We Americans are big on these things, aren’t we?
We like to thump our fleshy chests and proclaim our superiority over other, lesser nations. Oh, well, sure, yes, you might have higher standards of living, longer average lifespans, lower infant mortality rates, a higher percentage of education, higher median income, universal healthcare, a functioning government, insignificant gun violence, a drastically lower percentage of incarceration, okay, sure, you’ve got those things, fine, but America has freeeeeeeeedom! And that makes us exceptional – not that any significant fraction of us can spell exceptionalism or find the United States on a map, but trust me, we’ve got you beat.
And you know why? Freedom, that’s why.
See, freedom in America is different from freedom elsewhere.
In America, freedom means rights without responsibility.
In America, freedom means the right to the most vile of hate speech without consequence or penalty.
In America, freedom means the right to publish provable falsehoods and gibbering panic and drooling conspiracy theories as fact for profit.
In America, freedom means the right to utterly ignore science and just substitute in whatever magic fairy dust you like regardless of the consequences to future generations.
In America, freedom means the right to violent religious extremism without restriction of any kind, tax free in fact.
In America, freedom means the right to beat the drums of war without having to go yourself, or send your children.
In America, freedom means the right to gather together under the guise of political assembly and openly plot to take away the freedoms and the liberty of those with different political beliefs, or religions, or skin colors, or sexual orientations.
In America, freedom means the right to profit hugely without taxation, to take without return, to destroy entire industries without a second thought, to pollute the environment without personal consequence, to grow wealthy beyond dreams while impoverishing millions of your fellows, to benefit enormously from the nation’s protection and prestige without having to give back in any way.
Why, here in America we are so free that we can openly engage in war against our own nation.
We can wallow in our sullen liberty like fat feral hogs in the mud while complaining bitterly that we don’t have enough.
In America, that’s what we call freedom.
Why, here in America, we can actually point guns at our own government and threaten to shoot down our neighbors, and we can do it free of any consequence … and others will inevitably rally to our cause in the name of liberty.
Here in America we can publicly declare war on our own nation, engage in open sedition and treason writ large, offer a reward for the capture and execution of our own democratically elected president, publicly promote the overthrow of the very Constitution which guarantees our freedoms, and loudly declare our intention for violent installation of a religious theocracy made of up of extremists who would execute and imprison any American who does not subscribe to this murderous lunacy.
We Americans put up with a lot of nonsense in the supposed name of liberty.
We put up with raging hate, blatant bigotry, threats of violence, obvious insanity, and foamy spittle-flecked ignorant stupidity - all because we're afraid that if we restrict those things in even the slightest way, if we hold the perpetrators to account to even the smallest degree, well then we won't know where to draw the line and then we'll end up under the jackboot of tyranny.
By way of example, meet the Christian Taliban of the Facebook Group Reward For Capture of Obama.
The group, founded by one Reverend Everest Wilhelmsen, is your standard issue howling mob of frothy Birthers, stubbornly clinging to their guns and bibles and thoroughly discredited conspiracy theories. More, Wilhelmsen is openly using social media to solicit donations for the overthrow of the government of the United States. The group openly, publicly, offers a reward for the “capture” and “arrest” of President Obama.
These people, led by Everest Wilhelmsen, have declared war on the United States.
For all practical purposes, Wilhelmsen is indistinguishable from the Ayatollahs who burned down their country’s legitimate government and set about arresting and executing those that didn’t agree with their particular murderous fanaticism.
If you want to know what America under the control of Evangelical Christianity will look like, you need look no further than Iran – change the names and the God, and the bloody intolerant rest remains the same.
This week, Wilhelmsen added a caveat to his group page, asking people not to post overtly racists comments – despite the fact that the entire page is a study in unhinged xenophobia writ large and designed specifically to pander directly to racists, bigots, haters, and fanatics.
A rather large number of people, including myself, have complained to Facebook about Reward for Capture Of Obama. I specifically reported the group for hate speech. Reward For Capture of Obama is not freedom of speech, it is abuse of the 1st Amendment and it is sedition. These people are not just talking, they are actively soliciting funds for the stated purpose of overthrowing the government. This group is hate for hate’s sake and nothing more – and I would point out that I would respond in exactly the same way if Wilhelmsen was calling for the capture and arrest of George W. Bush.
Facebook responded to my complaint via the boilerplate above.
“Reports like yours are an important part of making Facebook a safe and welcoming environment.”
A what now? A safe and welcoming environment, you say? Oh, so is that what Reward For Capture of Obama is? Safe and welcoming?
“…and we found that it doesn’t violate our community standards.”
Racism. Xenophobia. Bigotry. Sedition. These things don’t violate our standards.
But a picture of a mother breastfeeding? That does, right? Facebook will take that down in a second and suspend your account. But proclaim your intention to overthrow the US government by force of arms and violent revolution and kill the president? And Facebook is good. Freedom, you know.
Facebook is so afraid of offending the religious right, and likely with good reason, that they will turn a blind eye to open sedition.
And that, right there, is the perfect metaphor for America.
We’re willing to put up with any degree of rage, hate, and insanity, up to and including allowing crazy people to buy guns and use them to shoot down our children in their own homes and theaters and schools, we will stand by and let raging madmen like Everest Wilhelmsen openly call for the destruction of our nation, just to prove we’ve got more freeeeeedom than everybody else.
In the name of freedom, we allow the racist haters of the KKK and the Neo-Nazis to march down the middle of our streets and terrorize our citizens.
In the name of liberty, we allow the insane fanatics of Westboro Baptist Church to scream their twisted hatred at the funerals of our loved ones and our fallen soldiers.
