Last night, I was at a local fair, enjoying the small-town atmosphere, the roving crowds, and the smell of fried food… My girlfriend and I stopped to listen to a local cover band; we caught the end of the concert. They performed “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me” by Billy Joel, followed by “Proud to Be An American,” at which point everyone else but the two of us stood up, as if the band played the national anthem. I was rather disturbed by this stunning show of “patriotism.”
Since the September 11th attacks, politicians have attempted to use “patriotism” to further their own agendas, despite how tangentially related their requests are to actually defending our nation against the actual threats we face. With the rhetoric proferred from the top administrators, if we do not completely agree with the current path of the administration, we must be against it. Inspiring fear in the citizens of this country, politicians have abused our inherent desire to do right and fit into the larger whole of the group around us to infringe upon our rights and maintain power and control over the citizenry. A pdf from the CATO institute indicates how the various areas of government continue to shift the terminology and definitions of terminology to avoid being accountable to the people of this country and the checks and balances provided by our constitutional framework.
The most commonly quoted quip from any politician or statesman, related to anti-terrorism, is one from Benjamin Franklin. He said, ‚ÄúThose who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.‚Ä? This is exactly what the nation has allowed themselves to do. Bruce Shneier, a noted expert on cryptographer and security, has the best perspective on the futility of the current mindset and security protocols I have read. Among the most important points include the fact that security is not necessarily diametrically opposite liberty. Schneier points out that we shouldn’t be collecting as much information as we do; we need to analyze it properly and determine its relevance. The intelligence community certainly doesn’t need more information.
It is rather refreshing that some people in the security community are thinking with a clear and objective mind. A very careful set of effective security measures need to be put into place; we don’t need the hassle of a series of practices that make us “feel” safe with no actual promise of truly keeping us safer. As a nation, we need to oppose the misuse of our trust in our government so that we can continue to be a free society. Otherwise, we are headed down a road not all that different than other oppressive nations that discourage dissenting opinions with legal and illegal means.