Features Australia

Freedom’s sunset

1 April 2017

9:00 AM

1 April 2017

9:00 AM

What is happening in America today should send shivers down the spine of every freedom-loving person on the planet.

This isn’t about President Trump’s policies, his tweets or his temperament, but an observation that government in the land of the free has been hijacked by unelected Leftist apparatchiks within government agencies and captured institutions.

The speed with which America’s ‘progressive’ establishment can spring into action is impressive. Within five days of Trump’s inauguration, the sabotaging began, signalling how deeply imbedded and intolerant the Left has become.

America’s bureaucrats have been shameless in their determination to bring down the elected president as he attempts to implement the promises he made to the electorate.

According to Politico, employees inside the Environmental Protection Agency, within the Foreign Service, on the edges of the Labor Department and beyond, are using new technology as well as private face-to-face meetings, to organise letters, talk strategy, or contact media outlets and other groups, to express their opposition to President Trump.

The goal is to get their message across while not violating any rules covering workplace communications, which can be monitored by the government and could potentially get them fired. They are believed to be working behind the scenes with Democratic legislators and leaking confidential documents to the press.

A partisan US judiciary feels equally free to rob the president of his constitutional authority. Making the courts the arbiter on national security risks, federal judges have frozen President Trump’s lawful executive orders temporarily banning travel from some Muslim-majority countries.

These politicians in judges’ robes may be overstepping their boundaries. But they frustrate Trump’s programme and, to quote law professor Nelson Lund from George Mason University, ‘think their own political judgments are better than those of the people’s elected representatives’.

But before we say ‘Only in America’, we should reflect on our own meek surrender to marching totalitarian forces. Arguing it won’t do anything to create jobs, Australia’s political class cares little for the erosion of personal liberties or property rights. Nor does the media establishment.

That’s why reform of the New South Wales Independent Commission Against Corruption star chamber, which enjoys enormous power, and arrogantly deprives people of their civil rights, was largely cosmetic. The political class no longer has the desire or the stomach to do anything more.

So, Megan Latham’s successors keep their inquisitorial powers. She once boasted in a speech to young lawyers: ‘You are not confined by the rules of evidence, you have a free kick… You can go anywhere you want to go and it’s a lot of fun’. ICAC investigators will continue to arrive unexpected at somebody’s door in the early morning, saying they are ‘above the police’ and demanding mobile phones be handed over.

Meanwhile, sacked former head, Ms Latham, can watch proceedings from the comfort of the NSW Supreme Court bench.

How does that work?

But ICAC is just one manifestation of Australia’s drift towards totalitarianism. The relentless attack on free speech is another.

The politically partisan Australian Human Rights Commission knows racist talk and bigoted behaviour when it sees them. It’s an authority. Bullying is its stock in trade. It seems unconcerned with procedural fairness. Its Race Discrimination Commissioner had no difficulty prejudging a Bill Leak cartoon as a racial stereotype of Aboriginal Australians, claiming ‘a significant number’ of people would agree with him. He invited anyone offended to lodge a complaint under the Racial Discrimination Act.

This is what French Enlightenment philosopher, Charles de Montesquieu, would call a great tyranny, ‘perpetrated under the shield of law and in the name of justice’.

The AHRC is not the only taxpayer-funded entity seeking to limit free speech. Australian of the Year and former army chief, David Morrison, says the term ‘guys’ should no longer be used in workplaces. As head of Diversity Council Australia (a good Orwellian title!), he aims to crack down on non-inclusive language and behaviour in the workplace.

Perhaps the Australian Securities and Investment Commission can assist him. It is now busying itself seeking to regulate business culture. Coincidentally, Chinese President Xi Jinping is doing the same thing.

It is inarguable that as more discretionary authority is delegated to unelected bureaucrats, the more they expand and exercise this power, not always for the public good. Indeed, it is often skewed to their own political objectives. They forever find new sins to punish, new ways to silence people, new behaviours to criminalise.

Governments continue to oblige.

Journalists generally support these intrusions into our lives. Surveys confirm most are Left-leaning, which means a predisposition for authority, not liberty. Many journalists see their own mission as controlling what people think. They play language games, and can omit facts when it’s damaging to their side.

Who knew that Brexit and Donald Trump were even possibilities?

Mainstream media, like our own ABC, too often behave like state propagandists, returning time and again to fashionable causes, like support for Islamic migration, climate change, gay marriage and animal rights, condemnation of Israel and the Catholic church and disdain for free speech, free markets and rational economics.

Even social media giant Facebook is in damage control after leaked guidelines showed news editors used their own discretion in selecting stories, with widespread accusations that conservative topics are being filtered out. It’s hard to overstate the collective power and, omnipresence of freedom’s enemies.

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