Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Declaring War on "The War on_______": The Government's Never-ending, Multi-front Wars (Part 1 of 2)

The War on Drugs, The War on Terror, The War on Illegal Immigration, The War on Global Warming, The War on Iraq, The War on Iran, The War on Science, The War on the Middle Class, and the list goes on.

It makes me sick to my stomach to think about putting my thoughts on this issue down on paper. Writing about any topic requires a deep delving into, and critical thinking about, the chosen subject. Merely pondering this topic has caused me to lapse into hyperventilating, fist pounding convulsions. Luckily, no one was hurt. A perfect example; after I sat down and wrote the title to this piece, I had to walk away from it for a couple of days.

Oscar Wilde said, “I have said to you to speak the truth is a painful thing. To be forced to tell lies is much worse.”

The War on Drugs:

In the history of our great nation, no other government movement has led to the erosion of our basic civil rights more than the War on Drugs has.

  • As of 2006, there are 299,398,484 people living in the United States. In that year, there were 1,889,810 drug arrests, with 829,627 of them being for marijuana.

  • In 1990, there were 248,709,873 people living in the United States, and there were 580,900 drug arrests with 401,982 of them being for marijuana.

In 16 years time, there has been a 320% increase in the amount of arrests with a 16% increase in the population.

Think of it in these terms: In 2006, 1 out of every 150 people in the entire United States was arrested for drugs, and the number of arrests continues to grow each and every year. Nearly a million people were arrested for marijuana alone. All this adds up to 830,000 people per year, most of whom are hard-working Americans, who face going to prison, losing their jobs, losing their homes, etc., over what many believe to be an issue of personal choice.

Mind you, these are totals for one calendar year. Each and every year, another 830,000 suffer the same fate (again, that number rises each year), and that’s not mentioning the one million-plus arrests for other drugs. (Cited: Drug War Facts and the US Census Bureau)

Between the years of 1995 and 2006, 19,522,546 people were arrested on drug charges.

Nineteen and a half MILLION people were arrested for drugs in an 11 year period, and the majority of those arrests were for simple possession.

To achieve that end, Police and Federal Agents plan and enact military-style raids on their fellow Americans every single day. They use all the latest technology; assault rifles, infrared and night vision, flash bombs, body armor, etc. And, as they’ve proven time and time again, these trigger-happy stormtroopers will use each and every one of those technologies to their fullest capabilities, up to and including taking your life.

After all, it’s a lot of work arresting an average of 5177.5 people every single day, so you’ve got to let off steam somehow. It really is a war out there, and the government will be the first one to tell you. It’s wasn’t the media, or people of the United States who coined the term “War on Drugs”, it was the government itself.

09/18/2008 Update:

FBI records on drug arrests for the year 2007 were released on 09/15, and the data shows that a record 872,000 people were arrested for marijuana, with 90%, or 775,000, being for simple possession. It also showed that 75% of those arrested were under the age of 30. Appearing on the Dr. Drew radio program on 09/16, Paul Armentano, Senior policy analyst for NORML stated:

"We now have an entire generation that's becoming disenfranchised, that's believing that its civic leaders and police are not their protectors and are actually their oppressors, and if you look at the data, they are."

The War on Terror:

Department of Homeland Security
245 Murray Lane, SW
Washington, DC 20528

Secretary Chertoff,

My name is Jet Lacey, and I am an American citizen.

It’s said the treatment for some ailments is far worse than the disease itself. This analogy entirely sums up my feelings about the Department of Homeland Security, and the “War on Terror.” I am infinitely more afraid of you, agents of my own government, than I am, or have ever been of Al-Qaeda. You have done more damage to this country, and to the individual rights of its citizens than Al-Qaeda ever could.

You have taken the Constitution; a document expressly written to prevent the type of oppression being propagated by your department, and you have used it as your doormat. Former Supreme Court justice William Douglas says it best:

“The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of people.”

Through the PATRIOT Act, you have removed or suspended many “inalienable rights” that are the life's blood of any honest-to-goodness free society.

  • You’ve created “gag orders”, effectively negating the 1st Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.
  • You conduct innumerable acts of warrantless surveillance on American citizens, in direct violation of the 4th Amendment.
  • You have suspended constitutionally guaranteed Writs of Habeas Corpus on multitudes of “enemy combatants”, and tortured them in direct violation of numerous compacts and treaties, although no “war” has ever been declared by Congress. This is a direct violation of Article One, Section 9 of the Constitution.
  • You secretly search the homes and businesses of American citizens without ever notifying the owner or occupant. Again, it is a direct violation of the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.
  • You have expanded the definition of terrorism to include various domestic issues in order to increase your power.

They say sex sells, but nothing sells better than fear. Why do you think religion is so popular? The Department of Homeland Security, and the PATRIOT Act are examples of what the Founding Fathers believed to be absolutely intolerable acts of a government against its people, and thus they risked everything and rose up against such tyranny.

It has been well and often quoted, but there are ideas that are stated so plainly and truthfully that paraphrasing would only serve to cheapen them.

“Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” - Benjamin Franklin, (Historical Review of Pennsylvania 1759).

It is among my firmest beliefs that this is what has befallen America and her people. We have allowed hand-wringing, sneering, drunk-with-power 'leaders' like you, to sell us your tale of fear, and 'We the People' have bought it hook, line, and sinker.

By drafting and enacting the PATRIOT Act, what you have done to the United States and her people is tantamount to High treason. If the world was a fair place, you Mr. Chertoff, Tom Ridge, all Congressmen who voted for passage of the Act, its revisions, and its extension (including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain), and the current President and Vice President of the United States would be incarcerated without bail, charged, fairly and publicly tried in a Federal Court of Law, and if convicted be imprisoned or put to death in accordance with Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution of the United States of America. Contrary to what you obviously believe, there is no higher law in the land.

