Saturday, September 30, 2006

The US adopts the Lex Gabinia

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
-- George Santayana

British writer Robert Harris wrote a fascinating op-ed piece that appears in today's New York Times.

It seems that in 68 BC a terrorist group -- they called them pirates back then -- attacked the Roman port of Ostia. (Remember that Rome was the superpower in those days.) They set it on fire, destroyed the fleet, and kidnapped two Roman senators.

Panic ensued, not unlike on September 11, except that the Romans didn't get to watch it on television. And in that panic, Harris writes:
[T]he Roman people made decisions that set them on the path to the destruction of their Constitution, their democracy and their liberty.
They adopted what came to be known as the Lex Gabinia, under which, according to Plutarch, "Pompey was to be given not only the supreme naval command but what amounted in fact to an absolute authority and uncontrolled power over everyone."

Harris goes on to observe:
Those of us who are not Americans can only look on in wonder at the similar ease with which the ancient rights and liberties of the individual are being surrendered in the United States in the wake of 9/11.
I've just hit the high points here. Go read the article. It's worth the hassle of free registration on The Times site.

1 comment:

Jamie Lynk, Sarasota FL said...

More and more people are noticing and publicly commenting on the similarities between the rise of Nazism (and other forms of Fascism) and recent legislative/ political activity in the USA.

It is disgraceful. Along with shame for my government; I am also angry; but what is worse I am frightened -- Voltaire said, “ It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.“ I never thought I would be afraid of my own country.

Some other appropriate quotes from Voltaire (1694-1778) and one from Edmund Burke (1729-1797). Voltaire saw the beginnings of the struggle for American Independence and Burke as a member of the British Parliament was there for the “whole enchilada”.

VOLTAIRE - French author, humanist, rationalist and satirist.

“Those who make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

“It is forbidden to kill; therefore, all murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.” (If you substitute the word “torture” for “kill”; see how that fits with what I call the: IT’S O.K. to TORTURE Bill)

And, one of Voltaire’s most famous quotes: “I disapprove of what you say; but, I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
[Compare this to the Bush-Machine; to the neo-cons; to the “Radical Religious Right” (As the bumper sticker says “Neither religious nor right.”) who all believe we should all be in lock-step with them -- haul out the jack boots and let’s all goose step our way into infamy.]

However, the following quote by EDMUND BURKE (Irish orator, philosopher and politician) says it all:

“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”