A Prayer for America


From a speech delivered at a meeting of Americans for Democratic Action in Los Angeles on February 17.

I offer these brief remarks today as a prayer for our country…, [in] the belief that a free people cannot walk in fear and faith at the same time….

How can we justify, in effect, canceling the First Amendment - the right of free speech, the right to peaceably assemble? How can we justify canceling the Fourth Amendment - probable cause, the prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure? How can we justify canceling the Fifth Amendment - nullifying due process and allowing for indefinite incarceration without a trial? How can we justify canceling the Sixth Amendment - the right to prompt and public trial?

We cannot justify widespread wiretaps and Internet surveillance without judicial supervision. We cannot justify secret searches without a warrant. We cannot justify giving the Attorney General the ability to designate domestic terror groups. We cannot justify giving the FBI total access to any type of data which may exist in any system anywhere - such as medical records and financial records.

The trappings of a state-of-siege trap us in a state of fear, ill-equipped to deal with the Patriot Games, the Mind Games, the War Games of an unelected president and his unelected vice president.

Let us pray that our country will stop this war. We licensed a response to those who helped bring the terror of September 11. But we the people and our elected representatives must reserve the right to measure the response, to challenge the response, and to correct the response.

We did not authorize the invasion of Iraq.

We did not authorize the invasion of Iran.

We did not authorize the invasion of North Korea.

We did not authorize the bombing of civilians in Afghanistan.

We did not authorize military tribunals suspending due process and habeas corpus.

We did not authorize assassination squads.

We did not authorize the resurrection of COINTELPRO.

We did not authorize the repeal of the Bill of Rights or the revocation of the Constitution.

We did not authorize the eye of Big Brother to peer from cameras throughout our cities.

We did not authorize the administration to wage war anytime, anywhere, anyhow it pleases.

We did not authorize war without end.

We are upon the threshold of a permanent war economy. The president has requested a $45.6 billion increase in military spending. All defense-related programs will cost close to $400 billion.

This has nothing to do with fighting terror. This has everything to do with fueling a military industrial machine with the treasure of our nation, risking democracy itself with the militarization of thought.

Our children deserve a world without end, not a war without end. Let us defend our country not only from the threats without but from the threats within. Crown thy good, America - with brotherhood and sisterhood [and] with… a commitment to peace, to democracy, to economic justice at home and throughout the world. Crown thy good, America.

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