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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exposing Bush's war on the Constitution, December 7, 2003
This review is from: The War on the Bill of Rights and the Gathering Resistance (Hardcover)
This is a chilling record of the government assault on basic American civil liberties by a cowardly Bush administration that is increasingly relying on a climate of fear to hold onto power.
Net Hentoff, of course, is an immediately suspect writer. He has an impeccable record of defending, explaining, respecting and advocating civil rights. He is one of those precious few in every society with the courage to challenge the power of government to boss people around. He functions at the level of you, me and us.
Some politicians have a different outlook; they think they deal in great national and global issues on which the future of all mankind hinges. They are wrong, of course. It's not because they are evil, though some are certainly evil. It's because the nature of representative democracy requires politicians to represent all of the people. Like any "averaging" system, it excludes anyone who is not in the white bread and vanilla pudding "middle" of society. In a free society, individuals are free to choose such exotic ideas as Thai red-curry chicken or a sunny Provencal daube.
The US Constitution and its Bill of Rights wasn't handed down to us by ancient wise politicians; it is a set of values of the American people. Personally, I have great faith in the individual wisdom of Americans. Even if everything Hentoff says comes true, I'm confident a new "American Revolution" will root out such tyranny. Hentoff is not so sanguine, he stresses the "grass roots of the Constitution" and urges freedom loving Americans to act now. Ashcroft needs to be reminded his sworn duty is to uphold the Constitution, not to cave into the fears of the chicken-hawks in the Bush administration.
Normally, civil rights is a liberal issue. But not this time. Hentoff repeatedly quotes the leading conservatives in Congress, plus right-wing papers such as The Washington Times. A lot of people across the politiocal spectrum are genuinely upset about the threat to our basic rights. It is an issue that concerns all those interested in individual freedom, and his book draws from an eclectic range of sources.
Okay, so Attorney General John Ashcroft says his trashing of civil rights is necessary to fight terrorism. Under the new laws, Hentoff points out that a person who stands peacefully outside an abortion clinic to urge women not to have an abortion could technically be charged as a terrorist and lose all of their civil and legal rights. Will this happen? Well, it's not likely (cross-your-fingers) under Ashcroft -- but he (hopefully) isn't Attorney General-for-life.
Far-fetched? Well, remember the 1930s when mobsters weren't convicted of being killers? Convictions were based on income tax charges. Remember the Mississippi murders of civil rights workers in the 1960s? Their murderers were not convicted of murder; they were nailed for violating the civil rights of the victims. The lesson is that if the government wants to convict a person, they will find a way. In this book, Hentoff shows how the government now has hundreds of new ways of convicting any individual who upsets these new absolute monarchs of madness. King George III should have been so lucky!!!
Hentoff offers enough examples to frighten everyone who values American rights. What can you do on an individual basis? Well, people who love liberty in many communities have persuaded local governments to enact policies refusing to cooperate with the police state envisioned by Ashcroft. This book provides dozens of reasons to take such action.
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