A Bill Of Privileges

November 1, 2013
The constant admonition of an ideal held by many of the general public, which to them seems largely unwarranted, precedes vilification and excommunication from that populous. And with that borne in my mind, I approach the topic of American rights with the surest of cautions, and with a, perhaps naive, hope that subsequent evidence will placate the tumult of unsupported attacks. Nonetheless, logic seldom refutes feeling.

Scrutiny of government action raises disquieting examples of a constant depreciation of American rights. The Bill of Rights, the chief document of the American people's rights, has been reduced to a menial list of privileges that is continuing to minify through government action. If a person can take away your rights when they deem it necessary, then they are not rights, but privileges. A dominant example of this type of government action was the relocation and internment of over 127,000 American citizens in 1942.

In 1942, president Roosevelt signed an executive order that forced the relocation and internment of over 127,000 American citizens. Their only fault was to be born of Japanese descent. What about every American citizens "right to a speedy and public trial?" How could innocent American citizens be "deprived of life, liberty, [and] property, without due process of law?" When those Japanese Americans needed their rights the most, they were ignored. The Bill of Rights, the defense of every American citizen, has been reduced to a menial list of privileges that can be stripped away by the government, the very government that is granted its power by the people themselves.

The internment came out of fear after the tragedy at pearl harbor. An equally tragic response was issued by a country in fear. It is curious that Roosevelt signed the bill into action, contradicting his own warning that, "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." It seems that the rights of the few are willing to be sacrificed to benefit the safety of the majority. The United States government, however, was founded to protect the rights of the individual. Therefore, government action that takes away your rights or limits your ability to exercise those rights is, by its very nature, erroneous.

The right of a "speedy and public trial," a right that should have served to protect the Japanese Americans from this brutal and unwarranted relocation, was somehow forgotten by our politicians, the very people who devote themselves to the United States and the Constitution. The interned Americans were moved to concentration camps and forced to abandon everything that their lives had propagated. There is no justifiable reason to deprive a people "of life, liberty, [and] property, without due process of law."

The refutation of the depreciation of American rights comes in the form of claims that the restrictions placed on our rights are necessary to grant us safety. However, that safety was admonished by Benjamin Franklin who said, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." When you are stripped from your home and family and forced to relocate at a concentration camp; when the very government that claims to protect you, robs you of your basic liberties; the temporary safety that you have earned will not justify the loss of your freedoms.

The aforementioned violation of the American citizen's rights and trust is just one in a superfluity of examples that entail the increasing deviation from the founding father's intention of American rights. When a government founded to ensure the protection of the people's rights can so easily bypass the chief document regarding the rights of the people, that government needs to be scrutinized.

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