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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Right's Distaste for Rights

May 5th, 2010


by F. Grey Parker


Yesterday, America's news viewers were greeted by a stunning debate framed innocuously in between either Vote Vets ads or promos for Goldline, depending on their predispositions. As everyone by then knew, a failed attempt had been made by a man named Faisal Shahzad to blow up Times Square. What's more, it was already clear that this was no super villain. Rather, he was another inept loser who was going through  foreclosure and had seemingly romanticized martyrdom. We also had learned that he was, in fact, an American citizen.
Faisal Shahzad    photo copyright NYTimes 2010








The fact of his citizenship was where the story had suddenly gotten interesting. A sizable portion of the country's political class was arguing that he, like so-called "enemy combatants," should not be Mirandized. Marc Thiessen, torture apologist, was taking his disdain for the Constitution to the next step. Thiessen is easy to dismiss at this point as he has been shown so clearly to be a liar


But there were others who echoed Thiessen's sentiments. Sen. John McCain (R-AR) said giving this unpleasant American citizen his Constitutional rights "would be a serious mistake...at least until we find out as much information we have.(sic)" He continued, ""Don't give this guy his Miranda rights until we find out what it's all about" The firebrand Republican New York Congressman, Peter King, opined “Did they Mirandize him? I know he’s an American citizen but still,” King said. 


But still? 


King went on to question whether or not the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, had consulted with "the intelligence community" and "if they believe they got enough from him." (emphasis mine). Apparently Mr. King is unclear on the Constitution having no provision for an American citizen's legal proceeding to be green-lighted by the CIA.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) photo copyright Washington Post 2010

The reliably rightist Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) added"If someone acts like a terrorist and cooperates with people intent on war against the United States, they should be treated as terrorists and not as a common criminal. And no, they should not be read their Miranda rights." The disconnect between these three, who have made a point of coddling those who accuse the Obama Administration of threatening American's rights, and their strident call to remove American's rights is breathtaking.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) photo copyright Washington Times 2010

In a stunning moment for American liberals, it was none other than Fox News dry-drunk Glenn Beck who strongly defended the rule of law on the issue. Watch the exchange.


Taking things to the next level, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) advanced his plan to strip the citizenship of any American who has an "affiliation" with a recognized terrorist organization. I wonder how many American legislators might be wondering if they were at a fundraiser at some point with IRA or JDL sympathizers?


The fact of the matter is that there is a powerful sect of the Republican Party that has begun to coalesce around a fundamental distaste for our principles. They believe they must limit freedom in order to protect it. Or, if one prefers, they seem to believe that our freedom is a threat to our freedom. 


A party that was once a self-declared defender of American exceptionalism is becoming, in it's purest form, the Nation's most prolific progenitor of fear. Nothing sums it up better than a statement from Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) earlier this week. He complained that the public "goes on heightened alert" after such incidents for "hours and days rather than permanently."


They want us to live in fear. 


Permanently.

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