Reflecting on Independence

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Ever since I was a kid I always loved the Fourth of July. At first, of course, I liked the fact that my grandmother let us play with minor pyrotechnics (i.e., sparklers) that we’d put out in the pool with a sizzle. But, even at a young age I had an appreciation for the central figure of the holiday, the Declaration of Independence. And as I got older, I grew even more impressed with our founding document.

With such efficiency of language, the Declaration of Independence beautifully sets forth — what I believe to still be true up to the present day — the fundamental underlying relationship that ties the state to the people its governs. And being the inherently legal document that it was, the Declaration lists the ways in which the King of England had violated that bind, and therefore the people had a “[right and duty] to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

While watching the moving protests in the streets of Tehran and, at the same time listening to the same pundits who just recently wanted us to obliterate Iran now show the Iranians their heartfelt support, I kept thinking about America’s own revolutionary past and its present dislike for armed revolution.

Contrast that of course with those who believe that the Second Amendment grants a private right to bear arms precisely so that if oppressed the people can revolt against their own government. Surely, were we to go back in time to 1776, the American revolutionaries, especially the Minutemen who were fighting guerrilla warfare, would today have been considered at the very least insurgents. Nevertheless, there would be few American politicians who would ever support allowing, for example, for the Iraquis or Palestinians to freely bear arms.

But for the sake of argument, were either the Iraqui insurgents or the Palestinian militias to stop all attacks on civilians and focus strictly on military targets would they then cease to be deplorable terrorists and become American-style revolutionaries? How about if they protested peacefully would they then also gain our compassion as the Iranians did?  Or do we only like those who protest our enemies and not our friends, regardless of whether they live under foreign military occupation or apartheid?

This leads to another question I have been thinking about a lot lately: are we Americans able to accept that our own government, like other nations, is capable of committing human rights violations? Why is it that when other countries torture prisoners, it is torture and when we do it, it is enhanced interrogation? How can the New York Times call Iranian interrogation tactics “torture” but not the very same tactics that the U.S. has admitted to have used against detainees in Guantanamo and elsewhere.

Virtually every tactic which the article describes the Iranians as using has been used by the U.S. during the War on Terror, while several tactics authorized by Bush officials (waterboarding, placing detainees in coffin-like boxes, hypothermia) aren’t among those the article claims are used by the Iranians.  Nonetheless, “torture” appears to be a perfectly fine term for The New York Times to use to describe what the Iranians do, but one that is explicitly banned to describe what the U.S. did.  Despite its claimed policy, the NYT has also recently demonstrated its eagerness to use the word “torture” to describe these same tactics . . . when used by the Chinese against an American detainee.

Why are we so disgusted when Iran or North Korea imprison a foreign journalist, but when we put one in Guantanamo without trial it goes unreported? Why is it not considered a gross violation of our fundamental principles when we detain suspects in far away black sites that are secret for the very purpose of hiding from the law. If rights are inalienable, then shouldn’t they be inalienable everywhere?

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4 Comments

Filed under Digressions, Essays

4 responses to “Reflecting on Independence

  1. Having a tough time with definitions, ey?

    The “insurgents” are mostly NOT Iraqis; they are Syrians, Jordanians, Egyptians, Iranians … that’s why they are insurgents ~ they have no business in the country, and the war is none of their business … again, the Geneva Conventions defines what is a “lawful combatant”. They aren’t, and execution with extreme prejudice and malice of forethought is more than acceptable; it’s required.

    The Constitution is for “persons” of the sovereign nation of the United States of America. The only extension of the Constitution beyond our borders is as an effect of personhood, (limited to the individual). The “detainees” don’t have Constitutional r/Rights, and aren’t entitled to any … the same with illegal aliens. Detainees have prescribed rights under the Geneva Conventions, and yes, even those have been and are being denied ~ Maobama = Bush/Village Idiot.

    For perspective, yes, torture is torture, and if you commit torture, then you have no grounds to cry foul on anyone else who does likewise; hypocrisy is repulsive.

    But then, so is equivocation and the falsifiable belief that humans are “entitled” to rights. Power and subjugation to power rule all, always have, always will. Suffering is the “entitlement”, nothing else.

    Watch what happens if Maobama is actually able to use the power afforded by the Congressional imbalance to dissolve the Constitutional authority … then maybe your egalitarian ideology will come to grips with actuality.

    Wille zur macht, all there ever was, all there ever will be. That doesn’t apply to just hominids either, it is the manner of all life on this planet, ad infinitum.

  2. ReWrite

    Eric, another excellent post!

  3. eric

    Well, I am not talking the Constitution here just the Declaration of Independence here, and in order for the arguments in the Declaration to stick, they first had to establish that there were in fact, derived from Natural Law, certain “inalienable rights”. Sure, maybe no one is naturally entitled to any rights whatsoever, BUT the idea that they are is one of the cornerstones of our founding documents.

    Regarding Obama, he is just a more eloquent and intelligent extension of Bush, proving that there are certain “forces” that prevent a president from ever really changing policy.

  4. Okay, that’s fine, let’s talk about it from the Declaration of Independence then …

    America was at that time was imperial colonisation from the Monarchy. The Minutemen were not “insurgents”, they were actually acting as ordered under British law of the time, we were guerrillas, (times two: Native Americans were here first, the British law ruled).

    So the validity of your first major assertion just fell through.

    Next, we can go at the “inalienable rights” and “all men created equal”.

    Both are errors of logic generated from social contract theory … WHICH NO ONE I HAVE EVER MET HAS ANY CLUE ABOUT!!!! F’n astounding … falsifiable claim after falsifiable claim based on the theoretical basis of virtually all human socialisation, and a world full of morons that have no idea what it is …

    Social contract is erroneous for two reasons, blisteringly obvious reasons. First, it assumes an unprovable; i.e. divine agency. From divine agency it is assumed that all interactions are a form of economic transaction, based upon nascent human “goodness” in the form of ethical desires to perform transactions solely for mutually advantageous equity.

    The first error can never be undone; divine agency is neither fully provable or disprovable; ending in a null set/zero sum.

    The second error has been fully disproven by science. The actuality is that even chimpanzees and bonobos work socially by measures of advantageous and disadvantageous inequity.

    Social contract is dead, and the “right” of any individual only extends to the point that the “right” can be defended against another individual’s ability to take that “right” away.

    You are correct about Chairman Maobama. What it really shows is just how pervasive gullibility is, and just how much the American citizen is a mindless media gimp.

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