This Powder Keg Has Long Sought a Spark

February 2, 2009

Like it or not, America is one big powder keg that is ready to explode. Too many people are getting fed up with the expansionist role of government in our daily lives. While many are certainly content to submit to the supposedly all knowing, all caring nanny state, murmurs of dissent are growing. Granules of explosive powder, each representing some overreach of our federal government, have been added slowly over the years and all that is needed to set off this powder keg is the right spark.

This is not a prediction based on some sick desire on my own part to see America engulfed in an explosion that will tear it asunder. It is an observation made carefully based on a growing series of events and facts.

There are too many people left that still desire liberty. That is a fact. Even though many of them are willing to overlook infringements of the rights of others as long as their own are not infringed or are perceived to not be infringed, they cannot tolerate their own rights being encroached upon. As the government located in Washington, D.C. continues to look for more things, "to do," they are slowly encroaching into every aspect of every American's lives which were once taboo to the touch, and thus adding more powder to the keg.

Freedom of religion has been turned into a freedom from all religions except atheism (and perhaps Islam) by groups like the ACLU, using the courts and ignorant judges not qualified to don the black robes of their station. The second amendment has become a right to only keep and bear government approved arms. Our right to be free from unwarranted searches and seizures of our personal effects and papers has not been intact since the invention of the income tax and the requirement to lay out our personal papers before Big Brother each and every year for them to be scrutinized.

The list certainly does not stop with just these items, as it is clear for all to see that Congress itself has for years, along with a long line of Presidents, exceeded the limited authority to tax and spend under Article I of the Constitution. But then again, when some citizen or another finds out that the unconstitutional spending being proposed will line their pockets with a check every month principles are quickly forgotten.

Over the recent years there have been many sparks thrown at this powder keg that is now America. But none of them have caught the gunpowder on fire yet.

There was the case of Elián Gonzalez in Florida, a young boy whose mother died to bring him to America from the Communist tyranny of Cuba. But the federal government thought that they knew what was best for this boy and raided the home of his family in America and at gun point took the child and returned him to his father; who then subsequently returned the boy to Cuba. The picture of the federal agent holding a gun to the head of the young boy is still something that is engrained in most Americans' minds.

There was the case of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas who, I will admit, were quite goofy in their own right and their belief that their leader, David Koresh, was the Messiah reborn. But that was not what enraged the federal government. No, it was because the Davidians dared to own more guns than the government deemed they should be allowed to have, had more ammo than the government decided they should be allowed to possess and, lastly, that they had types of guns (supposedly semi-automatic weapons illegally modified to fire full auto) that the government decided were not covered under the second amendment. That is when the federal government decided to take them on. Oh, and it should be noted that the weapons were not illegally modified after all.

The raid became a standoff and the standoff, eventually escalated to a siege and then finally a fire that burned down their compound and killed everyone unable to escape the blaze. The total death toll was seventy-six including Koresh and twenty-one children. But that was all apparently all right because they were just fringe and kooky enough that not many people cared once the initial shock of federal tanks crushing into the building subsided.

There was even the case of Randy Weaver and his family at Ruby Ridge. He was first accused of making threats against the President, denied the claims and had no charges filed against him. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, undeterred, then accused him of selling illegally shortened shotguns to undercover agents, a claim he denied, and he had a trial date set on those new charges. But the court made a mistake and instead of telling him the proper date of the hearing (February 20th) sent him a letter telling him a different date (March 20th). The government then got a grand jury indictment against him for failing to show at the proper date, tried to arrest him, failed to do so and entered into a standoff with a man and his family who saw the armed agents as intruding on their property unlawfully. In the end, left dead were several members of the Weaver family. Even the courts agreed that this was too much and awarded members of the Weaver family various sums of money in compensation for the "wrongful deaths" (I would call them premeditated murders personally) that occurred. And the FBI Director at the time, Louis Freeh, even disciplined or suggested discipline for several agents for acting inappropriately in the incident.

But the nation did not care too much for this story of blatant government abuse because Weaver was a well known racist and member of the Aryan Nations. Somehow, the outrage over the government's actions was tempered by justifications that it's all right to kill racists and this spark never made it to the powder either.

Then there is the curious case of Ramos and Compean, two border agents who were doing their jobs and helping to defend our borders. They shot a drug runner in the butt while he was fleeing authorities and after the agents believed he may be turning to fire upon them. The man escaped across the U.S.-Mexican border. Charges were then levied against the two agents for allegedly attempting to cover up the incident from their supervisors who were on already aware of the incident but failed to file the proper report. The United States government then sought out the drug runner in Mexico, gave him immunity to testify and brought him back into the country to help railroad the two men on frivolous charges. The two men were then sentenced to an obscene amount of time in prison for doing their jobs and, thankfully, had their sentences commuted by President Bush at the 11th hour of his waning presidency. All this mind you while a criminal who entered the country illegally went free.

And once again this spark failed to set off the powder for reasons no one can quite understand. How throwing two border agents in jail while giving immunity to a criminal did not set it off is anyone's guess.

So we sit and we wait. Each day there is more powder added to the keg because to date those adding the powder have seen that the American people are all too willing to protect it from any spark that might set it off. Every day hordes of Americans are willing to find an excuse to protect the powder keg and put their bodies in the line of fire to defend it. They know that somewhere in that keg is their own little grain of powder that they benefit from I suppose.

But it only takes one spark to get by all the people vigilantly protecting this dangerous explosive to set it off. The reality is that eventually one will make it through. So either we are going to wait for the day where that one spark sets off the explosion or we are going to start take notice of the danger it posses and start removing the powder from the keg ourselves.

I pray for the latter. But I fully expect the former. Why? Because sooner or later I fear the federal government will pick on the wrong person or group of persons under the mistaken belief that because the powder keg has never gone off in the past it is then eternally safe. That will be the day the sparks fly.

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Copyright ©2009 J.J. Jackson

J.J. Jackson is a libertarian conservative author from Pittsburgh, PA who has been writing and promoting individual liberty since 1993 and is President of Land of the Free Studios, Inc. He is the Pittsburgh Conservative Examiner for  He is also the owner of The Right Things - Conservative T-shirts & Gifts. His weekly commentary along with exclusives not available anywhere else can be found at Liberty Reborn.