Updated -- 15 September 2003
The Magna Carta is the great charter of English liberties granted by King John in 1215 AD (or CE, Current Era) under the threat of civil war. The charter was reissued with omissions and alterations in 1216 and again with further changes in 1217. In 1225, after being declared of age by the Pope, King Henry III reissued the charter, and thereafter the Great charter of 9 Henry III is considered to be the Magna Carta of English law and history -- not its 1215 prototype.
The Magna Carta was regarded as setting out in legal form the contract between king and people that had been won, and might well have been preserved by force of arms. Its great importance stems from the time of William I, who as conqueror of England had secured for himself unprecedented power, but whose successors were forced to bargain with barons and clerics in order to avoid civil war.
The great importance of the Magna Carta is that it limits the absolute power of kings and their governments. As such, it was the precursor for the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America -- all three documents challenging the right of absolute authority of kings (and Presidents) over subjects (and citizens).
Any shredding of the Magna Carta is also shredding the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution for the United States of America. It is the usurpation of freedoms and rights. It is the path of allegedly free governments over the last several decades and now in the first years of the Twenty First Century, accelerating at an alarming rate. It is the imposition of the USA Partiot Act following 9-11-2001, and its demon offspring, Homeland InSecurity; and the resulting infringement on Free Speech.
An article which puts this into context, is “Shredding the Magna Carta” by John Brand. It is based on the events following 9-11-2001, the ill-advised, unconstitutional “Patriot Act”, and the fanatical fundamentalism of many leaders (elected, appointed, or usurped). Of particular note is the ideological basis, the paradigm, from which the travesties of injustice are being foisted upon the public. To paraphrase President Gerald Ford, “A government which can give you everything you want [such as security], is also a government which can take away everything you have [such as freedoms, rights, and security].”
Political Science 101 - Shredding The Magna Carta
By John Brand, D.Min., J.D. YellowTimes.org, Columnist (US) (August 18, 2002)
September 11, 2001. The entire nation is shocked as TV replays the havoc of that day of infamy over and over and over.
But quite frankly, I am still waiting for the second shoe to drop. As a lowly Infantry Assistant Squad Leader, I knew that when we gained an advantage over a German position, we were to exploit the opportunity and see what further damage we could inflict. We were trained to maximize our tactical advantage.
In every imaginable way, America was up against the ropes on 9/11. I remember telling my wife, “I wonder what will happen next? Will they unleash the terror of either biological or chemical attacks? Will they invade our computer systems and bring the country to a standstill? What ace do they have up their sleeve?” But nothing happened. The first punch was thrown. Our defenses were down and the knockout punch was never delivered. It didn’t make any sense to me then, and it still doesn’t eleven months later. Why has the other shoe not dropped?
Possible explanations are that bin Laden is a dumb turkey or that he did not have the wherewithal to conduct a second strike. Neither one of these alternatives seems credible. I don’t think bin Laden was overly worried about the ability of our intelligence apparatus to stop a follow-up blow. They seemed to have had some opportunity to stop the first strike and for whatever reason they failed to do so. Since the best predictor of future performance is past behavior, bin Laden could readily have believed he didn’t have too much to worry about from the C.I.A. or the F.B.I.
While Al Qaeda was sitting on the sidelines, our President was quick to follow up. He now had the opportunity to unite the nation against a seemingly real threat. He would emerge as a decisive leader who knew what was good for the nation. However, his measures far exceeded prudent security procedures. He sought to alarm the American people by insisting there is an “Axis of Evil” and issuing periodic messages of impending attacks to frighten our populace.
A central bureau to protect our Vaterland was created. This President, who had always railed against government control of the people, now instituted the most widespread network of a centralized agency. It was given power to proceed against suspects without due process of law and anyone was a suspect who was declared to be a potential threat by the Attorney General. No proof was needed other than the word of Ashcroft, a man whose emotional maturity is suspect [see Enemy Combatants].
A benumbed Congress passed the USA Patriot Act the month following 9-11-2001.
Many clauses of this Act deny constitutional rights. Under a Supreme Court guided by Constitutional principles rather than dogmatic ideologies, the Act would most likely be adjudged unconstitutional, but with our current Supreme Court, all bets are off.
The fact that this administration would not think twice to deny civil liberties to citizens who stand in the way of its agenda is not earthshaking news - it is troublesome news, but not totally unexpected, since it does not seem to be out of character for this administration. After all, the appointment of an Attorney General who takes his marching orders from the moralism of his personal religion rather than the Constitution also foreshadows the direction of things to come.
Doreen Miller wrote a very incisive article on the dangers of the USA Patriot Act entitled “High treason in the U.S. government.” It is must reading in order to understand the potential threat to any citizen who raises his or her voice for freedom. Whatever policies King George III instituted to limit the freedom of the American Colonists were mere child’s play when compared to the dictatorial powers handed the Executive Branch by the U.S. Congress to limit freedom and abrogate the Bill of Rights.
