Al Campbell, Field Editor

September 17th, 2001

An Attack on Freedom
By Al Campbell

For several centuries the United States of America has been regarded as a free country. Those freedoms extend beyond the right to vote into the realms of free speech and even the public property we are allowed to fish and hunt on. We have the liberty to worship and pray in ways we see fit. We have the right to voice our concerns about our government and express those concerns with our votes.

We have long enjoyed the freedom to travel within our borders anywhere and any time we desire. We have been guaranteed a type of freedom that has long been considered a symbol of a truly free people; the right to own and possess private firearms for both self-defense and recreation. We have secured the right to protest both verbally and with our votes. In virtually all ways, we have been and currently are free.

The tyrants of this world resent freedom in any fashion, and they target strongholds of freedom in the names of religion, sovereignty or any other cause that will generate support for their slanted views. This isn't a new idea, but rather a continuation of ideas that have put the tyrants and dictators of this world into positions of power from the beginning of time. The horrible truth is that free people have always been the targets of those individuals or groups who wish to force their views and values on others.

The cowardly tyrants of this world will always look for any publicity they can get in their efforts to end freedom. Whether it's a person sabotaging a boat in an effort to end our freedoms that involve recreation, or a person driving spikes in a tree to hurt or kill loggers in an attempt to stop the harvest of a renewable resource; it is tyranny. In terms of human impact, those acts differ from a terrorist flying a commercial airliner into a filled building; but in reality, all of these groups are working to limit freedom in some way. They try to justify their acts with claims of moral, religious and/or intellectual superiority.

One sad and terrifying thing about all of this is that these people actually believe they are right! They believe their acts are justified by their superiority over those people they condemn and attack. They believe they hold the higher ground in terms of moral, racial, political, intellectual or religious superiority. They actually feel they are right and justified in their views and actions.

As the country I live in recoils and mourns the greatest attack it has ever suffered at the hands of terrorists, I have to ask myself where we go from here. Will the terrorists ultimately win in their efforts to deprive us of some or all of our freedoms? I pray they don't achieve anything more than a stronger resolve of our people to protect our freedoms even more than we have in the past. Any move toward a police society on our part will be a victory on the part of those who have attacked us. Any act that somehow strengthens the positions of any of these groups; whether they are domestic terrorists working to end logging or hunting and fishing; or any group bent on forcing their religious or political views on this country, will be a loss to our citizens.

I'm not trying to say that PETA or the Sierra Club are the same as those people responsible for the recent terrorist attacks on my country. I'm merely pointing out that they share some very similar views. They all believe they are superior to the rest of us in some way. Does it really matter if their feelings of superiority are based on moral, intellectual, racial, political or religious beliefs? For that matter, do those who feel fly-fishing is somehow morally superior to other forms of fishing fall in this category? If anyone works to force their views on others, they are guilty of fighting freedom.

Today I live in a free society. I'm free to travel within the borders of this country without restriction. I'm free to enjoy many forms of recreation as long as I enjoy them within the boundaries of the law. I'm free to protect myself and speak my mind on a variety of issues. I'm free to voice my opinions with my votes and with my pen. Right now, at this moment, I'm free.

The big question is; how long will I remain free? When the majority of our citizens don't feel the need to vote, I wonder about our resolve. When a small group of individuals can hold our nation's resources hostage in the name of ecology or conservation or animal rights, I question our direction. When any of our freedoms are threatened and that threat doesn't result in loud protest from the people of this country, I worry that our people don't value their freedoms and liberties the way our founding fathers valued theirs. I'm concerned that the outcry for protection against other acts of the sort recently leveled against the USA will result in a loss of freedom in the name of security.

Television has been showing polls that indicate more than half of the Americans polled are willing to sacrifice some of their liberties for greater security. I don't believe we need to sacrifice any liberties to be secure! However, we do need to put an end to terrorism in all of its forms, be it domestic and directed towards sportsmen, or international and directed toward a country, race or religion. The rights of groups working in the name of ecology or animal rights end the second they infringe on the rights, freedoms or liberties of others. The rights of groups who would hurt or kill in the name of religion or anything else they want to impose on others, end the second they start planning their actions.

It's simple; give them no ground to exist on. Deprive them of their voice if they want to use that voice to step on the liberties of others. Deprive them of their life if their actions are designed to deprive us of the right to live in a free society. However, don't deprive honest, free citizens the right to live free. Don't deprive us of our liberties in the name of security. We are who we are because we are free. Our generosity to the world comes from a free heart. Our strength is founded on the bedrock of liberty. We will be far less a free country if we sacrifice any of the freedoms our forefathers fought and died to protect.

If we decide to give up some of our freedoms for security, which rights will you give up willingly? Will you insist on your right to live equally with others of a different race, or are you willing to live as a lesser citizen because you aren't the "right" race? How about religion; are you willing to disavow your God to follow another, say Allah or Buddha, in the name of security? Are you willing to give up your right to protect yourself and your family from intruders in your home? Since the majority of the people in this country don't bother to vote, maybe that's a right we should give up? How about your freedom to speak your mind or disagree with others? Are you willing to give up any of these? I'm not willing to give up any rights, freedoms or liberties this country was founded on. To me, those rights, freedoms and liberties are the foundation this country was built on.

Like I said before; today I'm free. If the people of this country resolve to protect our freedoms against all threats, whether they be from small groups like PETA or organized terrorists like the ones who attacked New York and Washington, I'll be free tomorrow too. ~ AC

Previous Al Campell Columns
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