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State of the Nation: I am afraid

John W. Whitehead
President, The Rutherford Institute

 

As I look at America today, I am not afraid to say that I am afraid.
– Bertram Gross, Friendly Fascism: The New Face of Power in America

Ominous developments in America have been a long time coming, in part precipitated by “we the people” – a citi­zenry that has been asleep at the wheel for too long. And while there have been wake-up calls, we have failed to heed the warnings.

Just consider the state of our nation:

We’re encased in what some are calling an electronic concentration camp. The government continues to amass data files on more and more Americans. Everywhere we go, we are watched: at the banks, at the grocery store, at the mall, crossing the street. This loss of privacy is symptomatic of the growing surveillance being carried out on average Americans. Such surveillance gradually poisons the soul of a nation, transforming us from one in which we’re presumed innocent until proven guilty to one in which everyone is a suspect and presumed guilty. Thus, the question that must be asked is: can freedom in the United States flourish in an age when the physical movements, individual purchases, conversations and meetings of every citizen are under constant surveillance by private compa­nies and government agencies?

We are metamorphosing into a police state. Governmental tentacles now invade virtually every facet of our lives, with agents of the government listening in on our telephone calls and reading our emails. Technology, which has developed at a rapid pace, offers those in power more invasive, awesome tools than ever before. Fusion centers – data collecting agencies spread throughout the country, aided by the National Security Agency – constantly monitor our communications, everything from our internet activity and web searches to text messages, phone calls and emails. This data is then fed to government agencies, which are now interconnected – the CIA to the FBI, the FBI to local police – a relationship which will make a transition to martial law that much easier. We may very well be one terrorist attack away from seeing armed forces on our streets – and the American people may not put up much resistance. According to a recent study, a greater percentage of Americans are now willing to sacrifice their civil lib­erties in order to feel safer in the wake of the failed crotch bomber’s attack on Christmas Day.

We are plagued by a faltering economy and a monstrous financial deficit that threatens to bankrupt us. Our national debt is more than $12 trillion (which translates to more than $110,000 per taxpayer), and is expected to nearly double to $20 trillion by 2015. The unemployment rate is over 10% and growing, with more than 15 million Ameri­cans out of work and many more forced to subsist on low-paying or part-time jobs. The number of U.S. households on the verge of losing their homes soared by nearly 15% in the first half of last year alone. The number of children living in poverty is on the rise (18% in 2007). As history illustrates, authoritarian regimes assume more and more power in troubled financial times.

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