PATRIOTISM
(House of Representatives - May 22, 2007)

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[Pages H5609-H5612]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]




                               PATRIOTISM

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Ms. Sutton). Under the Speaker's announced

[[Page H5610]]

policy of January 18, 2007, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Paul) is 
recognized for 60 minutes.
  Mr. PAUL. Madam Speaker, for some, patriotism is the last refuge of a 
scoundrel. For others, it means dissent against a government's abuse of 
the people's rights.
  I have never met a politician in Washington or any American, for that 
matter, who chose to be called unpatriotic. Nor have I met anyone who 
did not believe he wholeheartedly supported our troops, wherever they 
may be.
  What I have heard all too frequently from the various individuals are 
sharp accusations that, because their political opponents disagree with 
them on the need for foreign military entanglements, they were 
unpatriotic, un-American evildoers deserving contempt.
  The original American patriots were those individuals brave enough to 
resist with force the oppressive power of King George. I accept the 
definition of patriotism as that effort to resist oppressive state 
power.
  The true patriot is motivated by a sense of responsibility and out of 
self-interest for himself, his family, and the future of his country to 
resist government abuse of power. He rejects the notion that patriotism 
means obedience to the state. Resistance need not be violent, but the 
civil disobedience that might be required involves confrontation with 
the state and invites possible imprisonment.
  Peaceful, nonviolent revolutions against tyranny have been every bit 
as successful as those involving military confrontation. Mahatma Gandhi 
and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., achieved great political successes by 
practicing nonviolence, and yet they suffered physically at the hands 
of the state. But whether the resistance against government tyrants is 
nonviolent or physically violent, the effort to overthrow state 
oppression qualifies as true patriotism.
  True patriotism today has gotten a bad name, at least from the 
government and the press. Those who now challenge the unconstitutional 
methods of imposing an income tax on us, or force us to use a monetary 
system designed to serve the rich at the expense of the poor are 
routinely condemned. These American patriots are sadly looked down upon 
by many. They are never praised as champions of liberty as Gandhi and 
Martin Luther King have been.
  Liberals, who withhold their taxes as a protest against war, are 
vilified as well, especially by conservatives. Unquestioned loyalty to 
the state is especially demanded in times of war. Lack of support for a 
war policy is said to be unpatriotic. Arguments against a particular 
policy that endorses a war, once it is started, are always said to be 
endangering the troops in the field. This, they blatantly claim, is 
unpatriotic, and all dissent must stop. Yet, it is dissent from 
government policies that defines the true patriot and champion of 
liberty.
  It is conveniently ignored that the only authentic way to best 
support the troops is to keep them out of danger's undeclared no-win 
wars that are politically inspired. Sending troops off to war for 
reasons that are not truly related to national security and, for that 
matter, may even damage our security, is hardly a way to patriotically 
support the troops.
  Who are the true patriots, those who conform or those who protest 
against wars without purpose? How can it be said that blind support for 
a war, no matter how misdirected the policy, is the duty of a patriot?
  Randolph Bourne said that, ``War is the health of the state.'' With 
war, he argued, the state thrives. Those who believe in the powerful 
state see war as an opportunity. Those who mistrust the people and the 
market for solving problems have no trouble promoting a ``war 
psychology'' to justify the expansive role of the state. This includes 
the role the Federal Government plays in our lives, as well as in our 
economic transactions.
  Certainly, the neoconservative belief that we have a moral obligation 
to spread American values worldwide through force justifies the 
conditions of war in order to rally support at home for the heavy hand 
