“Even a casual scrutiny of history reveals that we humans have a sad tendency to make the same mistakes over and over again. We are afraid of strangers or anybody who is different than us. When we get scared we start pushing people around. We have readily accessible buttons that release powerful emotions when pushed. We can be manipulated into utter senselessness by clever politicians.”
“The ink was barely dry on the Bill of Rights before politicians found a way to subvert it – by cashing in on fear and patriotic hysteria. In 1798, the ruling Federalist Party knew that the buttons to push were ethnic and cultural prejudice. Exploiting tensions between France and the United States, and a widespread fear that French and Irish immigrants were somehow intrinsically unfit to ne Americans, the Federalists passed a set of laws that have come to be known as the Alien and Sedition Acts.”
Because “French and Irish citizens usually voted for Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic Party, one law upped the residency requirement for citizenship from 5 to 14 years. The Alien and Sedition Acts also gave President John Adams the right to deport any foreign who aroused his suspicions. Additionally, the Acts made it unlawful to publish any “false or malicious” criticism of the government – 24 people were arrested, 10 were convicted, and the others were intimidated into silence. When Jefferson became President in 1801, he pardoned everyone arrested under these Acts saying it was “contrary to spirit of American freedom.” By 1802, the Acts were removed from the books.”
Have we changed since then? Does this sound similar to what we are experience today? What do you think?
Reference: Sagan, C. (1996). The Demon-Haunted World: Science As a Candle in the Dark. New York: Ballentine Books
For a list of Sheila’s books, check out http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B003HWM3PI