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There is said to be an ancient Chinese curse that says: “May you live in interesting times!”
You may well think that that ancient Chinaman had our times in mind, for interesting they are, and many would think that enduring them qualifies as a curse
There is one aspect which we think curse-like, and that is that they are highly disputatious times, in which almost nothing in public life exists which is not vehemently disputed.
You say a thing is good; I say that thing is bad. And so it goes, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.
Consider the matter of the Tsarnaev brothers of Boston Marathon notoriety. Most of the more level headed members of the populace generally agree that the brothers had lived this country for several years, and that the younger had indeed become a genuine U. S. citizen. It is further generally agreed that this younger brother had, insofar as everyone could tell, led a life of the typical teenager; went to school where he did fairly well; engaged in school activities; was well liked by his peers in school and out; had no real run-ins with the law, and in general behaved himself.
The older brother was married and a father, he, too, for the most part behaved himself, although he did have a run-in or so with the law, and did not behave himself as we would like with his wife — however, as a Muslim, he probably did not regard what we think of as abusive behaviour towards his wife as improper.
As we now know, this elder brother, Tamerlan, left the country to return to the region of southern Russia between the Caspian and Black Sea from which his parents fled as refugees several years ago. It is not yet clear exactly why he went there, nor what he did while there.
It appears that a Russian intelligence agency gave a warning that he was up to no good, but without giving any details as to why they came to this conclusion.
As everyone knows, this region of Russia especially Chechnya has been a hotbed of unrest and anti-Russian resistance for many years, and much blood has been shed on both sides there, and even given rise to bombings etc. in Moscow laid at the feet of Chechnyan rebels.
These circumstances would naturally give rise to some reluctance to proceed without evidence based on an unsupported warning from Russian intelligence.
In any event, as far as we know, there was not, and never had been any actionable charges, circumstances, or activities that would have justified the authorities, either state or federal, in arresting, surveilling, nor otherwise spying upon either of the brothers, and especially U.S. citizen Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
But here is where the disputatiousness comes in.
Most Republican spokespersons appearing on national media in the last few days have made the charge, or cast the aspersion, that the Obama Administration somehow dropped the ball and should have had the brothers under surveillance at all times, and stopped them from carrying out their bomb attack on the Boston Marathon.
We hope that this is purely partisan hyperbole and that they do not really mean it, but in some cases, we fear that they do in fact mean it, and were they in charge, they would have had spies lurking in the shadows, constantly.
If this be so, then it must follow that they would also post spies on everyone else who might at some point commit a breach of law.
This prospect is shocking. It is in fact the endorsement of converting this bastion of democracy, freedom, and rule of law into a police state not unlike that of the late unlamented Soviet Union.
To do as these spineless dodos suggest would not only undermine the very tenets of our democratic republic, it would violate every principle we have all been taught of the Rule of Law, the Bill of Rights, the Rights of Privacy, Individual Freedom, Due Process, and the relationship of the People with their Government in short, The American Way.
But strangely enough, although our Republican friends proclaim at every opportunity their undying fealty to these foregoing principles, we have heard not a single one of them denounce these attacks on said principles.
We know not which is the greater sign of cowardice — the attacks on our principles, or the failure to denounce the attacks. It reminds us of the current state of Islam, where the radicals launch their attacks, and the ones who know they are wrong, are too cowardly to denounce the attacks for fear that they will themselves be attacked.
Americans are not supposed to feel this way, nor to act this way. As Mr. Jefferson once observed: “The Tree of Liberty must be refreshed from time to [me with the blood of patriots ....”
Our disputatious Republican friends should ponder these facts.
Another case of disputatiousness arises from the same crowd and the same case. After the younger brother was apprehended, a great hew and cry was raised that he should not be Mirandized until he had been questioned, under the widely accepted exception to the Miranda Rule which says that there can be a delay if there is the potential threat of public harm.
Well, he was apprehended, he was confined to a hospital, and as soon as he was fit, he was questioned, but after a period of several hours of questioning, a magistrate came to him and read his rights, as well as appointing a lawyer. He will now be tried and no doubt convicted, as he should be.
To most folks that would seem to be the proper procedure, but the same folks who claim we should have spies everywhere, seem to think that exception to the Miranda Warning can be delayed indefinitely, and questioning ought to go on indefinitely also.
What they really want is to ignore the Miranda warning and to subject the prisoner to enough torture to make him confess, and to implicate someone else, whether someone else is guilty or not. These are the same people who got George W. Bush in trouble for waterboarding and other means of torture that this nation has always abhorred, and from which it has generally abstained.
We must not return to those dark days of torture of any kind. If we do not forbid it now, it will not be too long before we all must fear falling into the hands of the torturers, as was the case in those times which we commonly call the Dark Ages.
Let us advance further into the Age of Reason, and not retrogress into those dark times of the rack, the thumb screw, the iron maiden, and all those other implements of inflicting pain on our fellow human beings in acts of individual terrorism.
That people who should be defenders of our honoured American Way, are instead trying to undermine it, and reduce our great nation to the status of third-world junta-run fiefdoms is both disappointing and shocking.
People in leadership positions should lead in defence of our sacred heritage, not attempt to undermine it.
Especially members of the party of Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt should be repulsed at the acts of some of their fellows.
We hope that they will soon regain their equilibrium and restore their party’s honour, before it is too late.