of government. It is through this policy, it should surprise no one, 
that our liberties are undermined. The economy becomes overextended, 
and our involvement worldwide becomes prohibited. Out of fear of being 
labeled unpatriotic, most of the citizens become compliant and accept 
the argument that some loss of liberty is required to fight the war in 
order to remain safe.
  This is a bad trade-off, in my estimation, especially when done in 
the name of patriotism. Loyalty to the state and to autocratic leaders 
is substituted for true patriotism, that is, a willingness to challenge 
the state and defend the country, the people and the culture. The more 
difficult the times, the stronger the admonition comes that the leaders 
be not criticized.
  Because the crisis atmosphere of war supports the growth of the 
state, any problem invites an answer by declaring war, even on social 
and economic issues. This elicits patriotism in support of various 
government solutions, while enhancing the power of the state. Faith in 
government coercion and a lack of understanding of how free societies 
operate encourages big government liberals and big government 
conservatives to manufacture a war psychology to demand political 
loyalty for domestic policy just as is required in foreign affairs.
  The long-term cost in dollars spent and liberties lost is neglected 
as immediate needs are emphasized. It is for this reason that we have 
multiple perpetual wars going on simultaneously. Thus, the war on 
drugs, the war against gun ownership, the war against poverty, the war 
against illiteracy, the war against terrorism, as well as our foreign 
military entanglements are endless.
  All this effort promotes the growth of statism at the expense of 
liberty. A government designed for a free society should do the 
opposite, prevent the growth of statism and preserve liberty.
  Once a war of any sort is declared, the message is sent out not to 
object or you will be declared unpatriotic. Yet, we must not forget 
that the true patriot is the one who protests in spite of the 
consequences. Condemnation or ostracism or even imprisonment may 
result.
  Nonviolent protesters of the Tax Code are frequently imprisoned, 
whether they are protesting the code's unconstitutionality or the war 
that the tax revenues are funding. Resisters to the military draft or 
even to Selective Service registration are threatened and imprisoned 
for challenging this threat to liberty.
  Statism depends on the idea that the government owns us and citizens 
must obey. Confiscating the fruits of our labor through the income tax 
is crucial to the health of the state. The draft, or even the mere 
existence of the Selective Service, emphasizes that we will march off 
to war at the state's pleasure.
  A free society rejects all notions of involuntary servitude, whether 
by draft or the confiscation of the fruits of our labor through the 
personal income tax. A more sophisticated and less well-known technique 
for enhancing the state is the manipulation and transfer of wealth 
through the fiat monetary system operated by the secretive Federal 
Reserve.
  Protesters against this unconstitutional system of paper money are 
considered unpatriotic criminals and at times are imprisoned for their 
beliefs. The fact that, according to the Constitution, only gold and 
silver are legal tender and paper money outlawed matters little. The 
principle of patriotism is turned on its head. Whether it's with regard 
to the defense of welfare spending at home, confiscatory income tax, or 
an immoral monetary system or support for a war fought under false 
pretense without a legal declaration, the defenders of liberty and the 
Constitution are portrayed as unpatriotic, while those who support 
these programs are seen as the patriots.
  If there is a war going on, supporting the state's effort to win the 
war is expected at all costs, no dissent. The real problem is that 
those who love the state too often advocate policies that lead to 
military action. At home, they are quite willing to produce a crisis 
atmosphere and claim a war is needed to solve the problem. Under these 
conditions, the people are more willing to bear the burden of paying 
for the war and to carelessly sacrifice liberties which they are told 
is necessary.
  The last 6 years have been quite beneficial to the health of the 
state, which

