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Lynn and Roger Bloxham's picture

Your Papers?

on Thu, 10/20/2011 - 16:38

This was the moment he had dreaded more than any other. Not the final digging and the worry he might have miscalculated and they would not emerge beyond the perimeter of the fence. Not the crawling for almost an hour on their bellies when every fiber in him strained to stand and run as fast as possible. Not the fear that they had the wrong farm house. Not even the long walk into the town, listening to every sound and hiding quickly when anyone passed who might be suspicious of two strangers. He did dread the further splitting up again as each must take a different route. But no, no moment was as dreaded as the command to present the official papers. Look calm, he mentally commanded. He deliberately relaxed his shoulders and feigned an air of indifference while the officer examined the forged documents. He felt the almost acid sweat on the back of his neck and the urge to wipe at it was almost overwhelming.

Though he looked more German than Bud, his German was poor, the accent not believable. Bud's German was better, so they each played a part. Bud jerked his head toward him and said to the guard in German, “Stutters bad, not too smart, but he works hard.” The guard glanced at him again. Joe smiled and nodded. Then he slouched a little and yawned. He hoped he looked as if his only concern was being bored and tired after a hard day's work.

While he waited he willed his mind to dwell on pleasant things as he had done so many times these past two years, in battle and in the prison camp. He thought of home and his wife Sue, Susie to him. Home, America. No pompous guards, no authoritative demands for papers, no prison camps. Joe and Bud had both noticed how the old farmer had trembled every time he glanced at the door. Then they noticed the door had been repaired. No, no more suspicious police, breaking down your door. No guards at every town road. No papers! Free to go across the whole of America if he damned well pleased! Home! Soon. Soon.


For those who remember the World War II era, we could hear the terror in people's voices as they related their frightening experiences. We watched movies, read the letters, post cards and books which made real to those who were spared that surreal time. We were horrified at the idea of the control the police and military “over there” exerted on the populace. (Many Americans did not realize the extent or even know of the Japanese internment camps). We knew of  some of the tragedies others experienced.

Even as children, we understood when guards asked for a person's “Papers” something dreadful could happen. Several generations of Americans held the memories of the horrors of totalitarian regimes and those memories became a part of our common heritage. This made the very idea of a National Identity Number and authorities with the power to demand one present papers, anathema to most Americans. So why are so many suddenly in favor of the idea? Why? Are the reality of those travesties no longer a part of our memories.

Those who normally want the State to stay out of the economic affairs of people, suddenly desire the most authoritarian implementation of control. The State has already accumulated an amount of power unimaginable to someone in the not too distant past. The encroachment of people's freedoms to move about, travel, drive, fly, is already highly restricted. Control over ingress is vaunted as desirable forgetting that walls limit everyone's egress as well.

New burdens on business are being encouraged, no, more accurately, some are begging the State to institute sweeping controls on private businesses with E Verify. Worse are the penalties and punishments for any business who even mistakenly hires an illegal. Businesses are raided and people rounded up like cattle and deported or held in internment centers with little concern for their well being. People who have said they stand for individual liberty, the sanctity of each human, the ideal of freedom that sets America apart, these very same people are clamoring for E Verify.

Make no mistake, E Verify is the same tactic used  to instill fear and obtain control upon which every authoritarian regime has solidified their power. It does not matter whether our “officials” are police, military or mild mannered women and men at one of the many Administrative Agencies. Neither does it matter if our papers are actually filed electronically and accessed by a small card all will be required to carry. The critical impact is the same; peaceful people are no longer free to go when and where they please without permission.

Those who claim they want to live in a country with a free market, where each person makes his own decision on buying and selling, working for a company or for themselves, are nodding yes to E Verify. When contradictions exist, check your premise suggested Ayn Rand. A Free Market must mean each employer makes the decisions to hire and fire and not the State.