Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Intolerable Acts: (Re)Birth of a Nation

There is a phrase that I'm sure we've all heard in one form or another which is peculiarly significant at this point for the citizens of the United States. It is simply this:

"History repeats itself because nobody listens the first time."

In general, this phrase depicts the familiar echoes of recurrent historical themes as they cycle back in a renewed form, changed a bit in each incarnation but carrying with them similar lessons that humanity may not have fully comprehended the first time. Some have even gone so far as to embody the concept of the phrase into a definition called "cyclic history". Whether based on coincidental observation or actually extant within one's beliefs, we are now witnessing a recurrence of two major themes playing out across the world stage that should cause us to sit up and take notice: the "Intolerable Acts" of 1774 that spawned the birth of our nation, and the rise of fascism in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s that led to World War II.


For those of you who may be a little rusty with regard to your US history, let's review the "Intolerable Acts":

from "The Intolerable Acts of 1774: Road to Independence by Elizabeth J."

King George III was determined to control the colonies by imposing a new tea tax. In 1775, he demanded that three shiploads of surplus tea be unloaded in Boston. The Bostonians did not want the tea and decided not to pay a tax that their Assembly did not vote on. They dumped the tea in Boston Harbor, believing England would then leave them alone. King George III was furious! He, and many in Parliament, believed the colonies should be punished for insulting Parliament and interfering with trade. To punish them, Parliament passed the Coercive Acts, called by the colonists, Intolerable Acts.

These acts overturned the principles on which the Massachusetts colony was founded in the charter of 1691. Without consultation and without legal proceedings, the charter was changed. The colonists were outraged!

The Boston Port Bill was intended to close down completely the Port of Boston until the East India Company was paid for their tea and Parliament was paid the tax due on the tea.

The Massachusetts Government Act declared that members of the Massachusetts Council would be appointed by the Governor, not elected by the Assembly. Also, town meetings could take place only with the Governor's permission. This act gave the governor full power to appoint local officials and the judiciary, and decreed that in the future, juries would be appointed by the sheriffs, not elected.

The Administration of Justice Act provided that any British official serving in the colonies, who was accused of a capital offense could be removed from the colony and sent to another colony or to England for a fair trial.Through a new Quartering Act for the British Army, colonial citizens would be required to house and feed, in their private homes, British officers and troops.

Finally, the Quebec Act was tacked on to the Intolerable Acts. It gave Canada's Catholics civil equality and guaranteed religious tolerance. It also gave the French vast territories west of the Appalachians. The colonists saw this as an attempt to renew their battles with both the French and the Indians.

The issuance of these acts and the resulting outrage led to the formation of the first Continental Congress. The first steps toward freedom and independence of the American colonies were taken, and the path was set. Several years later, a new nation was born, founded on the concept that "all men were created equal" and endowed with certain "inalienable rights" to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The United States Constitution was created to lay the operational foundation for this new nation. Critical to the acceptance of this pivotal document was the requirement by several of the newly-formed states that a "Bill of Rights" be immediately adopted to ensure that certain rights and freedoms be explicitly defined. Several of the first key Amendments that comprise the Bill of Rights were direct responses to the violations incurred by the Intolerable Acts – particularly the third and fourth amendments:

Amendment III: Quartering of soldiersNo Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

Amendment IV: Search and arrestThe 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.

There was concern that later courts and incarnations of the government would interpret the express enumeration of rights as an exhaustive list, resulting in the possibility of draconian limitations. Knowing that they could not hope to foresee all the possible permutations of rights and freedoms of the people, and not wanting to expressly limit the rights of the people – as these rights are "inalienable", and hence not subject to the whim and fancy of the original framers – a key amendment was inserted to ensure that the people retained all rights justly due them, beyond the ken of the ones listed in the Bill:
Amendment IX: Rights retained by the PeopleThe enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The ninth amendment.Often overlooked and played down as insignificant, it is perhaps our most powerful claim to the rights that we have to realize may be violated through the machinations of a leadership run amuck. The tenth amendment is similar, and in theory protects us from the powers of a unitary runaway Executive Branch:
Amendment X: States' rightsThe powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
With the new nation guided by this enlightened document, the government of the people, by the people and for the people felt secure in their belief that this nation would not perish from the earth.

Time passed.

As with all nations along the course laid through history, new laws were codified, reviewed, passed and sometimes repealed. Our heritage as a nation of, by and for the people became rich and rife with struggles as we expanded and defined our definitions of rights, of people and of freedom.

King George III was the first "King" that our nascent colonial founders had looked to. The king and his supporters had imposed intolerable requirements upon the colonies, and were cast off. The new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, was born.

Now we are at a crucial point in our history, where we have another "George" lording it over our nation. Not crowned a king, yet acting very much like one in claims of "Executive Privilege", our second "King George" has echoed the events of the past. Over the last few years, the Bush Administration and their Republican supporters have passed not one but several Intolerable Acts of their own. They have undermined the safety, security and Constitutionally founded tenets of our nation, squandered the treasury and ignored – and openly violated – their oaths to support and defend the Constitution.

We have come full circle. The events of the past that marked a cornerstone in our history have cycled back to us, entreating us to recall our history and the blood, sweat and tears of those who have fought and died to preserve the promises forged by our founding fathers.

Whether one believes in Fate, Destiny, a higher power or guiding light, or simply in the capacity of the human spirit to strive and overcome challenges, the time has come for all good people to come to the aid of their country. We are now in the midst of a Constitutional crisis. We must not fail in our resolve to set right our path, or the chaos and bloodshed that has stained our nation through the efforts of the Bush Administration and the Republican majority will forever mark the efforts of all those who have come before as doomed to failure.

We dare not rest in our efforts to recall to mind in our brothers and sisters the principles upon which this nation was founded.

But what of the other recurrent cycle, now surfacing in our midst? What could that be, and what need we learn from history in order to circumvent the ultimate threat to our nation and the security of it and the world?

In complete violation of the attempts to negate the association, I cannot help to call out the similarity in the rise of fascism in Hitler's Germany to the rise of similar nationalistic pride, narcissistic arrogance and draconian restrictions upon our people. Combined with the near-perfect repetition of the dictatorship of King George, this trend toward the violation of our national principles, fostered through a climate of fear, can destroy our nation. Let it not be so.

The current Administration is bent on a course of destruction, and maneuvering to limit our capacity as a nation to halt their efforts. They are allied with multinational corporate interests that seek not the preservation of our nation, nor the protection of the inalienable rights and freedoms that our citizens hold, but to the narrowing of the benefits of wealth and power to the hands of their "elite" brethren.

If we don't act now to force Congress to rein the Administration in, they will precipitate and initiate another war of aggression. They are already spying upon us, not to protect us from terrorists but to protect themselves from us.

"History repeats itself because nobody listens the first time."
Well, is there anybody listening this time?

Can you hear me now...?

This post was not originally updated to this blog and has been backfilled into proper chronological sequence. We apologize for any inconvenience. - The USPatriotsUnited Team

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