Mr. Chertoff, I am a peace-loving man devoted to the return of individual liberties in this country. Sir, I’d like to say it would give me the greatest of pleasures to see the day come to pass where you paid for the crimes you’ve committed against America. I’d like be able to say that I’d revel as you were strapped down and had your life taken away from you with the push of a syringe, or that I'd giggle with delight if your head began smoking like Ethel Rosenberg’s as you 'Ride the Lightning' for the harm you've done to this country.........but I’m not like you.

With Utmost Sincerity,

Jet Lacey

The War on Illegal Immigration:

While some of the other “wars on____” currently being waged by our government may be of higher importance to our ability to continue as a free nation, the War on Illegal Immigration is the topic that is most dear to my heart. All of the other wars are portrayed as serving a higher cause or purpose; freedom of course, but that’s an uncomfortable laugh we’ll share on another day. However, the War on Illegal Immigration is a war that directly singles out one group of people, namely Mexicans.

Yes, I know that technically, illegal aliens are here, well, illegally. I get it. What I don’t get is, after they’ve been welcomed in with open arms for so long, why are they considered, all of the sudden, to be this big societal pestilence. The act of being here illegally isn’t even a crime; it’s a civil infraction. For many, many years, illegal immigrants have been allowed to open bank accounts and have driving privileges, and they’ve been allowed to purchase homes and cars on credit, just like “regular” Americans. They’ve even, until recently, been eligible for welfare and food stamps. What they weren’t able to do is what the government would prefer none of us be able to do; vote, or reap any Social Security benefits we’ve sown throughout our working years.

I’ll tell you why they’ve been welcomed with open arms; for their cheap, voiceless labor. Mexicans, both citizens and ‘illegals’, are no small part of the very backbone of this nation. They get a lot of bad press because of the drug trade (see above), but overall, Mexicans are some of the finest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. They have a rich culture, steeped in tradition, and they are a religious and family-oriented people. The most important word in the Spanish language is trabajo, which simply means work. I’ve also found that whatever respect you give most Mexicans, you get back double in return. What bothers me most is that many people who are dead-set against illegal immigrants don’t even have regular contact with Mexican people.

My life-long love affair with the Mexican people started in 1977, when at the wide-eyed and wondrous age of 8, my Mom, sisters, and I moved to Phoenix, AZ. When school began that August at Orangewood Elementary I was in the 3rd grade, and it was then that I took Spanish for the 1st time. Though I’ve nary a swarthy drop of blood coursing through my veins, I often joke that I’m 100% Irish, and 50% Mexican.

I digress. The ultimate issue for me here is compromise. The US government seems to have lost this ability in our recent history. I’m more than ok with taking whatever measures are deemed necessary to discourage illegal immigration into this country. I’d rather they didn’t build a wall along the Mexican border, not because of illegal immigration, but because I’d like for my own way out the door to be kept open, should things get worse. The most realistic and humanistic way to handle this issue would be to first secure the border, and give those who are already here a fast-track to become an American citizen. Also, the fees and costs associated with U.S. citizenship are extremely prohibitive for many, and I believe they should be decreased.

Earning citizenship isn’t about what you can pay; it’s about a pledge of loyalty and a promise to be a positive member of the society. However, with rights comes responsibility, and proving that the immigrant has learned basic conversational English should be a firm requirement before citizenship is granted.

Mexicans are a diligent and adaptable people; I think they’re up for the challenge.


The One and Only: Andrew MackNair said...

You know, through the part of your blog on the drug war, you really had me, after that is where the severe ideological differences between us become tantamount my brother.

About the Patriot Act: What harm has it caused you? What limitless oppression does it heap upon your shoulders? How heavy does that feel on a daily basis? Who do you know that has been arrested as a result?

About Torture: You can't fight a war with one hand tied behind your back, my brother. Watch the Nick Berg video from a couple years ago, or the treatment of the Blackwater personnel in Faluja. You can only observe the tenants of the Geneva Convention when your opponents similarly abide, and by god if I dropped dead tomorrow that would be one of the 5 or 10 things I feel most strongly about in this world.

On the Mexicans: There are a lot of great Mexicans, but you can't talk about how warm a people they are as a whole, just like you can't say the French are elitist or Phoenicians make grandiose statements; Some do, some don't. You paint this rosy Dennis Kucinich style picture of harmless Mexicans, and while the majority aren't violent they do wreak havoc upon our system in other ways (i.e. Pedro goes to the hospital without insurance... who is going to end up shouldering the burden of those bills? How much do you think is spent annually in Spanish translation services in the greater Phoenix valley (somewhat more than is spent on English translation services in Mexico City, I would assume.)

The way you say I make you feel when you hear my opinions, trust me, it goes the other way brother. I am incredulous at some of your perspectives, I really really am. That said, I like the writing. Peace and Love

The One and Only: Andrew MackNair said...

Furthermore, I have no problem with illegal immigrants, with one caveat: Assimilate. Assimilate. Assimilate. Learn English, and more importantly, teach your kids English. I don't care if you don't celebrate our holidays, but don't expect us to celebrate yours... if it's so important to you, stay wherever the hell you were. That's not even a national thing, it's cultural and religious as well. When Muslims (and Islam can be a beautiful religion) comprise less than 1% of the United States population, and Tyson chicken plants are closing down for Islamic holidays as a result of the ACLU's pressure (you think Homeland Security is the most dangerous organization?) it makes me absolutely sick. If I went to Tehran, I wouldn't expect to have Christmas celebrated, and the more we cater and bow to minorities (numerically) the less faith I have in the future of our country.