Land of the Free (4/27/2011)

Our national anthem brings pride unto ourselves when we quote the famous lines, “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.” Sadly, since that fateful night at Fort McHenry I would offer the founding fathers fight against royal tyranny for liberty and our forefathers shedding blood for future generations has been usurped by complacency. Examples abound in our current society of both the loss of freedom and lack of bravery.

A December 4, 2006 column in the Russian paper, Pravda, makes reference to “A record 7 million people – or one in every 32 American adults – were behind bars, on probation or on parole by the end of last year’, and when these figures are added to the estimated 1 million prisoners of war held by the United States, all around the World, the once great American Nation has now become the greatest jailer of human beings the World has ever known.” Laws such as “Three Strikes” have increased our incarceration rate for even the pettiest of crimes. Even the truly law-abiding are not free. Consider random traffic stops to check your license and insurance, TSA airport searches, security screenings to enter a public event, and proof of identity requirements for job applications and opening bank accounts. Exacerbating the situation is claims these freedoms are taken in the name of liberty.

Ironically, even bravery has been eroded out of fear of consequences. Questioning TSA regarding the 4th amendment and basis for searching six-year olds will prevent you from flying. Publicly videotaping law enforcement creates a fast path to court with criminal charges. My favorite example occurred two weeks ago: Juror 799, an Asian woman in her 20s, when asked to name three people she least admired on her juror questionnaire, wrote: “African-Americans, Hispanics and Haitians.” In the land for the free and home of the brave the woman was sentenced to indefinite jury duty by Federal Judge Nicholas Garaufis – a unilateral decision with no crime committed.

I challenge you to listen carefully to political demagoguery and proposals to “make you safer.” Blood was shed September 3, 1814 to capture freedom and liberty for future generations whilst Francis Scott Key watched the fight and immortalized his feelings. Sadly, our former enemies in Russia watch our freedoms erode and write about it, but the timidity bred into our generations of children makes them blind to the blood given for their liberty and they will not stand bravely for themselves.