This article was originally published at americanchronicle.com on March 19th, 2009
By now many of you have probably heard about the Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) report that labeled constitutionalists, Ron Paul supporters and others as possible domestic terrorists. When I first heard about it my first thought was something like, "Oh no, here we go again. The government propaganda machine is at work again. They are trying to equate ordinary folk and peace loving activists with violent extremists." Indeed, from my point of view this seems correct.
But, alas, I am a man who can´t just scratch the surface of an issue and leave it at that. I must try to dig deeper into the heart of the matter and try to sort through the implications. This is not to say that my initial gut reaction wasn´t correct. Indeed, often times it is. Yet there is often more to such reports than meets the eye and words are often misused or misinterpreted. I began to wonder why such a report would even be considered warranted. It seems clear to me that the language being used in the report was chosen to discourage dissent and incite violence rather than protect officers.
To begin with, we can examine the word terrorist. The word invokes images of hate filled, spiteful people plotting in a secretive fashion to plant bombs in public areas meant to kill and maim as many innocents as possible. Yet that is not what a terrorist is in the strictest sense of the word. A terrorist is one who terrorizes. A terrorist simply creates an atmosphere of fear. One could make the argument that I am a terrorist based on the fact that I write horror novels designed to make the reader feel the tingle of fright run down his spine. To label me as such would be an attempt to misinform and mis-associate in my opinion and the same can be said for the MIAC report. It wouldn´t, however, be totally false as the label was based on a plausible truth.
Or I could simply be looking at this from the wrong point of view. Perhaps from the point of view of those in politics and law enforcement, people in the freedom movement really are terrorists. After all, they have a tendency to not simply submit because someone claiming to have authority over them tells them to. They have a tendency to know their rights and to exercise them. They have a tendency to expect the police officers and government personnel to operate within the bounds of the law written down and codified in the Constitution. What could be more terrifying to a bully on a power trip who insists on being obeyed without question? What could be more frightening to a bureaucrat than someone who insists on the freedom and ability to run his own life rather than depending on the system?
Those of us who have awakened and wish to move forward with a liberty agenda confound the sensibilities of those who insist on regulating every aspect of our lives. We in the freedom movement see ourselves and everyone else as individuals while those with a collectivist point of view have a tendency to lump people together into groups. It could therefore be very logical for those with a collectivist mindset (as many in the government seem to have) to conclude that if one individual involved in the freedom movement becomes violent while defending his rights, all of them are potentially violent. Many of us who are liberty oriented believe that individuals should be punished individually for any harm they may cause to another individual. Those with a collectivist mindset, which is apparently the mindset of the people involved with writing the MIAC report, believe it is ok to punish a group for the actions of an individual, or worse yet to prevent some imaginary incident from possibly happening. It doesn´t matter to them how many innocent people will be hurt or implicated, nor does it matter what principles of human dignity are ignored, it only matters that they are obeyed and that their power, their control and their point of view are all maintained, by force if necessary.
It appears to me as if those currently in control of the mechanisms of power in this nation are, indeed, afraid and perhaps even terrified of those involved with the freedom movement. But I doubt very much that has anything to do with the people involved. The ideas of freedom and liberty are powerful. These ideas make wonderful allies when you side with them and frightening adversaries to fight against. They are ideas that most everyone understands and that just make good sense. Indeed, they seem to be ideas that have been interwoven into the fabric of the human spirit. So as those in control of the mechanisms of power see more and more people begin to question their authority they lash out at those who spread the message. As more ordinary people begin to demand accountability and insist on personal responsibility for the decisions that impact their lives, those who wish to remain in power may find themselves turning to even more tyrannical and devious methods to maintain control.
And so I am also afraid. I am terrified of that the men dressed in blue, or more often black these day, will one day kick down my door, drag me away and lock me in some cold prison cell simply because I choose to embrace the ideals that make men truly free as they go about their day to day lives. I am afraid that one day I will be accused of being a terrorist despite the fact that I abhor violence and do not advocate it, and that I will be forced to defend myself in front of a state owned court more concerned with its own self interests than with truth, justice or preserving the rights of the individual. I´m afraid that such a proceeding could cost me dearly in terms of time and wealth regardless of its outcome. I am afraid because the real terrorists have done their job well and given those who would dissent reason to be afraid. Yet I refuse to let fear silence me and will continue to support Ron Paul, The Campaign for Liberty, The Free State Project, tax protestors, constitutionalists and any other peaceful, freedom advocate I might come across. The more of us that feel this way and speak out about it, the better off we´ll all be.
If you want to know who the real terrorists are, type police brutality into a youtube search and watch the videos. If you want to know how real terrorism works, you only need to watch video of otherwise peaceful protests turned violent not by the protestors, but by those men dressed in black with riot gear and helmets who were supposedly there to keep the peace. Government forces have a history of violence that is far more insidious than any action any private organization has ever taken. Yet despite that they are still so afraid of some peaceful activists that they feel the need to label them and put out propaganda against certain organizations. They know what they are doing is wrong, but they cling to their delusions that it is for the greater good. Freedom and liberty are the ideals that will lead to greater societal good. Those in government would do well to realize and embrace these ideals before popular opinion forces them into an awkward and uncomfortable position they will have trouble defending.