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Manifesto of a ... terrorist?

manifestoStackterrorismterrorist

Was Joseph Andrew Stack, who is presumed dead after flying a small plane into an Austin, Texas, office building today that housed Internal Revenue Service workers, a terrorist?

Stack, who left behind a Web manifesto expressing his rage at the IRS, government officials, insurance industry executives and a host of other villains, chose a final act that was undoubtedly calculated for maximum shock value: Flying a plane into a government building, in the aftermath of 9/11, is a pretty unmistakable symbolic statement. But what was he trying to say?

Webster's defines terrorism as "the act of terrorizing; use of force or threats to demoralize, intimidate and subjugate, esp. such use as a political weapon or policy." A simpler definition is the use of violence to advance a political cause. Stack, one could argue, wasn't a terrorist, because his cause appears to have been personal rather than political. His Web rant never fully explains his beef with the IRS, but it's clear that he was a very angry man who felt he had been screwed by the powers that be and aimed to retaliate.

Yet it's also striking how much his rhetoric resembles that of a very powerful political movement in the United States: the "tea party" crew. He portrays himself as a hardworking engineer beaten down by an overreaching government "full of hypocrites from top to bottom." He's mad at the government's failure to follow the principles of the Founding Fathers, at the federal stimulus that bailed out rich bankers but not the likes of him, and at the failure of politicians to represent his views. The one discordant note from what otherwise sounds like a symphony of Palinism is his complaint about the healthcare system; unlike movement conservatives, he appears to be angry about the failure of reform.

But to the question of whether this can be considered a terrorist manifesto, these passages seem particularly relevant:

"I know I'm hardly the first one to decide I've had all I can stand. It has always been a myth that people have stopped dying for their freedom in this country, and it isn't limited to the blacks, and poor immigrants. I know there have been countless before me and there are sure to be many after. But I also know that by not adding my body to the count, I insure nothing will change... I can only hope that the numbers get too big to be whitewashed and ignored that the American zombies wake up and revolt; it will take nothing less."

Can anybody doubt, on reading these words, that Stack intended to use violence to advance a political cause, or that he hoped to inspire others by example?

-- Dan Turner

 

Comments () | Archives (33)

The comments to this entry are closed.

John Galt

This piece blows its cover by succumbing to the irresistible attempt to link a desperate act of violence to the Tea Party movement.
I suppose that is what we should be prepared to expect from the writers with an agenda. It is not hard to twist private desperation against government actions into blame against a political party, any political party, right or left, or in-between.

There is nothing that logic can do to prevent today's followers of Obama to sleep walk this trend all the way to a Republican sweep in November.

They need shaken up, and the only medicine I have is at,
http://www.robbingamerica.com

where they provide a high dose of waking-up medicine in the form of what they call, "Undermining America: Liars, scoundrels, and Idiots".
The medicine test bad, but it is effective.

Anyone surprised

Talk radio is all abuzz about whether this was a crime or a terrorist attack. What does it matter what we call his act? One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter . I doubt most Americans will feel threatened by guys like this (unless they work for the IRS). What he did was dead wrong, and feel sorry for him, his family and any victims. I guess you could say, "The IRS made him blow his Stack." Unfortunately, there are quite a few "Stacks" out there. I'm not one, but Federal tax, Social Security tax, California income and sales tax consume about 70 cents out of every dollar I earn. My earnings go toward paying for wars I voted against; state local and federal employees with outrageous retirements; and every sick, lame, lazy, cripple, blind or crazy person collecting government benefits. In California, we spend $75,000 per year per person to keep non-violent pot heads and deadbroke dads in prison. I'm happy as a clam; can't understand why anyone would dislike the IRS... After all, it's not like the IRS is an extortion racket for a globalist banker elite running the Fed is it?

Dr. Chim Richalds

Sure sounds like Tea Party talk to me. He complains or talks about revolution, Big Brother, IRS, no taxation without representation, government bailouts of big companies--aren't these pretty much the exact Tea Party talking points? Own up to what you have wrought, Tea Partiers.