In the name of democracy we allow the ideologues and the political fanatics in Congress to deadlock our government, repeatedly bring our nation to a standstill, refuse to do their jobs, and threaten the entire world economy, all in the name of soundly debunked conspiracy theories and rabid unhinged yellow-eyed hate.
In the name of the Constitution, we allow the traitorous dishonorable scumbags of the Oath Keepers to march on the White House flying that goddamned Confederate Battle Flag, the very symbol of racism and the ensign of those who vigorously tried to destroy the United States, and we listen while they demand the president be dragged from the Oval Office and hung before a kangaroo court.
Within our own Capital Building, Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado, has openly admitted to sedition.
He not only admits it, he’s proud of it.
Lamborn, in his own words proudly revealed that he and his fellow Republicans are attempting to turn the US military against their own Commander in Chief,
“A lot of us are talking to the generals behind the scenes, saying, ‘Hey, if you disagree with the policy that the White House has given you, let’s have a resignation.’”
Think about that, really think about that.
You have a sitting US Congressman – along with “a lot of us” – actively encouraging mutiny within the ranks of our military.
Lamborn and those unnamed republicans he refers to are openly encouraging nothing less than the defection of senior officers during time of war.
Lamborn says he wants America’s generals to “go out in a blaze of glory.”
Lamborn specifically says he encouraged military officers to resign in protest of the orders from their civilian leadership. To quit instead of obeying the president as they are sworn to do – as I, a commissioned officer, swore to do. Do you, as Americans, understand what that means? Can you fully grasp the implications of Lamborn’s treason? In America, the elected civilian Executive commands the military for very, very good reasons, reasons fundamental to the very fabric of our nation.
Lamborn would turn the generals of America into the political wannabe emperor Generals of Rome – and he is either too goddamned stupid to realize what he’s saying or he is a traitor to everything this country stands for.
This is not, repeat not, the actions of the loyal opposition.
There is nothing loyal about it.
Lamborn is a traitor.
Should the generals actually follow his exhortations to abdicate their sworn duty, then Lamborn is giving aid and comfort to the enemy, he is deliberately providing the enemy a strategic advantage by dividing the American military against itself solely to profit his political party.
Congressman Lamborn is a fucking traitor. A seditious scumbag. A dishonorable conniving coward whose own sworn oath is worth about as much as the Republican Contract with America.
Lamborn is a traitor.
Nothing more, nothing less.
Lamborn’s own words, his own free admission, by definition, is sedition.
Naturally, when his mutinous remarks were made public, Lamborn did what all those of his pusillanimous ilk do when cornered, he claimed his treason was taken “out of context.”
And you’ll note he didn’t resign.
And that, right there, is the very epitome of these cowards.
They’ll rage and rant for others to give up their lives in the name of some cause, but they piss their pants at the thought of having to make good themselves. Every. Single. Time.
Lamborn is a traitor.
Lamborn is a coward.
Lamborn is an utter disgrace to the very institution he is sworn to uphold.
Folks, there is no context, none, in which Congressman Lamborn’s admission is not that of a coward, a traitor, and a seditious mutineer.
In any other nation, he would be jailed at the very least and tried for his seditious actions, in many places he would be dragged out back and he’d have a bullet put through his skull without a trial.
But in America? Well, open sedition from a sitting US Congressman in time of war, sowing discord and disloyalty in the ranks for political ideology? In America that’s what we call liberty.
Meanwhile, yet another of these “patriots,” former congressman Tom Tancredo, Republican from Colorado, called again for House Republicans to impeach the President.
Because, yeah, we just aren’t getting the part where Republicans hate Obama.
In an OpEd last weekend in (where else?) World Net Daily, Tancredo opined that the GOP should “call the White House’s bluff and proceed with impeachment.”
Republicans, those Great Americans* who claim to revere the Constitution as holy writ handed down by God Himself, eschew the actual requirements spelled out in that same document and instead define the criteria for impeachment as “anybody not a member of our ideology – and maybe even some of those too.”
The conservative definition of democracy is increasingly indistinguishable from the kind of “democracy” practiced in the old Soviet Union and nowadays in North Korea – i.e. you can vote for whoever you like, so long as it’s us. Quod erat demonstrandum.
Tancredo warns that if Republicans are afraid to impeach Obama, then “the war is already lost and we should all stock our ammunition shelves and join a militia.”
Like Wilhelmsen, like Lamborn, like far, far too many conservatives today, Tancredo believes that democracy is when if you don’t get your way, you just get to shoot down the people you don’t like and install your own government by forcing people to vote for your party, your candidate, the people you approve of. That’s the kind of America they think they want.
But you see, freedom doesn't come free of responsibility.
In the end, one way or the other, there is always an accounting.
It’s long past time we, as a nation, as a people, stopped tolerating this nonsense.
These lunatics need to be held accountable for their unending mindless hate, for their willful and contagious insanity, for their seditious attempts to turn this country into a xenophobic religious theocracy, and for abusing the rights our ancestors gave their very lives for.
I believe in freedom of speech as much as the next guy. I served my country for over twenty years in uniform, I fought her wars and defended her shores because I believe in that freedom along with all the others we Americans take for granted every day.
But I believe rights have limits.
I believe freedom comes with responsibility.
I believe we are a nation, a society, a civilization. We are not a howling mob.
These people are not patriots.
They are not the loyal opposition.
They are cowards and traitors and anarchists.
They are the barbarians at the gate, who would burn down civilization and shit gleefully in the ruins.
The Constitution may require the government to tolerate this cancer in our midst, but we, we rational and sane Americans, we do not have to put up with it.
And it’s long past time we start holding this madness to account.
And you can start doing exactly that come this November.
* The term “Great American” is used in this context in a manner identical to the term “Great Russian” in the old Soviet Union. And yes, I mean it to be exactly as insulting as it sounds. // Jim