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article imageOp-Ed: This 4th of July, let's celebrate our future independence

By Craig Boehman     Jul 4, 2013 in Politics
There's an old joke that goes something like this: "Do they have a 4th of July in England? – Yes. That's how they get from the 3rd to the 5th." If independence is what we won from England, could we fare any better from our own government?
Of what little substance is reported in the US mainstream media, people should be paying close attention to the NSA spying scandal this 4th of July, and the story of Edward Snowden, NSA whistleblower. It's news like this that foreshadows a kind of maturing, tyrannical rule. Historically speaking, a massive intelligence network geared towards spying on its own citizenry is exactly what happens before the next step, internment camps for political prisoners.
We already have prisons overseas like Guantanamo to house our political prisoners from abroad – and at least one American had served time there, too.
Other warning signs of tyrannical rule could include: a country perpetually in a state of war; a country that has adopted Orwellian terminology to describe acts of war as acts of defense; an elite class of citizens who are above the law; a docile population that would, as Benjamin Franklin noted, “give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety...”
Seven years ago when Howard Zinn was still with us, he wrote a piece entitled “Patriotism and the Fourth of July”. One paragraph struck me as very poignant:
“The Declaration of Independence is the fundamental document of democracy. It says governments are artificial creations, established by the people, "deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed," and charged by the people to ensure the equal right of all to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Furthermore, as the Declaration says, "whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it." It is the country that is primary-the people, the ideals of the sanctity of human life and the promotion of liberty.”
I reflect on these statements now, half-way around the world in India, where I'm spending my first Independence Day abroad. Is it really possible given the power and reach of the US security-surveillance state to alter or abolish it? I think so – even if we left it to future generations to celebrate this new-found independence. I can certainly confess that as an American citizen, I do not feel any “freer” or “independent” living thousands of miles away from the policymakers who are determining the fate of Edward Snowden. Any freedom and independence I enjoy are not derived from the good graces of my government. No. My sense of freedom, my source of independence – my external sources – originate from people like Snowden, like Manning and Assange, who are fighting the real oppressors, our “artificial creation.”
There's another old Independence Day joke that goes like this:
What Did King George think of the American colonists?
He thought they were revolting.
Happy Fourth of July.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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