"It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government."—Thomas Paine
"When the government violates the people's rights, insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties."—Marquis De Lafayette
Had the Declaration of Independence been written today, it would have rendered its signers extremists or terrorists, resulting in them being placed on a government watch list, targeted for surveillance of their activities and correspondence, and potentially arrested, held indefinitely, stripped of their rights and labeled enemy combatants.
This is no longer the stuff of speculation and warning.
In fact, Attorney General William Barr recently announced plans to target, track and surveil "anti-government extremists" and preemptively nip in the bud any "threats" to public safety and the rule of law.
It doesn't matter that the stated purpose of Barr's anti-government extremist task force is to investigate dissidents on the far right (the "boogaloo" movement) and far left (antifa, a loosely organized anti-fascist group) who have been accused of instigating violence and disrupting peaceful protests.
Boogaloo and Antifa have given the government the perfect excuse for declaring war (with all that entails: surveillance, threat assessments, pre-crime, etc.) against so-called anti-government extremists.
Without a doubt, America's revolutionary founders would have been at the top of Barr's list.
After all, the people who fomented the American Revolution spoke out at rallies, distributed critical pamphlets, wrote scathing editorials and took to the streets in protest. They were rebelling against a government they saw as being excessive in its taxation and spending. For their efforts, they were demonized and painted as an angry mob, extremists akin to terrorists, by the ruler of the day, King George III.
Of course, it doesn't take much to be considered an anti-government extremist (a.k.a. domestic terrorist) today.
If you believe in and exercise your rights under the Constitution (namely, your right to speak freely, worship freely, associate with like-minded individuals who share your political views, criticize the government, own a weapon, demand a warrant before being questioned or searched by the police, or any other activity viewed as potentially anti-government, racist, bigoted, anarchic or sovereign), you're at the top of the government's terrorism watch list.
Indeed, under Barr's new task force, I and every other individual today who dares to speak truth to power could also be targeted for surveillance, because what we're really dealing with is a government that wants to suppress dangerous words—words about its warring empire, words about its land grabs, words about its militarized police, words about its killing, its poisoning and its corruption—in order to keep its lies going.
This is how the government plans to snuff out any attempts by "we the people" to stand up to its tyranny: under the pretext of rooting out violent extremists, the government's anti-extremism program will, in many cases, be utilized to render otherwise lawful, nonviolent activities as potentially extremist.
The danger is real.