The Climate of Fear and the Illusion of Freedom

Rev. David L. Ostendorf • Jun 03, 2009

Red lights flashing, the State Trooper pulls up behind the car with no front plate. License please. No license, just a passport. Let’s see it. It’s at home. Let’s go get it; I’ll follow you.

They drive to the trailer. The Trooper follows the driver inside. Others are there. The passport is found and handed over. The Trooper asks the others for their papers. Tells them he has to take the documents in and check them with Immigration. He leaves. The people flee. Call the church for help. Call others for help. They don’t return to the trailer. They flee. They leave everything behind. They flee.

Blue lights flashing, the Officers pull up beside the teenager walking home with his friends. Identification. Let’s see it. It’s at home. Pats him down. Get in the car. Let’s go see.

They drive to the house. The Officers follow to the porch. Others are there, wary and weary of the familiar scene. Heated words are exchanged. Identification is shown. The Officers ask others for identification and leave. The people are angry, livid. Again. Once again.

It happens every day. Every day. In rural America. In urban America.

What is it that compels this nation to treat immigrants and African Americans as enemy, as suspect, as people to be “pulled over,” questioned, intruded upon, identified, and challenged?

What is it that makes a nation that claims to be a “beacon of freedom” instill pervasive fear in communities where hard-working people struggle every day to survive, to feed their families?

What is it that keeps the Orwellian Department of Homeland Security, state, and local law enforcement so intent on enforcement of “laws” and abridgement of rights and basic human dignity?

Why is it that between Memorial Day and the Fourth of July—the twin pillars of America’s celebration of itself, its professed grandeur of freedom—we cannot see ourselves mirrored in the illusion of freedom that is not and will not be granted to all. The American Dream is the American Nightmare.

You know what it is. You know why it is.

The people flee. The people fear. The people struggle for the wholeness of life in the face of oppression in the guise of liberty.

It must be stopped. It must be stopped.

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