Wednesday, December 21, 2005

An Angry Quaker

One of my inspirations to start blogging was reading Dohiyi Mir by NTodd. We share a lot of common beliefs, including being Quakers and — coincidentally — growing up in the same town in Ohio. There is, however, one area where NTodd excels and that’s when he is in full rant mode. Unlike many bloggers, he is cogent, factual, and can turn a phrase with the archness that some of us only dream of.

Case in point is this entry, Why We Fight. NTodd is standing up to the apparent willingness of the conservatives — and a particular commenter — to accept the abridgement of the United States Constitution under the watch of the present administration without question.

Okay, look, I understand the fallacious dangers of Slippery Slopes, but dig this:

A shrewd victor will, if possible, always present his demands to the vanquished in installments. And then, with a nation that has lost its character-and this is the case of every one which voluntarily submits-he can be sure that it will not regard one more of these individual oppressions as an adequate reason for taking up arms again. The more extortions are willingly accepted in this way, the more unjustified it strikes people finally to take up the defensive against a new, apparently isolated, though constantly recurring, oppression, especially when, all in all, so much more and greater misfortune has already been borne in patient silence.

I’ve quoted that a lot of late, and it bears so much repeating I can’t stand it. Why? Because that damned Hitler knew his shit when it came to agitprop, psychology and how der Staat can manipulate der Volk. Logic doesn’t really enter into this discussion because we’re talking about politics, passion and people.

Think about it. Many Jews weren’t keen on leaving Germany because they figured the rampant anti-Semitism would blow over, and heck, they’d survived plenty of other storms in the past by keeping a low profile. And even as the SS pushed them closer and closer to the abyss, people thought “this is it, this is the absolute bottom.” It is a pretty long way from relegating a people to particular professions, to forcing them to register and wear Yellow Stars, to putting them into ghettoes, to killing them, isn’t it?

So we fight erosion of civil liberties at every turn, no matter what the justification from the State might be. That is the ‘eternal vigiliance’ of which Jefferson spoke. The Constitution doesn’t guarantee any rights. The Senate doesn’t safeguard our liberties. The President doesn’t protect us. Only we the People do. Once we abdicate our responsibility to be skeptical of our government, to engage in oversight, to scrutinize its every deed, we lose that liberty we’re supposed to defend.


This nation survived an invasion of a superpower in the early 19th century when the country was young and rather defenseless. It survived a civil war that killed more Americans than every other war we’ve fought. It survived the War to End All Wars. It survived the most destructive conflict this planet has ever seen. It survived the Cold War and all its attendant small wars. And now, when faced with box cutters, we decide that our civil liberties are a burden, that the Constitution is a scrap of paper, that our ideals are quaint?

NFW. The line has been drawn. Either you are for America’s ideals, or you are against them. I invite Republicans of conscience to join us, the true Patriots, and defend what this nation truly represents. If you defend Bush in any capacity, I condemn you as history will condemn you: collaborationists who refused to answer the call and stood with the real enemy.

I can’t top that. And I agree with him one hundred percent.

By the way, just because we’re Quakers doesn’t mean we won’t fight just as hard as anyone else for our rights. There are many other ways of fighting without the use of guns, bombs or violence, and many an enemy has learned that lesson to their peril.

Update: edited to match a correction in the original post.