In 1941 FDR used his State of the Union message to outline the reasons for America's support for the Allied Nations in WWII. In his speech he outlined four basic freedoms that all people are entitled to. These freedoms are freedom of speech, freedom of worship freedom from fear, and freedom from want. The president who told us that the only thing we had to fear was fear itself, was bold enough to say that being free from fear was a right. In 1943, from late February to March, the Saturday Evening Post published four covers by Norman Rockwell that illustrated these freedoms.
Fast forward about sixty two years to an incident described in this excerpt from yesterday's column by Leonard Pitts who writes for the Miami Herald.
"The following happened in the United State of America on Februry 9 of this year.
The scene is the Little Falls branch of the Montgomery County Public Library in Bethesda, Maryland. Business is going on as usual when two men in uniform stride into the main reading room and call for attention. Then they make an announcement.
It is forbidden to use the library's computers to view Internet pornography.
As people are absorbing this, one of the men challenges a patron about a Web site he is visiting and asks the man to step outside. At this point, a librarian intervenes and calls the uniformed men aside. A police officer is summoned. The men leave. It turns out they are employees of the county's department of Homeland Security and were operating far outside their authority."
Pitts goes on to describe how hard it is for the fifty one percent of respondants to a recent poll to imagine what it would be like to have to ask for permission to travel, watch a movie, read what you want, even have someone stay at your house without asking someone if it's ok. And that because we're in a war against terrorism doesn't give a government employee the right to come in and look over you shoulder to see what you're reading or viewing on a computer screen. Of course the poll didn't ask the folks answering their questions which freedoms they were willing to give up in the "fight against terror."
Contrast FDR's dream with this administration's attitude toward the least among us and the use fear of terrorist attacks on the US to chip away at the constitution. Well, I feel a whole lot safer. Not bloody likely.
Incidently, I just love the faces in these pictures. These are faces you see everyday. Maybe only in the US can a working stiff get up in a town meeting and express his opinion. I've seen those faces in the pews of my church. Imagine sharing your bed with your little brother or sister. And my grandmothers both wore those simple cotton dresses and aprons.