Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.” – Harry S. Truman
I was reading an article earlier called “One Day We’ll All Be Terrorists.” — http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/144833
Good article. Thought-provoking, and all that jazz. Anyway – for those of you who don’t want to read it, the basic premise is that the civil rights of American citizens are being thrown out the window – like the right to a fair and speedy trial, due process, and so on, and so forth. The denial of these rights is largely unknown – and when it is found out, it’s justified in the name of the “War on Terror.”
The media says that a TERRORIST was arrested in such-and-such place (read: American-born Muslim non-violent activist known for protesting the War in Iraq), and we subsequently turn a blind eye when this AMERICAN CITIZEN’s rights are systematically denied. First it’s the Muslim-American activists. Then it’s the Anarchists. Then it’s Greenpeace… And then one day, in a not-so-distant future, I wake up to the sound of the fucking Gestapo pounding on my door, or the sensation of having a black bag thrust over my head, or the sight of the cigarette-smoking-man sitting in a black sedan in front of my house, ready to arrest me for writing this blog entry.
But it’s easy to pretend that we are a FREE people… just so long as it’s not our rights being stripped away… It’s easy to believe the media when they call a man a terrorist before he’s even stood trial… We don’t know that guy. He looks like a terrorist, right? I mean, he’s Muslim. Has a turban wrapped around his head. Not to mention the facial hair. Must be a terrorist.
“In Germany they first came for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time there was nobody left to speak up.” – Reverend Martin Niemoller
It’s easy – until it’s one of us.
Once upon a time, the word “conspiracy” was just a word. Somewhere along the way it became a crime. Charging someone with conspiracy is surprisingly easy. No physical evidence necessary… Just the word of two or three “witnesses” (credibility optional)… and *boom* – you’re in the land of soap-on-a-rope. How long do you think it will be before “dissent” is no longer just a word? It’s not such a stretch to imagine that the words that I type here today may someday be considered an act of terrorism. And then it’s no longer just about THEM. It’s about US. All of us… who dare to tread the path of non-conformity.
A quote comes to mind – by the French writer Voltaire — “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” See, Voltaire knew a little something about the price of freedom. The price that I pay for my freedom is your freedom. If you and I disagree, I might find the desire to censor you tempting. In fact, there’s no “might” about it. Of course it would be nice to be able to slap some virtual duct tape on your mouth and pretend that I won the argument. But as soon as I do that… As soon as I advocate the censorship of my adversaries’ ideas… I open myself up to that same censorship. The bumper stickers are correct – Freedom isn’t free. In order to enjoy the freedoms that I have, I have to put up with others spouting ignorant bullshit that I don’t agree with.
The same applies to the rest of my civil rights… If I expect them to be there when I need them, I have to do my best to ensure that they are there when everyone else needs them – my enemies included. We can’t pick and choose which American citizens deserve to have their civil rights. It doesn’t work that way…
We, as a nation, have allowed our fear of “terrorism” to pave the way for the slow, quiet, eroding destruction of our civil liberties.
Right now, for most of us, it’s easy to ignore. We still have the illusion of being free. Forget the fact that we’re all slaves to the United States Government – working our asses off to pay them to repeatedly fuck us over. Forget the “War on Drugs” taking away our freedom to do whatever the hell we want with our own bodies… Forget that half of us are actually convinced that the words “right to bear arms” don’t ACTUALLY mean that we have the right to bear arms. We’re FREE! Mmmkay?
But someday, 10 years, 20 years down the line… we’ll wake up and the illusion will have faded, and we’ll all come face to face with the stark realization that we aren’t free at all. Not even a little bit.
So what do we do now? How do we destroy the monster that was born of our fear? How do we stop the cancer from spreading? Honestly, I have no idea… Most of the time I’m too much of a cynic to think that anything, short of a full-fledged revolution, can fix that which is wrong with the American government. But I’m open to suggestions.
And now, a word from our sponsor:
“Good evening, London. Allow me first to apologize for this interruption. I do, like many of you, appreciate the comforts of every day routine- the security of the familiar, the tranquility of repetition. I enjoy them as much as any bloke. But in the spirit of commemoration, thereby those important events of the past usually associated with someone’s death or the end of some awful bloody struggle, a celebration of a nice holiday, I thought we could mark this November the 5th, a day that is sadly no longer remembered, by taking some time out of our daily lives to sit down and have a little chat. There are of course those who do not want us to speak. I suspect even now, orders are being shouted into telephones, and men with guns will soon be on their way. Why? Because while the truncheon may be used in lieu of conversation, words will always retain their power. Words offer the means to meaning, and for those who will listen, the enunciation of truth. And the truth is, there is something terribly wrong with this country, isn’t there? Cruelty and injustice, intolerance and oppression. And where once you had the freedom to object, to think and speak as you saw fit, you now have censors and systems of surveillance coercing your conformity and soliciting your submission. How did this happen? Who’s to blame? Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you’re looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror. I know why you did it. I know you were afraid. Who wouldn’t be? War, terror, disease. There were a myriad of problems which conspired to corrupt your reason and rob you of your common sense. Fear got the best of you, and in your panic you turned to the now high chancellor, Adam Sutler. He promised you order, he promised you peace, and all he demanded in return was your silent, obedient consent. Last night I sought to end that silence. Last night I destroyed the Old Bailey, to remind this country of what it has forgotten. More than four hundred years ago a great citizen wished to embed the fifth of November forever in our memory. His hope was to remind the world that fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you’ve seen nothing, if the crimes of this government remain unknown to you then I would suggest you allow the fifth of November to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to stand beside me one year from tonight, outside the gates of Parliament, and together we shall give them a fifth of November that shall never, ever be forgot.” – V (V for Vendetta)
“And I thank you for your attention, and I’m out of here.” – Kurt Vonnegut…