Freedom and Democracy

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
– Benjamin Franklin

"Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech."
– Benjamin Franklin

"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master.
This expresses my idea of democracy."
– Abraham Lincoln
16th US President

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"The very aim and end of our institutions is just this: that we may think what we like and say what we think."
– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

"Be isolated, be ignored, be attacked, be in doubt, be frightened, but do not be silenced."
– Bertrand Russell

"Your rights are your security. When you, 'give up your rights for security", it's not security you get, but slavery.'
– unknown

"Demanding domestic security in times of war invites carelessness in preserving civil liberties and the right of privacy. Frequently the people are only too anxious for their freedoms to be sacrificed on the altar of authoritarianism thought to be necessary to remain safe and secure."
– Ron Paul
Texas libertarian Republican

"Most Americans do not recognize that Congress has just passed a bill that would give the government expanded power to invade our privacy, imprison people without due process and punish dissent."
– Laura W. Murphy
Director of the ACLU,
October 12, 2001 in reference to the US Patriot Act

"The unmistakable message that is sent by this policy is that people who demonstrate risk spending the night in jail because of their part in a demonstration… And I think what follows from that is that it is a clear effort to discourage people – and indeed punish people – from participating in demonstrations."
– Christopher Dunn, a lawyer for the New York Civil Liberties Union
(Referring to New York City's unconstitutional policy of jailing
demonstrators overnight for minor offenses, a policy since rescinded)

"The instinct of nearly all societies is to lock up anybody who is truly free. First, society begins by trying to beat you up. If this fails, they try to poison you. If this fails, too, they finish by loading honors on your head."
– Jean Cocteau

"The first responsibility of the press is to use its freedom to protect the rights and liberties of all individuals. The press must speak out, and, if the occasion arises, raise bloody hell."
– Herblock

"The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed."
– Steven Biko

"We can have democracy in this country or we can have great concentrated wealth in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both."
– Louis Brandeis
Supreme Court Justice

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did, and it never will."
– Frederick Douglass
Canandaigua, N.Y., Aug. 3, 1857

"Ours was a wealthy society. No one suffered from want. All had the right to food, clothing and shelter. All shared in the bounty of the spiritual ceremonies and the natural world. No one stood in any material relationship of power over anyone else. No one could deny any one access to the things they needed. All in all, before the colonists came, ours was a beautiful and rewarding way of life."
– Chief Segwalise
of the Iriquois

"Every day they tell us that we are a free people fighting to defend freedom. That is the current that has whirled the young airman up into the sky and keeps him circulating there among the clouds. Down here, with a roof to cover us and a gasmask handy, it is our business to puncture gasbags and discover the seeds of truth."
– Virginia Woolf

"The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance."
– John Philpot Curran

"Democracy is great not just because the majority prevails but because it is safe to be in the minority."
– Adlai Stevenson

"Give me liberty or give me death."
– Patrick Henry

"Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others they send forth a ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance."
– Robert F Kennedy

"The two greatest obstacles to democracy in the United States are, first, the widespread delusion among the poor that we have a democracy, and second, the chronic terror among the rich, lest we get it."
– Edward Dowling

"It's when we're given choice that we sit with the gods and design ourselves."
– Dorothy Gilman

"For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."
– Nelson Mandela

"When asked what he thought of Western civilization: "It would be a good idea."
– Mahatma Gandhi

"The act of witness is very important. Without journalism there's no democracy. Without journalism, there's no freedom."
– Peter Howe

"When the people fear the government you have tyranny… when the government fears the people you have liberty."
– Thomas Jefferson
3rd US president, architect and author

"It is in the inherent nature of human beings to yearn for freedom, equality and dignity. Brute force, no matter how strongly applied, can never subdue the basic desire for freedom and dignity."
– H. H. The Dalai Lama

"A free society is a place where it's safe to be unpopular."
– Adlai Stevenson

"As a matter of general principle, I believe that there can be no doubt that criticism in time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of democratic government. . . Too many people desire to suppress criticism simply because they think it will give some comfort to the enemy to know that there is such criticism. If that comfort makes the enemy feel better for a few moments, they are welcome to it as far as I am concerned, because the maintenance of the right of criticism in the long run will do the country maintaining it a great deal more good than it will do the enemy, and it will prevent mistakes which might otherwise occur."
– Robert A. Taft
Republican Senator from Ohio
Dec. 19, 1941

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."
– Abraham Lincoln

"Secrecy and a free, democratic government don't mix."
– Harry S. Truman
US President

"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."
– Frederick Douglass

"The great rulers – the people do not notice their existence. The lesser ones they attach to and praise them. The still lesser ones – they fear them. The still lesser ones – they despise them. For where faith is lacking it cannot be met by faith. "
– Tao Te Ching

"Our safety, our liberty, depends upon preserving the Constitution of the United States as our Fathers made it inviolate. … The people of the United States are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution."
– Abraham Lincoln

"War has always diminished our freedom. When our freedom has expanded, it has not come as a result of war or of anything the government has done but as a result of what citizens have done."
– Howard Zinn

