The Fourth of July
For those who haven't read it recently, here is the Declaration of Independence.
There are some good reads in the July 22 The Nation now on line:
Re-thinking the Death Penalty by Bruce Shapiro posits that politicians are taking their cues from growing public opposition to capital punishment.
John Nichols talks about how the White House is "packing the judiciary with extreme rightwingers like Texas judge Priscilla Owen" in Karl Rove's Legal Tricks
And a variety of writers express their feelings about patriotism. Many on the left apparently doesn't like patriotism, believing it to be a blind devotion to the government. Others just feel awkward about it.
Our belief, at least with respect to America's criminal justice system, which is the focus of this weblog, is that despite all its faults, and there are many (failure of Congress to abolish the federal death penalty, pass the Innocence Protection Act or eliminate mandatory minimum drug sentences to name some,) it is still the best criminal justice system in the world.
Think of the alternatives--countries without the presumption of innocence, the right to confront one's accusers, trial by jury requiring unanimity of verdict, or proof beyond a reasonable doubt.
We like the portion of the comments by Erwin Kroll, Editor of the Progressive , in explaining how he started celebrating Independence Day. "It's something we started doing when Richard Nixon and his pals were sporting American flag pins in their lapels. Damn it, we thought, it's not their flag, it's not their country, and we're not going to let them steal America from us."
We don't see patriotism as supporting war but supporting the freedom to dissent from war and other uncacceptable government practices. Along this line, and far more eloquently stated, read Sharon Basco's Tom Paine interview with Historian Howard Zinn titled "Dissent In Pursuit Of Equality, Life, Liberty And Happiness." To paraprhase, dissent is the highest form of patriotism. Patriotism does not mean support for the government. Government is a but an artifical creation to carry out certain ends, like life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and when it acts contrary to those ends, it is our duty to disobey it and nothing could be more patriotic.
TalkLeft would like to turn this page over to you readers through this holiday weekend. Mail us your thoughts on civil liberties, the Patriot Act , the state of the nation, the death penalty, the terrorism trials, whatever you think is relevant, and we'll post as many as we can with links back to your sites if you wish. Anonymous is fine too.
Happy Independence Day from us here at TalkLeft
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