Sarah Palin is a citizen of the United States of America, but she is no “American.”
The United States of America is a place on a map of the world. America, on the other hand, is an ideal that, since before the days of the pharaohs, humankind has been striving after. Above all else, “America” speaks to the inherent dignity of and respect for the individual as a wholly unique person, fully capable of deciding for him- or herself what is the most likely path for their pursuit of happiness, however he or she chooses to define it.
No one who has ever walked the face of the Earth and breathed Earth’s air — not Jesus, not Mohammad, . . . no one — knows better than you what is best or most right for you. To believe anything else is the first step from freedom and respect for the individual toward tyranny and disparagement of the individual. There is no middle ground: either you are free, or you are not.
But let Mr. Jefferson opine on the matter: “Sometimes it is said that man cannot be trusted with the government of himself. Can he, then, be trusted with the government of others? Or have we found angels in the forms of kings to govern him?” — First Inaugural Address.
Whether in the individual or the sum, which is but an aggregation of individuals, the test of freedom is not that any are physically safe and secure, but that they are free to do themselves harm as well as profit. At best, we can only hope the free person will act wisely. We cannot guarantee it. Nor must we shelter the free man from folly, for then he or she is no longer free, but is enchained.
It all distills to the unfettered flow of information and the freedom to choose from an unrestricted array of options. Whether surreptitiously or brazenly remove an option, or obscure any aspect that adheres to it, and you have denied freedom to that person. At that point, he or she suffers under tyranny, and does not know freedom. He or she has not decided anything. Indeed, the long train of the evolving principle of disclosure in American jurisprudence has been entirely to this most basic truth.
In 1996, Sarah Palin, the small Alaskan town of Wasilla’s new mayor ran a heavy-handed trial balloon past Mary Ellen Emmons - Baker, the community’s librarian of seven years. According to Anne Kilkenny who was at the council meeting, Palin asked the librarian, “What would your response be if I asked you to remove some books from the collection?”
Ms. Kilkenny reports, “I was shocked. Mary Ellen sat up straight and said something along the line of ‘The books in the Wasilla Library collection were selected on the basis of national selection criteria for libraries of this size, and I would absolutely resist all efforts to ban books.’”
Palin has claimed the questions were rhetorical at the time, and simply part of a policy discussion about “following administration agendas.”
Mayor Palin’s inquiry was repeated two more times, and each secured from Ms. Emmons responses identical to the first; rather an extraordinary profile in courage, given that, in a letter, Palin had warned the librarian she would be fired for not being sufficiently loyal. It’s important to note here that the first thing Sarah Palin did, upon assuming the position, was to vet each staff member for his or her measure of fealty to her, and fired all who failed her test.
For a few months, from March 16 to June 17, 1954, this “land of the free” watched in frightening awe as the junior Republican Senator from Wisconsin, Joseph R. McCarthy, waived a paper shoulder high, “I have a list . . .” Writers, actors, soldiers, and everyone he thought he could bully with threats of blacklisting as a communist or as a communist sympathizer were showcased in the ongoing circus of the macabre.
The political party an adult belongs to, which philosophies he or she espouse, the identity of those he or she associates with, what the individual reads or sees or says or writes (excepting that which is libelous or slanderous or directly endangers the health and safety and the coequal right to peaceful enjoyment of their own pursuit of happiness) is no one’s business, including that of any governmental entity.
The first ten amendments were never intended to protect behaviors the majority agrees with, they were to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. Protecting those rights compose the core essence of American ideals. Thus it is that the most un-American behavior one can engage is to try to limit anyone’s full enjoyment and exercise of those protected rights; a trespass the record manifestly demonstrates that Sara Palin committed; more than just once, and a trespass backed by intentional coercion.
At least as it is reflected in Sarah Palin, a 4-year only degree in journalism is an insufficient academic background to prepare someone to vigorously appreciate the sacred ethos contained in an oath to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”
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