Nancy Evans

Don't dismiss Joseph Stack's manifesto or the Tea Party Movement. Joseph Stack wrote what many Americans are experiencing. How much of YOUR hard earned money will you be willing to give the IRS. 50%? 75% 95% You are one of the "zombies" he was talking about.

Mitchell Young

Actually he ping-pongs back and forth between what might be considered 'right' and 'left' rhetoric. Corrupt Catholic Church -- left, widow eating catfood because of evil corporation -- left. Evil IRS -- right, 'poor immigrants --left. FAA denying access to the skies, right. Attack on DP Moynihan, ???.

So it's all a bit of a rorschach. So here's what I see, a tragic scene of an American-born engineer complaining about engineering wages being driven down, then yammering about 'poor immigrants'. Obviously never heard of Infosys or the H1-B 'guest worker' visa.

Emily Scopes

What balderdash to say Stack had a reasonable point! He was middle class just like the rest of us, and he definitely did not pay 50% and up of his income in taxes. The Republicans raised OUR tax rates, remember? (You probably forgot) while we all just got a CUT from the Dems. The Republicans cut tax rates for the rich - which you seem to have forgotten, too - and shifted the risks onto our backs. Where was your outrage then?

Get this clear - this is a great nation in which to be free. No one whining here has one single "oppression" on them. Not one. Oh there's a lot of "gonna happen" madness about what you FEAR, but I heard all that in the 90s under Clinton, and not ONE word of it came true and won't now. It's the Republicans who won't protect YOU and the Republicans who celebrate unleashing money for corporate "free speech" and Republicans who cut you all out of the tea bag conference at $550 per head. Wake up! You hate the wrong people.

And now you justify a murderer? A guy who tried to incinerate his own wife and kids, to bomb innocent people at an airport, to kill hardworking government employees? His tax problems were of his own making - cheating and dodging and avoiding - all so he could get the goods of American and NOT PAY. He wanted YOU to foot HIS consumption!

He has not one thing admirable about him. And if you think he's great, neither do you.

Some Guy

Would it be a terrorist act, and therefore a failure of Obama's homeland security, if he were a muslim?

Yes!

Notice, whenever a non-islamic goes on a killing spree, ie las vegas courthouse, it is a solo act of despiration. However, if the perpetrator is a muslim, like ft. hood, then it's terrorism. (yes, he had ties to terror cells which inspired him, but he acted alone, similarly, Stack was likely influenced by the "tea-party" movement, and though they aren't tied to this, they likely helped to enrage him with their fear talk.)

Paul

Stack says a lot of legitimate things in his "manifesto", but here's where he goes wrong: violence is not the solution. If his situation was so desperate, I wonder why he did not consider peaceful civil disobedience, or other ways to effect change. Instead, his immoral and violent actions have done harm, not good -- damaging the persons and property of many innocent people, and giving the government an excuse for more tyranny.

Here's something to consider, though: the government uses violence all the time towards political ends. In fact, government actions are all backed up with the threat of violence. They've institutionalized terrorism.

Terrorism -- the use of aggressive violence to force others to do what you want, is always wrong. It's wrong when it's done by Andrew Stack, and it's wrong when it's done by Harry Reid or George Bush.

Dr. Alan Phillips

His rhetoric represents that of the tea party crew? Not really! You fail to undertand the motivation of the tea party folks.

Movements don't ignite; they react, to efforts which seek to limit freedom of speech, promote excessive taxation, and officials who use their power to ignore the plight of the masses. Jobs lost and not returned by the millions, is but one major example that creates reaction within the public square. Lack of communication which fails to provide the reason congress and the administration strive for illogical healthcare reform without truly involving the public, produces reaction.

Voters calling their representatives to experience only busy signals, e-mails that are blocked, public meetings with the welcome mat withdrawn, and these actions cause reactions. Apologists at the highest levels of government placating foreign countries and failing in defense of the nation against terrorism, produce reaction. Closed legislative meetings characterized by secret deal making to get votes light fuses. Debt expansion mortgaging the future of our grandchildren at the expense of the here and now, also cause voters to react. Media that presents only rosy pictures of an administration that seems to have lost its direction will result in a reaction. Washington still doesn't get it, people are motivated since they feel their country is being destroyed from within and nothing is being done to truly change direction at the top.

