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Is This Still America?

I have spent a lot of time lately trying to wrap my head around the NSA/Snowden/drones/Guantanamo/gun control/etc. debate, and I have come to the conclusion that I don’t recognize the America of my youth. I know that’s a strong statement, but America just doesn’t feel like America anymore. “The land of the free and the home of the brave” is ringing hollow in my ears.

Although it’s tough to pin my feelings on any one event, I believe the steady increase in government dependency combined with the steady decrease in personal accountability have led us to a state in which nobody bats an eye if Obama kills an American citizen with a drone attack or few care that the NSA is reading all of your personal communication. Americans would have rioted over this type of government behavior back in the 1960’s. Now we delude ourselves into thinking it’s ok if it makes us safer. When did we start caring so little about the Constitution? Due process? the second amendment? Privacy?

We are entering a world in which the Constitution is being treated like an a la carte dinner menu and the government is the one ordering for you. “Trust us, we know best,” is the lazy thought of the masses while the government becomes ever-more entrenched in our lives and the mainstream media turns an ever-blinder eye to the scandal. But it’s not really a scandal as long as we’re all going along with it.

I get a sense most people don’t care about these issues because it doesn’t directly affect them. So what if an American with a Muslim name got smoked in a far-away country by a drone? He probably deserved it. So what if the NSA reads my emails? There is nothing interesting in them. So what if Mr. Snowden says America spies on its allies? They are probably up to no good anyway.

And on and on we justify the bad behavior and trampling of the Constitution. But someday it will affect you and me. And then we’ll remember why our forefathers fought and died to protect us from tyranny, government intrusion, and sadly…ourselves. I leave you with this.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

-Martin Niemöller


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