The First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The foundational freedoms enumerated in the First Amendment and the first ten amendments amaze people from other nations. Notice how succinctly the authors wrote the amendments, sort of like the Ten Commandments. Brevity and clarity. And, yet, we still manage “to amend” the meaning as though the amendments and, indeed, the commandments come with caveats.
The caveat of 2020 was COVID-19 which enabled government authorities at every level to prohibit the free exercise of religion, to abridge the freedom of speech (think fact checkers and social media), as well as the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to quell those who petitioned the government for a redress of grievances.
Our founders knew people have many opinions and use a variety of words and examples to advance some positions and to oppose others. They also knew from firsthand experience that Truth is the first victim of any who would regulate religion, speech, or any of our other freedoms granted by our Creator.
Those who hold any governmental authority are naturally tempted to assume more authority. In the wake of the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Representatives have introduced the “Domestic Terrorism Prevention Act of 2021.” It’s about time! We witnessed ‘mostly peaceful protestors’ rioting across American big cities from the end of May to the end of 2020. Many of those rioting displayed BLM (Black Lives Matter) and Antifa (Anti-Fascists) clothing and signs.
On the other hand, those who attacked the Capitol in January were remnants of a Trump rally held earlier in the day. Indeed, the House of Representatives wasted no time impeaching President Trump for a second time for his ‘role’ in the attack. The Senate trial is scheduled for February 9.
Who are targets of domestic terrorism? In his inaugural address, President Biden enumerated labels such as “racism, nativism, fear, demonization,” and vowed to fight against “a rise of political extremism, white supremacy, domestic terrorism that we must confront and we will defeat.”
In an interview with FOX News, former Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a progressive Democrat, labeled the domestic terrorism bill as “so dangerous.” She said, “We don’t have to guess about where this goes or where it ends. When you have people like former CIA Director John Brennan openly talking about how he’s spoken with appointees and nominees in the Biden administration who are already starting to look across our country for these types of movements… that in his words make up this ‘unholy alliance’ of ‘religious extremists,’ ‘racists,’ ‘bigots’ … even ‘libertarians.’”
Gabbard questioned the real targets of the bill asking, “So, when you look at their process as they’re building this profile of a potential ‘extremist,’ what are we talking about? Are we talking about evangelical Christians? Somebody who is pro-life? Libertarians? People who attended a Trump rally?”
First they came after Donald Trump, his administration, and his supporters in Congress. Now they’re coming after anyone who doesn’t toe the progressive party narrative. Be careful what you say and do.
Daniel L. Gardner is a syndicated columnist who lives in Starkville, MS. You may contact him at PJandMe2@gmail.com.