Despite the need for the American constitution to respect the personal liberties of the citizens, there is the need to protect the nation by denying the citizens their rights to liberty. It is imperative to note that the personal liberties should not be guaranteed at the expense of the good of the nation. One of the laws that were formulated to curtail the right to personal liberties was the Espionage and Seditions Act during the First World War (Brennan Jr, 1977). This act prohibited any form of disloyalty, abusive language, scurrilous, or profane about the form of government in the US. The Act was meant to ensure that the citizens remained steadfastly focused on protecting their country during the critical times of war such as the First World War (Kohn, 1994).
The importance of maintaining the loyalty of the US was evidenced during the Second World War when the Japanese-Americans were imprisoned for maintaining the loyalty of their ancestral nation. The Japanese-Americans remained loyal to Japan, despite being in the US as citizens (Kohn, 1994). As such, it was clearly right for the US government to find it necessary to jail them since their loyalty to Japan was a threat to the security of the US (Corbett, 1979). The Japanese-Americans were viewed as a security risk in case Japan invaded the USA’s land (Brennan Jr, 1977). Despite the fact that it was inhumane to depot the Japanese-Americans, the action was necessary since it was a wartime action.
The need for safety of the nation led to McCarthyism ideology by a US Senator, to find out the communist loyal members whom he suspected would be a threat to the security of the nation. This was termed as the Red Scare (Brennan Jr, 1977). He believed that the American government was made up of traitors who were out to leak the national intelligence information to the enemies, thus exposing the nation to security risk.
I totally agree with the national security argument that the safety of the nation is more important than the individual freedom and rights. The pentagon Papers, the Espionage and Seditions Acts during WWI, the Internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII, McCarthyism Red Scare were all meant to safeguard the interest of the US. It is imperative to note that if the safety of the nation is not guaranteed, the citizens cannot enjoy their rights. The citizens can only enjoy their liberties in a safe environment; thus putting the security of the country first was a necessity, especially during the times of war such as the First and the Second World Wars.
The same argument may replicate itself in the current government of the US. As witnessed in the recent past, President Donald Trump took over power with the promise of making the US great again, by scrutinizing the processes and the legality of the immigrants, and blocking the Muslims from entering the US as well as building a wall to prevent the Mexicans from accessing the US.
- Brennan Jr, W. J. (1977). State constitutions and the protection of individual rights. Harvard Law Review, 489-504.
- Corbett, M. M. (1979). Human rights: The road ahead. S. African LJ, 96, 192.
- Kohn, S. M. (1994). American political prisoners: Prosecutions under the espionage and sedition acts. Greenwood Publishing Group.