“Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices [sic] also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.” President Barack Obama Commencement Speech Ohio State University May 5, 2013
The other day a stranger walked up to me in the parking lot. I was getting out of my truck as he stopped and stood right next to my door. I could barely open it all the way. I immediately assumed the worst. This man was going to rob me. The first sentence out of the man’s mouth solidified my concerns.
“Hello sir, I’m not a violent person.”
Nuns and librarians never have to tell you that they are not violent. Typically, only violent people feel the need to tell you that they are not violent.
The second sentence out of the stranger’s mouth was even worse.
“But I just got in a fight with my son.”
Again, nuns and librarians don’t get in fights with their offspring. That’s especially true of nuns.
Even though the man told me that he wasn’t violent, I knew that he was. Reality speaks louder than words. Sometimes, if we listen carefully to those words, they can point us to the truth even if they were intended to hide it. Sometimes, if we’re paying close enough attention to what is being said, we will see that the opposite is true.
A few days ago, President Obama told graduates from Ohio State that they should reject the voices warning, “that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.”
About a month before those words were spoken, the United States Army issued briefing materials where evangelical Christians were included among al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations as religious extremists. When Christians questioned this categorization, the Army stepped back and corrected the materials.
A few weeks later, just days before the president told Ohio State graduates to ignore the cries of tyranny, the military blocked access on bases to www.sbc.net, the website for the Southern Baptist Convention, due to inappropriate content. When Christians again questioned this development, the Department of Defense stood down and corrected the problem, blaming it on malware.
Last week, the mainstream media reported that a low-ranking IRS official in Cincinnati, Ohio singled out some conservative and religious organizations for extra scrutiny as they applied for tax-exempt status. As people questioned their government and pressed for more details on the matter, it was learned that senior officials within the IRS knew about these practices for at least a year and did nothing.
For several months now, there have been a lot of rumblings from alternative news outlets about these kinds of things but they were always written off as conspiracy theories. If there’s one thing that the Obama administration has taught us, it’s that sometimes conspiracies are much more than just theories.
But maybe some rogue commander just had an axe to grind with evangelical Christians and decided to put them on a terrorist watch list with notorious groups like al-Qaeda.
And maybe the military’s Norton Antivirus subscription expired and the Southern Baptist Convention was somehow the only organization that got blocked on military bases.
And maybe IRS officials were just too busy to notice that conservative groups were being unfairly targeted for a few years.
But maybe something more sinister is at work. Maybe tyranny really is lurking just around the corner.
Paranoia is no friend of liberty but neither is apathy. It is our role as free citizens to be ever mindful of the threat of tyranny while at the same time not allowing ourselves to become obsessed with unfounded conspiracy theories and rumors. And it is the role of our government, more than any other duty, to protect us from tyranny. This means that our elected officials should be leading the way in sounding the alarm against tyranny.
But when our very own president tells us that there is nothing to worry about, that tyranny is no longer a threat and that talks of a sinister government are fictitious, we should assume that the opposite is true.