Editor’s note: Harry Browne, libertarian author and activist, died Wednesday, March 1, 2006. The following piece originally appeared on Antiwar.com Nov. 20, 2001. We reprint it in memory of this great friend of peace and liberty.
I love America.
I love every concept the Statue of Liberty stands for that individual liberty is held above the objectives of government; that, as Washington and Jefferson said, America imparts good will toward all and threatens no one; that this country is so big-hearted and prosperous it can welcome people from all over the world fleeing oppression or poverty.
I love the Bill of Rights the most noble document ever written to define the limits that government should obey.
I love the concepts of free speech, absolute privacy, and religious freedom embodied in our traditions and our Constitution.
I love the rule of law the right of accused persons to confront their accusers, the right to an attorney, the right to remain silent, the right to refuse admission to government officials wanting to enter your home or office.
These are just some of the things that have made America unique in the history of the world. They are a direct cause of America’s prosperity, of our security, of what makes America attractive to so many would-be immigrants.
The "Hate America" Crowd
Unfortunately, too many Americans seem to have little love for that America. They are quite willing to throw away the concepts I’ve described in order to satisfy a lust for revenge against the September terrorists.
They’re willing to abandon our cherished liberties giving the government the power to do anything it wants. They assume falsely that such invasions of liberty and privacy won’t affect them, even though the history of government demonstrates that what’s applied against suspected terrorists today will be applied against innocent Americans tomorrow. They’re willing to abandon free speech wanting to shut up those who don’t join in the rah-rah cheering as President Bush abandons the essence of what made America unique and great.
They’re willing to abandon the rule of law and transform America into a police state where any law-enforcement agency, military court, or intelligence agency can act as prosecutor, judge, and jury to decide your future.
They’re willing to let innocent Americans die by encouraging our government to bomb innocent foreigners at will, almost guaranteeing that there will be further terrorist attacks against us.
They’re willing to continue transforming what was once a worldwide love of America into a hatred for America caused by the correct perception that American presidents believe they can force any foreign nation to do their bidding.
They make no objection when congressmen pass bills without reading them first or having any idea what’s actually in them bills that take away your liberties, pile more government debt on your family, and give the president the power to do whatever he wants, as though he were a Roman Emperor.
Words and Deeds
These people may not actually hate America. They may even profess to love America, but they show no understanding of what made America the precious nation it is. Here is what some of their sentiments amount to
- Contrary to the American respect for peace-loving people, they think our hurt entitles us to hurt others even people who didn’t hurt us.
- Contrary to the American tradition of individual responsibility, they want to treat all Afghans as though they’re bin Laden, and all Iraqis as though they’re Saddam Hussein making no distinction between the innocent and the guilty.
- Contrary to the American ideal of individual liberty, they think freedom may be a nice concept but state security is more important.
- Contrary to the American tradition of independent thought, they assert that questioning your government is unpatriotic, paranoid, and tantamount to treason.
- Contrary to the distrust of government that marked the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, they think that despite all the mistakes our government has made allegiance to the Fatherland is your highest duty.
- Contrary to the American way of good will toward all, they acknowledge that America is being transformed into an armed fortress, but say that’s the price we must pay to be a superpower.
Those aren’t the sentiments of people who recognize what made America the most attractive place on earth to live. But in the supreme irony, these people label those who protest against the destruction of American ideals "America-haters."
Where Do You Stand?
Do you love America?
If so, isn’t it time you spoke out on behalf of America before the president and Congress take away the rest of what made this the land of the free?
Or are you just as happy to see America transformed into one more bureaucratic warrior state, like so many of those in Europe and Asia?
I love America the one symbolized by the Statue of Liberty the America that was the beacon of liberty, providing light and hope and inspiration to the entire world. I want that America back.
The warmongers may say they’re patriotic Americans, but they’re willing to discard everything unique about America in order to satisfy their lust to avenge the September tragedy.
The desire for revenge is understandable. But the rush to permanently abandon the wonders of America to satisfy a temporary rage is not.