On passion and patriotism

Alissa Miller and Alissa Miller

(U-WIRE) ROCHESTER, N.Y – “Inter arma silent leges”- this ancient phrase presents the frighteningly accurate attitude of much of the U.S. government right now towards issues of civil liberty, “In times of war the law is silent.”

Stop and think about this for a moment.

We are fighting a war to help bring freedom to the people of Afghanistan, and then possibly to other people oppressed by terrorism supporting governments. Officials are praising the freedom of Afghani women to now go beyond the burkah if they chose.

We are America, the land of the free, and it is our solemn duty to proselytize to the world.

If our culture and our freedom are so precious to us that we protect them halfway around the world in foreign countries with the lives of our soldiers, why is our government not protecting those same rights here?

George Bush was sworn to protect the Constitution as the supreme law of the land. His executive order to try all non-citizens accused of terrorist activities in secret military tribunals, however, is a far cry from preserving the Constitution. It is directly opposing the established interpretation.

If the executive order was the only violation of civil liberties, the Constitutional safeguards would protect the public. Unfortunately, the executive is not the only branch that has failed to think before acting.

Congressmen have noted that the passing of the anti-terrorism and relief USA Patriot bill is a mockery of the rules of the institution. The sacred traditions of debate and deliberation were blatantly ignored, in exchange for a quick-tempered and passionate decision.

Granted, Congress is supposed to reflect the wishes of the public, and there is no doubt that a majority of the public is screaming for a swift and decisive reaction to the epidemic of terrorism within U.S. borders.

However, the reason why the Constitution is not a proponent of direct democracy is to prevent this type of public passion from ruling when it is against the public’s better interest.

With the executive and legislative branches both acting in haste, the only brakes left on the way down the slippery slope are the Supreme Court and the people.

With Chief Justice William Rehnquist at the helm, it is unlikely that the unconstitutionality of any government action will ever be even brought to judgment during a time of war.