McCarthyism, Thy Time is Now

One more info-mole post. Thinking more about the White House’s request for people to turn in neighbors “spreading disinformation,” I’m struck by the fact that this is how civil wars start. Turn in your brother, if he disagrees with the state? Yes, and wear a brown shirt while you’re doing it.

True, the Bush WH also kept a watchful eye on political subversives. The difference then was that they were looking for people with too many sketchy ties to the Middle East. I won’t pardon a Muslim witch hunt—I love Muslims, having grown up just south of Palm Beach County, which surprisingly boasts as many Muslims as Jews—but at least a hunt for potential enemy combatants among a community that declared Jihad on America was relevant. Charging private citizens to inform on their partisan neighbors is irrelevant and among the most unabashedly unAmerican measures we’ve seen since last November’s election.

This witch hunt carries a completely different, much more foreboding tone. Now the Executive branch is asking for names of political dissenters. The First Amendment still protects individuals’ political speech (to some extent, so far), but this McCarthy-era measure certainly discourages us from speaking.

More importantly, this is not an attempt to ferret out potential terrorists, but rather to persecute those of us who don’t agree with President Obama’s socialized health care agenda. This is an attempt to “deputize” private citizens to police their own spheres to the extent each citizen deems necessary. Where law enforcement requires rigorous mental and emotional screening to keep the crazies out of the police force, this individualized responsibility for acting as local sheriff establishes a police state different in degree but not in kind from every other socializing nation on its slide down the banister from productive to protectionist.

[T]he great security against a gradual concentration of the several powers in the same department, consists in giving to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. The provision for defense must in this, as in all other cases, be made commensurate to the danger of attack. Ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of the man must be connected with the constitutional rights of the place. It may be a reflection on human nature, that such devices should be necessary to control the abuses of government. But what is government itself, but the greatest of all reflections on human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government; but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions.

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