The concept that the tea party movement is about a transformation from political indifference to bracing for tyranny is also an invalid assumption. Bracing for tyranny implies that tea partyers are analogous to a passive rock stance. That is not the case, tea partyers, traditional voters and American citizens are simply not going to tolerate this liberal elitism any longer. Tea Partyers know how to use the ballot box and they will do so in 2010 and 2012. The ones that should be bracing are those pathetic politicians who seek to line their pockets and represent only themselves.

In his race with Governor Dewey Harry Truman while on his whistle-stop tour in San Antonio Texas stated the following "Our government is made up of the people. You are the government; I am only your hired servant. I am the Chief Executive of the greatest nation in the world, the highest honor that can ever come to a man on earth. But I am the servant of the people of the United States. They are not my servants. I can't order you around, or send you to labor camps or have your heads cut off if you don't agree with me politically. We don't believe in that... (Truman, David McCullough, Simon & Schuster, 1992 pp.276)

The tea partyers will continue their strong verbal objections to incompetent government and their number is growing and will be felt in future elections. One can almost hear Truman saying, "Tea Partyers, when it comes to free speech, Give em hell."

Dr. Alan Phillips

Paul

Here's what I'm worried about, Dr. Phillips: The "tea partiers" are going to "use the ballot box" simply to elect republicans. The republicans are no better. Bush grew government at colossal rates, and pushed us a lot closer to a police state. The republicans have had a great deal of power, and never shrink government.

The question is, are the "fed up" people really going to stand for liberty, both economic and personal, and are they going to shrink government interventionism overseas, and civil rights abuses, or are they just partisans? Do they want liberty, or a president with an R next to his name? Because I sure as heck didn't hear much from them when G.W. was doing the exact same things Obama is.

Carl W. Goss

Hmmm, yes... yes, I'd say the late Mr Stack sounds exactly like a tea-partier.

His ideas are such a good fit, you could almost take bits and pieces of his paranoid nonsense, paste 'em on signs at a tea-party rally and then sit back and notice how well Stack's craziness resembles what's actually has been said at the tea-party rallies.

Oh, and while I'm on the subject, that CPAC conference is not far behind the tea-partiers, based on some of the speeches I've heard on C-Span in the last couple of days.

Makes me wonder: Will Mr Stack become some sort of martyred hero to the nut-bags on the far right? Some sort of secular saint?

It could happen, as Judy Tenuta used to say......



Jim H

When a Middle-Eastern terrorist does some dark deed, we learn all about him, his political philosophy, and so on. Some among us -- not me -- argue for torturing anybody whom we capture who espouses that point of view, or is in the planning stages for an act of terrorism. Everyone agrees that suicide bombers are terrorists.

Now, Stack's suicide note is muddled, so it's hard to say exactly what was bugging him. But he did commit an act of terrorism by anybody's measure. I ask the news media for a complete investigation of his character, and the things that lead him to commit this crime as his last act on earth.

contraryjim

What a tragedy. His death was wasted. The IRS is just one of the agents of a corrupt government. His votes could count more than his death - even though it appears that those who chose personal responsibility over entitlements are not heard.

One can sympathize with a "Clancy" solution, but he chose the wrong way. Sad.

Vivien

A sign of the times ... decay, inchoate anger, rampant corruption and greed, taking from the poor to save the banking rich. This isn't right vs. left or Tea Partiers vs. Demopublicans ... this is the beginning of outright revolution. People demonstrating in the streets, flying planes into buildings --- this is just the beginning. And who really can blame the average American? We can condemn the actions, but I sympathize with the sentiment. Wake up, American elites. Because if you don't, the jacqueries are coming for you.

hollywoodron

Wow what lame propaganda. Stack hated Capitalism, liked Communism. Hated Bush, Catholics, & tried to get deals via crony union govt scandals. He failed, burned his MANSION & flew his OWN PLANE into the IRS. And you want to tag him with the Tea Party. Methinks you want to get the gulags going again as well.