[[Page H5611]]

comes at the expense of personal liberty. Every enhanced 
unconstitutional power of the state can only be achieved at the expense 
of individual liberty. Even though in every war in which we have been 
engaged civil liberties have suffered, some have been restored after 
the war ended, but never completely. That has resulted in a steady 
erosion of our liberties over the past 200 years. Our government was 
originally designed to protect our liberties, but it has now, instead, 
become the usurper of those liberties.
  We currently live in the most difficult of times for guarding against 
an expanding central government with a steady erosion of our freedoms. 
We are continually being reminded that 9/11 has changed everything.
  Unfortunately, the policy that needed most to be changed, that is our 
policy of foreign interventionism, has only been expanded. There is no 
pretense any longer that a policy of humility in foreign affairs, 
without being the world's policemen and engaging in nation building, is 
worthy of consideration.

                              {time}  2115

  We now live in a post-9/11 America where our government is going to 
make us safe no matter what it takes. We are expected to grin and bear 
it and adjust to every loss of our liberties in the name of patriotism 
and security.
  Though the majority of Americans initially welcomed the declared 
effort to make us safe, and we are willing to sacrifice for the cause, 
more and more Americans are now becoming concerned about civil 
liberties being needlessly and dangerously sacrificed.
  The problem is that the Iraq war continues to drag on, and a real 
danger of it spreading exists. There is no evidence that a truce will 
soon be signed in Iraq or in the war on terror or the war on drugs. 
Victory is not even definable. If Congress is incapable of declaring an 
official war, it is impossible to know when it will end. We have been 
fully forewarned that the world conflict in which we are now engaged 
will last a long, long time.
  The war mentality and the pervasive fear of an unidentified enemy 
allows for a steady erosion of our liberties, and, with this, our 
respect for self-reliance and confidence is lost. Just think of the 
self-sacrifice and the humiliation we go through at the airport 
screening process on a routine basis. Though there is no scientific 
evidence of any likelihood of liquids and gels being mixed on an 
airplane to make a bomb, billions of dollars are wasted throwing away 
toothpaste and hair spray, and searching old women in wheelchairs.
  Our enemies say, boo, and we jump, we panic, and then we punish 
ourselves. We are worse than a child being afraid of the dark. But in a 
way, the fear of indefinable terrorism is based on our inability to 
admit the truth about why there is a desire by a small number of angry 
radical Islamists to kill Americans. It is certainly not because they 
are jealous of our wealth and freedoms.
  We fail to realize that the extremists, willing to sacrifice their 
own lives to kill their enemies, do so out of a sense of weakness and 
desperation over real and perceived attacks on their way of life, their 
religion, their country, and their natural resources. Without the 
conventional diplomatic or military means to retaliate against these 
attacks, and an unwillingness of their own government to address the 
issue, they resort to the desperation tactic of suicide terrorism. 
Their anger toward their own governments, which they believe are 
coconspirators with the American Government, is equal to or greater 
than that directed toward us.
  These errors in judgment in understanding the motive of the enemy and 
the constant fear that is generated have brought us to this crisis 
where our civil liberties and privacy are being steadily eroded in the 
name of preserving national security.
  We may be the economic and the military giant of the world, but the 
effort to stop this war on our liberties here at home in the name of 
patriotism is being lost.
  The erosion of our personal liberties started long before 9/11, but 
9/11 accelerated the process. There are many things that motivate those 
who pursue this course, both well-intentioned and malevolent, but it 
would not happen if the people remained vigilant, understood the 
importance of individual rights, and were unpersuaded that a need for 
security justifies the sacrifice for liberty, even if it is just now 
and then.
  The true patriot challenges the state when the state embarks on 
enhancing its power at the expense of the individual. Without a better 
understanding and a greater determination to rein in the state, the 
rights of Americans that resulted from the revolutionary break from the 
British and the writing of the Constitution will disappear.
  The record since September 11th is dismal. Respect for liberty has 
rapidly deteriorated. Many of the new laws passed after 9/11 had, in 
fact, been proposed long before that attack. The political atmosphere 
after that attack simply made it more possible to pass such 
legislation. The fear generated by 9/11 became an opportunity for those 
seeking to promote the power of the state domestically, just as it 
served to falsely justify the long plan for invasion of Iraq.
  The war mentality was generated by the Iraq war in combination with 
the constant drumbeat of fear at home. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, 
who is now likely residing in Pakistan, our supposed ally, are ignored, 
as our troops fight and die in Iraq and are made easier targets for the 
terrorists in their backyard. While our leaders constantly use the mess 
we created to further justify the erosion of our constitutional rights 
here at home, we forget about our own borders and support the 
inexorable move toward global government, hardly a good plan for 
America.
  The accelerated attacks on liberty started quickly after 9/11. Within 
weeks, the PATRIOT Act was overwhelmingly passed by Congress. Though 
the final version was unavailable up to a few hours before the vote, no 
Member had sufficient time. Political fear of not doing something, even 
something harmful, drove the Members of Congress to not question the 
contents, and just voted for it. A little less freedom for a little 
more perceived safety was considered a fair trade-off, and the majority 
of Americans applauded.
  The PATRIOT Act, though, severely eroded the system of checks and 
balances by giving the government the power to spy on law-abiding 
citizens without judicial supervision. The several provisions that 
undermine the liberties of all Americans include sneak-and-peek 
searches, a broadened and more vague definition of domestic terrorism, 
allowing the FBI access to libraries and bookstore records without 
search warrants or probable cause, easier FBI initiation of wiretaps 
and searches, as well as roving wiretaps, easier access to information 
on American citizens' use of the Internet, and easier access to e-mail 
and financial records of all American citizens.
  The attack on privacy has not relented over the past 6 years. The 
Military Commissions Act is a particularly egregious piece of 
legislation and, if not repealed, will change America for the worse as 
the powers unconstitutionally granted to the executive branch are used 
and abused. This act grants excessive authority to use secretive 
military commissions outside of places where active hostilities are 
going on. The Military Commissions Act permits torture, arbitrary 
detention of American citizens as unlawful enemy combatants at the full 
discretion of the President and without the right of habeas corpus, and 
warrantless searches by the NSA. It also gives to the President the 
power to imprison individuals based on secret testimony.
  Since 9/11, Presidential signing statements designating portions of 
legislation that the President does not intend to follow, though not 
legal under the Constitution, have enormously multiplied. 
Unconstitutional Executive Orders are numerous and mischievous and need 
to be curtailed.
  Extraordinary rendition to secret prisons around the world have been 
widely engaged in, though obviously extralegal.
  A growing concern in the post-9/11 environment is the Federal 
Government's list of potential terrorists based on secret evidence. 
Mistakes are made, and sometimes it is virtually impossible to get 
one's name removed even though the accused is totally innocent of any 
wrongdoing.

