The British Are Coming!! The British Are Coming!!

(9 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Nothing stirred then, nor still stirs us as Americans, as hearing Paul Revere yell, “The British are coming, the British are coming!”  

And with those words, I’m going to take another look at “history”…

The New World was discovered in 1492 by Christopher Columbus.  For the next 300 years, different nations tried to make that new world their own.  It was a wide place to expand.  It had generous national resources.  It was also occupied by savages that had yet to find Christianity, in whatever form it took for those in Europe and England.  Battles were fought with the Indians.  Battles erupted between individual colonies.  All in the name of expansion, trade, religion and resources.  Those entire three centuries would culminate in 1765 into a series of events that would change the world forever.

The colonists viewed the new world as their home.  The resources theirs to profit from and rely upon.  Their place to practice their religion free from outside tyranny.  Yet, Britain had other ideas.  The populace of the colonies was theirs to tax.  The resources theirs to profit from in trade.  And that populace, that comprised of merchants, farmers, indeed, those of every trade except soldier, had a different viewpoint.

Yes, it was 1765 when a group of colonists decided to terrorize those who oppressed them.  They organized, not in uniforms, nor at bases, but in houses, wearing the clothes they owned.  And terrorize the British troops, Governors, and any who were sympathetic to them they did.  They burned down houses.  They ransacked stores.  They attacked at night, in secret, and masked.  They were called the Sons of Liberty.  They did not come to the decision to terrorize the British without notice.  The populace of the colonies repeatedly spoke out, but, their words fell on deaf ears.  

After years of terrorizing the British, the leaders of the colonies banded together and formally declared their independence.  They formally set out to categorically record the offenses against them.  They got as many farmers, as many merchants, as many who would answer their call together.  They built an army, not out of soldiers, but, out of the populace.  And they went to war with the British.  Yet, our founding fathers wore no formal uniform for they weren’t soldiers.  They did not fight by the normal standards of the day for they were outnumbered and outgunned.  Thus, did we hear “The British are coming, the British are coming” as the American revolution began in earnest.  

America is now over 200 years old from the time we claimed our independence.  From the time our government was established by a Constitution.  From the time that our founding fathers tried to establish a system by which we would never become the tyrannical government they had fought.  They established rights for not only the citizen, but, for all within the confines of the day.  All men were created equal.  The government was there to deal with some items, but, the states would have their own powers.  And all men were created equal.  They had rights. Inalienable rights.  Rights to which our government could never impede, never take away, and never intrude upon.  In 1787 our Constitution was born.  222 years later, our government is not the same as our founding fathers envisioned.

In the 1950’s, our government decided that the oil of the Middle East was something that our country needed.  That it was a natural resource that we had a right to as a matter of our national security.  For the next 33 years, our government overthrew governments, supported dictators, and tried to force our military into that region of the world.

The people of the Middle East did not immediately speak out.  In fact, the people of Iran lived under the dictator we installed for 26 years before they revolted in 1979.  The people of Iraq lived under Saddam Hussein for decades, the dictator we supported since the 1980’s.  And yet, after decades of American interference, it wasn’t until 1983 until America suffered a terrorist attack, that in Beirut.

It was not until 1990, when Saddam Hussein, the dictator we supported, armed, and helped to prop up, waged war against Kuwait, that we found his acts of cruelty unconscionable.  That we, as a nation, decided that he could not act, as he had for decades, without somebody doing something.  And, with the international community, our military entered the Middle East to contain the dictator that was our friend for decades.  It was, at that time in history, when we became the very thing that our founding fathers fought against.  

We became the Britain of the 1700’s.

Our military had entered that foreign land.  Even as the populace called for our troops to withdraw, our government refused to do so even though its mission was over.  Since 1990, our military, and the bases we had built, remained on foreign soil while the populace protested.  No, we did not tax them.  We did not imprison them.  We did not torture them.  That came later.  Just as the terrorism they committed against our troops didn’t start immediately, but, came later.

In 1993, our nation was hit by a terrorist act.  We did not relent.  In 1995, five years after our military occupied Saudi Arabia, over 40 years since we began meddling in the Middle East, did we suffer a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia.  The Khobar Towers, in which we housed some of our forces, was bombed.  We remained.  Our decision as a nation made by our government.  And in 1996, we got our warning.  It was not from an army, but, a group that we trained, we armed, we funded.  Al-Qaeda.  Leave this land.  And yet, our government refused.

No, we still had not taxed the people.  We still had not tortured them.  We still had not imprisoned them.  We, like the British government in the late 1700’s, had simply decided that this world was ours to inhabit regardless of the wishes of the people that lived in it.  That its natural resource, the oil, was something we needed, that we needed our troops and military to protect for the good of our nation.  It was thus that we were attacked in 2001.  Yet, our government, like the British, was undeterred still.  

The people, those farmers, those merchants, did not declare their independence from our government, for they already had it.  They did not form together to catalog the abuses we had committed against them, because we had yet to them.  They simply wanted our troops out of your countries, but, we couldn’t even give them that.  It was in 2003 that these people cried out, “The Americans are coming, the Americans are coming”.  And we invaded Iraq.

Our military swept aside Iraq’s military through sheer firepower.  We swept away their government.  We swept aside their culture.  It was the American Revolution, but, we had lost.  Our people suddenly saw the British troops walking our streets, our fighters imprisoned or dead.  Our communities under British rule.  

Those who opposed our invasion after the military was decimated were not soldiers.  They had no uniform.  They did not fight in the normal methods of the day.  They attacked at night.  They were masked.  And they terrorized us, just as our founding fathers terrorized the British.  But, history would be different this time.  To the winners go the spoils.