R Carson

Of course he's a terrorist. Just like Tim McVay. Or do you not remember the military trained wacko that blew up the Federal building in OKC? I do! I'll never forget the terror I felt waiting hours to find out if my loved one was alive or dead! (She is alive) He had intent to kill everyone in that building simply because they were working for the IRS. Not because they had actually PERSONALLY hurt him. It was a miracle that only one person was killed and one seriously hurt.

If all those people had been murdered by his choice would you still be so quick to defend his manifesto? I don't care if you don't like current politics, your opinion doesn't give you the right to murder or to destroy peoples lives.

Murder = terrorism in my mind because the perpetrator ultimately wants to see people suffer.

spatter

Even now Stack is busy enjoying the 80 virgins promised to him by the tea bag mullahs.

Neil

Losing jobs? Whose fault is that? Not the politicians. The fault belongs to every person who, in the sixties, decided to buy a Toyota instead of an American car. And still today people buy so many foreign cars and put their fellow americans on the dole queue. Practice what you preach folks. If you want to save American jobs quit buying imports and buy a domestic product made by a hard working fellow american. A house divided against itself cannot stand.

andrew nelson

Hmmmm... It does give one pause, does it not? A white man, his own company, his own house, his own plane and a hatred of the IRS. That's a tragedy, for sure. But what if he had connected the dots to the dysfunctional congress that keeps raising his taxes? And then what if he connected the dots to the Democrat Party that continues to flirt with the Socialism and Communism, the same ideaology these parties told these same white men to go to war against in the Cold War? What if every white man, who owns his own company, his own house, his own plane, starts thinking about this as a political statement? Then we got a problem...

John

He quoted Karl Marx and trashed Capitalism, George W. Bush and the Catholic Church. He complained about insurance companies, big business corporate profit and the failure to pass health reform.

How does Dan Turner turn him into a "Tea Partier"?

Sam

If he was a muslim they would've called him a terrorist no matter if his reason was personal or political. About this Joseph guy his reason was both personal and political because he had animosity against the US goverment policies just like the 9/11 terroriests and killed innocent people. SO he is a terroriest, it is just the hypocrits who are confused.

Patrick Browne

Looking at what is going on in America from as far away as Ireland people are aghast at Americans having to live in tents while the banks gorge themselves on stimulus. Meanwhile the debt climbs into the stratosphere but the politicians only response is to play cat and mouse games within the senate. Shame on all politicians in America who have become so corrupt that ordinary Americans believe that they have to fly planes into buildings before their voice is heard.

Wake up America before it is too late.

AR

It is disheartening and at the same time entirely predictable that a tragic event like this will be immediately distorted and used for political propaganda.
Nowhere in Mr. Stack's statement does he mention Democrat, Republican or tea party.

Paul

What a lazy, sloppy piece of yellow journalism. First, you decide to attack the "tea party". Then you look up a dictionary definition of terrorism that suits your purposes. Disgraceful.

Believe it or not, you cannot cite Webster's Dictionary when arresting or judging someone to be guilty of terrorism. You must cite the law. And, the United States Law Code – the law that governs the entire country – contains a definition of terrorism embedded in its requirement that Annual Country reports on Terrorism be submitted by the Secretary of State to Congress every year. (From U.S. Code Title 22, Ch.38, Para. 2656 (d):

"(1) the term “international terrorism” means terrorism involving citizens or the territory of more than 1 country; (2) the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents; (3) the term “terrorist group” means any group, or which has significant subgroups which practice, international terrorism; (4) the terms “territory” and “territory of the country” mean the land, waters, and airspace of the country; and (5) the terms “terrorist sanctuary” and “sanctuary” mean an area in the territory of the country— (A) that is used by a terrorist or terrorist organization— (i) to carry out terrorist activities, including training, fundraising, financing, and recruitment; or (ii) as a transit point; and (B) the government of which expressly consents to, or with knowledge, allows, tolerates, or disregards such use of its territory and is not subject to a determination under— (i) section 2405(j)(1)(A) of the Appendix to title 50;(ii) section 2371 (a) of this title; or (iii) section 2780 (d) of this title.

