Thankful for our Forefather’s Foresight
Yesterday while I was writing about our Thanksgiving traditions for this blog, I looked up George Washington’s Thanksgiving Day Proclamation in preparation for suggesting you share it with your family. As I read it, I felt increasingly sad.
George Washington thanked God “for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed.” I thought of all the media I’ve read this week indicating that our civil liberties are under attack. I never dreamed that one day my country would force me to choose amongst having a nude image of me and my children exposed to strangers, being molested by TSA agents (and watching them molest my children), or turning down all invitations to minister to people with the truth of Biblical family life outside driving distance. Before you say, “I’ve flown and it wasn’t that bad,” have you flown in the last two weeks since the rules changed? Did you know that if you choose to opt out from the nude body scanners, that TSA agents will perform a search on you like this?
“by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed,” the first President prayed. He and the other Founders did their best to pass down good and just laws that ruled men where absolutely necessary and preserved liberty. Our generation is so afraid of evil-doers, that we have become vulnerable to those who would remove our liberty, our privacy, our decency. I think of John Tyner in San Diego. He was told by a TSA agent, “By buying your ticket you gave up a lot of rights.” The fourth amendment to the Constitution doesn’t give any warrant for that:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
What is an unreasonable search? Well, the fourth amendment tells us: it’s a search without probable cause. The ‘Lectric Law Library tells us, “The test the court of appeals employs to determine whether probable cause existed for purposes of arrest is whether facts and circumstances within the officer’s knowledge are sufficient to warrant a prudent person to believe a suspect has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime.” Now, if our country practiced the Israeli system of personal interaction with each passenger and focusing on those that fit the profile of terrorists (not necessarily racial, but background and travel history as well), they would have probable cause to search those that fail the assessment, in a way they do not now. And only a small number of travelers would be inconvenienced. Their system has never been broached, either.
What have we come to when we have to say to our children who we’ve taught , “Don’t let anyone but your parents or your doctor touch you there,” that they’ll be touched there. In public. I felt like throwing up when I saw this video of a little boy being groped by a TSA agent in front of everyone. So, how in the world does a Christian make a choice between having their child endure this or letting them make a nude image of them? It seems like images that would have gotten you in big trouble with the law a few weeks ago are A-okay if it’s the government doing the touching. Is there a righteous choice here?
They say that the images won’t be saved anywhere. A hundred photos from lower resolution full body scanners in a courthouse in Florida have already been released under a Freedom of Information Act request. The U.S. Marshall there saved over 35,000 images of his fellow townspeople. Good thing he didn’t have a high resolution scanner yet! And copies of airport nude body scanner images of celebrities have already been passed around. Even if we could be sure they wouldn’t, who wants to be seen that way by strangers? I really feel sorry for the airline employees that have to be exposed this way to people they see every day to go to work.
I’m hearing folks say, “Well, I’d rather be groped than be blown up!” Is that really the alternative? Did you know that the TSA has not caught one single terrorist since it’s founding 9 years ago? Every single terrorist foiled in committing an act of terrorism on a plane since 9/11 has been taken down by the passengers. The nude body scanners can not see into body cavities, yet we know that terrorists have put bombs there. Do you really think someone planning to blow themselves up will balk at having a bomb surgically implanted? Honestly!
Even if it did give us a measure of security, it’s just not worth it. Believe me, this is serious to us. Our livelihood depends on being able to travel all over speaking. If we were to drive everywhere we are already committed to speak in the spring, it would add weeks of travel time (and hotel costs) to our schedule. I feel very concerned. So, why not just endure it?
We travel with our children. Whenever we possibly can, we bring our children with us at our own expense. We do not want to lose our own children while telling other people how to love theirs better. That would be totally unacceptable to us. We homeschool our guys and we involve them in everything we’re doing. They talk about “our book” and “our business” and that’s the way we like it – at least til they are on their own and have their own businesses, careers and families. How in the world can I expose my children to this humiliation or temptation or exposure?
And what about their safety? I have a child with a heart condition. If she is too upset, her heart could go into a life-threatening rhythm. So, when I saw this video of little 3yo Mandy Simon begging the TSA agent to “Stop touching me!” I got very worried. “Nah,” I thought, “I’ll just explain my daughter’s heart problem and they’ll understand. They’re human.” Not so fast, dear. A few hours later, I get a link to a mother who did just that. In fact, she begged the TSA to call 911 to help her heart baby. They responded, “Stay calm, relax.” When they finally relented, it was too late. The paramedics found the newborn in critical condition and the doctors at the hospital were unable to save him. I think the TSA agents should be charged with negligent homicide.
I’m thankful for our forefather’s foresight. They understood government’s tendency to become a tyranny. They understood that when government agents say things like Janet Napolitano did, that if folks don’t like the new nude scanners or grope searches, they can “travel by some other means,” they are equivocating. Sure, you could drive to California, but it is not practical or economical for most people, but it may be a necessary part of your business. And this is the Transportation Safety Administration, not just the Air Travel Safety Administration. What if they decide you need to be strip-searched to ride in a train, or take a bus or drive across state lines? Wait! They are already headed that way. Where does it end?
Ben Franklin said, “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.” We stand at that juncture. I fear that if we allow our government to violate our bodies as a condition of travel or work (for us and many others), there’s no end to the indignities and loss of freedom we’ll face. Please don’t be among those who wait until it affects you personally. Remember Pastor Martin Niemoller’s warning for those who face tyranny in much more dire circumstances:
In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.
Yet, those atrocities started somewhere, too. In the first days of government’s overreach, isn’t it much easier to stand up for right? So what can we do? I’ll tell you what we are doing, because you can do many of these things, too:
- We cancelled all the air travel we possibly could. This will be very difficult and expensive, but the alternative may be far worse.
- We told our airlines why we were doing that and expressed our regret that they would lose our dollars. Their Facebook fan page is a nice public way to do this.
- We’ve posted about these offenses on our Facebook pages and on this blog, so no one we know can say they didn’t know.
- We signed petitions to join our voice to others.
- We’ll be contacting our representative and senators to let them know we want these unconstitutional searches to stop. Find your representative or senator. They’ve likely lately taken to heart that their job depends on citizens voting for them.
- Writing travel trade associations and sharing your concerns with organizations like the ACLJ or ACLU can also help.
- And we’ll be sharing with our children this Thanksgiving our first president’s Thanksgiving Proclamation and telling them how we have to be ever viligent “to render our national government a blessing to all the people.” Hard to even imagine some days.
George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.
Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor– and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.
Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be– That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war–for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.
and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions– to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.
Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.
Can’t say it better than that.
Note: This morning on Facebook, Hal compared the situation with our government to I Kings 12. Just wow. ~Melanie