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The Myth of Civil Rights

by Michael Z. Williamson


There’s a new folklore in the world today. The myth of freedom.

Across the world, there’s a move to ignore firearm owners' rights as “outdated” or “unreasonable.” Instead, it is argued, we should address the more important rights of speech, religious freedom, and a woman’s right to choose an abortion. There’s a push to increase government services, and raise taxes to support them. Most people either embrace this, or are willing to tolerate it, as long as they have their “rights.”

Let’s look back 2000 years. At it’s height, the Roman Empire controlled the entire Mediterranean region, most of Asia Minor, most of Europe, and scattered holdings elsewhere. Toward the end, inflation was rampant, military morale poor, and the sexual practices of several of the Caesars and many of the Senate were outrageous news. Some things never change. Nevertheless, Rome held together literally until barbarians knocked down the gates, and administration continued for more than a hundred years longer in Britain.

Fundamental to Roman success was their key rule of NEVER interfering with local religion. Any and all gods were allowed and encouraged in the colonies, and Rome would even build temples for them. Many local groups made near-treasonous speeches under the guise of worship, and were ignored by Rome. The only thing outlawed was public degradation of Caesar. With free speech and religion, the barbarian states could be controlled. They paid taxes, were often kept as near slaves, had property confiscated, were abused by the Legions and administrators, and were denied citizenship in most cases. They served as military auxiliaries, staff members, and generally had all the responsibilities of their rulers, but none of the privileges.

Despite all this, there was little rebellion. The barbarians could content themselves with the thought that they still had their religion and the right to speak, therefore they were free. “Free” of course was a slippery term at the time, but few felt compelled to cause trouble. Trouble would result in the government sending troops to exterminate the leaders and their families, seize property, and burn the local area to the ground. This too may sound familiar.

The future of the world is that of oppression. Harken back to the medieval serf, who was worked dawn to dusk to grow food for a master who provided safety--sometimes, justice--when it was convenient, and leadership--to fight the master’s enemies and use his own resources to keep him chained to the fields. In exchange, he could go to church on Sundays and ask the priests to save his soul. As long as people have religion and can complain, they imagine they are free.

It has happened elsewhere; it will happen here. Bit by bit, inch by inch, our rights will disappear. First our guns. Then our elections. Next our right to travel freely. After that, licenses to conduct business will get hard to come by. The revenuers will seize property and violate rights. Cops will kick in doors and shoot people. Taxes will rise above 50%. But we’ll know people are still free, because they’ll be able to complain, write letters, and go to church--the important rights will remain.

The “important” rights of speech and religion are barely relevant. They are superficial layers of the REAL rights a free society has: The right to dissent. The right to replace government officials that act beyond their charters. The right to the means to overthrow a government that won’t abide by its own rules. The right to be trusted. 

The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, as our Constitutional framers stated it briefly and eloquently.

Copyright 2000 by Michael Z. Williamson. Permission granted to copy in toto for non-profit purposes, provided due credit is given. Mr. Williamson's archive is found here:

KABA NOTE:  In the interest of keeping projections of doom to a minimum, regarding: "The future of the world is that of oppression."  --  That could be so and may be for much of the world already disarmed, but it needn't be so in America. We still have our teeth. That statement will only be true in America if we never bear them, never use them and if we allow ourselves to be defanged. We won't, right?


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You must understand, therefore, that there are two ways of fighting: by law or by force. The first way is natural to men, and the second to beasts. But as the first way often proves inadequate one must have recourse to the second. — Niccolo Machiavelli in "The Prince."

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