Even you should be able to understand now that this Joseph Stack character by acting alone, is not a "terrorist" under the law. There will be no "War on Terror" to hunt down the members of his organization because he has no organization, despite your pathetic attempt to smear the Tea Party.

You cannot connect the Tea Party to this suicide attack on the IRs, because THERE IS NO CONNECTION, despite any "resemblance" between his "rhetoric" and topics the Tea Party wishes to address. You might as well attack every American who respects the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and earlier versions of our Government because Joe Stack's "rhetoric" resembles that of the Founding Fathers who railed against King George and the British Parliament. Your smear tactic is politically motivated not factually motivated.

People are getting tired of people like you, who spin everything as "leftist", "conservative", "Palinist", etc, instead of discussing it on a less superficial and less manipulative level. Mark these words, the people are pissed off about being screwed by the super-wealthy U.S. elite, their rigged financial industries, their corporations, and their whole craven crew of captive Government politicians and media pundits who lick their boots. Yeah, that's right. Many of the same people and organizations that drove Joseph Stack over edge.

The difference between the way most Americans feel and the way Joseph Stack felt is that most Americans: 1) do not want to kill themselves, and 2) do not want to kill others. They toil and suffer in an unfair system and hope their "system" will someday finally work for them. They will put up with a lot, just like every other people in history, but not forever. Repressive Governments produce the very fuel that eventually catches fire and burns them to a cinder. To make a play on Monty Python's "Nobody Expects the Spanish Inquisition", nobody expects the French Revolution or the American Revolution, either. Until conditions get too bad, and then it's too late.

Yeah sure, we are sooooo free here in the US. We can say anything we want. But, nothing changes except to favor the super-rich, their banks, their corporations, and their tax-evading foundations. So much for free speech and "representation" when Washington is bought and paid for.

GordonSantaMonica


What is Terrorism?

I read the following articles …

Judith Miller and David Samuels regarding “Zero Tolerance”.

The case against military tribunals
It's a violation of the Constitution to use the panels without a declaration of war -- and just calling it a 'war' on terror doesn't count.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
November 29, 2009


We can look at definitions … which is appropriate … but today we look at actions and define them as Terrorism.

Here are some definitions of Terrorism based upon actions taken.

1. Political Cultist who try to achieve goals through violence.
2. Local Gangs or individuals that try to achieve their goals through violence.
3. Verbal actions by individuals or gangs that lead to violence.
4. Religious Groups that make statements that lead to violence.
5. Drug Cartels and their members or individuals that are involved with any of the following … grow, manufacture, distribute, kill, kidnap or sell their product to the people in this country … are committing acts of Terrorism.
6. Any Cultist group who try to achieve goals through violence.
7. Those who take over an airplane and run it into our buildings.
8. The rapist of children and women.
9. Those that destroy our economy.
10. Those that randomly kill people.
11. Stocking of one person by another.

I am sure their will be many debates about the fine line we are walking when we provide our definitions? I say this because we are labeling an action that can be prosecuted in our court rooms involving the Federal Government vs. a group or individual(s).

Yes, to say the least … acts of Terrorism anger me. That is of course an understatement by me.

The next question we must ask is how do we measure the violence to determine if it is Terrorism? Next we have to determine where will we hold the “Trial” of these “Terrorist”? I realize that with the social and political conditions we are facing today, Terrorism and the concepts of Terrorism have lead to Chaos, Bloodshed, Anger, and Fear all of which could lead us into making knee-jerk actions for which we could regret later. That does not mean we must not react. It means we must act in a manner that is appropriate under our system of Jurisprudence.
I heard recently that because Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was not the attacker on 911 but the planner. As such he could theorectically be tried in the location where he did the actual planning. If the location was not in this country then perhaps a military trial is appropriate.

GordonSantaMonica


What is Terrorism?

I read the following articles …

Judith Miller and David Samuels regarding “Zero Tolerance”.

