Sunday, July 24, 2005

The Rise of the Police State

Well folks, the terrorist have won. No they did not destroy the United States or Great Britain. They did not topple the governments of the Western world. They did not convert us all to Islam or kill all the infidels. They have won none the less. You see, they have succeeded in making us afraid and forcing us to change our core values.

After the July 7 bombings in London I commented that it was sad that London is the most security conscious city in England, and possibly Europe, but the bombers could not be stopped BEFORE the damage had been done. All those security cameras counted for nothing. A couple of days ago it seems that a few more terrorist attempted another attack but were unsuccessful this time. No one is sure why they were unsuccessful. It certainly wasn’t the security cameras. Don’t get me wrong, the cameras do have some use but it is not for crime PREVENTION. Cameras DO NOT make society safer. In London the suspects are on camera and they still haven’t caught them.

Now we have stories in the press calling for more cameras in the US. This is sad and pitiful development in the outlook of the American citizen. It was not too long ago that the thought of watching people in public places would have caused a deafening outcry, now it barely gets any notice or, worse; people are in favor of it. Would you feel better being blown apart by a crazed terrorist knowing that it will be caught on film? Does it make all the deaths worthwhile if we can find the home of the suicide bomber AFTER he has killed innocent people?

This is not the worst example of the police state mentality creeping into everyday life. On Friday London police shot and killed Jean Charles de Menezes when he failed to follow the instructions of and then ran from plainclothes police officers. He was tackled in a subway car and then shot to death by the officers. Five bullets for an unarmed man all in the name of public safety. Then John Gibson of Fox News praises the actions of the London police for putting “five bullets in the noggin.” I like Fox News but this kind of attitude really makes me sick.

I know what you are going to ask – What about the Patriot Act? It was renewed on Friday with a majority of the provisions made permanent. I am not totally against the Patriot Act but I do not believe that any of it should be permanent. But these are the times in which we live. Once a right has been surrendered it is never returned.

So, the terrorist have won. They have changed our attitudes about Liberty and security. We are so afraid that we will allow the police to randomly search us before we get on a subway. We now think it is OK for the government to watch us in public places. It is OK of the FBI to have expanded powers to find “terrorists.” It is OK for the police to use deadly force when there is no EVIDENCE of a threat – just act strange in the wrong place and BANG, your dead. This is all fine with everyone I guess.

What is the next logical step in all this? What happens if London, with all its police state tools continues to be attacked? Will they want to put cameras in businesses with direct feed to the police? Will they want them in private residences? Well, they want them in the Muslim homes but they can’t discriminate so they will need to put them in everyone’s homes.

I recently re-read George Orwell’s 1984. I last read it when I was in high school during the Reagan years. At the time it seemed like a simple telling of Stalinism. After re-reading the book I discovered that it is so much more, it is a warning of a system of thought that is so diabolical we cannot imagine the horrors it will unleash. Now I am beginning to see the same attitudes expressed in the book coming to life around me. All it will take is for someone to gain power who will user all of these new powers and attitudes to their fullest – but then it will be too late to stop it.

I will ask again – Would you rather be free or safe?

No comments: