This guest post was written by Roger deRoos. Constitution Day is September 17.
The Preamble to the United States Constitution, adopted on September 17, 1787, reads, “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”. A less than perfect document, the Constitution did not extend voting rights to landless citizens, women, Native Americans, and blacks. However, Article V provided for “Amendments to this Constitution” that have corrected many of the faults.
Article VI reads, “This Constitution, and the laws of the United States which shall be made Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding”.
Importantly, all Federal officials take the oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic”.
Despite the unambiguous language, and the general adherence to the Constitution, egregious abuses have occurred. As examples, President Lincoln suspended habeas corpus during the Civil War and President Roosevelt interned those of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast in 1942. However, respect for the Constitution was fundamentally altered following the criminal destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. I
n pursuit of the amorphous and endless “War on Terror,” the administrations of Presidents Bush and Obama, with the approval of Congress, have fostered a climate of perpetual fear under the pretense of “National Security”, a climate which neither the press nor the courts are willing to challenge. The federal government has adopted a culture whereby everyone is guilty until proven innocent.
The list is long and damning. Examples include: government sponsored torture; the National Security Agency’s warrantless surveillance of all forms of communications between millions of innocent citizens; the militarization of the police; the establishment of no protest zones, the suppression of freedom of the press; racial profiling; world-leading incarceration rates; the National Defense Authorization Act that allow the military to arrest and indefinitely detain without trial US citizens accused of a “belligerent act,” or any “terror-related” offense; undeclared wars of choice against Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Syria; and drone attacks on the sovereign countries of Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia.
To those who think “I am not threatened” by our developing police state, ponder on this Constitution Day the 1946 words of the German Lutheran Pastor, Martin Niemöller: “First 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 me, and there was no one left to speak for me “.