What if Freedom Were Temporary?
by Andrew P. NapolitanoWhat if our rights didn't come from God or from our humanity, but from the government? What if thegovernment really thinks we're not unique individuals with immortal souls, but just public property?What if we were only entitled to our natural rights if it pleased the government? What if our rightscould be stripped away whenever the government considers us to be its enemy?What if this could all be accomplished with the consent of the people? What if the people's ownrepresentatives subverted the Constitution? What if the people were so afraid that they accepted thesubversion? What if the government demonizes an external enemy and uses fear of that enemy tosuppress our freedoms? What if people are afraid to protest?What if the government knows this, and thus chooses enemies that are easily demonized, whetherthey pose real threats or not? What if threats become imminent dangers precisely because thegovernment allowed them to happen? What if government scapegoating of an external enemy is asold as the government itself? What if the government has used scapegoating again and again toscare people into giving up their freedoms voluntarily? What if the government has relied on this toperform the same magical disappearing-freedom act time and again throughout history?What if the government could lock you up and throw you in jail indefinitely? What if that jail was inCuba? What if the government has written laws to let it keep you detained forever without letting yousee a lawyer or a judge? What if you were just speaking out against the government and it came tosilence you? What if the government could declare you its enemy and then kill you? What if yourelected representatives did nothing to stop the government from doing this? What if the governmentclaimed that your words made you a warrior, even though there never were any armed hostilities inyour neighborhood and you never threatened anyone? What if the government could classify theentire country as a battlefield and, ultimately, a prison? What if the government's goal was to be ridof all who disagreed with it?What if the real war was a war of misinformation? What if the government constructs its own realityin order to suit its own agenda? What if civil liberties don't mean anything to the government? What if the government just chooses to allow you to exercise them freely because you don't threaten it at themoment? What if the government released a report calling you a domestic terror threat, just becauseyou disagreed with the government? What if the government coaxed crazy people into acting liketerrorists, just to keep you afraid? What if the government persuaded you to believe that the greatestthreat to your freedom is an impoverished and uneducated Third World population 10,000 milesaway? What if the real threat to your freedom is a rich, powerful and all-seeing government? What if that government thinks it can write any law, regulate any behavior and tax any event no matter whatthe Constitution says?What if the government is always the greatest threat to freedom because only the government canconstitute a monopoly on the use of force? What if, in fact, at its essence, government is simply amonopoly of force? What if, in fact, at its essence, government is simply the negation of freedom?What if the government monopoly incubated, aided and abetted enemies' freedoms? What if, whenthe danger got more threatening, the government told you to sacrifice more of your liberties forsafety? What if you fell for that?What if those who traded liberty for safety ended up in internment camps? What if the greatestthreat to freedom was not any outfit of thugs in some cave in a far-off land, but an organized forcehere at home? What if that organized force broke its own laws? What if that organized force did thevery same things to those it hates and fears that it prosecutes people for doing to it? What if I'm rightand the government's wrong? What if it's dangerous to be right when the government is wrong?What if government is essentially wrong and always dangerous?