Destroying Our Rights to Save Them

IT IS WELL to remember, during this season of Lent, that the enemies of Jesus were utterly convinced that he had to be silenced. Was he not a threat to a belief system, a religion, a state? Whatever it was, it was an issue of security—therefore, Jesus had to die. His freedom was a danger. He had to be silenced.

Today, in the name of national security, we in the United States are dismantling what we have been taught are our fundamental rights under the Constitution. We are left to wonder: Where is the outrage? Why are so many silent? Can it be that torture, warrantless searches, indefinite detentions—those practices that tear at the very soul of what it means to be a humane and just society—are acceptable to the American people?

Actions taken by both the Bush and Obama administrations suggest that basic guarantees made to citizens are in the process of being undermined. From torture to warrantless searches to assassinations of Americans on the president’s order, the very pillars of the republic would seem to be shattering.

Those who consider this contention extreme should consider George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley’s article, “Ten reasons we’re no longer the land of the free,” in The Washington Post this January. Turley points out the government’s continuing “ability to transfer both citizens and noncitizens to another country under a system known as extraordinary rendition, which has been denounced as using other countries, such as Syria, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan, to torture suspects. The Obama administration says it is not continuing the abuses of this practice under Bush, but it insists on the unfettered right to order such transfers.”

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