Monday, October 08, 2007

Brian Schweitzer at the Oregon Summit

Montana governor, Democrat and avid gun owner Brian Schweitzer was the keynote speaker at this weekend's Oregon Summit in Bend. Before he spoke on Saturday night, the governor took some time out to meet with members of the Gun Owners Caucus, shown in the photo here.

For those of you who made it this weekend, it was a hell of time. For those who didn't, you were sorely missed.

Blogging Diva and Gun Owners Caucus member Jenni Simonis has highlights of Scheweitzer's speech posted on her Blog for Oregon site. I recommend reading her version, but there's a portion of her post important to quote on this 2nd Amendment site:

"Schweitzer and the state legislature also passed an item calling for the federal government to get rid of the Patriot Act. Needless to say, they never received a response.

Neighbors spying on neighbors just isn't right, he explained.

Montana had something similar in the early 1900s, called the Sedition Act. This was copied by many states, including Oregon, as well as the federal government.

The Act allowed them to arrest and jail people for things such as calling the president a stupid son-of-a-bith. Schweitzer said it's a good thing we're not doing that now, else we'd have to put up a fence around Alaska to hold everyone.

Schweitzer had research done into the cases of those people tried and convicted under this Act (something like 79 cases). Come to find out, not a single one was found guilty for a crime that would be punishable today.

One such case was a German man who had been ordered to come into town, kiss the American flag, sing the anthem, and buy war bonds. He stated "I will not," and that he loved this country.

He was brought before a judge who eventually sentenced him to 36 months in jail.

The Montana government tracked down the families of those convicted under the Act and had them come to the capitol building, where the "crimes" were pardoned. The grandson of the man who wouldn't kiss the flag read some of the letters his wife had sent him during his time in jail, as well as one he'd written back. The first told him their two year-old son died. The next was saying they didn't know if they would make the crop that year. In the next, there was a foreclosure sale. The next she'd moved to another state to live with a relative and their remaining four children had been sent around the country to live with other relatives.

There weren't many dry eyes left in the room once he was done with the story.

But he brought it back to Oregon, pointing out that we too had a Sedition Act and that we may need to make some pardons as well."

We all know the quote about how "...when they came for the Jews, I said nothing because I wasn't a Jew; when they came for etc. etc." Well, America locked up a lot of German-Americans and anyone who happened to think Wilson was a bastard in WWI; a war quite possibly as stupid for us to have fought in as any you can name. A generation later it was done to the Japanese, even while their sons were dying fighting under the American flag. Sure, we said we were sorry later, but it doesn't change anything.

Unfortunately, I fear we are about one more terrorist attack away from doing it again, this time to Muslims or Arabs in general. There are a lot of comments these days in the media, from the right, from far too many people in military uniform who ought to know better, and frankly even from some who claim to be progressives, about how western culture is locked in a clash to the death with Islam or Muslims or anyone--Sunni, Shiite, Assyrian Christian, Yazidi, or others--who comes from any of the deep-rooted cultures of the Middle East. Well, that's just ignorance. The Middle East, particularly but not exclusively the Arab regions, is locked in a civil struggle between competing forces of religious extremism and modernity. For all our navel gazing, 9/11 was collateral damage in their internal fight. The vast majority of Muslims who came to this country did it in order to join up on our side of the fight. (Remember the Arabs in Detroit who actually attacked the Aljazera reporters for being anti-American?)

Religious or secular, 99% of the people who immigrate here from the Middle East do it for the same reason Germans and Japanese came--because they admire American society and values and want to contribute to both. Remember that, and the Japanese, and the Germans that Brian Schweitzer pulled off the dusty shelf of the past next time you hear vicious talk about "those people" who just can't fit in to our society, whomever they may be. If you haven't got the guts to stand up for the rest of the Constitution, the 2nd Amendment alone won't matter a damn.

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