Thu, 16 Apr 2009 18:41:47 +0000 – By Peter Johnson, Jr.Attorney/FOX News Contributor
Look in the mirror: you may have been named Public Enemy No 1. In fact you may not be the only one. Spread the word. Call your neighbor who has just been laid off. E-mail your son in the Army and tell him, too. Write your pastor who spoke from the pulpit of the sanctity of life on Easter Sunday. Warn each and every one of them that their ideology, experience and religious beliefs qualifies them to be right-wing terrorist extremists. At least, that is according to the Department of Homeland Security and its Secretary Janet Napolitano. The Secretary originally stood by a nine page official alert sent to American law enforcement which points to recession victims, members of the United States military and its veterans and abortion opponents as the next wave of radical terrorists. That's right, the United States of America has published an enemies list and it's likely you might qualify for membership under their warped definitions.
Yesterday I spent the better part of the day with would be terrorists under the government's new guidelines. I sat with my father, a wounded Iwo Jima Marine veteran who spent a year in the hospital after World War II and who went on to become one of the nation's great lawyers at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Together we witnessed the installation of the new Archbishop of New York -- Timothy Dolan -- who spoke eloquently from the pulpit about the sanctity of life and the need to protect the unborn.
We haven't had a lot of experiences in this country with pronouncements about how our military experience and religious beliefs qualify us to be harmful to our way of life.
Even a second grade student understands the notion of liberty of expression and worship as embodied in our federal and state constitutions. But unfortunately it appears that the agency appointed to keep us safe thinks the best way to do that is to make us distrust each other. There's precedent in history for that though: In ancient Rome proscription named the enemies of the state, during the French revolution the Jacobins unleashed a reign of terror and in Russia, Lenin named certain groups as "enemies of the people." I wondered this morning, if you attended a Anti-Tax Day Tea Party yesterday and your image made the news last night, will your photo show up on your local Post Office bulletin board tomorrow because of your single minded opposition to higher taxes and greater government expenditures? Are you "anti-government"? If you are, should you be on a watch list, a no-fly list, a list of those who need to watched lest your belief systems be converted from words and thoughts to the violent actions of extremists?
As Americans we rightfully must and will always condemn extremists who even consider violence. Our country is all about change through persuasion -- the pen is mightier than the sword, the word is more persuasive than the barrel of a gun. A lot of Americans, including this one, have urged our Homeland Security chief to apologize for her fanciful and wrongheaded attack on Americans who may believe and worship differently than our Homeland Security Secretary does. Even the ACLU has condemned her for inventing threats without factual basis. This morning on the FOX News Channel she almost acknowledged her wrongdoing, saying she "owed" an apology for the damning of our veterans and pro life advocates. But the simple words "I'm sorry" have yet to be said.
A lot of Americans are still waiting for that apology from a government official who needs to understand that our experiences and beliefs as Americans are the well spring of our freedom and the greatest attribute of our safety and security. The enemies of America are found not in our unemployment lines, our Veterans Hospitals and churches. In those lines and beds and pews we find not the death of America but its constant rebirth.