"A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime…."
– William E. Dodd
US Ambassador to Germany, 1937
as quoted in the NY Times

"We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."
– Viktor Frankl
author, neurologist and psychiatrist
Holocaust survivor (1905-1997)

"True individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made."
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."
– Rabindranath Tagore
Gitanjali, 1912

"Of liberty I would say that, in the whole plenitude of its extent, it is unobstructed action according to our will. But rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law,' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the right of an individual."
– Thomas Jefferson

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
– Theodore Roosevelt
26th US President

"All good things are wild and free."
– Henry David Thoreau

"I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it."
– Thomas Jefferson

"Politics should be the part-time profession of every American."
– Dwight D. Eisenhower

"I don't even know the Dixie Chicks, but I find it an insult for all men and women who fought and died in past wars when almost the majority of America jumped down their throats for voicing an opinion. It was like a verbal witch-hunt and lynching."
– Merle Haggard

"The fetters imposed on liberty at home have ever been forged out of the weapons provided for defence against real, pretended, or imaginary dangers from abroad."
– James Madison
4th US president

"Everybody's talking about people breaking into houses but there are more people in the world who want to break out of houses."
– Thornton Wilder

"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand a mighty woman with a torch,
Whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles.
From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome;
Her mild eyes command the air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp" cries she with silent lips
"Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
– Emma Lazarus

"Democracies die behind closed doors."
– Judge Damon J. Keith
U.S. Appeals Court

"Rome is strangling my people and my country… the whole earth. But not forever!
I tell you, the day Rome falls there will be a shout of freedom such as the world has
never heard before."
– Ben Hur

"In a democracy dissent is an act of faith. Like medicine, the test of its value is not in its taste, but in its effects."
– J. William Fulbright
US Senator

"So long as we have enough people in this country willing to fight for their rights, we'll be called a democracy."
– Roger Baldwin
civil rights advocate

"Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves; and, under a just God, can not long retain it."
– Abraham Lincoln

"Little strokes
Fell great oaks."
– Benjamin Franklin

"The history of liberty is a history of the limitation of government power, not the increase of it."
– Woodrow Wilson,
28th president of the U.S.,
Nobel peace prize winner

"Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing the ground."
– Frederick Douglass
abolitionist, editor and orator

"Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense."
– Mark Twain

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air – however slight – lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."
– William O. Douglas

"That is the true genius of America – a faith in the simple dreams of its people. The insistence on small miracles. That we can tuck in our children at night and know they are fed and clothed and safe from harm. That we can say what we think, write what we think, without hearing a sudden knock on the door. That we can have an idea and start our own business without paying a bribe or hiring somebody's son. "

"That we can participate in the political process without fear of retribution, and that our votes will be counted – or at least, most of the time. "

"People don't expect government to solve all their problems. But they sense, deep in their bones, that with just a change in priorities, we can make sure that every child in America has a decent shot at life, and that the doors of opportunity remain open to all."

"It's that fundamental belief – I am my brother's keeper, I am my sister's keeper – that makes this country work. It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. E pluribus unum. Out of many, one."

"Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?"

"It's the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs. The hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores. The hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta. The hope of a millworker's son who dares to defy the odds. The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. The audacity of hope!"
– Barack Obama
Democratic Convention 2004

"Our Declaration of Independence proclaims government of the people, by the people, for the people, not government of the Exxons, for the General Motors, by the Halliburtons."
– Ralph Nader

"It would indeed be ironic if, in the name of national defence, we would sanction the subversion of one of those liberties which make the defence of our nation worthwhile."
– Earl Warren

"Everything secret degenerates, even the administration of justice; nothing is safe that does not show how it can bear discussion and publicity."
– Lord Acton

"The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic State itself. That, in its essence, is Fascism — ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any controlling private power."
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the rights of the people by the gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations."
– James Madison
fourth US president

"Whenever 'A' attempts by law to impose his moral standards upon 'B', 'A' is most likely a scoundrel."
– H.L. Mencken
writer, editor, and critic

"Be not intimidated… nor suffer yourselves to be wheedled out of your liberties by any pretense of politeness, delicacy, or decency. These, as they are often used, are but three different names for hypocrisy, chicanery and cowardice."
– John Adams
second US President

"The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the Nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right. Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
-Theodore Roosevelt
editorial, Kansas City Star
May 7, 1918

"Heresy is only another word for freedom of thought."
– Graham Greene
novelist and journalist

"Freedom is when the people can speak
Democracy is when the government listens"
– Alastair Farrugia

"Information is the currency of democracy."
– Thomas Jefferson, third US president,
architect and author (1743-1826)


Freedom & Democracy (Or is It?)

