Thursday, August 09, 2007

Something to think about

About a month and a half ago I stopped reading

Well, that’s not exactly true, I read user pages (such as Kato’s) because I know I’m interested in a lot of the same things as Kato. I just refuse to check out the first few pages every day like I used to.


Because it’s just not good for my stress level.

Every day it’s just more of the same. Corrupt politicians and over-zealous government agencies going too far.

I looked at the front page for the first time in over a month today, and came across a story of a British journalist. This journalist once lived in America, is currently married to an American citizen and has a New York born daughter. Despite this, she was detained at LAX, interrogated for hours, locked up overnight and deported back to Britain the next day.

Why? Because she was in America to do a story for a British newspaper, and had neglected to obtain a new ‘journalists’ Visa. (If you don’t know, non-journalist Brits can enter America and stay for 90 days without any Visa).

In other words, a massive over-reaction, and an illogical step. If she’d not being there to interview someone, she could have entered legally. Plus, the Journalism Visa is a brand new security measure, and few journalist knew about it. The other thing is; what does America have to fear from journalists?

Ok, here’s the deal. Take this from someone from a country that has had to deal with terrorism for decades, long before Al-Queda came along:

Calm the fuck down. The planes hit the twin towers and, as a nation, everyone just freaked the fuck out. It’s an understandable reaction, but the way to fight terrorism isn’t to pick fights, alienate your allies and become so paranoid that you see everything as a threat.

The problem with terrorism is there is no easy way to stop it. “The War on Terror” is an oxymoron. You can’t fight terrorists the same way you fight someone in open warfare. In fact, it’s totally counter productive.

The thing to remember is that you’re fighting a small number of psychopathic zealots, not an opposing army. You fight terrorism with a sustained police action, not by sending a few hundred thousand troops somewhere.

If you attack a country in response to a terrorist attack, all you’re doing is filling their heads with more misguided reasons to keep blowing shit up.

This is the problem I think America in general needs to understand more than anything else:

America is the most powerful country in the world…but having the biggest army with the most advanced weapons and technology means precisely dick when the enemy you’re fighting is an anonymous psycho with a rucksack filled with dynamite or a phial of nitro-glycerin in hidden in their shoes.

Basically, since 9/11, America went from feeling invincible to downright vulnerable. Unfortunately, overreacting and getting paranoid is just handing terrorists more weapons and playing into their hands. Do you think the terrorists aren’t clapping their hands with glee about all the disruption and mistrust they’ve created?

The absolute biggest problem with terrorism is that by going overboard in your efforts to catch them, you’re destroying the very thing you’re trying to protect. It’s easy to say that ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’…but the truth is we’re currently living in a country where the government can tap our phone lines without obtaining a warrant, where you can be detained without charge indefinately for being a ‘suspected terrorist’.

In other words, you can be legally spied on, and arrested without charge and held at the governments pleasure. Isn’t that one of the things that everyone got so outraged about when it was happening in Iraq?

I’m not saying it’s a case of “Oh well, we’re gonna get bombed anyway! Open the ports!” All I’m saying is that paranoia doesn’t help anyone.

Of course, it helps you feel like you’re doing something when you can say you made a ton of arrests and spy on your own people for ‘their own safety’, but the path to hell is paved with good intentions.

I’m sure Joseph McCarthy thought he was acting in America’s best interests during the ‘Red Scare’, when he pulled in American citizens with little or no evidence of being ‘suspected communists’

From Wikipedia:

It is difficult to estimate the number of victims of McCarthyism. The number imprisoned is in the hundreds, and some ten or twelve thousand lost their jobs. In many cases, simply being subpoenaed by HUAC or one of the other committees was sufficient cause to be fired. Many of those who were imprisoned, lost their jobs or were questioned by committees did in fact have a past or present connection of some kind with the Communist Party. But for the vast majority, both the potential for them to do harm to the nation and the nature of their communist affiliation were tenuous. Suspected homosexuality was also a common cause for being targeted by McCarthyism. According to some scholars, this resulted in more persecutions than did alleged connection with Communism.

In the film industry, over 300 actors, authors and directors were denied work in the U.S. through the unofficial Hollywood blacklist. Blacklists were at work throughout the entertainment industry, in universities and schools at all levels, in the legal profession, and in many other fields. A port security program initiated by the Coast Guard shortly after the start of the Korean War required a review of every maritime worker who loaded or worked aboard any American ship, regardless of cargo or destination. As with other loyalty-security reviews of McCarthyism, the identities of any accusers and even the nature of any accusations were typically kept secret from the accused. Nearly 3,000 seamen and longshoremen lost their jobs due to this program alone.

Does this sound in any way familiar?

My point is, the current attitude seems to be the same as the teacher who punishes an entire class for a transgression, because the actual offender won’t own up to it. Sure, you’ll probably capture the guilty, but at what cost?

I think the most disturbing thing is that as an immigrant myself, I honesty gave serious thought to not publishing this post, because I’m a little afraid it could be construed as “Anti-American”.

Sure, the chances of the FBI turning up at my door and taking me in for questioning are probably one in a few billion…but my point is that when I first arrived in America, I never thought I’d see the day where I’d even hesitate to express my opinion.

1 comment:

OzzyC said...

The comparison to the Red Scare is a great touch.