Eric Metaxas is an author who has recently captured my attention. I’ve met him on several occasions through his “Socrates in the City” speaker events in downtown Manhattan, and recently attended an event with Eric at West Point which included dinner and a talk Eric gave on his book Bonheoffer. This was a very enjoyable event where I met and mingled with young West Point cadets and faculty members as well as Eric.
Last fall my wife and I , along with friends flew to Berlin to begin a Viking River Cruise through much of what used to be Communist Eastern Europe. It was during this time I read Metaxas’ book Bonheoffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, an excellent book about an extraordinary man, as well as providing much insight into German life during the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.
So when Eric’s new book 7 Men was published recently, containing a chapter on Bonheoffer, I bought it.
As I was reading Eric’s introduction to Bonheoffer, I was struck by a personal note about his grandparents who lived during the Nazi era. Here’s the passage that caught my attention:
“How had a great nation of people – of my own people – been drawn down this dark and evil path? My grandmother told me that my grandfather would listen to the BBC with his ear literally pressed against the radio speaker because anyone caught listening to the BBC could be sent to a concentration camp. So I knew that he did not approve of what the Nazis were doing. But he was forced to go to war … and he was killed.“
When we hear that our own government, the National Security Agency (NSA), is collecting “meta-data” on virtually every telephone call made between American citizens it is truly alarming, or should be.
We have been assured that NSA is not listening to the actual conversations, but merely collecting data on the end points (the phone numbers) and the call durations, and thus is not really an intrusion.
However, look back at the Metaxas quote above. The German government wasn’t interested in the content of what Eric’s grandfather was listening to, only the fact that he was listening!
The prospects of a national database on gun ownership is on the horizon.
Couple all this with the revelation that the government now has direct and immediate access to virtually all of the major web servers; Google, Microsoft, Skype, the very blog you are reading right now … and you see a government that is dangerously close to a very tyrannical next step.
We also have the IRS targeting conservative groups seeking 501-c tax exempt status, thus reducing the effect of these groups in the 2012 election and very likely diminishing conservative votes.
And lately I have been troubled by two Senators; Lindsey Graham and Dick Durbin musing about “Are bloggers protected by the first amendment?” Why should they even be wondering about the obvious First Amendment protection for bloggers of which I am one?
Can’t and won’t happen here you say. Well, same as you … I certainly hope not.
But then why did our founders, those men who wrote the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, write what they did, the way the did? I wrote about this recently here.
And what about those tens of thousands of American citizens who were sent off to prison camps and had their property seized. Their crime? They were of Japanese heritage; remember them back in the 1940s? We used to live an hours drive from Manzanar, one of those camps just outside Lone Pine California in the high desert.
When a government, any government, gathers this much information about it’s citizens, in time it will be massively abused … maybe not this administration or the next, but it will come to pass. History bears witness to this prospect.
Be aware … and be concerned.
Don Johnson – June 2013