The case against military tribunals
It's a violation of the Constitution to use the panels without a declaration of war -- and just calling it a 'war' on terror doesn't count.
By Andrew P. Napolitano
November 29, 2009


We can look at definitions … which is appropriate … but today we look at actions and define them as Terrorism.

Here are some definitions of Terrorism based upon actions taken.

1. Political Cultist who try to achieve goals through violence.
2. Local Gangs or individuals that try to achieve their goals through violence.
3. Verbal actions by individuals or gangs that lead to violence.
4. Religious Groups that make statements that lead to violence.
5. Drug Cartels and their members or individuals that are involved with any of the following … grow, manufacture, distribute, kill, kidnap or sell their product to the people in this country … are committing acts of Terrorism.
6. Any Cultist group who try to achieve goals through violence.
7. Those who take over an airplane and run it into our buildings.
8. The rapist of children and women.
9. Those that destroy our economy.
10. Those that randomly kill people.
11. Stocking of one person by another.

I am sure their will be many debates about the fine line we are walking when we provide our definitions? I say this because we are labeling an action that can be prosecuted in our court rooms involving the Federal Government vs. a group or individual(s).

Yes, to say the least … acts of Terrorism anger me. That is of course an understatement by me.

The next question we must ask is how do we measure the violence to determine if it is Terrorism? Next we have to determine where will we hold the “Trial” of these “Terrorist”? I realize that with the social and political conditions we are facing today, Terrorism and the concepts of Terrorism have lead to Chaos, Bloodshed, Anger, and Fear all of which could lead us into making knee-jerk actions for which we could regret later. That does not mean we must not react. It means we must act in a manner that is appropriate under our system of Jurisprudence.
I heard recently that because Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was not the attacker on 911 but the planner. As such he could theorectically be tried in the location where he did the actual planning. If the location was not in this country then perhaps a military trial is appropriate.

andrew nelson

@ Paul ( Posted by: AR | February 19, 2010 at 05:52 PM ) ... WOW! - great response. Great information, great ideas. Thanks.

Dan Stevens

The real terrorists are the IRS. Their tactics are horrible. Perhaps the pilot shot for the window of the IRS agent who gave him so much trouble :)

Mark Gold


Terrorism is something that we must be honest about in acknowledging. The media have largely portayed the suicide pilot as a deranged troubled person going after the IRS, when in fact this was nothing more than a brazen and cowardly act of terrorism. Moreover this was homegrown terror against the U.S. If we cannot be intellectually honest about terror regardless of who commits it, and would rather only label terror as something committed by Muslims, then we essentially condone it by non-Muslims and perhaps unwittingly encourage it, as others may seek to emulate him.

Mark Gold


Terrorism is something that we must be honest about in acknowledging. The media have largely portayed the suicide pilot as a deranged troubled person going after the IRS, when in fact this was nothing more than a brazen and cowardly act of terrorism. Moreover this was homegrown terror against the U.S. If we cannot be intellectually honest about terror regardless of who commits it, and would rather only label terror as something committed by Muslims, then we essentially condone it by non-Muslims and perhaps unwittingly encourage it, as others may seek to emulate him.

Casey

What so many people fail to realize is that all governments are corrupt in some form or fashion. The US is not the only one. No matter what the intentions are of the people at the head or the people that created the government, it will always be corrupted. That is life. Deal with it. Despite the corruption of the American government, we are free in so many more ways than most other world governments. If you want to "take a stand" against the terrible, corrupt government of the US, LEAVE. It's that simple. Pledge your allegiance to another government and leave. Do not murder. This Stack was a coward. He didn't pay his taxes, so he crapped his pants and bailed instead of facing the consequences. It's really just that simple. He had plenty of money to earn a pilot's license and be able to rent a plane to do this act. That, to me, means he had enough money to not need to worry about paying his taxes. I've paid my taxes every day since I was 15 years old. I've busted my rear just as much as he did and I paid. I've never made probably even 1/4 of the money he was raking in each year, yet I pay my taxes. I make money that goes to people that get benefits from the government without working for it while I live at the same level as them, but cannot get the same benefits.