[[Page H5612]]

  A national ID card is now in the process of being implemented. It is 
called the REAL ID card, and it is tied to our Social Security numbers 
and our State driver's license. If REAL ID is not stopped, it will 
become a national driver's license ID for all Americans. We will be 
required to carry our papers.
  Some of the least noticed and least discussed changes in the law were 
the changes made to the Insurrection Act of 1807 and to posse comitatus 
by the Defense Authorization Act of 2007. These changes pose a threat 
to the survival of our Republic by giving the President the power to 
declare martial law for as little reason as to restore public order. 
The 1807 act severely restricted the President in his use of the 
military within the United States borders, and the Posse Comitatus Act 
of 1878 strengthened these restrictions with strict oversight by 
Congress. The new law allows the President to circumvent the 
restrictions of both laws. The Insurrection Act has now become the 
``Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order Act.'' This is hardly 
a title that suggests that the authors cared about or understood the 
nature of a constitutional Republic.
  Now, martial law can be declared not just for insurrection, but also 
for natural disasters, public health reasons, terrorist attacks or 
incidents, or for the vague reason called ``other conditions.'' The 
President can call up the National Guard without congressional approval 
or the Governors' approval, and even send these State Guard troops into 
other States.
  The American Republic is in remnant status. The stage is set for our 
country eventually devolving into a military dictatorship, and few seem 
to care. These precedent-setting changes in the law are extremely 
dangerous and will change American jurisprudence forever if not 
revised. The beneficial results of our revolt against the King's abuses 
are about to be eliminated, and few Members of Congress and few 
Americans are aware of the seriousness of the situation. Complacency 
and fear drive our legislation without any serious objection by our 
elected leaders. Sadly, though, those few who do object to this self-
evident trend away from personal liberty and empire building overseas 
are portrayed as unpatriotic and uncaring.
  Though welfare and socialism always fails, opponents of them are said 
to lack compassion. Though opposition to totally unnecessary war should 
be the only moral position, the rhetoric is twisted to claim that 
patriots who oppose the war are not supporting the troops. The cliche 
``Support the Troops'' is incessantly used as a substitute for the 
unacceptable notion of supporting the policy, no matter how flawed it 
may be.
  Unsound policy can never help the troops. Keeping the troops out of 
harm's way and out of wars unrelated to our national security is the 
only real way of protecting the troops. With this understanding, just 
who can claim the title of ``patriot''?
  Before the war in the Middle East spreads and becomes a world 
conflict for which we will be held responsible, or the liberties of all 
Americans become so suppressed we can no longer resist, much has to be 
done. Time is short, but our course of action should be clear. 
Resistance to illegal and unconstitutional usurpation of our rights is 
required. Each of us must choose which course of action we should take: 
education, conventional political action, or even peaceful civil 
disobedience to bring about necessary changes.
  But let it not be said that we did nothing. Let not those who love 
the power of the welfare/warfare state label the dissenters of 
authoritarianism as unpatriotic or uncaring. Patriotism is more closely 
linked to dissent than it is to conformity and a blind desire for 
safety and security. Understanding the magnificent rewards of a free 
society makes us unbashful in its promotion, fully realizing that 
maximum wealth is created and the greatest chance for peace comes from 
a society respectful of individual liberty.

                          ____________________