We used to say, under our Constitution, our country has ‘rule of law, not of men.’ Now we have rule of bureaucrats, procedures, and so-called law enforcement officials. We see enforcers ignore law in favor of their own procedures. Their procedures become the law.
The example Peter Sean Brown in Florida gives a perfect example: if ICE sends a detainer to a local sheriff’s office, the detainer becomes law, even if ICE has no authority to issue it, and the sherriff has no authority to enforce it. Local officials mock the person they have detained, even though they set themselves up as ridiculous tinpot tyrants, who deserve no respect from anyone.
Many warned, after 9/11, that the move to trade civil rights for security would undermine law, and lead to a permanent loss of rights. I doubt anyone thought it could happen this fast. People born on September 11, 2001 will graduate from high school this spring, and they do not even know what a democracy is. Their country took an intentional turn down its current path on the day of their birth. At this point, it will not turn back without an internal convulsion, an external shock, or both.
Many warned, after 9/11, that the move to trade civil rights for security would undermine law, and lead to a permanent loss of rights.
You will remember, as of those attacks, that skin color, surname, family’s country of origin, criminal justice records, and expressions of anti-government sentiment all became markers to round people up, to detain, deport, intimidate, identify, and segregate. Your biographical data became important. Surveillance, stings, shootings, family separations, ‘see something, say something’, infiltration, warrantless searches, sanctuaries, border walls, checkpoints, identity and document checks, travel restrictions, constant fear of arrest and family separation, and total subjugation have become matter-of-fact. Why question what you cannot change?
Every one of these changes came about because enough citizens either wanted them or accepted them. “If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about,” became the watchword for both rulers and ruled. If you’re worried, you must have done something wrong. If you have an unpaid traffic ticket, we will deport you. If you apply for a marriage license, we will deport you. If you want to see what fear and hate do to rule of law over time, observe what has happened in our republic since 2001.
If you haven’t done anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.
First, the so-called law enforcers came after people with no paperwork. Then they came after people with some paperwork, but not the right documents, from the enforcers’ point of view. Now they come after citizens, people born in the United States, people who have lived in the United States since their day of birth. If the bureaucracy wants to detain you, it imprisons you indefinitely. If a judge orders your release, or orders officials to reunite you with your family, that does not matter. Judicial orders have no weight, when law does not exist. Savvy bureaucrats and enforcers learn how to work around courts.
What do we do now? How do we recover our rights? The first problem is, who are we? How many of us want to recover our rights? How many of us recognize we have a problem? Some believe we deport too few people, that civil rights nut hamper government officials in their efforts to protect us. Of all the divides that affect people in the United States, the one over civil rights affects the largest number. Whether or not ICE’s budget depends on the number of people it detains and deports, it goes after every candidate for deportation it can find. It acts as if the numbers matter.
So what do we do? Give it some thought. Opposition to the Vietnam war eventually forced government to accept defeat and bring our soldiers home. Now government has decided to make war on the country’s own residents: to control them and spy on them, arrest them, imprison them, and if possible, send them away. It is not a war that involves napalm and carpet bombing; it is rather a type of slow strangulation. The greatest threat to our security does not come from abroad. It comes from people who wear badges, who display the name of their agency on the backs of their jackets. It comes from greedy, predatory officials who run a protection racket no one dares resist.