"Freedom is not a concept in which people can do anything they want, be anything they can be. Freedom is about authority. Freedom is about the willingness of every single human being to cede to lawful authority a great deal of discretion about what you do and how you do it."
– Mayor Rudolph Giuliani – NYC
New York Times, March 17, 1994

"Only someone completely distrustful of all government would be opposed to what we are doing with surveillance cameras."
– Howard Safir
NYC Police Commissioner – 1999

"Today American's would be outraged if U.N. troops entered Los Angeles to restore order; tomorrow they will be grateful. This is especially true if they were told there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all peoples of the world will plead with world leaders to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well being granted to them by their world government."
– Henry Kissinger – May 21, 1992
in an address to the Bilderberg Organization Meeting, Evian, France

"I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy, but that could change."
– J. Danforth "Dan" Quayle

"There ought to be limits on freedom."
– George W. Bush

"If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."
– George W. Bush,
during a photo-op with Congressional leaders
December 18, 2000

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."
– George W. Bush
Business Week
July 30, 2001

"They… brought us parrots and balls of cotton and spears and many other things, which they exchanged for the glass beads and hawks' bells. They willingly traded everything they owned. . . They were well-built, with good bodies and handsome features. . . They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance. They have no iron. Their spears are made of cane. . . They would make fine servants. . . With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want."
– Christopher Columbus
(from his log – referring to the
Arawak Indians of the Antilles)

"The government will make use of these powers only insofar as they are essential for carrying out vitally necessary measures…The number of cases in which an internal necessity exists for having recourse to such a law is in itself a limited one."
– Adolf Hitler,
address to the German Reichstag on the occasion
of the enactment of the Enabling Act, March 23, 1933

"Military tribunals, preventative detention, expanded police powers,
lifting restrictions on the intelligence agencies, mass-spraying of toxic
pesticides, racial profiling … No need to worry!"
– Mitch Cohen

"We need honest, reasoned debate, and not fear-mongering. To those . . . who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists, for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of goodwill to remain silent in the face of evil."
– John Ashcroft,
Attorney General, 2001
while depriving millions of American
residents due process to a fair trial

"We need a program of psychosurgery for political control of our society. The purpose is physical control of the mind. Everyone who deviates from the given norm can be surgically mutilated."
– Dr. Jose Delgado
1974 Congressional Testimony

"The individual may think that the most important reality is his own existence, but this is only his personal point of view. This lacks historical perspective. Man does not have the right to develop his own mind. This kind of liberal orientation has great appeal. We must electronically control the brain. Someday armies and generals will be controlled by electric stimulation of the brain."
– Dr. Jose Delgado, Director of Neuropsychiatry
Yale University Medical School
Congressional Record, No. 26, Vol. 118 February 24, 1974

". . . as in the case of the U.S. Constitution, we are more likely to make progress by pressing the existing instrument to the outer limits of its potentialities through creative use. . ."

". . . The house of world order will have to be built from the bottom up rather than the top down. . . an end run around sovereignty, eroding it piece by piece, will accomplish much more than the old-fashioned frontal assault."
– Richard N. Gardner – April, 1974, Foreign Affairs
from The Hard Road to World Order
(Council on Foreign Relation's Journal)

"Ethnic Cleansing. . . help{s} white kids shed the racial guilt and self-hatred, the sense of racial inferiority."
– William Pierce,
maker of the fascist game, Ethnic Cleansing
Author of The Turner Diaries
Leader of the neo-hazi National Alliance

"When your brother is reduced to poverty and sells himself to you, you shall not use him to work for you as a slave. . . Such slaves as you have, male or female, shall come from the nations round about you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy the children of those who have settled and lodge with you and such of their family as are born in the land. These may become your property, and you may leave them to your sons after you; you may use them as slaves permanently."
– Leviticus 25: 39-46

"We should just turn the sheriff loose and have him arrest every Muslim that crosses the state line."
– Saxby Chambliss
U.S. Rep. (R-GA)
[Valdosta Daily Times, 11/20/01]

"The wife is to subordinate herself to her husband. . . the woman is to place herself under the authority of the man."
– James Leon Holmes
2003 Nominated by Bush to the District Court
for the Eastern District of Arkansas

"All things equal, I would prefer to have a child in a school that has a strong appreciation for the values of the Christian community. In a religious environment the value system is set. That's not the case in a public school where there are so many different kids with different kinds of values."
– Rod Paige
The Secretary of Education

"I don't know that Atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God."
– President George H. W. Bush
during an August 27, 1987 interview by Rob Sherman,
as reported in Brochure #8286 (circa 1991)
published by American Atheist Veterans

"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
– Winston Churchill

"The Oracular Decisions of God have positively declared that the Slave-Trade is intrinsically good and licit, [and that the holding of slaves] is perfectly consonant to the principles of the Law of Nature, the Mosaic Dispensation, and the Christian Law… [slavery has] the positive sanction of God in its support."
– Raymond Harris
from Scriptural Researches
on the Licitness of the Slave-Trade

"Oh, how I hate the phrase we have—a 'living document,’ we now have a Constitution that means whatever we want it to mean. The Constitution is not a living organism, for Pete's sake… We can take away rights just as we can grant new ones. Don't think that it's a one-way street."
– Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

"Stop throwing the Constitution in my face, it’s just a goddamned piece of paper!"
– President George W. Bush
in a meeting in the Oval office (Nov. 2005)
to discuss renewing the USA Patriot Act
as reported by Capitol Hill Blue

"[the] Constitution is an outdated document."
– Attorney General Alberto Gonzales
stated while still White House counsel


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