Related: Civil & Human Rights, Education, In the Media, Politics

Voices of Trinity: Constitution Day 2011

 
 

What convictions do you profess regarding your rights and liberties?  Have we given up too much for the sake of national security after 9/11?  Or is the sacrifice of some freedom and convenience the price we have to pay to remain safe and secure?

Federal law requires schools, colleges and universities to observe Constitution Day on September 17 each year.  This year, with the week bracketed by the 10th Anniversary of September 11 on Sunday and Constitution Day on Saturday, we have a great opportunity for a really rambunctious debate about the state of our Constitutional rights and freedoms.  Some students and members of the Trinity community have already responded to my call for comments on the questions listed at the bottom of this blog — it’s not too late to add your voice!  Click on ‘comment’ below, send me an email or tweet me — I will post your comments on this blog all week.

Here’s a thought from Tresa Welch, president of the School of Professional Studies Student Government Executive Board:

“Amendment IV of our Constitution used to protect us from unlawful, unreasonable searches and seizures. Al Qaeda took this Right away on  9/11/01.  We now expect to have our luggage searched each time we take a flight. We do not give a metal detector in a public place a second thought. Sadly, many of us think it is okay to be openly be suspicious of co-workers, neighbors and strangers who appear to be Muslim. No one asked me which right I would compromise for the sake of National Security, the events of 9/11 took those rights away too.”

Another student, James Risse, answered the three questions posed below in this way:

“The government should NOT restrain rights and liberties to preserve our security. Rights that are once surrendered are rarely returned, and security is an ill-defined concept – what constitutes security for one person is imprisonment for another.

“All of the amendments to the bill of rights are in danger, for what good are rights if no one takes up action in their defense. It is true that corporate America, the wealthy and powerful will always seek to defend their rights at any cost, but they are distorting a system that once corrupted defends no one.  Citizens seeking to defend their rights should be aware of what they are and how the system operates that protects them. Everyone should exercise their real political voice and not just follow party allegiance.

“I would not be willing to part with any of my Constitutional rights or freedoms to prevent some vague threat. Terrorism can, and does, come from any and all corners of the idealistic spectrum. Are we to live in shelters fearing the worst of humanity, or do we follow the holy word and do unto others as we would have done unto us?”

Another student, Wilbert Williams writes:

“My first comment as it relates to security would be that the US needs to stop pretending that we’re so good and innocent….The unmitigated gall to go to war in Iraq under false pretentions is just one example. …  President Obama has made every effort to redeem our standing in the world, first by his admission that we have made some very definite errors in judgement. His actions have been criticized as being soft and apologetic…the US needs to apologize. No, I’m not willing to give up freedoms…”

And this thought from Jennifer Dahlman of our Nursing Faculty:

“I think that the idea of terrorism is intended to make people questions their rights and liberties.  It is in creating this question that we find doubt and instability within ourselves and our nation.  It is during this crucial self-governing of ourselves and our nation that we must remain strong and confident in those who have come before us and what they have taught us.  “Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” may be interpreted differently as to what constitutes each, however, our faithfulness to uphold these rights are what make us a strong and unified country.  Embrace diversity and allow it to unify yourself and your fellow man~ in this unity, you will also be set free!!”

What is YOUR opinion?  Weigh in with your ideas in response to this first set of comments or use the questions below to trigger your comments.   Reply to this blog on the “comments” link, or send an email to president@trinitydc.edu — or if you can say it in 140 characters, tweet me @TrinityPrez….. any way you can, I want to hear from you!!

Here’s are the questions for discussion:

A recent poll indicates that two-thirds of all Americans think that it’s o.k. to sacrifice some of our basic rights and liberties in order to be safe from terrorism.  You can read more about this poll on WTOPnews.com:  http://www.wtop.com/?nid=755&sid=2530314

Do you agree or disagree with the idea that the government should restrain rights and liberties in order to preserve our security?  Why or why not? 

Are some of the rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights in danger of becoming extinct?  Which ones?  Why are they in danger, and what can citizens do to be sure that these fundamental rights remain strong?

What rights might you be willing to sacrifice, personally, in order to feel safer and more secure?  What rights are so important to you that you would be willing to risk the potential of another terrorist attack in order to be sure you could still exercise those rights?

AND ONE MORE QUESTION:  What would you say to members of Congress and to President Obama about their responsibilities to get this country moving again?  What is your recommendation on the best way to stop the political circus and get on with effective legislation to rebuild economic security for the people of this country?  (See my blog on the president’s speech at http://www.trinitydc.edu/president/blog-recent-posts/)

You can weigh in by sending an email to president@trinitydc.edu, or use the “comment” link at the bottom of my blog, or tweet your pithy thoughts @TrinityPrez

 

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One Response to Voices of Trinity: Constitution Day 2011

  1. Kathy B says:

    The United States Constitution is the basis or stepping stone of the United States judicial system. It guides its fellow citizens, guests, and visitors in relation to governing themselves. It gives all its members a foundation of the rights, responsibilities and even privileges that all that grace this not so perfect, yet cherished ground that we call the United States of America, are entitled to.

    Under the constitution, natural rights of personal security, not to be killed, injured or abused are granted. Along with the personal liberty of moving freely, assembling peacefully keeping and bearing arms, expressing verbally or in writing our views regardless of how they may correlate or drastically differ from our elected officials; along with the freedom of religion and a host of other inalienable rights. With these rights, we as members of the United States, have the responsibility to obey the laws of the land, as well as the responsibility to challenge them in an effort to ensure peace happiness and justice for all.

    I am not a fan of long lines at the airport, profiling in which certain members of our society are pulled over and ticketed more than others, or having members of our society hanging out in the shadows, afraid to take their children to the doctor, or report a crime, in fear of not being able to pay their bill or worse… be deported.

    I am a fan of people working together to ensure that another 9- 11 never takes place. This can be achieved by cooperating with TSA and Homeland Security officials, thus not over exaggerating, search procedures and wait times or constantly looking for a fight, along with yes, reporting suspicious activity. I am also a fan of all whom are able to vote, voting along with getting involved in the political process. So all who grace this land founded on freedom, may attend school, have access to health care, and afford their groceries and housing while with a little hard work, enjoy this country for what it was founded for.

    It is much easier to sit back criticize and turn a blind eye. It is harder to actually investigate policy and formulate a plan of action to change it in a realistic peaceful manner. Not everything is perfect in the United States. Lately, our congressional leaders can’t even manage to cross party lines and realistically look at the economy in order to develop a plan that definitely will not be perfect, yet will accomplish the greatest good. Sometimes the greatest good, not the feel good popular rah rah, give me, get me, I want mode of thinking, needs to take the front seat. At times, national safety and security must trump our personal goals and desires.

    Thus, regardless of our beliefs and political ideologies, we must be proactive and politically engaged from local grass root efforts, all the way up to the White House. Less we sit on our hands and surrender, simply to moan about all America’s woes.

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Patricia A. McGuire, President, Trinity, 125 Michigan Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20017
Phone: 202.884.9050   Email: president@trinitydc.edu