Internment Camps, Ansel Adams Snaps and Fleeting Liberties

“Rights for me, not for thee.”

The government habitually strips citizens of their rights whenever it suits them to do so. Currently, the Obama administration and the NSA have deemed that Americans are fair game when it comes to domestic surveillance, as we are certainly no longer

secure in [our] persons, houses, papers, and effects.

Related Article: Gossip Through the PRISM: the NSA’s Shenanigans

This is obviously not a new phenomenon. I find that people often forget, for example, that the Jim Crow laws in the South were indeed laws, not just social conventions. State and local governments codified the practice of segregation and indeed would punish businesses and organizations for daring to integrate—systematically disenfranchising blacks through legislative power.

The state will protect and respect individual rights as long as it suits their own interests. They have proven repeatedly that, when convenient, they will forget that the Bill of Rights even exists.

Related Article: The TSA’s Totalitarian Reign

In a famous and extremely disturbing example, the United States considered Japanese-Americans to be a threat to national security after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On February 19, 1942 FDR signed Executive Order 9066 which allowed the military to designate areas from which “any and all persons could be excluded.” As a result, over a hundred thousand American citizens with names like Richard Kobayashi and Catharine Yamaguchi were locked away in concentration camps. Without trial or cause, these people were forcefully removed from their homes and interned solely because of their ancestry.

In 1943 famed American photographer Ansel Adams, renowned for his stunning shots of the American west, visited the Manzanar camp in California. Disturbed by the ramifications of FDR’s “relocation” policy, he took some poignant and beautiful snaps of life in Manzanar that are distressing reminders of how fragile our rights and liberties really are.

Related Article: Another Casualty of the Paramilitary State

Here are farmers toiling in front of snowcapped mountains:

How much more American can you get than playing football, fixing tractors, and holding town hall meetings?

Town Hall

Even enlisted soldiers weren’t exempt from the camps.

US SOldier

Infants unknowingly took their first breaths there.

The NSA’s extralegal invasions into our privacy should rightfully enrage every American. However, it should not be surprising to anyone with a pulse. The truth is simple and blunt: This is what governments do. Mendaciously, the state—dripping with patriotism and draped in red, white & blue—claims to protect the rights of Americans while simultaneously showing absolute disregard for their sanctity, and at best deigning to acknowledge their very existence. To politicians, civil liberties are mere talking points rather than the inalienable rights that this nation was founded upon.

Related Article: Team Red = Team Blue, The Syria Episode

Sadly, there really are no rights in this world. Most would agree that everyone has a right to food and shelter. How, then, are so many people starving and homeless? The Declaration of Independence champions the rights of life and liberty, however, both are so easily taken away. Our rights are better understood as glorious ideals, Vitruvian Men that we all need to aspire to achieve and maintain.

The problem now isn’t so much that governments are invading our privacy, as concerning and Orwellian as their encroachment is. That known entity is to be understood and expected. The most troublesome factor is the absolute apathetic ambivalence and—indeed!—endorsement of these policies from the American populace.

Related Article: War on Drugs Farce Continues Unabated

I am reminded of the famous poem attributed to Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the  communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,

and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

The American citizenry is a frog being boiled slowly, and the rising heat gradually erodes their rights. When are they going to realize that when they’re the only ones left, no one will be there to speak for them?

 

Sources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Crow_laws

constitution.findlaw.com/amendment4/amendment.html

http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=false&doc=74&page=transcript

http://www.businessinsider.com/ansel-adams-internment-camp-photos-2013-8?op=1

http://leonardodavinci.stanford.edu/submissions/clabaugh/history/leonardo.html

World Protests: Can You Hear Me Now?

In the last couple days mass protests have been spotted in Egypt comprised of the supporters and the opponents of former President Mohamed Morsi. On one side there is an army ready to enact its ultimatum to overthrow the government and instate a new political power. On the other side is the Muslim Brotherhood that would take on the deadly army in order to preserve the former president’s reign and ensure that democracy under Islamic law stays.

