Sunday, 22 January 2017

Compromise Erodes Principles

Beyond question, certain fundamental principles can’t be compromised. But too often we hear the pluralistic view that nothing can be accomplished without compromise and that key principles are amenable to revision for the greater goal of social harmony.

We see Congress allowing Bush policies to chisel away the fundamental principles of the Constitution as a compromise to pass bills between two political parties, we see scientists fidgeting facts and medical experts reneging their Hippocratic oath to protect society by keeping silent on potential social and environmental ills as a way to appease their company sponsors or succumb to the demands of the Bush administration, and we see mainstream journalists not doing their job in reporting hard news but engaged in a compromise to deliver fictitious ‘balanced’ viewpoints as news.

We know the values and visions of equality, justice, and freedom are fundamentally unequivocal and irreconcilable – they are grand precisely because they are not subject to compromise.

Pivotal times in the U. S. history highlight this inflexibility of great principles. Abraham Lincoln was willing to spill blood of a nation at the hands of its own citizens just to preserve an essential Declaration of Independence principle: to secure liberty for all – not just white males. What made Lincoln a superior president was the fact that he adhered to that principle so that slavery no longer exists in the United States. In the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr., the charismatic leader of the civil rights movement, put his vision of justice and freedom to combat racial segregation through nonviolent resistance. What made King’s dream so powerful was that his magnanimous influence had forced blatant discrimination into the shadows. Clearly, noble men were empowered by uncompromising principles that speak for humanity and their unwavering ability to move a nation to live by its ideals.

Unfortunately, too many people seem to be more concerned about what their neighbors think than what is in their own hearts. They compromise their principles just for the sake of getting along – and it appears to be, little by little, eroding those very principles. Unlike other nations’ Constitutions in which their citizens’ rights are granted by government, the U.S. Constitution specifically states that our rights are not granted by government and can't be taken away by government. Our natural rights are ‘inalienable’ – individual freedom is innate, that is, we are born free. It’s a fundamentally unique concept that sovereignty is inherent in the individual, not the state.

Nevertheless, Congress has passed major legislature that lodged direct attacks on the long established Bill of Rights engraved in our Constitution:

USA Patriot Act - granted vast unwarranted power to the executive branch to violate the civil liberties of ordinary citizens whose activities are suspected as threats to national security.

- Section 216 – monitoring computer use, including web surfing. More recently, to silence bloggers and critics of the Bush administration, John McCain introduced a legislature that would fine blogs up to $300,000 for posting ‘offensive materials’ (First Amendment under assault) 
- Section 206 – warrantless “roving” wiretapping of individuals (First and Fourth Amendments under assault) 
- Section 203 – gathering ‘foreign intelligence information’ targeting immigrants (Fifth Amendment under assault) 
- Section 208 – American citizens, not terrorist suspects, at any time could have their homes searched and communications monitored without probable cause. (Fourth Amendment under assault)

Consequently, the warrantless National Security Agency (NSA) program has been eavesdropping on telephone calls and e-mails of private citizens. The CIA has been conducting “data mining” through the private financial records of thousands of Americans, not to mention tracking millions of air travelers. Thousands of immigrants have been arrested, detained, deported and incarcerated without charge of any crime.

In addition, Congress rejected a bill to report on the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. (Attack on detainee’s Fifth Amendment right of due process within American chartered territory) As a result, reports of continuous abuse and torture at the U.S. detention facility have ensued, drawing unanimous condemnation around the world. In fact, the U.S. is forced to deal with an increasing number of lawsuits by former detainees as well as the current detainees who are challenging the legitimacy of the U. S. policy in its military tribunals.  

Undoubtedly, the mainstream media has played a major role as the mouthpiece for the Bush administration. Careerist journalists have shamelessly neglected their commitment to journalistic principles and public service in exchange for financial gains and they have been willing partners in mass deception. Naturally, the credibility of mainstream media has rapidly deteriorated as the audience turns away and looks for accurate reporting from alternative news and blogs. Evidently, many news networks had aired fabricated news and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld deliberately planted fake news in Iraq. Mainstream media has become so untrustworthy that one news director of the public radio station asked other news outlets to join him to "ignore national stories quoting unnamed sources." 

Even worse, the scientists and medical experts have been bought or gagged as report after report revealed the corporate influence or political interference of the government in downplaying global warming, dangers of some prescription drugs, food safety measures, including the infiltration of the controversial GM crops in the food chain. Sadly, these so-called ‘trusted authorities’ in society, mainly responsible for the welfare of the American people, have compromised the safety of the public either for their own personal gains or for fear of retaliation.

In conclusion, the erosion of fundamental principles on which a nation is built prompts the spread of corruption at every level of the government. This in turn weakens the fortitude and the cohesion of the very fabric of society. Without a solid foundation of principles, a nation is doomed to collapse. 

Isn’t that what we’re seeing in the United States now?

(First published on, March 21, 2007)