In the past few years, our government has gradually changed its mind regarding the rights of ordinary U.S. citizens. The leaders of our "all-volunteer" armed forces have begun refusing to let their troops rotate out of active service. Even knowing that psychologists state firmly that troops who have been engaged in active combat need rehabilitation after just one tour of duty, they are sending troops back into battle for three, four and even five tours of active combat duty with no respite, no rehabilitation and no thanks. In terms of priority, I feel this needs to be mentioned at the head of any list of abridged civil rights. We are treating the dedicated men and women who are guarding this country as if they were cannon fodder.
For civilians, things are less immediately challenging. However, any one of us can, at the whim of Homeland Security, be detained without counsel and without any ability to communicate, even to our families. We can be sent out of the country and tortured. We can be held, with no charges being filed, for years.
Every keystroke on our computers can be read by our security forces. Such was the arrangement made by Microsoft when the Pentagon bought MS computers for the armed forces a few years ago. An access system called Magic Lantern has been built into every Microsoft product since that meeting of the Pentagon and commerce.
I am not telling you anything you do not already know, I imagine. And perhaps, like I, you have been able to dismiss that uneasy feeling that abridging constitutional rights might not be the right thing for our government to do. After all, we may think, these measures are in place to catch terrorists. I am no terrorist. And anything I might type on my computer is the innocent communication of Joe and Molly Citizen. Surely this is not about me! And yet, in a heartbeat, it can be all about me.
On Aug. 9, I arrived at the Louisville International Airport and entered security while the blazingly hot day dawned. I was carrying a large purse. It was a computer tote, with room for my laptop as well as my wallet, credit cards, sunglasses and diapers. Yes, diapers! I have interstitial cystitis and cannot always reach the bathroom in time, when nature calls. Diapers are wonderful!
Knowing that security measures are intense these days, I had completely unpacked my purse before leaving home and re-stowed my things in it, one by one, very carefully. I knew for certain that there were no liquids or gels in my bag; no knives or lighters; nothing that could be construed as a forbidden item. I learned to be careful when, on my last trip with my husband, a security agent confiscated his entire shaving and bath kit, with the exception of his razor blades, which, oddly, are not on the forbidden list.
A security agent stopped me after my bag had been scanned. He stated that the scan showed a bottle containing liquid. He zipped open my purse and there, right on top, were two diapers my worthy husband, concerned that I should need extras during the flight, had added to the tote at the last minute.
Since the diapers blocked all further view of my purse, I reached for them, intending to aid the inspector by removing them. The inspector loomed over me and almost shouted, "Do not touch your bag. If you touch your bag again, you will be detained."
Had he informed me, before he began his inspection, that regulations prevented me from touching my purse while he checked it, I would have gladly complied. But he did not share that information. It was as though he were hoping I would reach for my bag so that he could threaten and intimidate me. For it is sheer instinct to reach, to help.
The culprit was a tiny vial of homeopathic tablets called "Mag-Phos." These little pills dissolve under the tongue and relieve cramping in the legs and feet, and I never travel without them. The vial stands less than 3 inches tall, has a circumference of less than an inch and, needless to say, contained no liquid.
Discovering this, the officer brusquely said, "You are free to go. Have a nice day." As I took my thoroughly disheveled bag aside to repack it, I heard him saying to the next hapless victim, er, traveler, "Do not touch your bag! If you touch your bag again, I will detain you."
Fear, after Sept. 11, 2001, is the weapon our leaders used to create Homeland Security. Fear is their main weapon in the intimidation and cowing of the American public.
Let me share with you two other recent incidents that move far past the introduction to intimidation that I had.
On July 12 of this year, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports, Kate Penland boarded a Continental Airlines flight with her 18-month-old child. The toddler was babbling, "Bye-bye, plane," over and over again. The flight attendant asked Penland to silence her child. The child was impervious to her instruction, as little ones so often are.
The attendant then offered Penland a strong sedative for the child, which Mom refused to give her baby. The flight attendant then kicked Kate Penland and her child off the airplane. Yes, flight attendants have the right to deplane a passenger who represents a danger to the other passengers. Was this child's innocent babble a threat? You decide.
And ABC News reports that on July 19, a few days later, another Continental flight became the scene of a series of events which have resulted in that airline's being sued by all 124 passengers on the flight.
