Are we really free?

Syrin’s Note: Even as we pass judgment on countries we consider unfree, Americans remain confident that any definition of a free nation must include their own — the land of free. Yet, the laws and practices of the land should shake that confidence. In the decade since Sept. 11, 2001, this country has comprehensively reduced civil liberties in the name of an expanded security state.

You are not free, happy Independence Day

Posted by Matt Walsh

Today is July 4th. Today we celebrate our forefathers’ victory over tyranny and oppression. Today we are supposed to wave our flags and cheer for our freedoms. But today, if I’m to be honest, I feel kind of like a divorced man on his wedding anniversary. It is an occasion to remember a beautiful and joyous event, but I am left mourning what is lost rather than enjoying what was gained.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got my red shorts and my blue shirt on. I’m going to fire up the grill just like everyone else. I may even light a few fire crackers later on tonight. Actually, scrap the fire crackers. They’re illegal in my town. Someone may burn themselves, you see, or cause a noise disturbance that will irritate the old lady down the street. In any event, I will take part in the festivities, according to the bevy of laws and ordinances and regulations that govern said festivities. And maybe that makes me a hypocrite, because I’m observant enough to know we are rejoicing freedoms that no longer exist and an independence we no longer have. We are not free. You are not free. Wake up. You. Are. Not. Free. Yes, please go and drink to our Founders tonight. And then wake up in the morning with a desire to actually live in the nation they built. That’s how you can celebrate July 4th. Not by pretending that we are free men, but by realizing we are bound, and hating — yes, hating — those chains with the passion and vigor of a true American.

While we are barbecuing and singing songs about our “land of the free and home of the brave,” there’s a guy sitting in jail in Texas for making a sarcastic joke on the internet. There’s a man in Kentucky charged with multiple felonies for standing up to a violent gang banger who trespassed on his property and threatened him. There’s a college student in California who was told by staff at a state university to take off her cross necklace because it might offend somebody. There are citizens being fined and prosecuted for collecting rain water. There are thousands of people in prison for growing, buying or selling a harmless plant. There are farmers nationwide prohibited from cultivating one of human civilization’s most reliable and useful crops simply because it looks like marijuana. There’s a senior official at the IRS — who directed her employees to persecute and bully conservatives — now refusing to testify in front of Congress unless she’s granted immunity. There’s an NSA program compiling all of your phone records and monitoring your Internet activity. There are cops collecting DNA from citizens without a warrant. There are people having their firearms confiscated after seeking treatment for mental health issues. There are parents having their children confiscated for seeking a second opinion about their child’s medical problem. There are entrepreneurs being driven under by regulations and policies that strip them of their basic right to run their own business. There are companies, hospitals and colleges being forced to defy their religious beliefs in order to comply with a blatantly unconstitutional birth control mandate. There are journalists being spied on and prosecuted for reporting about the government. There are government agents at airports groping handicapped children and elderly women. There are corporations and wealthy oligarchs spending tax money appropriated from hard working middle class citizens and given to them by their cronies in DC. There are law enforcement agents with the power to lock down an entire city and conduct warrantless house to house searches. There are lobbyists in dark rooms buying politicians and subverting the electoral system.

There are taxes. Taxes on everything. Everything you do, buy, sell or earn is taxed. You can’t turn on a light, drive a mile in the car, buy a stick of gum, you can’t even die without being taxed. You are taxed for working, for living, for existing. And why? So government can grow, and government elites can live high on the hog and indulge themselves on your dime, and politicians can wage war and buy votes. All of this with your money, taken by threat or force.

NDAA.

Patriot Act.

Compulsory government education.

The welfare state.

The warfare state.

Coercion.

Extortion.

Theft.

Corruption.

Murder.

Freedom? No. This is not freedom. And don’t tell me it’s good enough because we’re still “more free” than other nations. Even if I agreed with that assertion — which I certainly do not — it still wouldn’t justify the current state of affairs. When you rationalize that way you sound like an emotionally abused wife insisting that her marriage is fine because “at least he doesn’t hit me.” The fact that he isn’t doing one awful thing doesn’t, of course, justify the awful things that he is doing. And the only reason that he isn’t physically assaulting her is that he’s found his emotional and verbal abuse to be effective in producing the results he desires. For now. We are suffering from a collective Battered Wife Syndrome in this country. Call it Battered Citizen Syndrome, I suppose.

