The shops were shuttered on Hardyville Main Street last Wednesday. No traffic moved in the streets, though the parking spaces near the Hardyville One-Plex were full.
Despite the bright spring day, it was like being in one of those movies where a city is empty in the aftermath of a disaster. And that's appropriate. Because Wednesday was the aftermath of a disaster.
Or maybe it was the beginning of a disaster. Either way, the handful of rugged individualists who populate the mid-nowhere town of Hardyville had an emergency on their hands.
On Tuesday, May 10, 2005 America finally died.
It had been a long, slow, lingering death. Some people said the dying started with the War Between the States, which gave free reign to federal power. Some said the dying started later, in 1913, the year we got both the income tax and the currency debasing Federal Reserve. A radical few said the death even started as far back as 1794, when George Washington crushed the the new nation's first tax revolt.
But whenever the dying started, we know exactly when the whole experiment in freedom got cold and stiff and started to stink real bad. On that Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed the Real ID Act. They did it unanimously. They did it without a word of debate. They did it, almost certainly, without reading it. They did it for the sake of "one congressman with totalitarian leanings."
Without fanfare, they imposed on us a national ID card.
The mainstream media yawned and barely mentioned one more "illegal alien" control measure sneaked into one more "must-pass" appropriations bill. That's the way business is done these days. (Odd, isn't it, that the very gov-o-crats who prate so endlessly about the virtues of "democracy" usually feel the need to hide their most serious laws from the prying eyes of the people?)
George W. Bush's signature was a foregone conclusion even before Congress sneaked the Real ID Act into a bigger bill with billions of dollars he wanted. So by the time you read this, America might already have national ID, scheduled to go into effect by May 2008.
They tried before. They even pretty much (but not quite) succeeded in turning state drivers licenses into national ID back in 1996, and again late last year. But this is the real thing -- total federal control of our ID, of our driving "privilege," and of the increasing number of activities for which government ID is "required." Oh yes, each state's licenses will still have different colors and designs. But the rules for who can get one -- and what's done with all the personal information Your Beloved and Trusted Government gathers -- will be controlled right from the Poisonous Potomac.
Your "permission slip" to function in modern society will be granted -- and revoked -- on terms set by the very same people who think an old lady's knitting needle or a novel with a picture of dynamite on its cover is a terrorist weapon.
You can go read some articles here and here to learn a little about what this brand spanking new law is going to do to you. Gun owners should also look at this one. And any liberals (or legal scholars) out there should also take a look at this one.
The IDiots claim this beast is being imposed on all of us to "prevent terrorists from entering the country." But if you believe that, I've got some premium Enron shares I want to sell you.
Anyhow, all this doesn't affect Hardyvillians directly. As you may know, we've never been real big on government ID.
What we're afraid of -- the thing that caused us to rush to the emergency meeting Carty called in the One-Plex (the only building in town big enough to hold us all) -- is ... um, well ... a bunch of illegal aliens swarming across our borders.
And no, I'm not talking about wetbacks (you'll pardon the expression) looking for work or welfare. Or for that matter, icebacks rushing down from Canada to ... er, have the freedom to watch more U.S. TV. Nor Arabians, Chinese, Outer Mongolians, Lithuanians, or refugees from Fernando Po.
I'm talking about Americans. All those Americans who said that national ID would be their line in the sand. Worse yet, all those Americans who might not ever have said national ID would be their line in the sand, but who are going to wake up one day and go (you'll pardon the expression), "WTF? When did we suddenly get teleported to Stalingrad?"
We're very much afraid a million or so of these folk are going to come rushing for our borders, illegally driving their cars and trucks on American roads (which is fine by us, but seems to worry the Homeland "Achtung!" Security Department quite a bit), fleeing to the one place in the country where nobody cares who they are or what they do, as long as they mind their own darned business.
The whole U.S. of A. used to be that way (except the part inhabited by Puritans). Now ... there's only Hardyville.
And frankly, we can't handle a million.
To put it bluntly, we won't handle even 10 if those 10 come here unprepared to stand on their own two feet and live like genuinely free human beings.
The U.S. can't close its borders. Sorry -- way too big. All the soldiers, minutemen, licensing laws, and electronic sensors in the world will not do that job. You are dreamin' -- and dreamin' of an even worse police state -- if you think the U.S. can block up all its entrances or root out every "illegal" that squeezes in.
But Hardyville can close its borders. It's just an itty-bitty place and everybody you see in it is a sort of minuteperson, armed to the teeth. And these days, we're exceedingly grouchy, besides. Hardyville belongs to the people who built it. And frankly, we don't want "your tired, your poor, your huddled [in front of the TV set] masses" who suddenly wake up one day and discover they're not free. We have no darned interest in helping those who didn't bother to help themselves until it was too late.
We do go for the "yearning to breathe free" part of Liberty's old promise. But damnit, if people don't quit yearning and start kicking butt in their own state and neighborhood "homelands," then to bloody hell with 'em. They deserve exactly the kind of government they're going to get. And boy, are they going to get it.
They're also going to get their butts kicked if they try to come begging to others for freedom that they wouldn't bother to preserve for themselves.
Build your own Hardyville, folks. You and your friends. Create your own networks of resistance. Unless national ID can be beat back in the courts -- and unless the victors then drive a stake through its heart and make sure neither it nor its blood-sucking creators return to life -- we're all going to need those private, mutually supportive freedom communities. Now is the time.
There are probably going to be court challenges to the Real ID Act. But so far, those challenges sound as if they're going come from states, protesting that the federal government isn't paying them enough money to make it worthwhile to steal our freedom. If the fedgov coughs up some more tax bux (your bux and my bux), the states will be just too happy to chop up the corpse that used to be America.
In the next column, I'm going to open up the doors of the One-Plex and take you inside to hear what Hardyvillians have to say about what we should do next. But for the moment, let me just stand outside with you here and ponder one more point.
Can America be brought back from the dead? Possibly. Miracles have happened. But in the meantime, we who value freedom enough to stand behind our line in the sand and say, "I resist; I will not cross; and you, you congressmen, senators, and other tyrants dare not cross" -- are already "illegal aliens" in our own country.
We are illegal because we'll drive "illegally" without a government permit. And unfortunately we're aliens because our belief in individual rights is as alien within this new, altered police-state America as if we arrived here in a spaceship.