Nov. 6, 2005 – When I applied for this position as a columnist, I did so with the intention of “popping” something. No, not your cherry, but your bubble – our bubble – created by the collective advantages we enjoy by virtue of being American. I hope that my column makes people think out of the box, even if only momentarily. However, while contemplating what topic to write about for today, it occurred to me: we live in a time where I might not be able to write about the topic, or express the opinion(s) of my choice, for fear that I may be labeled a “terrorist”. Specifically, we live in a post 9-11 police state. A time of heightened “security,” where those who express views of dissent are labeled at best as “un-American” or “un-democratic,” and at worst, as “terrorists.”
Our country was born from the voice of dissent. Our Founding Fathers were, in a nutshell, a group of guys who got tired of paying their taxes, and who urged citizens to take arms against those who sought to infringe upon life or liberty. We loved them then, and we love them now, simply because they had the balls to say and do what they thought was right. They set the benchmark of patriotism as the duty of citizens to dissent, to revolt even, should our government infringe upon our liberties.
Today, the United States has “flipped-a-bitch” ideologically. We have laws like the “Patriot” Act, allowing our government to detain you indefinitely, without explanation, or due process, simply on the suspicion that you are a “terrorist.” As for the freedom of speech, the exception has become the rule; journalists fear becoming a “terrorist” and being shipped off to Guantanamo Bay simply for doing their jobs.
Do we still consider those who encourage dissent, and urge citizens to revolt and reform our government as patriots? a
The media has given much attention to the notion of “security,” but is the United States truly any more secure than we were four years ago? What has been accomplished since 9-11? What laws passed, what policies changed, and what behaviors altered, which have increased security? Sure, we have to take off our shoes before we get on a plane, but anyone can still drive a Mack truck through our borders without fear from the Federal government.
We wage a war against “global terrorism.” Our enemies do not come from one specific country ” our government cannot even tell us where the enemy is. “Terrorists” are not the soldiers of some specific state identifiable on any map; any citizen of the world, Americans included, who does not agree with our notions of Americanism and how things ought to be is essentially, a “terrorist.” We wage a war that grants us no victories and awards us no spoils, only casualties and debt.
Yet, like the proverbial ostrich, we continue to shove our heads further into the sand, ignoring the grim reality that surrounds us – that the “security” we seek simply doesn’t exist, at least not without turning our backs to our principals and the foundation this country was built. Alas, we are too busy driving SUVs, watching FOX news, worrying about the bird flu, and checking out who is our friend on Myspace.com, to worry about things like civil liberties and civic duties, much less abstract ideas like liberty, freedom and peace.
We live in a bubble – a bubble formed around fear, and the (mis)conceptions that waging unjustified wars and infringing upon freedoms and liberties will bring us greater “security,” when in fact doing so only tightens the shackles of fear.
Ben Franklin once said, “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Comments or questions? Get on the soapbox and talk back with Jack, at Jingramster@gmail.com.