The paragraph in Ms. Miller’s column that most caught my attention reads: “U.S. government officials would have us believe that this 342-page, complexly nuanced document was allegedly crafted after September 11 in the time span of little over a month. To accomplish this feat would have required the in-depth study of fifteen other lengthy acts and statutes which it modifies and amends.”
Let me revert to the major premise of a previous column I wrote for YellowTimes.org, “Economics 101: Turning water into wine.” In it I make the point that dissection is not comprehension. I am more concerned with the possible reasons behind the Act rather than its actual clauses. Taking my cue from Ms. Miller, I assume also that this Act had been drawn up, or at least in draft, before the event of 9/11.
The President was not generating the steam he desired. Before 9/11, the economy had started to look a bit shaky and the President’s advisors knew that people are inclined to vote their pocketbooks. So, the President tried to buy the American people with a tax refund and a tax cut. He then used the Bully Pulpit to persuade us to go out and buy and buy in order to shore up the economy.
But the ploy did not work; most of the refund went to the super-rich. The tax refund didn’t produce the desired results. In the meantime, collections by the Treasury declined. The dotcoms began to crumble. Interestingly, by Executive Orders, the President impounded his Father’s Presidential papers at the very time that they should have become public property. What’s being hidden?
The executive team was holding its collective breath to find an opportunity, any opportunity, to make the President look, well, presidential. Being a rather smart group of folks, they were ready for any eventuality. The intelligence community must have heard rumors of a potential terrorist attack. (If they did not, why are we spending billions on their activities?) What better opportunity to solidify the grip of the Executive Office over the American people than a threat to their collective security? A terrorist attack would provide a golden opportunity to weld the will of the American people into a united front against the attackers of our cherished values.
It’s a similar scenario as the attack on Pearl Harbor. Does it not make sense that long before 9/11, the Administration undertook the writing of the USA Patriot Act? [Or that LIHOP was conceived?] They just waited for a proper event providing justification to deprive the citizenry of its freedom. In the intense emotionality generated by 9/11, it would have seemed unpatriotic to question this Act or to vote against its passage.
[The concept of LIHOP -- Let It Happen On Purpose -- is echoed in a fundamental, highly instructive article by a member of the British Parliament, who makes the clear claim that The War on Terrorism is Bogus. William Rivers Pitt, editor of truthout -- a highly instructive website -- has given the American perspective in his "I Believe" article. Both of these essays are must reads.]
William Rivers Pitt, editor of truthout -- a highly instructive website -- has given the American perspective in his "I Believe" article. Both of these essays are must reads.]
But why would the President, sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, limit Civil Rights and have in readiness an Act that virtually allows him to declare martial law? If there is a loss of popularity, an erosion of faith by the populace in the leadership, how could the people’s opinion be coerced to put their trust in the President?
In his book “Motivation and Personality,” published in 1954, Abraham Maslow makes the case that human needs arise in an orderly, predictable manner. At the bottom of his “Pyramid” is the need for food. A hungry person will give up everything else to obtain food in order to survive. Once the need for food is satisfied, the behavioral dynamics of life drive the individual to the next level, the “Safety Need.” This not only includes basic creature comforts such as housing and clothing, but also personal safety. The next step is the need to interact socially with others. After that life moves to the level of “Self-Esteem,” then “Self-Actualization” or “Self- Realization,” “Wisdom,” and finally the need for the “Transcendental.”
Here is what Maslow says about the Safety Need: “The safety needs can become very urgent on the social scene whenever there are real threats to law, to order, to the authority of society. The threat of chaos or nihilism can be expected in most human beings to produce a regression from any higher need to the more prepotent safety needs. A common, almost expectable reaction is the easier acceptance of dictatorship of military rule.” [emphasis added]
In view of above thought we can begin to understand the frenzy of the Executive Office to keep people’s sense of safety in a state of imbalance. A sense of insecurity makes it easy to impose autocracy on a nation. Hitler scared the German people with the threat of Communism as well as the threat of continuing economic chaos in Germany imposed by the Versailles Treaty. [If comparing Adolph Hitler and George W. Bush seems a bit radical, keep in mind the Bush intends to milk the 9-11-2001 disaster for all its worth, by holding the GOP Convention in New York City in early September 2004 (late for a national convention) in order to capitalize politically on the Twin Towers so-called terrorist attack.]
In case anyone questions the intent of Oval Office to impose a potential reign of terror on America, he or she has only to look at some of the clauses of the Act. The Attorney General has the right to designate anyone as a terrorist who appears to be one! [emphasis added]. Section 213 permits government agents to go into the home of anyone who appears to be a terrorist and seize whatever they deem to be of importance in proving the person to be subversive. This “unreasonable search and seizure” can be conducted while the suspected individual is away from his home.
Again let me urge you to read Ms. Miller’s article that dissects the Act rather well.
Why would anyone who has sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, promulgate such a devious Act? The Act shreds the Magna Carta no less than did [Arthur] Anderson's [Enron’s accounting firm] shredding of Enron documents. It is an Act potentially depriving us of our civil rights no less than did imprisonment of dissidents in Russian gulags or German Concentration Camps. Why?
