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These include the IRS, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and even the FBI.

“There is no other remarkable event, no other reason, to explain away how for decades I went unnoticed, but now find myself on the receiving end of interagency coordination into and against all facets of my life, both public and private,” she testified.

Four weeks later, IRS official Lois Lerner, who is at the heart of the IRS’ Tea Party targeting scandal, invoked the Fifth Amendment nine times to avoid testifying before the same House committee. Who will hold her accountable?

When lawlessness keeps happening at the highest levels, people become reluctant to voice their opinion, even in private. They aren’t sure where it will end up or who will take offense.

In a Feb. 15 essay for The Wall Street Journal, Russian writer Mikhail Shishkin described how difficult it is to resist authoritarianism:

“To be sure, taking a stand against power, force, your own government is not easy. Especially if you are responsible for a family, your children. It is precisely on this care for loved ones that regimes have always caught people, as on a hook. It is easy to sacrifice one’s self for a good cause. It is very difficult when sacrificing one’s self would entail the sacrifice of one’s loved ones.”

As political correctness expands its suffocating reach, not everyone is lying down for it. Mrs. Engelbrecht and Mr. Carson say they won’t back off. A handful of conservative leaders say the same.

Then there’s the Cathy family, who run Chick-fil-A. Faced with threats from government leaders, the restaurant chain owners refuse to recant their belief in God’s institution of marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Neither will “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, whose program ends with grace said in Jesus’ name.

The Age of Tolerance, which rewards cowardice, encourages group-think and punishes dissent, is quickly morphing into the Age of Bullying. Whether it morphs further into outright totalitarianism will depend on whether millions of heretofore politically inactive Americans join the growing resistance before the shackles are too thick to break.

Robert Knight is senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.