By Barbara Loe Fisher, April 22, 2000
I am writing this letter from my Capitol Hill home in Washington, D.C., stunned by the events of this morning when federal agents, with weapons drawn, entered a home in Miami in the middle of the night and forcibly removed a child whose mother gave her life to bring him to a country she thought was free and governed by just laws. Defying a court order, US government officials took this child at gunpoint from the arms of the fisherman, who rescued him from the ocean where his mother drowned trying to escape from the police state she risked their lives to leave.
Just as I will never forget waking up this morning to pictures of a helmeted government agent with a gun taking away a terrified child, I will never forget the beautiful spring day last weekend when I walked in the shadow of the Washington monument at a legal rally with my oldest son – who I carried in my arms the day he suffered a vaccine reaction 20 years ago and who is now nearly six feet tall – as we mingled with a peaceful crowd of young, well educated, middle class Americans holding differing political and philosophical views – and tried to hear speakers preaching non-violent civil disobedience in the tradition of Ghandi, while police helicopters buzzed overhead, and a sniper stood on the top of the White House facing us, and phalanxes of armed police on motorcycles gunned their engines and moved in formation along the bordering streets, and other officers on horseback and on foot ringed the perimeters of the grassy space where people had gathered to engage in some good old-fashioned free speech. Or just watch others exercise that freedom.
Today is a sad day for America. But it is also a wake-up call. Because the mentality that sends in armed government agents in the middle of the night to take a child from the only love and security he has known since his mother died trying to lead him to freedom, is the same mentality that motivates government officials to enter the homes of families in America, where parents have chosen not to give their children every government mandated vaccine, and issue charges of child neglect with threats to make the children wards of the state if complete vaccination does not take place. It is the mentality that persuades doctors to insist on vaccinating a sick child despite a parent’s objections or re-vaccinate a child, who has already experienced a serious vaccine reaction, in order to obediently adhere to the government policy.
It is a Statist mentality – the idea that the State and agents of the State know what is best for the individual and that government policy will be enforced no matter what the consequences. Although parental rights were invoked today by the federal government to justify its action, Elian could have been eventually reunited with his father in a humane, legally and ethically supportable way. It is not parental rights that were upheld by the Justice Department and INS action today, but the idea that the State owns a child and that agents of the State can do what they will with a child even, in this case, when there is a federal court ruling cautioning that due process of law must be followed in examining the child’s asylum and custodial rights.
In Cuba, the State owns children and the State, not parents, decides what is best for a child. This is true in communist China, was true in Fascist Germany during World War II, and is true in every totalitarian state where individual freedoms are abrogated for what those in control of the State have decided is in the best interest of the State.
There is no difference between what happened in America today and what happens in communist, Fascist or totalitarian states in the rest of the world.
The mentality, which fosters the belief that the State has the right to sacrifice civil liberties and human rights, individual inviolability and even individual lives for what those in control of the State have determined to be the greater good, is not the sole province of any one political party or segment of the population. It is part of the human impulse to control the freedom of others to think independently and determine their own destiny, the very freedom our nation’s founders fought and died for us to have and serve as a beacon of truth and light for the world.
Something changed this Easter and Passover weekend in America. In the words of an old 60’s song which I may or may not be quoting entirely accurately: “There is something happening out here. What it is, is not exactly clear.” I pray that what is happening is that Americans are waking up to the realization that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, as Thomas Jefferson said. And that we also remember the words of Martin Niemoeller:
“In Germany, they came first for the Communists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Catholic. Then they came for me and by that time there was no one left to speak up.”
I am not a Cuban refugee living in Miami and what happened to Elian Gonzalez and his mother doesn’t have anything to do with me personally, but I know a police state in the making when I see one. And I know that the only way my children and grandchildren and your children and grandchildren will have any chance of living in true freedom tomorrow, is for us to speak up today.
With faith and hope,
Barbara Loe Fisher
Co-founder & President National Vaccine Information Center
Letter supplied by: PROVE(Parents Requesting Open Vaccine Education)
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