Being out of the country, I missed this the first time around.
The Nation: Are you predicting a coming military dictatorship? And that the American people would stand for that?
Gore Vidal: They'll stand for anything. And they will stand for nothing.
Gore Vidal, Octocontrarian
Now, I'm not one to predict such hyperbolic futures for the United States. While this is certainly a difficult time for civil-libertarians, we're still far better off than many, perhaps most, nations.
But the past few years have certainly made me more and more concerned about the way we Americans take for granted our freedoms, our readiness to take the plunge down a slipperly slope that is far easier to descend than to reverse.
We are looked up to in the world not because we have bigger cars and unfettered access to shopping malls. We're looked up to because we do not allow our government to threaten and control us; that we do not live in a climate of fear and suspicion.
In recent days many people, including self-proclaimed "libertarians", have bent over backwards in attempts to rationalize and justify this administrations lawless and authoritarian behavior. They tell us that to be free, we must be willing to give up our freedom; that if we demand liberty, we only threaten it.
This, not some modern day bogey-man like Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, is the greatest threat to our liberty, to our way of life: that we allow ourselves to be controlled by fear and suspicion, and that in this fear we willingly forfeit our liberty.