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 firstname.lastname@example.org — 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 email@example.com, or use the “comment” link at the bottom of my blog, or tweet your pithy thoughts @TrinityPrez