NOTE: December 1st is an important day for me. In 1955, “Rosa Parks Day” was born – it was the day she refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake’s order that she give up her seat in the so-called colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled. In 1972, I was born. Over my earliest years, I never would have thought there was any significance to this date beyond a coincidence. And my logical side tells me there still is not. But on the other hand, as our work here at the Tenth Amendment Center has grown in size, strength and influence, that December 1st connection has grown more special to me. In that spirit, I wanted to share with you today an article that I published on May 16, 2012: The Rosa Parks Method for Liberty. I believe the message and the lessons are timeless.
Recently, as state and local governments have been passing legislation requiring non-compliance with the kidnapping provisions of the 2012 NDAA, a number of people who oppose NDAA have begun to attack these efforts to resist it – as little more than a sham.
Vince Brown, for example, gets the ball rolling with this:
“I don’t find the appeal here, isn’t all it says is that they will simply just sit back and watch the feds do what they want?”
Brian Ryman goes a little deeper:
“While the state of Virginia has passed what many feel to be the first significant blow against the NDAA , I have a few reservations about what is purported by some to be a victory. My main concern is that the bill has no provisions for Virginia state agencies to interpose themselves between the federal authorities and its citizens. This should be the focus of the legislation….”
The implication here is that unless there’s a state law passed requiring conflict – a state agency standoff vs a federal agency – which is dangerous indeed – then somehow there’s little to no value.
But is that really the case? Of course not. More later.
Tom Rankin takes it a step further, insisting that anything but physical pushback on the feds is not only worthless, but some kind of a political trick. Here’s what he had to say:
“Just how does this stop the Feds from enforcing NDAA. All it says is you can enforce NDAA in my state but I will not help you. This is pure bull. It is just feel good legislation that gets the public off the politicians ass. I am very disappointed in The Tenth Amendment Center and question it’s motives.”
I’ve often heard that converts to a new religion are commonly known to be more zealous than people raised in those same beliefs. I guess here at the TAC we’re finding the same thing in our own movement – for nullification.
The problem, though, is this – these people, while probably quite well-intentioned, are either being misdirected, or are just misinformed about the big picture.
NON-COMPLIANCE IS A BIG DEAL
To clarify, we should first define the word nullification. It is “any act or set of acts which has as its end result a particular law being rendered null, void, or unenforceable in a specific area.”
Thomas Jefferson referred to nullification as the “moderate middle ground” – the effective path that lies between violent and bloody revolution on one hand and unlimited submission on the other.
With that in mind, we can recognize that a nullification of a federal act can take on all kinds of different forms. It often requires an entire puzzle – and each piece of that puzzle plays an important part. There’s education, outreach, non-compliance, and more. It doesn’t always require a physical interposition by local agents – standing between you and the federal government.
And while it sure gets the testosterone boiling, an O.K. Corral-style standoff is not needed, and is almost never effective. Consider the state-level resistance to the 2005 Real ID act. Over the past five years, we’ve learned that a federal law can be effectively held at bay or even pushed back through non-compliance alone.
When Virginia’s HB1160 was being debated, Delegate Bob Marshall gave a perspective on the importance of non-compliance when he said:
“During World War II, the federal government incarcerated tens of thousands of loyal Japanese Americans in the name of national security. By this bill, Virginia declares that it will not participate in similar modern-day efforts.”
The federal government most certainly needs compliance, if not outright assistance, from the states when it does its dirty deeds. Information-sharing, logistics assistance, access to infrastructure, help from sheriffs blocking roads, and the like. They can rarely pull things off without help from state and local officials. Just ask the DEA when they come to California. They’re never able to pull off a raid without the help of the local sheriff or police departments. Refusing compliance is a big deal – and it will set the stage for others to do the same.
When Rosa Parks refused to move the to back of the bus – she taught us just how to deal with laws that are unconstitutional – immoral – and unjust.
On one end of the spectrum, she didn’t call for her local friends to interpose on her behalf, using force and guns to arrest the progress of evil being waged against her. And, on the other end of the spectrum, she didn’t accept the notion of unlimited submission either.
Before refusing to comply, Rosa Parks didn’t first pass a law to physically stop people from violating her rights. She didn’t need to arrest an offending federal or state agent to move her cause forward.
Rosa Parks also didn’t put the fate of her liberty in the hands of the political system.
She didn’t simply comply and spend a bunch of time knocking on doors advocating for a new candidate for office. She didn’t comply and then spend her time in an expensive and unwinnable lawsuit. She didn’t just comply – and then plan on voting in a new politician to change the law which was oppressing her.
She did something that each one of us needs to start doing more often in our lives. She sat there and said NO.
When Rosa Parks refused to move to the back of the bus, she didn’t have any “teeth” in her action. Her non-compliance helped expand the growth of a massive movement which resulted in the change she sought.
Whether the issue is mandates, or indefinite detention, or the TSA, or anything in between – that’s our blueprint for freedom. I hope you’ll join us.