Does it suck? Yes. Do I like my government leaders? No. I don't like politicians as a whole - no one is in it for anyone but themselves. But, I follow the rules and I live a happy life. Not because I'm ignorant or a zombie. It's by far the other way around. I know that happiness doesn't like in the hands of my government or in money. Happiness lies in your heart, your family, your friends, and your spirit. If people that live in the most destitute of places with people dying all around them and can still be happy, then why can't everyone else? Suck it up, appreciate what you have, and shut up.

The man that was murdered didn't run in the face of fear - he charged. He served in war and put his life on the line to help another country. He was a hero. This guy was a coward and a murderer. Nothing more. The worst thing a person can do is harm innocent and undeserving people. Those of you that condone what this guy did are selfish, arrogant, and disgusting. Had that been your father, brother, or son in that building that was mudered, I'm sure you'd feel differently.

andrew nelson

"If Caesar had been as virtuous as he was daring and sagacious, what could he, even in the plenitude of his usurped power, have done to lead his fellow citizens into good government?... If their people indeed had been, like ourselves, enlightened, peaceable, and really free, the answer would be obvious. 'Restore independence to all your foreign conquests, relieve Italy from the government of the rabble of Rome, consult it as a nation entitled to self-government, and do its will.' But steeped in corruption, vice and venality, as the whole nation was,... what could even Cicero, Cato, Brutus have done, had it been referred to them to establish a good government for their country?... No government can continue good but under the control of the people; and their people were so demoralized and depraved as to be incapable of exercising a wholesome control. Their reformation then was to be taken up ab incunabulis. Their minds were to be informed by education what is right and what wrong; to be encouraged in habits of virtue and deterred from those of vice by the dread of punishments proportioned, indeed, but irremissible; in all cases, to follow truth as the only safe guide, and to eschew error, which bewilders us in one false consequence after another in endless succession. These are the inculcations necessary to render the people a sure basis for the structure of order and good government. But this would have been an operation of a generation or two at least, within which period would have succeeded many Neros and Commoduses, who would have quashed the whole process. I confess, then, I can neither see what Cicero, Cato and Brutus, united and uncontrolled could have devised to lead their people into good government, nor how this enigma can be solved." --Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1819. ME 15:233

andrew nelson

"A single good government becomes... a blessing to the whole earth, its welcome to the oppressed restraining within certain limits the measure of their oppressions. But should even this be counteracted by violence on the right of expatriation, the other branch of our example then presents itself for imitation: to rise on their rulers and do as we have done." --Thomas Jefferson to George Flower, 1817. ME 15:141

"Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and, accordingly, all experience [has] shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But, when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security." --Thomas Jefferson: Declaration of Independence, 1776. ME 1:29, Papers 1:429

"Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing [a people] to slavery." --Thomas Jefferson: Rights of British America, 1774. (*) ME 1:193, Papers 1:125

"When patience has begotten false estimates of its motives, when wrongs are pressed because it is believed they will be borne, resistance becomes morality." --Thomas Jefferson to M. deStael, 1807. ME 11:282

"Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God." --Thomas Jefferson: his motto.

"If ever there was a holy war, it was that which saved our liberties and gave us independence." --Thomas Jefferson to John Wayles Eppes, 1813. ME 13:430

"The oppressed should rebel, and they will continue to rebel and raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them and all partial distinctions, exclusions and incapacitations are removed." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Religion, 1776. Papers 1:548

"As revolutionary instruments (when nothing but revolution will cure the evils of the State) [secret societies] are necessary and indispensable, and the right to use them is inalienable by the people." --Thomas Jefferson to William Duane, 1803. FE 8:256

"If the appeal to arms is made, it will depend entirely on the disposition of the army whether it issue in liberty or despotism." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Rutledge, 1788.


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Reading Supreme Court tea leaves on 'Obamacare' |  March 27, 2012, 5:47 pm »
Candidates go PG-13 on the press |  March 27, 2012, 5:45 am »
Santorum's faulty premise on healthcare reform |  March 26, 2012, 5:20 pm »

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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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