From Little Acorns, Mighty Tyrannies Grow

Please, forgive bruising an old adage.  Unfortunately, it is all too appropriate in its altered form.

Recently, wave after wave of scandals has broken across news desks, becoming a storm surge approaching tsunami proportions.  The beach marks of each controversy reach ever further up the moral shoreline, increasingly threatening the nation’s ethical foundations.

US officials allow semi-automatic weapons to illegally “walk” across the Mexican border straight to drug cartels in “Operation Fast and Furious.”  Beyond murdering thousands of Mexicans, felons wielding those guns also murdered US Border Agent Brian Terry.  Anyone been held responsible at ATF, FBI, ICE, Justice Department, yet?

Failure to be truthful on “Fast and Furious” with Congress created an ignominious record for Attorney General Eric Holder.  He became the first and only sitting US Cabinet member ever to be held in contempt of Congress in over two centuries.  

Despite that fact, neither he, nor anyone else, in the administration has been prosecuted, fired or even reprimanded.   It seems there are no real consequences for complicity in the murder of a courageous American law enforcement officer. 

Brave Americans and a US ambassador died on a foreign shore after their would-be rescuers were told to “stand down” more than once.  What is worse, beyond any cancelled rescue, the sacrifice was needless from the beginning. 

Our nation’s state department consciously decided to keep our people in a dangerous situation when Britain and other nations were withdrawing.  Furthermore, requests for added security were callously denied, even, in the face of numerous CIA warnings.  Anyone resign in disgrace over these decisions?  Enough disgrace to disqualify a future run for the Presidency?

Amazingly, to this day, no one in this administration is apparently willing to tell these heroes’ families or the Congress everything about those decisions.  Instead, there were, first, “talking point re-writes,” then lies in front TV cameras followed by cover-ups.  

Who can forget a US Secretary of State shouting at a Congressional committee, “What difference does it make, at this point?”  Ask the fallen men’s families.  Ask warriors, steeped in the ethos of never leaving a comrade-in-arms behind.  Ask citizens irked at seemingly anonymous orders to abandon fellow Americans in their hour of need.   What difference, in deed?

Why not ask what difference it makes if the Internal Revenue Service selectively targets political and religious groups, even, individuals?  All Americans are “created equal” under the law, right?  Apparently, that is… except when they disagree with someone in power. 

Obviously, it seems to make a difference to hundreds of groups and individuals who publicly disagreed with the current administration politically.  They were audited or had requests for IRS service denied and delayed… just in the last few years. 

We all have the same Bill of Rights, don’t we?  Doesn’t everyone have the same freedom of speech, press, and religion?   Ask some Associated Press and Fox News reporters who had hundreds of phone records and emails secretly seized.  Think seizing personal communications where the individual reporter committed no crime might have a “chilling effect” on freedom of the press? 

Maybe a few religious organizations could contribute insight about the “chilling effects” on freedom of official overreach.   “Hot enough under the collar” to speak out about government authorizing the “morning after pill” for 15 year-olds without parental consent?  Ever been in a heated public debate on “gay marriage?”  It is amazing how IRS requests for the “content of prayers” and requirements to submit copies of speeches can “cool” things. 

Sound arbitrary? Sound, possibly, like abuse of power?  Sound un-American?  How did we get to this point?  Did it start small, perhaps? 

Maybe school authorities felt they could insist on reviewing and censoring a graduation ceremony speech.  After all, we cannot allow someone’s freedom of speech to “offend” a potential audience member, can we?   Is it an academic vocabulary building exercise to ask which term fits better:  imperious paternalism or capricious bureaucratic arrogance?

How small a step is it for a high-ranking school official to go from arbitrarily deciding “potential” offensiveness to personal, political disagreement?  Just say it is for the children.  Who can object?  Who will know beyond the censored individual?  “One small step for an egotistic, petty bureaucrat or one giant leap of oppressive bureaucracy?”

“Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.”  --- Thomas Jefferson 

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