Feb 24, 2014

On Terrorism....

The War on Terrorism is another of the failed domestic wars from our government, along with "wars" on drugs, poverty, etc.  But it has destroyed the constitutional rights that made our country a source of pride.

Wikipedia defines terrorism as violence conducted for a political purpose.  It first began to be called that in the 1850s and since then has had a growing impact, especially since the arrival of television and mass media. I assert that terrorism will continue to exist wherever there are desperate people who want their message to be heard and don't have access to mass media.  Now that terrorism is a known technique, there is no way that it is going away.  Like it or not, terrorism is going to be with us forever.  And no government activity is going to change that.

Like all governments, after 9/11 ours wanted to convince us that they were going to do everything possible to prevent another such occurrence.  And with the Patriot Act and subsequent changes, they tell us that we are now safer. But in the process they have managed to eliminate most of the rights provided by the constitution to protect the individual from the government.  I will not comment on the growing body of evidence showing that 9/11 was a staged event except to note that it gave the government an excuse to eliminate a lot of civil rights that were a burden to the plans of the military-industrial complex and the highly profitable national security industry.

If we really wanted to get rid of terrorism, there is one sure way to do it.  If we had a global agreement between all possible sources of media that there will be no reporting whatsoever on terrorist attacks or activities, terrorism would virtually cease to exist.  There are few people bloodthirsty enough to want to kill innocent people if they will not get attention from doing so.  Of course, terrorist attacks are very "newsworthy" and a source of profit for the media, so we won't hold our collective breaths for that solution.

But since terrorism isn't going to go away, what about our lost civil rights?

I assert that we cannot continue as we are with our government running amok, spying on virtually everyone in the world; ordering the murder of individuals that it "believes" to be enemies; intervening in the affairs of other sovereign nations; all on the pretext that all of that is necessary to protect our citizens from terrorism.  It is not pleasant to realize that a survey done in most of the nations of the civilized world has shown that the United States is considered to be the greatest existing danger to world peace.  You would never come to that conclusion listening the the American media, but living in Europe we have another vantage point.

Since terrorism is here to stay, we need to restore the civil rights that have been taken away while conducting activities to protect the citizens in an intelligent way.  What do I mean by that?  We have to see that there is a cost/benefit consideration at work.  Yes, we need to screen airline passengers.  There is an obvious benefit in traveler safety.  But there is also a significant cost in lost time and inconvenience - as well as issues of personal privacy.  We need to accept that we cannot, on a day-to-day basis, do everything possible to eliminate terrorism.  And that means a certain acceptance of risk.  It is unpleasant to contemplate, but do we want to suspend civil liberties forever to eliminate some casualties? How many more casualties would we have if we had the civil liberties we grew up with?  There is a balance between casualties and freedom that is difficult to reach.

I assert that our best course is to return to the constitutional rights that we have enjoyed since the enactment of the Bill of Rights.  And then we need to take all the intelligent precautions possible given those untouchable rights.  For instance, since we seem to be having terrorist attacks from single Islamic individuals between 18 and 40 years old, then to not give such persons extra attention in screening is just plain stupid.  Sure you can call it "profiling", but to body searches on an 85 year old grandmother from Duluth just so that you can do body searches on everybody is just plain dumb.

I personally am willing to assume some extra risk in order to have civil liberties. Ultimately, if we keep losing civil liberties and the government becomes more repressive, we are in danger of having more domestic terrorists - that is what the government will call anyone who tries to resist it.  The government seems to be anticipating that, having bought the Dept. of Homeland Security enough bullets to kill everyone on earth.  I do not know if the vacant internment camps shown on the internet are in fact part of some government plan. I didn't start out as a conspiracy theorist, but the evidence keeps growing.  The revelations of Edward Snowden and Julian Assange cannot be easily dismissed.  My greatest concern is with the willingness to quickly define those who disagree with the government and want to protest as terrorists.

As individuals, our only way to return to our constitutional liberties is to continue to speak out and demand that change.  We need to make that an issue in elections.  Our government is no longer very democratic, but if the demand is great enough, eventually it will respond.