State, national columnists

Can American get back its rightful spirit?

By From page A11 | July 04, 2014

Birthdays are supposed to be times for celebration and gift-giving. But America’s birthday on the Fourth of July is a time when the gift most needed is an urgent warning about the dangers of losing the things that have made this country America – and have long made “America” a ringing word of freedom, not only in this country but to people around the world.

All is not lost. But all could be lost – especially if too many of us take freedom for granted and focus our attention on other things, like electronic gadgets and the antics of celebrities, while ignoring such dangers as nuclear weapons in the hands of suicidal fanatics, with a track record of savagery, whom we are too squeamish to call anything stronger than “militants.”

Nor are all the dangers abroad. Within our own country there are all too many signs of people blithely ready to sacrifice the interests or freedom of Americans for the sake of symbolism or passing fashions.

When a former Speaker of the House of Representatives announces that she is going down to our border to greet and welcome masses of people crossing that border illegally, you know that something is fundamentally wrong.

No one knows, or apparently cares, what diseases these floods of illegals are bringing into the country, including diseases that have been largely stamped out in the United States, and which American doctors have seldom seen enough to know how to spot them or treat them.

No one knows, or apparently cares, how many of these “children” include teenage criminal gangs to whom murder is no big deal. Worst of all, no one knows, or apparently cares, that the elected representatives of the American people were cut out of the loop when it came to making these decisions.

All that matters to people like Nancy Pelosi is the symbolism of welcoming the oppressed, especially if they represent more votes for Democrats, who will shower the taxpayers’ money on them.

As if to make clear the elite’s contempt for ordinary Americans’ intelligence, President Obama tells us that the people crossing the border “love” America. How could he possibly know that, any more than he could know how to “invest” the taxpayers’ money in “the industries of the future,” which have in fact gone bankrupt?

What is involved are not just bad policy choices. What is involved are policies imposed unilaterally by the president, in defiance of Congress’ authority to legislate and in contempt of the Constitution’s separation of powers – on which all our freedoms ultimately depend.

The people who wrote the Constitution of the United States understood what dangers there are to the freedom of the people – and that freedom can be quietly eroded by degrees, rather than taken all at once.

Too many people today seem oblivious to such dangers. So what if the government used the muscle of the Internal Revenue Service to keep groups opposed to the Obama administration tied up in red tape or litigation in an election year? Enough games like that can make our elections meaningless.

This arrogant abuse of power does not end with the federal government. In Massachusetts, teenager Justina Pelletier was taken from her parents’ custody and held virtually incommunicado for over a year, because her parents preferred to continue to have her treated as the physicians at a medical facility associated with Tufts University had treated her, even though shrinks at Children’s Hospital in Boston said her problems were in her head, and took her off some of her medications.

This difference of opinion as to the best medical treatment for Justina Pelletier was enough to get a judge to side with headstrong bureaucrats and override her parents’ rights. So a girl who was ice skating before ended up in a wheelchair under the “care” of shrinks.

Fortunately, enough media attention, especially by former Gov. Mike Huckabee on Fox News Channel, finally got this child freed. Perhaps we can hope that all is not lost – yet. But if this case is a symbol of Americans fighting back, it is also a symbol of why it is desperately important to fight back.

That spirit is the best birthday present for America.

Thomas Sowell is an author, economist and senior fellow at the Hoover Institute, Stanford University.

Thomas Sowell


Discussion | 14 comments

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 04, 2014 - 10:15 am

    Let the weekly inane commentary and "irrational" criticisms of Dr. Sowell from the left begin! Mike? Rlw895?

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  • CD BrooksJuly 04, 2014 - 10:24 am

    Mr. Smith, have a really nice 4th! :)

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 04, 2014 - 10:32 am

    You too, CD.

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  • rlw895July 04, 2014 - 3:57 pm

    Mr.S: Sure. I like the general theme that a president needs restraint. That's why we need a congress that takes action instead of doing nothing when problems arise. They usually come up with a better solution after hearings, etc. It's a good process, but it takes time and cooperation between factions. But other than that, let's start by looking up this Pelosi thing, and I don't know anything about this Christina Pelletier case either.

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  • rlw895July 04, 2014 - 4:10 pm

    Mr.S: Can you find a quote from Pelosi that supports Sowell's claim that she made an announcement "that she is going down to our border to greet and welcome masses of people crossing that border illegally?" Or that she doesn't appreciate the complexity of the problem (as in "nobody cares")? I can't, yet. She did go to the border with other members of congress to visit with staff at a detention center, but it doesn't appear she met with any of the minors held there.

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 04, 2014 - 7:53 pm

    Rlw: Politico reported about a week ago or so that Pelosi had announced that she was going down to the border. As far as I could find out she did not issue the quote attributed to her by Sowell. But what she did after she got there was exactly what Sowell accused her of setting out to do. And it was not the first time for her. She pulled this same outlandish and irresponsible stunt a while back in San Francisco. Pathetic. Grotesque and pathetic. Democrat!

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  • rlw895July 04, 2014 - 9:42 pm

    Mr.S: Well, maybe Sowell confused past and present. Let's move on to what Pelosi actually said while she was down there. What do you have?

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  • rlw895July 05, 2014 - 8:39 am

    I watched the whole press conference in Brownsville to get the full context. If that's what Sowell is referring to, he's full of beans.

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  • rlw895July 04, 2014 - 4:29 pm

    Mr.S: As for the Justina Pelletier case, my first impression was it was an odd addition, shifting from Obama and Pelosi, to a hospital in Massachusetts. It seemed like "cherry picking" an exception to the rule to prove the rule is wrong, when it really proves the rule is right. From what I read, there are two sides to that story, and one side can't reveal all it knows due to patient confidentiality. I side with the parents, but it's not a very good example of the government being wrong. Now the Iraq war, that's a much better example.

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 04, 2014 - 7:27 pm

    Rlw: We have all read the heart-breaking stories of parents who refuse to allow medical intervention for their children, a situation that all too often has led to a horrible death for the child. But in this case, what earthly reason could cause a judge to rule against parents who were choosing what they considered to be the best professional medical treatment for their child--and remove the child from parental custody? Insanity.

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  • rlw895July 04, 2014 - 9:38 pm

    Mr.S: I have no idea, but the point is even is this was an example of government overreach, it didn't serve to make Sowell's point, that it was common. It's exactly because such stories are uncommon that this one was noteworthy.

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  • Mr. SmithJuly 04, 2014 - 9:50 pm

    Rlw: Perhaps the Pelletier story was "filler" on Sowell's part, but he did introduce it by pointing out it was not a federal government issue. More of a general problem with the power structure in America.

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  • rlw895July 04, 2014 - 10:59 pm

    Mr.S: Right. I'm not saying anything Sowell wrote about it is untrue, just that it was misleading. It is NOT proof of a "general problem" of any kind. If anything, child protective services in American underreach. That's the general rule. Sowell just picked on it because it has been played up to his audience already. It's a bad example of government overreach, as I said.

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  • rlw895July 04, 2014 - 4:35 pm

    Mr.S: So, I conclude that Sowell is not an honest broker of information. You just can't trust what he says at face value. That's not news to me, but it apparently is to you. See how it's done? I'm just being rational; those who believe Sowell are the irrational ones.

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