Terrorists are not freedom’s only enemy

Published 1:00 am Sunday, September 11, 2011

OXFORD — Freedom is not compatible with dependence.

A nation observing the decennial of a horrible event — when maniacs steered airliners into buildings — might benefit from some cheerful words.


Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

That awful day has not made us stronger as a people. Yes, terrorists have been held at bay, but America as our ancestors knew it is at greater risk than ever.

The reason can be found on the bottom of almost any plastic cup. “Made in China,” the imprint will say.

The reason can be found in economic policies, including a labyrinthine tax code that has allowed the rich to become richer while the poor are left to put their faith in a bunch of poverty pimps who exploit them.

The reason can be found in several Mississippi school districts where not one parent — not one — pays the cost of morning and noon meals served to his or her child or children.

During the 1950s, the great fear was that America might be lost in one fell swoop — a communist takeover by force or subversion.

If such a thought came to mind on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, it dissipated quickly. Although fighter jets flew defensive patterns for several days, it was clear that the attack, while bloody, was symbolic. No army was going to invade to take over the capital.

Historians now say it was Osama bin Laden’s intent all along to compel us to fight him on his own turf, which he believed would cause millions to rally in support of his demented ideology.

On the day of the attack, we all remember Air Force One made a quick stop at Barksdale Air Force Base near Shreveport, La. Speaking there briefly, President Bush said, “Freedom itself is under attack.”

Much has been made of those five words, but they were accurate. The power of self-determination that individual Americans value so highly is anathema to radical clerics. In bin Laden’s view, rejected by his own family and his fellow Saudi Arabians, to be friendly toward Americans was an affront to God.

To respond, we sent our best and brightest to war over there. They have done us proud and are still doing so. But we did nothing to strengthen our society over here.

There could have been an awakening that we need to do more for ourselves — as individuals and as a nation — but there wasn’t.

During the last five years of the term of President Bush — mean old rich-loving President Bush — annual distributions in what used to be called the food stamp program more than doubled from $28.5 billion to $64.7 billion. And more of the routine, everyday products that once were made in the USA are now made everywhere but the USA.

Government policies make absolutely no sense. Some are criminal. Presidential candidate Rick Perry is mocked for calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme, but any financial program that depends on today’s investors to fulfill yesterday’s promises is, by definition, a Ponzi scheme. Try it in the private sector and you go to prison.

A second term for President Obama is jeopardized by trash-talk by the likes of U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., because he declines to take the lead on adding even more trillions to the national debt.

Freedom is never absolute. Again, by definition, people in a society are dependent on each other for goods and services ranging from health care to garbage pickup.

Likewise, people who are totally enslaved still have freedom of conscience. The most heroic stories in human history tell of people emerging from bondage in one form or another.

We need government. We need to help people who can’t help themselves.

But more than anything we need balance.

We need lawmakers who realize the actions they take last far longer than the next election. Freedom isn’t only under attack when a dozen or so maniacs suddenly fly airliners into buildings. It can be frittered away slowly — so slowly that few will even notice — by edging toward dependence.

There’s a lot to think about on the 10th anniversary of the only large-scale enemy assault on the American mainland. We remember those whose lives were lost in an instant. We honor those who rallied immediately and effectively. We hurt for those who mourn that day’s dead and the thousands who were assigned to avenge them in Afghanistan, Iraq and places we may not know about.

We might also think about what freedom means. The iconic images are fireworks, picnics, the Fourth of July and beating back invaders.

Freedom’s other enemy is dependence. In the early years, government empowered people. Now, too often, it empowers itself.

Charlie Mitchell is a Mississippi journalist. Write to him at Box 1, University, MS 38677, or e-mail him at cmitchell43@yahoo.com.