Land of the free?

A Wilmington StarNews editorial writer gave readers some food-for-thought this new year, but mostly small, unsatisfying helpings. The January 1st editorial titled, “Staying true to our anthem” asked the question, “Is America still the land of the free and the home of the brave? (Link below) That, of course, depends on who defines the meaning of the words free and brave.

The editor seeks “big-picture” questions, but his windows are mere slits in the boxed walls that separate us in the new disintegrated society.

It’s clear to many of us that freedom and bravery are old-fashioned in modern America, associated with “out of touch” and disdained patriotism. Patriots are identified (often by the press) as right-wing, Christian, gun-toting zealots who don’t represent the great new surge of multicultural and entitlement groups. Yet, bereft of American history, culture and tradition, they demand “rights” that don’t exist and expect others to pay for them.

The editor does, however, dish up a good point about the loss of our freedoms. He cites columnist George Will writing about “rulemaking obsessed governments” and our loss of personal liberties from many unfair laws such as “civil asset forfeiture” authorizing police to seize property without accusations or convictions.

American citizens of past generations know that this clearly violates our constitutional right to “be secure in (our) persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures….” (Constitution, Amendment IV) We have always understood that this right is critical to preserving our freedom from unwarranted government police power.

The editor seems neutral on this, but, in my opinion, we are more threatened domestically by our own government than any time since the War Between the States.

On the other part of the question about the “home of the brave,” most traditional Americans will rally to defend our people when necessary. For example, as demonstrated after the Islamist attacks on the country in 2001. Of course, our politicians usually overreact to action. In this case the flurry to enact “Homeland Security” laws and bureaucracies probably didn’t do much to make us more secure, but it did expand an expensive and intrusive federal government.

There are many ways to be brave and most people have it in them to do so. Traditionally, Americans have been optimistic and resilient to life’s burdens. But we face real threats from outside our borders and many within.

Journalist and author David Kupelian has reported on the conditions and problems new to a once freer America. In his 2015 book, “The Snapping of the American Mind,” he writes that we have always prevailed over catastrophic wars, natural disasters, epidemics and social upheavals. We have prospered because of freedom and generational Christian values. Today people fear those days are over and trouble lies ahead. Kupelian writes:

It’s not just the daunting array of current geopolitical threats—wars, terrorism, de facto invasion of millions of illegal immigrants, unpayable national debt and economic disintegration, 1984-style surveillance, and a palpable and ever-increasing loss of freedom—all causing high anxiety over an uncertain future. It’s also a growing conviction that government itself, whose primary reason for existence is to protect its citizens, has instead become American’s greatest nemesis.

In addition, I believe that our children are being coddled and overly protected by parents and nanny bureaucrats—and government-sponsored messages constantly indoctrinate us with health and safety scares and programs designed to save us from ourselves–and trust the state. Government and non government organization activists deluge us with tales of starving, homeless, disabled, “vulnerable” and needy people. College children now demand “safe space” to hide from the realities of the world.

Is it any wonder that increasing numbers of people in America are neurotic, addicted and fearful?

These are “big-picture” concerns that confront us. The government-problem must be dealt with honestly, courageously—and soon. Otherwise our “anthem” might more appropriately be changed from “land of the free and home of the brave” to “land of the state and home of the needy.”


About R. E. Smith Jr.

Mr. Smith writes essays and commentary on politics, American history, environment, higher education and culture. He's been published in print media and at blog sites for about 25 years. Smith's formal education includes B.S. and M.S. degrees from the State University of New York and Syracuse University. He has earned a 21-credit hour Certificate in Professional Writing from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington. Training/work experience: NYS Ranger School; U. S. Army, Corp of Engineers; soil scientist and forester with USDA; Assoc. Professor at SUNY; real estate agent; small business owner.
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