The people of Egypt fear what is happening to their beloved country and the economic crisis that is taking place and so the protests rage and violence ensues.  The Military Coup will most likely result in a dictatorship being reinstated, but who is to say that a president within a “brotherhood” is not like a dictator himself. Furthermore, the phrase”will most likely result in” is still an ‘up in the air’ statement. But desperate times call for desperate measures, and with the Military Coup, we may see the fall of democracy in Egypt take place while the immediate reinstatement of military power to rule over all is enacted, ‘temporarily’ of course. One thing is for sure: the people of Egypt all just want peace and prosperity for their children, their friends, their family, and their country. Just like those of the past, they rally together, on one side or the other, showing their pride and commitment to what they believe is most important. The world has heard their cry, a reaction for good or bad will be delivered, like it has been in the past.

What past you say? Let us take a stroll down memory lane and explore several world protests most significant to our mother Earth.

Related Article: Conservation Efforts of Earth

French and American Revolutions

The French and American revolutions were caused by the aristocratic rule that undermined the people and exploited their freedoms. Both of these revolutionary periods took a long time to resolve the ongoing problems of tyrannical monarchy. The French Revolution lasted some 10 years from 1789-1799; overthrowing the monarch King Louis XVI, giving power to a republic, and finally ending with the Consulate under Napoleon Bonaparte.  The American Revolution era lasted some 20 years starting around 1763 and finally ended in 1783 when a peace treaty marked the full separation from British power. The world watched and learned as nations became independent of monarchs and set examples for future nations to follow.

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Martin Luther King Jr.’s words will never be forgotten as they rang through the ears of 250,000 supporters of the civil rights movement rallied together on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom was an effort to end racism in the United States of America and the support it received helped pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, finally freeing a people from oppression and racism. The movement became of staple in the society of America and an example for bringing rights to others in the future. Even now as we struggle with gay marriage being accepted we frequently reference what Martin Luther King Jr. set out to accomplish.

Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989

Probably the most memorabe in my mind would be the Tiananmen Square protests where students led demonstrations against the slow reform process that was taking place in China. The students followed astrophysicist and professor Fang Lizhi, who preached liberty and democracy after returning from tenure in America. The student protests inspired people in Beijing to follow suit, proclaiming the need for human rights and human power, only to be met with military resistance and martial law. The famous image of this protest was the “Tank Man” where one anonymous and yet to be named man stood in front of 4 military tanks as a sign of protest against military ultimatums. To this day this image is referenced during talk of peace or protest.

February 15, 2003 Anti-War Protest

Let’s not forget one of the most recent cries for peace that spread from DC, looped around the world through  more than 600 cities, and came back around to ring in president Bush’s ears: The all expansive War on Terrorism. In Rome 3 million people cried out against the war with the slogan: “stop the war, no ifs or buts”. Madrid rallied just over 1 million people to stop the war. The US had over 150 cities rallying to support peace and to stay out of Iraq. The world cried out for peace on February 15, 2003. Sadly, the world at large was ignored, and the invasion of Iraq took place only a month later on May 20, 2003, finally ending in 2011 after 2 years of withdrawing troops from Iraq. The message remains though, with one of the biggest rallies for peace to date, that we as a people want to coexist peacefully.

Related Article: War On Drugs

Where these are only 5 other protests out of many, many more significant protests, it is important to remember what they stood for: Hope. A hope for change, a hope for a better life, and a hope for peace. This article, of course, was not an attempt in any way to mock anyone or to devalue the lives that have been lost in any of the public outcries that have taken place in the past and that will unfortunately follow. This was simply a tribute and a remembrance to what has passed, inspired by the recent events in Egypt.

To all my brothers and sisters in Egypt, to all the supporters and opponents of Morsi, and to all the protesters of the world that are straining to have their voices heard: I wish you the least bloodiest road to your goal and may peace and prosperity find you. May we all live in a world where protests are a thing of the past, and where violence and war are no longer necessary or even thought of.

Finally, in the spirit of America’s Independence Day, I wish that all other countries, oppressed or yearning for freedom, may one day be able to cheer, as we privileged Americans do, for their own country’s Independence and Freedom. Happy July 4th America!

Cheers!

 

Research:

Egypt Crisis: Protesters

Brotherhood of Morsi

Newyorker Military Coup

Army Ousts Egypt’s President

President Mohamed Morsi

French Revolution

Louis XVI of France

Napoleon Bonaparte

American Revolution

March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom

I Have a Dream Speech

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Voting Rights Act of 1965

Ten states to tackle gay marriage

Tiananmen Square Protests

Fang Lizhi

Tank Man

Anti War Protests

Invasion of Iraq

Independence Day, Fourth Of July

Wondergressive: War on Drugs

Wondergressive: Conservation Efforts of Earth