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OfflinePsilocybeingzz
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Registered: 12/15/02
Posts: 14,463
Loc: International waters
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one morning, they made us all deputies
    #1688672 - 07/05/03 09:31 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

one morning, they made us all deputies
First they came for the young Arab-looking men, and I did not speak up because I am not a young Arab-looking man...

To describe post-September 11 America as a police state is to do grave insult to the survivors of truly repressive regimes, where the foreigners and activists and academics and critical journalists rounded up for questioning tend not to be seen again alive.

But make no mistake: a clampdown is in place - in America, in Canada, in Britain, in continental Europe - of such a dimension it challenges the right of these countries to call themselves democracies. The supposedly immovable object called citizens' rights met an irresistible force called "preventative justice." And it got crushed.

The program isn't to break bones, but to set limits - what we can say, endorse, speak up against. That means Seattle Jr. high school teacher Vince Halloran can be flushed from a political rally and threatened with arrest for displaying the Corporate America flag. And insufficiently patriotic concert-goers detained at the Canada-US border-crossing near Blaine are invited to retrieve their passports from the trash can into which the customs agent dumped them. It means airline passengers are subjected to profiling, and a new cia Internet spying technology code-named "Magic Lantern" sweeps everyone into the panopticon, from the kid downloading Alyssa Milano to the grandmother researching her retirement fund on the web.

Feel powerless? You shouldn't. We all have an important role to play, the government assures. It has issued us deputy's badges: civil servants are now censors, private citizens are spies. We can snitch on whomever makes us vaguely uneasy. Suspicious types like San Franciscan Barry Reingold, overheard dissing the war effort between bench-press sets in the gym (he received a visit in his home from fbi agents). Or Canadian Norm Greenfield, who tried to make a copy of Bill c-36 - the Canadian anti-terrorism legislation (when he came to retrieve the job at Office Depot, he was shaken down for info, motives, contacts). Or the 40 university professors and administrators who dared to criticize American foreign policy (for the discourtesy of promoting "tolerance and understanding as antidotes to evil," their names appeared on a public blacklist issued by a powerful alumni association founded by the vice-president's wife).

The recommended course of action is clear: go along to get along. Don't rock the boat or go on strike, undermine the war effort or speak facts to power, or you may find yourself stigmatized in the community, you may have trouble traveling, you may be out of a job in a scary recession with the added complication that your name is now Mud. Because once your picture has appeared on the cover of your local newspaper, or your speech has been picked up by Matt Drudge, decontextualized and beamed into the heartland; once your name has appeared on a government watch list, it doesn't really matter if you're telling the truth.

In the days following the terrorist attacks, the air was alive with fevered debate. Grasping to understand, many Americans asked questions they'd never asked before. What's going on out there? Why do they hate us so much? Could we possibly, partly, be somehow to blame? Then the president found his feet. He found his voice. And his version of the narrative was so loud and so often repeated that within three or four weeks it played virtually unopposed. The answer to "Why do they hate us?" became "They hate our freedom," became "They are irrational" became "They are evil." And that was that.

The cavils and questions that remained ran silently through the minds of the folks still trying to put the pieces together. When does necessary vigilance become harassment? And when does harassment become persecution? And when is the pretense of balance between national security and civil rights out the window? And at what point is the state just being extraordinarily opportunistic while and because it can?

We wished there were a single face, not an abstract system, at which to direct the question Joseph Welch asked of Joe McCarthy: "At long, last, sir, have you no sense of decency?"

- Bruce Grierson




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OfflineYeti_009
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Registered: 02/24/03
Posts: 232
Loc: I. D.idnt A.sk H.ow O.ld
Last seen: 8 years, 6 months
Re: one morning, they made us all deputies [Re: Psilocybeingzz]
    #1688677 - 07/05/03 09:37 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

they made u deputies?
for reaL? i want a gun!


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OfflinePsilocybeingzz
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Registered: 12/15/02
Posts: 14,463
Loc: International waters
Last seen: 4 years, 7 months
Re: one morning, they made us all deputies [Re: Yeti_009]
    #1690285 - 07/06/03 04:19 PM (13 years, 11 months ago)

no your just someone that has to "watch out" you and no one you know says anything wrong , be a good little sheep

OBEY!


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