It was now that we imprisoned their people in a foreign land without charges, without recourse.  It was now that we tortured, and killed, those who opposed us.  It was now that we imposed our will, without regard to anything but the fact that we could.  And it is now, that we are, as a nation and a people, that we regret our governments actions.

Far from being over, far from again being a nation of law, rules, and moral superiority, our new President, our new government, has decided that our Constitution, that to which our own founding fathers fought and died to put into place, no longer matters.

Our founding fathers established rules.  They established rights.  They put forth checks and balances to ensure these rights endured.  They said, as we say now, within our own framing of our time, that all men are created equal.  Yet, our government, our new President, disagrees.

Today, President Obama said many things.  The one thing he said to which ever American should be aware is that he has deemed that he may imprison people, indefinitely, without trial, without due process, as “preventative detention”.  And he claims this power in the name of our national security.

This is the day that we truly have become the British government of the late 1700’s.  This it the day when our government has confirmed that it may imprison without charge, without trial, without due process, because our government says so.

This is the day that our Constitution died.

It doesn’t matter if you are an American citizen or not.  If you are deemed a terrorist, one that can never be let free for fear of further retaliation, you get no trial, no due process, you are simply imprisoned indefinitely.

It doesn’t matter if you have been tortured, if you were forced to give false confessions, because you will simply rot in a jail, never having the ability or opportunity to confront your accuser.

And those in the government who tortured, who dared to break set law both nationally and internationally, they have no fear of the rule of law.  They are protected from their own abuses, just as the British government said that what their soldiers did were in the interest of the British government, the British interests, the British national security of the time.

The British are Coming.  The Americans are Coming.  Today, there are differences, but, the mindset of both are the same, to include the governments, and the people to whom that tyranny oppresses.  Today, many in our society are the “good Germans”, rationalizing the abuse of power our government claims.  

How did we get to this point in time?  When our nation, our government, claimed the same rights to which our founding fathers fought and died to defeat?

To imprison people in a foreign land, without rights, without trial, without due process, without evidence against them?  To merely languish in a prison because the government said they were terrorists?

Preventative Detention?  That is what President Obama called it today.

What that means, in reality, is that we imprisoned people who may or may not have been guilty of an actual crime, but, we tortured them.  We waterboarded them.  We held them in prison for several years.  And, because our government broke every rule that our founding fathers established in our Constitution under George W. Bush, we must now abandon our Constitution for political expedience.

We must now simply imprison them, without trial, without due process, without every safeguard our founding fathers fought and died to give us as a nation.

There was no “new” status.  There was no new “combatant”.  Our own founding fathers fought, without uniform, without following the normal rules of combat of the day.  They, too, were called terrorists by the government they fought.

For decades, terrorists were tried in our courts.  The evidence presented.  They were convicted upon that evidence.  But, today, that no longer matters.  It no longer matters because George W. Bush decided to turn to torture and our government, our new President, has refused to uphold our Constitution, to uphold the rules of law our founding fathers set forth 222 years ago.

The new term, “preventative detention”, will now become the new rule for our government.  Just like the Military Commissions Act did not apply to citizens once you were deemed an “unlawful enemy combatant”, this new judicial category will oversee anyone that our government deems it to cover.

In the future, this will come back to haunt our own populace.

How did we fall this far as a government, as a nation, as a people?


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  1. During the primary candidates were asked if they would turn back some of the abuses of power that W took for his own.

    Now we know the answer.

    When our own start to be “disappeared” from our streets will we finally demand our rights to be returned? Will it be too late?

    Nice essay Michael.

    • Edger on May 22, 2009 at 5:26 am

    Always just before the dawn…

    …if the next President can restore the American people’s trust – if they know that he or she is acting with their best interests at heart, with prudence and wisdom and some measure of humility – then I believe the American people will be ready to see America lead again.

    They will be ready to show the world that we are not a country that ships prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far off countries. That we are not a country that runs prisons which lock people away without ever telling them why they are there or what they are charged with.

    Barack Obama, Chicago, IL, April 23, 2007

  2. and disheartened by President Obama’s turn around on policies we wanted to see change. Is he just another politician who wanted to get to the top at all cost or does he have a secret way to get what he wants without setting off the opposition? I want to believe he knows what he’s doing and eventually we will know too.

    “Preventative detention” does a number on my sense of personal security and justice. How the hell can a constitutional lawyer, turned president, justify this?

    How does one determine who ‘qualifies’? Where does one draw the line?

    I love your essay and the comparison you drew and not because I made a similar point a few weeks ago, not as eloquent as you,tho and was almost stoned by my american friends.

  3. We usually don’t hear James Madison’s name mentioned in the same sentence with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, et al, however, his contributions as a Founding Father were considerable, including the Bill of Rights.  

    We would also do well to consider his prescient words regarding the following topics:

    This importance of keeping ourselves well-informed with the truth, not pre-manufactured fictions…

    Knowledge will forever govern ignorance; and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.

    War should truly be a last resort (perhaps not unlike ingesting a toxic substance for a brief time to overcome a serious illness), and when it cannot be avoided, should end as soon as the clearly articulated and widely understood objectives are met…

    Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other.

    No nation can preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

    Sanction by some of our organized religions in does not mean that our cause is right and just…

    In no instance have… the churches been guardians of the liberties of the people.

    We are witnessing the slow death of our more than two century old experiment in democracy — a death by a thousand cuts.  Can this be stopped before it is too late?

    We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties.

    I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.

    The means of defense against foreign danger historically have become the instruments of tyranny at home.

    It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.

    If Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

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