And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause to be killed as many as would not worship the image of the beast. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads, that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name.
― Revelations 13:15-17
At least half the new immigrants to colonial America, some experts think as many as two thirds, arrived as slaves. Indentured servants sold their labor for a specified time for a passage across the Atlantic. In effect, they sold themselves as slaves, just not forever. Their owners treated them like slaves. Many didn’t survive to receive their “freedom dues.” Many ran away.
The courts in some early colonies tried to control “bond slaves” by having everyone carry identification papers. The system was too cumbersome for the enforcement technology of the time. White indentured servants could too easily disappear into the white population. The swarms of federal, state and local drones necessary to enforce such a system and a populace trained to obedience in state youth indoctrination camps would take hundreds of years to develop. In colonial America free people didn’t need “papers” to prove they were free.
Black chattel slavery grew out of and solved many of the enforcement problems of white indentured servitude. Obvious racial differences made it much easier to control black slaves than white ones. Instead of everyone having to carry ID, only free blacks had to. If you were black in pre-Civil War America and didn’t have your “Free Pass” or “Deed of Manumission,” you were assumed to be a slave or a fugitive.
Before the Civil War all the southern states and many in the north had laws requiring blacks to have “papers” if they left their master’s land. In some northern cities free blacks had to register with the local police and post a bond against their sobriety and good behavior. A free Negro without his “papers” was living dangerously.
Congress has just finished a piece of work that will allow all of us to know just how it felt to be a free black living under constant threat of bondage. If George II signs it, which he surely will, the law requiring national identification papers in the United States will take effect in two years.
To protect us from the terrorists who lurk behind every tree, our masters in Congress have finally decided to number us like Holsteins. Without debate or a single dissenting vote, the Senate passed the REAL ID bill. It clung like a lamprey to the belly of yet another pork bloated emergency spending bill for the conquest of Iraq.
Your new ID card will contain all the data that your driver’s license does. But Homeland Security can add almost anything at a whim. Retina scans, fingerprints, voiceprints, DNA profiles and who knows what exotic bioidentifier. Any information the boys at DHS can think of, they can make mandatory.
A few come to mind — race, voting history, party affiliation, gun ownership, car ownership, religious affiliation, travel, banking, insurance, and credit information. Use your imagination. The Homeland cops will use theirs. You can cram a lot of data onto a lapel pin or subcutaneous chip these days. And with RFID technology, you won’t even have to show your card. You will beam your numbers right out of your wallet to anyone with the right receiver.
Within two years all Americans will have to have an official government number to get on a commercial airliner, train or bus or to belly up to the overflowing trough of tax funded goodies.
The same concept of ownership supports both chattel slavery and National ID. The government that numbers its citizens owns its citizens. It controls them as absolutely as a master controls his slaves.
If you need a number to do everything, you are at the mercy of anyone who can revoke your number. You can’t buy anything without your number. You can’t sell anything. You can’t travel. You can’t escape. Beady eyed bureaucrats whose only skill is the ability to pee into a cup can arrest you for not presenting your number. Refuse to get one and live like a fugitive slave. Get one and be a slave.
Despite the danger, many free blacks before the Civil War did not register with the authorities or carry “Free Passes.” They just avoided “The Man.” According to Ira Berlin in his book, Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South, "In 1853, St. Louis authorities attempted to chase alien free Negroes out of the city and to force native free Negroes to register. Police raided well-known free Negro haunts, whipped unregistered freemen, and shipped them beyond city limits. … The raids continued for almost a year, although they ended in failure.” Freedmen elsewhere were no more compliant.
When it’s time to register with the Homeland Security Police how many of us will be as bold as those freed slaves?