Presidential Ungratefulness

While America honors the legacy of civil rights color-bearer Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., it is ironic that President Obama betrays his memory. In the midst of the 2011 New Year's Eve celebration, President Obama endorsed the ominous National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) belying epic national fights, struggles and discourses for equality, civil rights and liberties carried out by patriots including King and Malcom X, and centuries of untold heroes who made the ultimate sacrifice to pave the way for the nation to execute the historic event of electing the first black president: Barack Obama. These circumstances render it absurd that this same President has signed a contradictory and tyrannical law endorsing a worldwide indefinite detention provision. Such a provision does not exempt American citizens from indefinite military detention people without charge or trial. In other words, under this law, not only can any citizen deemed a threat to national security interests be held forever without trial, but the military, not civilian law enforcement, will be arresting those citizens.

Undoubtedly, the NDAA flouts established civil rights doctrines, which are now betrayed by Barack Obama the lawyer, the leader of the African-American community and, moreover, the President of the United States. This is the same Mr. Obama who swore to defend the Constitution, the Fifth Amendment of which clearly reads that no person "shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law."

It is incomprehensible that the same nation that criticized indefinite detention without trial in the former Soviet Union, Communist Block, and other countries ruled under tyrannical dictatorships now adopts legislation enabling the same aberrant practice.

Our generation is witness to the Arab Spring political phenomena. We see how more and more nations in the Middle East and Northern Africa have managed to revolutionize archaic tyrannical political systems and decisively move to expand civil rights and liberties. On the other hand, here in the United States, especially since the terrorist attacks of September 11, we are experiencing a constant constriction of civil liberties under the pretext of ensuring national security, as was the case with the enactment of the NDAA. Social movements of popular masses have emerged as the modern answer to the progressive national decay; and with them many civil and legal organizations have resurged and fortified their dedication to guarding civil rights and liberties. The list of organized advocacy groups and organizations championing this cause includes American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Muslim Advocates (Organization of Muslim Lawyers), Legal Muslim Fund (to finance the legal representation in civil or criminal cases) and CAIR (Council on American Islamic Relations).

Today, the sad reality is that our liberties and rights are at risk with no sign of salvation or recovery. All responsible citizens must take proactive measures to safeguard the ground gained in human rights for which Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X offered their lives. These are the same civil liberties that have been betrayed under a false pretext of greater security. Today, we echo what our founding father Benjamin Franklin expressed 200 years ago when he said, "Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." To fall short of this ideal is to lose hold of our national identity.