3 votes

Judge Andrew Napolitano: A Nation of Sheep


Judge Napolitano has organized his excellent book around a central metaphor. He contrasts sheep, who follow their shepherd with unquestioning devotion, and wolves, who are alert to protect themselves:

There are two kinds of people who stand out in the United States today: sheep and wolves. Sheep stay in their herd and follow their shepherd without questioning where he is leading them. Sheep trust that the shepherd looks out for their safety… Wolves, on the other hand, do not aimlessly follow a shepherd… Wolves question the shepherd and act in a way that forces the shepherd also to question his decisions. Wolves challenge government regulations, reject government assistance, and demand that the government recognize and protect their natural rights. They are rugged individualists (p. 10).

America, Napolitano thinks, consists largely of sheep: we acquiesce in gross violations of our civil liberties, including but by no means confined to, those inflicted on us by the Bush administration, in the course of its "War on Terror." Too often, even those concerned about the current violations of civil liberties will think in this way.

True enough, the Patriot Act gives the government the power to pry into our correspondence, telephone calls, and personal records; and if I were unfortunate enough to be suspected of being an "enemy combatant," I might suffer a dire fate indeed. Why, though, should I care about that? The Administration is concerned only with blocking terrorists. There is only the remotest chance any of these civil liberties violations will have any direct effect on me.

Napolitano makes clear that this is an unduly narrow way to view matters, and not only because of the familiar argument that a government that targets one group may later target others as well. ("First they came for the…, etc.") Quite, the contrary, violations of rights affect the ordinary person as well.

As a prime example, commuters who enter the New York subway must submit to random searches of their bags...


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