Not a hate sign

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2007-11-10

Chuck Wenk's column [2007 Nov 1, Highland Park [Illinois] News] quoted from Township Assessor Pete Koukos' newsletter that commented on the IMPEACH sign that had recently been at the Public Forum park in downtown Highland Park, Mr. Koukos declaring: "Hate signs! I willingly served in the armed services to preserve the right of Americans to freely express their opinions. However, this freedom has allowed some to post what I consider to be hate signs in the public way..."

One wonders how that carefully juried, legally objective political sign which had to first be vetted by the City to assure no rude, discriminatory, immoral or uncivil language was in its message (but with no prior restraint as to content) could be construed as a "hate sign."

Objectively the sign is a careful, concrete statement of recognized facts, undisputed by bi-partisan national and international scholars and legal bodies, setting out a short list of charges against the present administration, charges which have grave import for the present and future existence of our democracy, and we would overlook them to our folly.

For there are many far-reaching unconstitutional changes that have been brought about by this administration, not the least of which, starting before [the attack on 2001/]9/11, the secret widespread illegal eavesdropping on Americans without a court order; the flouting of international agreements which the U.S. is signatory to including the Geneva Conventions against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and the U.S. Convention Against Torture; the attack on our unique system of checks and balances -- under the Constitution the three branches, as we know, are referred to as separate and co-equal.

This separation of powers places limits on presidential power and is basic to our constitutional system. And the Bill of Rights also limits governmental power and protects persons of all persuasions and beliefs and is the very emblem of our system. Without those two limits our country would be unrecognizable.

But we have an administration committed to acquiring (has already acquired) unprecedented and royal power and is using it to dismantle the Constitution, U.S. laws, and also the common perceptions of morality.

And the selling of the illegal and outrageous invasion of Iraq was manipulated through fraud and open deceit upon the public and the media. The administration is unapologetic and continues, like an arrogant scoff-law, to expand on the same abuses and policies. Now the open threats and real possibility of an air attack on nuclear research labs in Iran perpetuates the systematic violation of fundamental American values. The release of radiation, as one courageous member of Congress said, "would create a humanitarian and ecological disaster. This is a war crime in motion."

The sign's call for impeachment constitutes a short warning to the larger community to stop and consider what they had always taken for granted -- and was now quietly changed -- about our democracy:

That America never would torture; that we never would summarily imprison anyone without charge, without limit or access to lawyers; that we did not allow the government to listen to our phone calls or view our emails or rummage into our private papers without legal court order; that we never would conceive of rendition; i.e., secret abductions of persons to prisons in 3rd world countries to be interrogated through torture in violation of international law; that we never would have huge private mercenary military forces employed in multi-million dollar contracts to the State Department and answerable in their actions to no laws; that our Constitution never gave any president or vice president unchecked power; and that we never faced generational unending war as government policy.

So was it a hate sign? I think not. Rather it is an adherence to real patriotism and a small wake-up message for the restoration of our Constitution, for which the Framers provided -- six times within the body of the Constitution -- the remedy: the power to impeach to prevent executive undermining or subverting of the presidential oath to "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."

It has become increasingly clear that the very foundations of this nation have been subverted as at no time before in our history. Our populist democratic traditions are at stake. To let the subversion stand and allow it to continue to grow would be a dangerous precedent for any future president, no matter which party.