Worldview: Infamy: on why never forgetting matters

via https://www.recreation.gov/showPage.do?name=landing&landing=/htm/pearlharbor/home.jsp&contractCode=NRSO&parkId=72369

The USS Arizona Memorial via Recreation.gov

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was correct when he declared that December 7th, 1941 would be a day that will live in infamy. The brutal Japanese attack on the US bases at Pearl Harbor shocked what had been just before a naive and isolationist nation into realizing the reality of the state of the world and plunged it into three and a half years of some of the most brutal warfare the world has ever known.

Yet, 75 years later, it is easy to forget the lessons Americans needed to learn from that event and to imagine lessons that should be forgotten.

The fact is that we should not remember Pearl Harbor out of some sense of xenophobia or bigotry or fear. It is easy to imagine that we should be suspect of those different from us and cast them as enemies, but if we were to do so, we would be wrong. The attack on Pearl Harbor was about far different lessons.

Instead, we should remember Pearl Harbor, and indeed all of World War Two, for what it represents about the world. The world is an unsettled, dangerous place, and it always has been. There has never been a time when the price of liberty is not eternal vigilance, and even when we are most vigilant, those who oppose us retain the ability to strike.

But, instead of despairing and fearing that reality, it should prompt us to adhere even more fully to the ideals that should define us. We should advance liberty even more. We should protect the oppressed with more zeal. We should prove to the whole world why we are a beacon rather than a blight.

It is by remembering the nature of our darkest days that we remember who we are. We must take hold of the ideals those events woke and put them into action. We must not let the darkness overcome the light. This is why we remember.

Never forget.

DLH

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Worldview: Never forgotten–Memorial Day 2011

It is appropriate that our nation should set aside a day to remember the sacrifices of all those who gave of themselves in defense of their nation to the point of giving their lives. Without such sacrifice, the republic could not be free, and out ideals of individualism, liberty, and independence could not succeed.

Yet, we must not forget those sacrifices or ideals the other days of the year. The fact that the men and women we remember today, taken from us by the violence of war or the cold hand of time, gave of themselves for the greater cause of what our nation stands for and is built upon should be seared into our minds every day, not just on Memorial Day. It is through the example of their service that we come to realize the full cost of the freedom we claim, and it is by their sacrifice that we should measure the value of our own payment toward that ideal.

And, if we find ourselves falling short of their example, then it is by their example that we can find our own way to pay the cost. This does not mean we must pay in our blood or our lives, but we must pay in a lifelong struggle to establish ourselves as individuals, exercising the liberty we have been blessed with, and standing firm in the independence that others earned and we continue to secure. It is when we do these things that we honor those who have gone before and we lay the foundation for those who will follow.

Godspeed then, brothers and sisters who have gone before. May we be found worthy to be counted among your ranks when then time comes.

DLH

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Worldview: Once upon a time

A few years ago, I vigorously defended the power of the  government to use warrantless searches as an intelligence gathering tool against foreign nationals and their collaborators living on American soil who our intelligence agencies believed were enemy agents. I defended that action based on precedence (e.g.: forms of warrantless searches for intelligence purposes have been conducted since the Lincoln administration) and the fundamental lack of better tools (e.g.: federal laws do not adequately provide for domestic intelligence gathering methods). I stand by that defense, yet I also stand by my observation that it was only necessary because there were not better tools.

These years later, our intelligence agencies still do not have the better tools they need, and the government has taken even more obtrusive steps in its efforts to secure intelligence through ever-looser definitions of the laws that govern what it can and cannot do.

At the risk of taking a black eye from my opponents in the warrantless searches debate, I must now say that the government has proven incapable of using the powers it possesses by precedent and function in keeping with the ideals of federal republicanism, the guarantees of the Bill of Rights, and fundamental individual liberty. While I still believe that the warrantless search tool was one the government had the right to use in the proper time and place, I also now believe that the time has come for the people and the government to specifically spell out the type and scope of powers the government has to use for domestic intelligence gathering and to define a meaningful process for due process and appeal against intelligence gathered on US soil.

At the heart of this–partial–reversal in thinking is the following evidence:

“The FBI is building a database with the names and certain personal information, such as employment history, of thousands of U.S. citizens and residents whom a local police officer or a fellow citizen believed to be acting suspiciously. It is accessible to an increasing number of local law enforcement and military criminal investigators, increasing concerns that it could somehow end up in the public domain.”

If suspicion is the only threshold for placing anyone, especially citizens, under surveillance, then the system is broken. Suspicion is not probable cause, nor will it ever be, even in the shadowy world of intelligence gathering. This new threshold represents a fundamental change in thinking on the part of the government, and because it has proven itself so prone to abuse, it also represents a fundamental threat to liberty.

If we are going to bother to call ourselves a nation, we must accept that our government needs tools to act in our national interests, and effective intelligence gathering is one of those tools. Yet, we can now see that the government cannot be trusted to use loosely defined tools responsibly, so the time has come to create limits so that the liberty of the people can be preserved from government abuse.

DLH

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Worldview: Does the desire of the individual matter in the era of the mob-mind state?

Once upon a time, there was a nation founded on the principle of individual liberty. With the exception of a few rules, people were free to do whatever they pleased, and they did. They filled a continent, built a promise so attractive that everyone else around the world longed to go there, and eventually conquered every imaginable distance from traveling coast to coast to traveling to the moon by the force of their collective will.

And all of this happened, arguably, because every person–granted some later than others–had the chance to be whatever he wanted to be. The limit wasn’t the sky, it was the imagination.

What happened to that nation?

Some would say that some of the people realized that they could use their collective will to take from other people’s labor, thereby not having to work so hard themselves; however, I say that it was not so much a question of labor but a question of failed imagination. Some element of society came to resent those who still showed that original spark that made that nation into what it was, and instead of finding their own spark, they decided to take it from those who still had it.

So, now there is a question: does the desire of the individual matter in an era when some people will simply take what that desire might produce? Is there any room for individual liberty in the will of the mob?

Too many people will scoff at that question and will discount it with cries of “What about all the poor and suffering?” and “Well, if they succeed, then they should have to share!”, never realizing that by taking those positions they are saying “Quit trying.” and “Do what you want, but we’ll take that too.”

And then they wonder why people quit trying and there is nothing left to take.

This is how nations end.

DLH

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