Has the Heart of Freedom Stopped Beating?

By | June 20, 2013 | 0 Comments

 

Death does not always occur instantaneously. After the heart stops, a person may continue breathing for two or three minutes. Without the oxygen provided by a beating heart, the brain dies. First the higher centers go, and finally the respiratory center dies. Then it is obvious that the person is dead. But in fact, the key event already happened, though a casual observer would be unaware of it.
This phenomenon also applies to nations and civilizations. The difference is that the delay is longer. The heart may have stopped beating, but the body may continue moving, and the brain may keep functioning – perhaps not functioning well, but functioning. This process may go on for years, even generations. But it’s an illusion. Death has already occurred – we just don’t know it yet.
I may be wrong. But I am getting an odd feeling that I am sitting helplessly, while my beloved country expires slowly before my eyes.
This feeling has been creeping up on me for some time. But now it has become too strong to ignore. Two events forced me to recognize the feeling. Superficially, these events seem unrelated, but in fact they are closely connected. These events are evidence that the heart of a great nation has stopped beating.
Empty young people.
My wife and I just saw “The Bling Ring.” This well-made but depressing film tells the true story of a group of upscale Los Angeles teenagers who are bored with their lives. They try to relieve their boredom with alcohol, marijuana, cocaine, and partying. Interestingly, sex plays little role in their lives. Perhaps it’s difficult to be interested in another person, even for the short time needed for casual sex, if you are so narcissistic that you are the center of your attention 24/7. Perhaps, if your greatest joy comes from looking at yourself in the mirror, you are less interested in looking at other people, even attractive ones.
Despite their affluent lives, the young people are bored. The ringleader, revealingly a girl, conceives the idea of checking the Internet to see when celebrities will be out of town or busy at some awards ceremony, and then burglarizing their homes. The gang, consisting of one boy and four girls, carries out a series of burglaries on the homes of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Megan Fox, Orlando Bloom, and others.
Amazingly, these homes had unlocked doors or windows and no functioning alarm systems or guard dogs. Some had video monitors, which eventually led to the arrest of the gang, but which were of no use in real time.
Thus we have a depressing combination:
(1) Celebrities with mounds of jewelry, watches, clothes, and shoes, but with no awareness that they should safeguard their possessions – and their lives. Forget about youthful burglars; what about armed robbers or deranged stalkers?
(2) Young people utterly empty of moral principles, and so intellectually vapid that they can find nothing in this fascinating world to interest them except stealing “bling.”
One of the girls in the gang is home-schooled. I expected her mother to be depicted as a right-wing religious nut. I was wrong. The home-schooling mother is depicted – I assume accurately – as a New Age devotee who prays not to God but to the “planet.” The other parents are depicted as self-absorbed or absent.
Unlike unsupervised young people in the inner city, these upscale kids do not become gang-bangers. But I believe this is due to lack of guts rather than to any positive qualities. In fact, one of the girls finds a loaded pistol in a burglarized home, then mindlessly points it at the head of a companion. That she does not kill him is due to luck, not to any self-control or moral scruples on her part.
The bottom line is that if young people are given no values, they grow up value-free. They grow older, but they become no more mature and no wiser. That is why I refer to them as girls and boys, not as young women and men. What kind of parents will they make? What kind of children will they produce?
More to the point, what kind of citizens will these young people make? When the government eavesdrops on their communications, uses the IRS to influence their politics, and dictates what medical treatments they can receive, will they protest? Or will they be so occupied with narcissistic pursuits that they don’t even notice?
How many other young people steal from non-celebrities, so the theft doesn’t make the 10 o’clock news? How many young people steal from those who can’t afford video monitors, so they aren’t identified and arrested? How many young people shoplift or cheat on tests? More than we know.
I believe the Bling Ring is an extreme example of a common phenomenon – value-free young people, who are unlikely to become responsible citizens of a republic, and who are at risk of falling prey to a smooth-talking demagogue.
Supreme Court and non-citizen voters.
The Supreme Court just handed down a decision striking down the Arizona law requiring proof of citizenship in order to register to vote. Even more depressing, the decision was 7-2, with so-called conservative Justice Scalia voting with the majority.
The court reasoned that although the Constitution gives the states the power to set the rules for federal elections, the federal Motor Voter Law prescribes a form for voter registration – and that states have no right to add anything to that form.
This may make sense legally, but not logically. The form requires applicants to state under penalty of perjury that they are citizens. But without asking for proof, how can anyone know who is a citizen? How can anyone know who committed perjury? The bottom line is that the overwhelming majority of the Supreme Court decided that non-citizens can vote with little fear of detection, much less of punishment. If non-citizens can vote, citizenship becomes meaningless.
But this is really nothing new. For years, the federal government has required ballots to be printed in a variety of languages. A reading knowledge of English is required for citizenship, so multilingual ballots are a tacit admission that non-citizens are voting. No, they are a blatant admission that non-citizens are voting. For all we know, they may have provided the margin of victory in presidential elections.
This is yet another example of how decisions are rendered on purely legalistic grounds, with no consideration for the inevitable effects of the decisions. Another example is Justice Scalia’s vote that actual innocence is not a sufficient reason to grant a new trial. I have always respected Scalia for his brilliant legal mind. But that’s the problem: A legal mind need not be a fair mind. Let an innocent person rot in prison? Why not – his trial judge dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. Let non-citizens vote? Why not – all the requirements of the Motor Voter Law are fulfilled.
But wasn’t the intent of the law to facilitate the voting of citizens? No matter. Who cares what the intent was? Who cares what the result is? All that matters is that the letter of the law is followed. But courts of law should also be courts of justice. Or am I hopelessly naïve?
So there you have it. An increasing number of young people are being raised with no ethical values, and no conception of right and wrong. And an increasing number of court decisions are being rendered with excessive reverence for the letter of the law, but no respect at all for justice.
In short, we have many young people who are unworthy to be citizens of a free country, and many voters who are not citizens at all.
Is this a recipe for the continuation of liberty? I don’t think so. I keep getting the feeling that the heart has stopped beating, and the brain and body are on borrowed time. That is, unless we can resuscitate the beating heart of freedom. But so far, we aren’t even trying. Quick, get the crash cart!

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.
Judge Learned Hand

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