Thursday, February 19, 2009

Back in the USSA

More evidence of our descent into a fascist police state.  

This is the kind of bullying that inevitably accompanies the centralization of power into a single party, single branch of government, and/or single person - whether he is lauded and exalted as: Our Commander in Chief, the Caesar, the Dictator, or the Obama.

This is why the founders of the United States created a republican form of government with checks and balances, in which the president "presides," he does not rule or reign.  The president oversees only one branch of only the federal level of government.  He is one cog in a complex wheel of the republic.  He is not our president; he does not preside over us - but rather is the chief executive of the executive branch - which is supposed to be checked by the courts and by the legislature.  He is also the commander in chief of the military - not of the civilians - and, if we were true to our founders and to the Constitution, we would have no standing armies (Jefferson considered standing armies and paper money to be the most dangerous threats to liberty - and history bears him out).

Over time, the American Presidency has become a Caesarship waiting to blossom.  And we have seen past presidents acting with Caesarian pretensions, as in the overtly-fascist Lincoln and FDR administrations.  And, of course, most of us have been "educated" not to point out the emperor's nakedness, even though we can read the Constitution with our own eyes.  To the contrary, we're taught that the Constitution must be read and interpreted by judges and lawyers, the secular priests who assure us we can't read the "sacred" text of the "living" Constitution ourselves.  We're also brainwashed from an early age to accept any and all claims of government power as that which makes us "safe."

And instead of resisting this ominous trend toward hypercentralization and concentration of power - the citizenry just goes along like sheep.  

Even the prayers from the LCMS Commission on Worship use almost worshipful terms of the president of the United States, speaking of him (and other government officials) as "our rulers" and our "leaders" (which takes on a different tone if translated literally into the German of our forefathers).  I remember the negative reaction of a few conservatives when one of Obama's spokesmen said he was ready to "rule" from day one - and yet, our own synodical prayers use this kind of language without flinching, as though we, like the early church, lived in an imperial military dictatorship, or like the church of the reformation era, live under a system of potentates and princes.  

When Washington refused to be crowned, some Americans adopted "No king but Jesus" as their motto.  The people of Israel themselves refused God's advice that they have no monarchical system of secular government - but they wanted to be like other nations, with disastrous results.

But now that Washington has become synonimous with the city that serves as the seat of Big Government, and now that his image is on a fiat note of debt and spent entirely on credit - Americans now shrug and presume that stopping, harassing, and performing searches and seizures on citizens for having anti-abortion literature is normal in a republic that guarantees individual liberty.  We collectively either condone or excuse, or simply surrender to the ridiculous notion that these words were a threat to Mr. Obama - who is ensconced hundreds of miles away surrounded by heavily armed military personnel and an army of secret service agents.  We consider it completely reasonable that agents of the government entered this man's home and snooped around to make sure he wasn't part of a "hate group."  Our ancestors at the time of the American Revolution certainly had other ideas about such "proactive" government.  Our kith and kin in Europe and Africa in the twentieth century also knew a thing or two about it.

We are also all-too-quick to accept government explanations for banning shampoo bottles and nail files from airplanes, not to mention allowing government bureaucrats at the airport to either fondle or look at nude images of our wives and children - all in the name of "safety."   And a police officer in Oklahoma City can't seem to figure out that Barack Obama's life was not in danger because of a sign on a car.  Even he could not resist the urge to harass and bully a citizen going about his business.  What was really happening was that Barack Obama was in danger of being criticized.  And that is something a Caesar cannot endure.  That is the real issue here.  We're even seeing this same tableau in the LCMS - which incidentally also has a "president" who is also seeking a centralization of power, as well as a bureaucratic board that is using threatening legal letters to strong-arm a "no criticism" agreement from the men who run the radio program Issues, Etc. outside of synodical control.

And the last word is the key to understanding this failure of common sense.

It's always about "control."  That's why Lincoln shut down critical newspapers and FDR seized private gold, whose investors were critical and dubious of his redistributive "stimulus" plan.  That's why Julius Caesar was declared dictator for life, why Stalin murdered his critics by the thousands, why the Chinese government is always seeking to censor the internet.  It's about control.  It's also why the founders of our republic did everything they could to decentralize and dilute power with healthy checks and balances and a dose of humility to elected officials - to avoid the kinds of things we see every day and accept as normal and healthy: the desire for government to control everything in our lives.

But that's how the police state works.  It depends on all of us to shut up and allow it to happen.  Police states (and churches) depend on duping the many (by propaganda) into believing these things are all for our good, as well as bullying the few (by threats and force) who know better.

Dr. Veith has a great blog entry quoting Alexis de Tocqueville on how these things generally weasel their way into democratic societies.

The police state's worst enemy is the little boy who points out the emperor's nakedness, the one not buying the propaganda and not intimidated into silence.  That's why the police state doesn't want those "little boys" of every age and sex to have signs, blogs, or radio programs.


solarblogger said...

Do you have a suggestion for better terminology in the more general petitions? When speaking of individuals, I am used to the form "Barack our President" and (in my case) "Arnold our Governor." I agree that "rulers" and "leaders" are not good general terms. Would "those who are in authority" be best? Or is there a better one?

Rev. Eric J Brown said...

Now, to be fair to folks in my state capitol, the police supervisors said that the bumper sticker was unjustly confiscated and corrected the officer in error.

But yeah. . . and it's not just an Obama thing. . . it went on hard the previous 8 years something fierce.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Solarblogger:

I modified the COW prayers last week to refer to "public servants" or "public officials." I think "those in authority" sounds equally fine.

I generally substitute "the president" or "the president of the United States" instead of "our president" (we had a similar discussion here before, and my theory is this became the norm for English-speaking churches through the Book of Common Prayer and Anglican hymnody which speak of "our" king and "our" queen - something that was just carried over after we became a republic.

Father Hollywood said...

Dear Eric:

Yes, they did say it was unjustly confiscated. Of course, if a non-police officer "unjustly confiscates" something, we call that a crime, and somebody pays a fine or goes to jail. It's good to be king (or at least one of the king's horses and one of the king's men).

And, of course, nothing will happen to the Secret Service officers who decided to go through this man's home. And I'm sure President Obama won't be issuing any apologies either.

Some people might think this is no big deal, but it is a fine line (and a fine piece of paper) that separates a free country from despotism. Our founders sure understood this - but I don't think we do anymore.

We have to start learning how to say: "No!" again. And I also believe we need to get rid of the privilege that government agents and bureaucrats enjoy that exempt them from suits and in some cases criminal culpability.

But then again, if we actually started putting criminals in prison, we would have a really small Congress. But maybe that's not such a bad idea.

SLJubilee said...

I wonder if the wisest course of action is to join the Federal Government in some capacity.

It took Rome several hundred years to fall, and during this time the difference between the connected and slaves became more pronounced.

The decision, I think, is based on the amount of time before the United States collapses. If this collapse takes twenty years or more, why fight the sovereignty?

Is it really worth suffering and dying to fight a Fascist regime? And fighting alone?

Will the United States collapse within the next five years? Twenty? Fifty? survivalblog, financialarmageddon, mish, calculatedrisk, and the Financial Times have different perspectives.

Daniel, along with the other educated Jews, did quite well in the heart of the beast empire of Babylon.

And if I remember correctly, Daniel prospered in the next Fascist empire - enough so that his students provided the gold to the King of the World.

With this same gold, Mary used the best educated tutors in Egypt - "Alexandria" - most likely, to teach her son.

Is it any surprise that young Jesus surprised the teachers of the Law during the census? In his formative years, he had lived meters from the Library of Alexandria. (Why not, they had the money...)