Friday, December 16, 2005

Bill of Rights Day

On December 15, 1941, eight days after the attacks on Pearl Harbor, FDR signed a bill declaring December 15 Bill of Rights Day: It was on December 15, 1791, that Virginia ratified the first ten amendments to the Constitution that became our Bill of Rights. FDR wanted the day to celebrate America's freedoms no matter who was attacking, no matter how threateningly or, at the time, successfully. No need to aid the enemy by constricting freedoms at the very time when freedoms should be celebrated and strengthened most: in times of trials. How do we celebrate freedom four years after the 9/11 attacks? This week the House got us half-way into indefinitely renewing and soldering the USA Patriot Act into the nation's increasingly Prussian-sounding code books. The difference cringes with irony. So does this: for the last few years President Bush has been declaring this week Human Rights Week. As the rest of the world would say, with justified glumness: No comment.