is required.

Let’s put it simply. Those who call themselves Christians, yet despise everything Jesus stands for (such as mercy, tolerance, kindness, peace, generosity, love for the poorest and weakest, including immigrants), are deeply mistaken. They actually have nothing in common with Jesus, except that they try to use his name to justify their putrid hate and ignorance. To be a follower of Jesus Christ, one must follow his teachings and walk in his ways. The apostle John makes that clear in his first epistle (1 Jn 1:5,6; 2;3,4; 3:16,17).

It is long past time for Christians to stand up and denounce what is being done in their name. If they will not separate themselves from this movement, then they must be prepared to share in its judgment. For “it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God” ( 1 Ptr 4:17).

 

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Connecting the Dots

It is no secret that the Obama Administration has been going after government whistleblowers like an anteater at a termite hill. 1) Since 2009 the Obama DOJ has prosecuted more than twice the number of whistleblowers and leakers than all preceding administrations combined—2) not including the numerous foreign journalists whom the US has had indefinitely detained in countries like Yemen and Iraq for daring to expose American military atrocities and corruption. 3) Army Pfc Bradley Manning is currently being tried for leaking close to a million classified government documents to WikiLeaks, including 250,000 diplomatic cables and a video of the now notorious July 12, 2007 Baghdad airstrike. While embarrassing, none of the documents is considered high security. 4) Meanwhile, WikiLeaks’s own Julian Assange is still holed up in London’s Ecuadorian embassy for fear that the administration wants him extradited to the US.  5) In January internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz took his own life before going to trial for downloading millions of academic articles from research service JSTOR. If found guilty, he would have faced the possibility of a draconian 35 years in prison. Why was he hounded so mercilessly for something JSTOR was willing to dismiss? It has just been revealed he was working on an internet safe-drop for whistleblowers. 6) Earlier this month Assata Shakur, a Black Panther activist who fled to Cuba over 30 years ago, was placed on the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorist list (I guess they’ve given up on D.B. Cooper).  7) And this week it came to light that in 2012 the Justice Department seized phone records of nearly 100 Associated Press reporters. To say the least, the administration’s policies have had a chilling effect on investigative reporters and their sources, not to mention freedom of the press.

What is going on? Why this unsubtle attack on First Amendment privileges and internet freedom? And how, if at all, are all these cases connected? As Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Christ Hedges stated yesterday in an interview on Democracy Now,

“What we are seeing is a system put into place where it’s all propaganda….you’ve got to hand it to the Obama administration. They’re far more clever than their predecessors in the Bush administration, but they’re carrying out exactly the same policy of snuffing out our most basic civil liberties and our most important press freedoms. And that’s because they know what’s coming, and they are going to legally put in place [a system] by which any challenge to the centers of corporate power become ineffectual or impossible.”

The corporate coup of our republic is nearing its completion. But there are still a few minor obstacles to absolute domination, such as our constitutionally protected freedoms of speech and press. The military-industrial complex plans to be at war into the next century, so anyone who challenges the official narrative needs to be silenced. The internet and social media are too much of a threat. Americans must be kept in the dark about what their government is actually doing.

The War on Terror has been a tremendous boon to the consummation of the corporate power-grab, since citizens who imply that the emperor is naked can now be simply labeled “terrorists” and either bullied or prosecuted into silence (soon they will just be “detained” indefinitely like their foreign counterparts).

As journalist Glenn Greenwald has warned us all along, the war against Muslims and foreign journalists was the canary in the coalmine that should have alerted us to the crisis. Did we really think it would end with them, that we ordinary Americans would be immune? Simply because we’re not one of “those people”?

The corporate power that rules Washington also knows better than we that there is a growing citizen backlash against their totalitarian ambitions, which is why movements like Occupy Wall Street have been treated with the same paranoia and labeled “domestic terrorism.” Our Founders’s worst nightmares are now a looming reality. If we want to save our Constitution from further shredding, the time to start standing up was yesterday, but it still might not be too late.

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