Friday, June 11, 2010
"The Constitution is not a suicide pact."
This phrase "the Constitution is not a suicide pact" misleads, because it assumes that taking actions against Muslims collectively would always be un-Constitutional: i.e., that phrase assumes that circumstances can arise where the nation bound by its constitution has to take extra-Constitutional measures.
However, there are three contexts in which all democracies (whether they be democratic republics or not) routinely behave in ways that go against their constitutions -- or, more precisely, all democratic constitutions have provisions for the reality of imperfection and evil, since they are not utopian.
The three contexts in which all democracies routinely circumvent their constitutions are with respect to:
2) enemy combatants
What gives the right of the state in a democracy or democratic republic to compel any of its citizens to pay money in fines for a crime, or worse to go to prison, is that that citizen, by committing a crime, has to a certain degree forfeited his Constitutional protections as a citizen.
What gives the right of the state in a democracy or democratic republic to break down doors, commandeer personal homes, offices, or whole buildings, forbid access to public spaces -- when there occurs a major danger to the public such as an unseen sniper killing people in a crowded public place? Obviously, the exigency of protecting the public and stopping that sniper give the state the right to suspend the Constitutional rights of various citizens in that vicinity.
Similarly in various cases involving citizens who collude with an enemy, or who become terrorists.
This is all routine, it is not extraordinary.
Occasionally, the routine rises to a level so singular, it seems extraordinary, but remains within the realm of the ordinary nonetheless -- as for example FDR's ruling to round up and inter American citizens who were Japanese (or Italian or German). In doing so, FDR and the Congress did not "break" the Constitution: they simply took advantage of the universal provision in any democratic constitution for treating certain citizens as hostiles and thus as having forfeited certain aspects of their Constitutional protections. The question in such circumstances is not whether a given citizen can ever be treated as a hostile who has forfeited certain aspects of his Constitutional protections -- with an implicit answer of "never" to the rhetorical question. The question, rather, is casuistic: Has this particular citizen committed acts or is he suspected of collusion with the commission of acts that can be categorized as Criminal or Seditious? If yes, then that opens the way to treating them in ways that forfeit certain aspects of their Constitutional protections.
What makes the Muslim Problem singular has nothing to do with the Constitution, but rather the fact that we are dealing with a worldwide People and the complex issue of enablement that has massive appearances of ostensible innocence or non-relation to the process in their culture of producing hostiles against us. Further complicating this is the fact that most of the members of this People are perceived to be ethnic, and this pushes psychological and sociocultural buttons in our society because of PC MC which has unofficially, but powerfully, ruled that no substantive criticism -- let alone condemnation and then policy actions taken -- is permitted against any ethnic people.
So yes, the Constitution is not a suicide pact -- in the sense that the Constitution has built-in provisions for protecting the society it legally structures from dangerous enemies in ways that go against, or beyond, its explicit provisions that guarantee rights to its citizens.