Look, I’m not trying to rain on your parade. Go ahead, enjoy that parade. Party. Celebrate. But know that you are celebrating the IDEA of freedom, not the reality of it. July 4th is a commemoration of an important historical event, and now it is also a call to arms in the present day. Don’t say that we are free. We are not. But remember why you want to be, and then strive to achieve it.

Happy Independence Day, my fellow patriots. We’ve got work to do.

Matt’s Blog

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17 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. sallyinmi
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 11:37:01

    Wow. Is there nothing you like about AMerica? While I agree,with you about the Patriot Act and its abuses, and some of your other points, I must totally disagree with you about the ACA and contraceptives. You don’t even mention the war to keep women pregnant or jailed. Contraception is vital to ending abortion and women’s health and welfare. No one is telling churches they have to approve contraception. The bill says their insurance companies gave to offer contraceptives as a covered med, just like Viagra or penicillin. DO you really think CAtholic women don’t take the pill? Really?
    And where would we be without taxes? I like having clean water and snow,plows. I like schools that are funded, ambulances staffed with trained people, and a ban on fireworks in my neighborhood. Sounds to me like you want a cabin in the woods,with no internet, no ekectricity, no clean water or a sewer plant. Go for it.

    Reply

    • Catee
      Jul 04, 2013 @ 12:30:49

      Sally, there is a difference between good taxes and being overtaxed. Republicans don’t say taxes are bad. They warn against too many of them, and the pointlessness of many. I think, if you think about it, we can agree that things work more efficiently outside government control. When one earns his own money and use that money to produce, things happen. When govt takes others’ money, there’s a greater tendency of abuse. The way President Obama scoffs at business owners ie successful people is sick. It’s even sicker when you remember that it is these people who pay HIS salary and allow government to function at all. 80% of the country are small business owners.

      What a jealous, disrespectful man. I’ve met people who’s goal is to punish their “fathers,” the kind of people whom Obama allegedly ran with in college. While I cannot prove that, his very words point to truthiness in that rumor.

      Reply

      • jk
        Jul 04, 2013 @ 23:19:11

        Obama doesn’t scoff at business owners and what a ridiculous statement to say he’s jealous of them. What words has he said that supports your contention that he’s jealous or disrespectful?

        You’re using the word “truthiness” incorrectly, unless you actually mean that your truth is based on no evidence or logic or truth.

        Republicans want to privatize everything and also want to reduce oversight and regulation on the businesses that would then run our schools, our towns and cities, and our prisons. What a great idea! Nothing bad could ever come from that!

      • Fan Of Balto
        Jul 05, 2013 @ 08:26:50

        Republicans don’t like government because they want unfettered wealth opportunity. But when government goes their way, as in the corporations are people ruling, then they LOVE it. I trust Republicans even less than I trust government. BTW, I’m one of those small business owners you refer to but don’t seem to know much about. Why? Because I used to work for selfish, greedy Republicans who would throw their own mother under the bus for profits. Your observations about Obama are not based in reality, but of your own bias.

      • Fan Of Balto
        Jul 06, 2013 @ 10:18:56

        “What a jealous, disrespectful man.”

        Actually, President Obama isn’t disrespectful at all, and you know it. You may not like him (obviously) but he’s been one of the most respectful presidents we’ve had. And jealous? Why is it with the not-so-bright that they have to bring jealousy into everything? Because they live in a continual state of it themselves. An emotion very few well balanced people have. All of us might have a little healthy envy here and there – but seriously, jealousy? If that’s the biggest poo you can fling, you leave me chuckling at your lack of imagination and powers of observation.

    • WakeUpAmerica
      Jul 04, 2013 @ 23:15:15

      I can honestly tell you that every Catholic woman I asked about contraception told me she used contraception not approved by the church. Every single one of them.

      Reply

  2. Catee
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 12:25:34

    Everything is relative.

    Reply

  3. WakeUpAmerica
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 23:11:46

    Government too big? Thank Republicans. Government grows more under Republicans than Democrats. Proven.

    How about the Republican War on Women? Yes, doesn’t make me feel too free. Glad I’m past child-bearing stage. However, I will fight for the rights of my daughters and granddaughters.

    Catee, what is sick and obscene, and shameful is that most of the wealth in America is held by 1% of the people. That is wealth made on the backs of workers who have by and large been underpaid and poorly treated. The middle class is what made this country great not corporate America.

