Royal Baby. Liberty then and now

by Andrés Nieto Porras

by Andrés Nieto Porras

Using the advent of the Royal Baby to great advantage, Juan Cole compares democracy in present-day America with the grievances that led the colonists in pre-Revolutionary America to declare independence from the British crown. Cole writes a letter to the future king inviting him to take back the U.S., explaining that the complaints we had as colonials are no longer valid.

Mini Express Produções

by Mini Express Produções

We no longer mind taxation without representation, for example. Though practically everyone pays taxes— Social Security, at a minimum— the poor, minorities and college students face escalating difficulties in exercising their right to vote. These would-be voters are effectively disenfranchised: they must take time they can’t afford off from work to obtain voter IDs and then stand in line for hours at deliberately understaffed polling places.

The cruel and unusual punishment proscribed by the Eighth Amendment is no longer odious. Water boarding and other forms of torture have been sanctioned since 9/11.

Habeas corpus, the right to go before a court and know the charges held against you, the right not to be imprisoned without just cause, is so fundamental that it is the only civil liberty enshrined in the original text of the Constitution. Yet the prisoners at Guantánamo are being held without formal charges, without ever having been heard in court. U.S. citizens have been executed by executive order, without any judicial proceedings.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of religion, of speech, of the press and the right to assemble peacefully. These liberties, writes Cole,

which seemed like a good idea in 1789, now seem really dangerous to us and we’ve started to agree with King George III about the undesirability of those liberties. So we’re going to prosecute journalists for receiving classified information and publishing it, even if they weren’t the ones who took it from the government. And we’re going to chase whistleblowers around the world and charge them with espionage even though they only revealed their information to the American people.

Quakers and Protestants fled persecution in Europe and sought religious freedom in the colonies. Now a religious minority is imposting its beliefs on all the citizens. It is passing laws that deprive women of their legal right to abortion, in defiance of the law of the land.

The Fourth Amendment forbids unreasonable searches and seizures and affirms the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects. As if the Bill of Rights had never been written, Americans no longer have that right. The government has appropriated every form of communication that leaves any sort of record, ignoring the constitutional requirement of a search warrant for probable cause.

In view of all this, Cole pleads with the future king

As soon as you can, we’d like you to become monarch of the United Kingdom of the American States and rule us as an absolute monarch. You won’t understand yet, but there are also these black leather “toys” we’d like you to use on us, now that we’re so past those absurd “liberties.”

This is no joke.

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Filed under American Society, Journalism, Politics

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