On that day, Continental Flight 1669, from Caracas, Venezuela, to Newark, N.J., was diverted to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport due to bad weather. It landed at 1:50 pm and taxied to the tarmac, not to any gate. And there the passengers sat on the aircraft until 6:30, with no food. They ran out of water and all other drinks. They ran out of toilet paper. There were elderly people on board, small children, a pregnant woman and a diabetic - this from the account of one of the passengers, Caroline Murray.
The passengers gradually lost all patience and started banging on the soffit of the upper storage compartments. They clapped their hands and chanted. They signed a petition and brought it to the captain. To no avail. There they sat.
When they were finally allowed to leave the airplane, they were forced to walk single file to a wall and inspected by armed officers with a police dog. Then they were led into a vacant room, where they were kept for another two hours, still with no food or water.
The hapless passengers were then ushered back onto the airplane, where they waited for another hour before taking off. The plane landed in Newark at 10 p.m., about nine hours late.
The Continental spokesperson stated that since this was an international flight, passengers were not permitted to deplane. About the rest of the deprivations, there was no official mention, except that they claimed that "Special assistance was provided to passengers with special needs." The passengers denied that this was so. I feel sure that the facts will come out in court.
On Oct. 1, 2001, Q’uo, the extraterrestrial source which I channel for L/L Research, talked about fear, in response to a question about 9/11. This group entity said:
"The solar plexus of many, many entities within your culture has been punched, shall we say, hard and given the opportunity to choose fear, not just once but many times.
"When fear closes or even partially blocks the energy that is flowing through the energetic body, energy moving into the heart becomes less and less, depending upon how bad the blockage is. Consequently, the natural effect of allowing fear into the energy body in any settled way is to close the heart. When the heart center is not receiving very much energy, there is not sufficient energy to do work in consciousness. It may be said that one cannot hear when one is screaming, and in a way that is what fear does: It deafens the ears of the heart."
It seems clear that the heart of our country has been deafened by fear. I cannot argue that there is nothing to fear. Nor can I argue that our government does not have a duty to protect its citizens. I can only state that in my opinion, fear has caused this country to move beyond prudent caution to the creation of a fascistic, militaristic sub-government which is answerable to no one.
I further state that we citizens need to work to untangle the knot of fear into which this administration has driven itself. For one thing, the government has exceeded its proper boundaries. The victims are no longer terrorists. They are likely to be you and I.
For another, and darker, thing, American citizens will not accept such harsh and stringent measures for long without beginning to talk revolution. As singer-songwriter Steve Earle so succinctly phrases this sentiment:
[lyrics start] The revolution starts now,
When you rise above your fear
And tear the walls around you down.
The revolution starts here,
Where you work and where you play,
Where you lay your money down,
What you do and what you say.
The revolution starts now.
The revolution starts now,
In your own backyard,
In your own hometown.
So what you doin' standin' around?
Just follow your heart.
The revolution starts now.
Last night I had a dream
That the world had turned around
And all our hopes had come to be.
And the people gathered 'round.
They all brought what they could bring
And nobody went without.
And I learned a song to sing!
The revolution starts now [lyrics end]
[All rights reserved © Steve Earle]
So far, we American citizens have been very placid in our response to the changes that, more and more, limit our freedom. But we are a nation whose foundation is revolution. If "we the people" become convinced as a whole that our government has betrayed us, and after substantial effort we find that we cannot change things in a peaceful fashion, I can easily envision a time when the grass roots of this nation shall rise and say, "No." And they will not be afraid to buttress this firm rejection with armed resistance.
I would greatly prefer that we as a nation find ways to ameliorate the climate of fear and the removal of our civil rights short of armed rebellion.
One can say that fear is a four-letter word. Yet it is nothing more than a distortion of another four-letter word, love. For there is nothing but love. Sometimes it becomes difficult to recognize love. However, it is always there. It is time for our country and all its citizens to change our thinking from a base of fear to a base of love. We need to begin now!
I open my arms and embrace your spirit. May we be ministers of love as we use our citizenship to bring our country back on to the right track. And may we, as we respond to the issues that arise in our lives, remember not to be deafened by fear, but awake to the voice of love.