I think the answer can be found in the basic ideological concepts embraced by this administration. It is an erroneous assumption but one deeply ingrained in the psyche of our species. Goethe puts the problem into focus. He said, “What is important in life is life; not a result in life.” Life is the very opposite of a cold, decaying, rotting body. Life is dynamic, ongoing, changing, and active. Life is always becoming. Death is a result. Death has “become.” The swirling, expanding, developing, moving universe presents prima facie evidence that this undivided whole of an implicit order represents not a “result”, but rather a “becoming.” Results are merely points of death along the days of our lives. Unless results are only seen as temporary stopping places, the intentioned springboard for new ventures, they constitute frozen, lifeless forms.
Our religious tradition teaches, in spite of all the evidence to the contrary, “God rested on the seventh day.” Religion declares that the universe is an accomplished fact. Wrapped in this is the implication that all moral values have also been set in concrete. Incised in granite were all the Commandments, rules, regulations, laws, Executive Orders, and even the Supreme Court decisions on how men and women should behave. In other words, the world “became” whenever the Almighty ordained it. Traditional lore does not see life, society, culture, and the world as becoming, but rather as static revelations of God. Therefore, those who believe that God ordained an unchanging, eternal order feel compelled to force all things and all people into that divinely, predestined system. The defenders of the true faith believe that they are ordained of God to use all means fair or foul to instill that fixed eternal totality into the dumb sinners who will not accept the absolute and final act of creation. [emphasis added] [See Death and Rebirth.]
So, local informers are being deputized to spy on all these ungodly creatures. Because they are ungodly they have no rights as human beings. In essence, they are subhuman because they refuse to knuckle under the dictates of the enlightened ones. Whatever means are needed will be used to whip the population into line. Those resisting that eternal order will be eliminated since they are anathema to the faithful.
Make sense? Well, it does if you have bought into the philosophy proclaiming that on the seventh day all acts of creation ceased. A static view of life makes sense if you reject the fact that at this very moment new stars are born and old stars are dying. It makes sense to be a reactionary if you don’t believe that living things mutate, change, and evolve. It makes sense if you close your eyes to the fact that the important thing about life is life. If you think that life is a fixed result - the reactionary results of a misguided religious sentiment - then by God you are under orders to get rid of the non-believing bastards. [In effect, the U. S. Attorney General and Osama bin Laden are kindred spirits.]
Those who seek to impose their will on the people are not above the use of any means to whip the masses into line. A quote often attributed to Julius Caesar (although not appearing in any of his writings) is: “Beware the leader who bangs the drums of war in order to whip up the citizenry into a patriotic fervor, for patriotism is indeed a double-edged sword. It both emboldens the blood, just as it narrows the mind. And when the drums of war have reached a fever pitch and the blood boils with hate and the mind has closed, the leader will have no need in seizing the rights of the citizenry. Rather, the citizenry, infused with fear and blinded by patriotism, will offer up all of their rights unto the leader and gladly so. How do I know? For this is what I have done. And I am Caesar.”
Sound vaguely familiar?
Belief in an absolutely static universe in which God has fully revealed the totality of all creation, all moral values, all political dynamics, becomes the touchstone forcing people to substitute this lifeless form in place of life. It is a form lacking in vitality and movement. It is a form perceived in the frozen grimaces of the leaders of the dead. Such a manifestation of death only seeks a provocation to spew its rotting offal over an entire population.
Fearing for their very lives if they do not obey, the masses embrace their spiritless leaders. These living dead seek to kill love and light, learning and laughter. They have laws in place to whisk away, without due process of law, anyone they deem to be a threat to their celebration of death and destruction of the human spirit. These self-serving moralists whose thoughts are generated in the catacombs of their lusterless brains, do not understand that the meaning of life is life!
They fail to understand the child-like innocence of the living. The dragons of these alien life forms seek to dominate the desert realm of their empires by peddling their petty “Thou Shalts!” and “Thou Musts” as the voice of God. The living dead do not see each day as a new beginning and a self-rolling wheel. They miss the holy Yea of the dawn rising over the ebon darkness of ignorance and prejudice. They force life into the straight jacket of dead creeds, the mummified bodies of lifeless dogmas, and the corpses of extinct ideologies. (After Nietzsche's Three Metamorphoses in “Thus Spake Zarathustra.”)
And that, I believe, is the fundamental reason calling into existence the Patriot Act. It allows the dead to kill the living.
[John Brand is a Purple Heart, Combat Infantry veteran of World War II. He received his Juris Doctor degree at Northwestern University and a Master of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry at Southern Methodist University. He served as a Methodist minister for 19 years, was Vice President, Birkman & Associates, Industrial Psychologists, and concluded his career as Director, Organizational and Human Resources, Warren-King Enterprises, an independent oil and gas company. He is the author of “Shaking the Foundations.”]
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