    Reply

  4. guest
    Jul 04, 2013 @ 23:23:24

    Please remember, Syrin, that when we Democrats questioned the loss of civil liberties and freedom after 9/11, we were called UnAmerican by Republicans. I find it hilarious that now Republicans are crying foul for the same thing they supported unconditionally under Bush and Cheney. It makes you wonder if there is mass amnesia among Republicans in this country. Or maybe it’s just plain old hypocrisy.

    Reply

  5. Fan Of Balto
    Jul 05, 2013 @ 08:12:34

    “There are companies, hospitals and colleges being forced to defy their religious beliefs in order to comply with a blatantly unconstitutional birth control mandate.”

    Er…companies, hospitals and colleges do not have religious beliefs. The people running them might, but this sounds awfully like the ridiculous state we are in where corporations are people. Gee, I wonder whose idea that was? The writer is obviously expressing opinion, but doing it poorly so that it doesn’t convince me of anything except that some supporting facts should have been thrown in so I didn’t feel reading it was a complete waste of time.

    Perusing stupid acts of single people (like the supervisor telling the college student to put away a cross necklace) & attributing a conspiracy theory to it is a lot like being a Chicken Little. Straight out of Foxs News – gee, ya figure?

    I do agree that freedoms are eroding – especially bothersome to me is the ability of religious nut jobs to enter the Vagina Zone and tell me and my gender mates what to do there. I also mourn my loss of religious freedom – the freedom to not rely on one to make me a great human being. I can’t sit around and listen to the whiny when the ones making whiny are happy to encroach on personal freedoms as much as the government they seem to abhor.

    Whiny is never attractive, and this author has a major case of it.

    Reply

  6. WakeUpAmerica
    Jul 05, 2013 @ 10:35:24

    Matt Walsh has produced a bucket load of hyperbole in his article with NOTHING to substantiate his opinions. No links, no references, no direct quotes. He has taken liberties with the truth. Here is one example from the http://www.catholicculture.org site:
    “It was a stupid request and uncalled for and unsubstantiated and the person who did it has admitted all that,” said Armiñana, who added that there are “no constraints whatsoever, and there should not be and there will not be, about wearing what you want to wear — a cross, the Star of David, a covering on your head.”
    Walsh’s statement about the incident gives one the feeling that it is the university’s policy to prohibit crosses. Furthermore, as he goes to the trouble of pointing out that it is a “state” university, one gets the impression that it might be a policy of ALL state universities in that heathen state of California. Oh the horror!!

    I’m sorry but I can’t give this particular article any credibility. I hope Walsh isn’t a writer by profession because he has done a fairly poor job in this article.

    Reply

    • WakeUpAmerica
      Jul 05, 2013 @ 10:37:56

      I should have added that the quote is from the Chancellor of Sonoma State University, the institution where the incident occurred.

      Reply

  7. Bert Swilling
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 00:42:52

    Yes.

    Reply

  8. Fan of Balto
    Jul 06, 2013 @ 09:58:49

    Ya know – I can switch out the word “government” with “religion” and not much else needs to change to describe the way I feel about being oppressed. So while you are mourning your losses, kindly remember that I have every much right as you to be “free”. I remain tolerant and supportive for others to find their way in this complex world – if religious belief is questioned and chosen – then more power to you! I expect the same. I do not expect hypocrisy, greed, and unquestioned authority (your religion) to oppress me. Let’s make a deal on that, OK?

    Reply

  9. Raven
    Jul 08, 2013 @ 11:40:29

    In my opinion …it is the Corporations, Monsanto, Drug Companies, Oil Zsars like BP ..and Financial Institutions, firearm /weapons manufacturers.,media empires
    .( wherever their is ginormous $$) is the driving force behind freedom in America. Politicians are the whores of these corporate interests groups. In general everyday Americans, no matter what side of the fence we stand ( which is another diversion to keep us at odds with one another) care most about basic needs. Such as life saving medicine, healthcare, the cost of paying the bills, providing a home for our families, having healthy foods, education and career choices for our children ..which does not include sending them to a Corporate war so they can be maimed or Killed. Meanwhile, the little guy farmers are fighting Monsanto for their rights to grow Natural foods, technology for saving millions on energy, or natural medicines that can cure devastating illness are outlawed (lobbied) and labeled as quacks. The medical and health insurance businesses lobby to keep costs growing. Wars are created and the corporate media flames unfounded fears, and disdains any opposition ( we are unpatriotic if we disagree).
    I believe it is time for all of us to think for ourselves. Forget the political parties discord ( they are all working for the same corporations) and unite as a voice in opposition to the Corporations ( the true US Terrorists) that rule America..

    Reply

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