What is almost as disquieting as the fact of the bombing itself is the fact that law enforcement had an effective brigade of armored infantry ready on a moment's notice to move into and shut down one of America's largest metropolitan areas.
I remember working in 2002 with representatives of the Department of Homeland Security on potential responses to urban terrorism at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Alabama. The executive assistant for homeland security to the Governor of South Carolina assured me that homeland security spending would be "the new revenue sharing that militarizes police across America in ten years."
At the time I thought he was crazy. [By the way, two years later he quit his job in government and has since made a mint as a consulting showing local police departments how to acquire military hardware through homeland security grants. So it goes.]
I have been far less surprised to discover that--almost to a person--those who screamed the loudest about President Bush shredding the US Constitution and civil rights have been among the most acquiescent to President Obama doing exactly the same thing [although in a more intense, programmatic fashion]. Joe Biden says things that are scarier than what Dick Cheney used to say, and now it evokes no comment.
Which brings me back [in an exercise of increasing futility] to the editorial page of the News Journal, which today opines that in the wake of the Boston bombing we all all need to give up more civil rights [for kicks and grins I have put my own responses in between the lines in red]:
We have been under threat for more than a decade.Extremists, terrorists, and enemy nations have been a threat for far more than a decade; don't you guys read your own newspaper?
Fanatics have been trying to kill us for that long.No, uh, guys, the first World Trade Center bombing happened in the 1990s. Among other events you appear to have forgotten.
Our security forces have protected us until now. They will continue to do so in the future.Notice the Orwellian change here: not "law enforcement" has protected us, not "our military" has protected us; not "our intelligence community" has protected us. "Our security forces." This is a term that is as dangerous as it is ambiguous.
But now it is obvious that more of that burden will have to pass on to the rest of us.That "burden" is, as we shall see, the passive acceptance of more restrictions on our right to travel, our right to assemble, our right to free speech.
We will have to become more conscious of packages and strange movements.Report you neighbor.
We will have to become more patient when packages are searched.Quit criticizing the TSA for groping you at airports.
We will have to be more security minded. Is this a loss? In a way, it is. But Americans always have shared the burden of security. We simply will have to be more responsible for our own well being."In a way" this is a loss? At the point that free people decide that security is more important than freedom this is just a "sort of" loss. Damn it, Steve, stop making a "fetish" of freedom. All that matters in a society is the physical safety of the citizens, no matter what the cost in money or government restrictions.
That element of security will have to take form now. Today we are responsible and we must act accordingly.John Sweeney has looked into the future, and it is full of a Federal Security Force, officially constituted and answerable to no one but the Executive Branch. You don't need to know because IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.
Our willingness to do so will, in time, become our best protection against those who seek to destroy us.This is almost akin to the a-holes who used to tell women being raped just to relax and try to enjoy it. If you are willing to surrender your rights, in exchange, we will keep you safe. On our terms.
You can already see it happening, as the government reaches the "objective" decision to deny the arrested Boston bomber his Miranda rights, and instead of being circumspect about it, trumpets that decision to the world as being in our best interest.
A lot of people ask me why I am a Libertarian rather than a Republican or Democrat. The answer is simple, at least for me: neither of the two major political parties actually cares about civil liberties. They only care about the revenue pie and winning votes by lulling people into believing that their only choice is to trade what's left of their freedom for the security of a police state.
I may not win--ever!--but at least I will be able to say honestly to my grandchildren that I never stopped protesting it, never stopped fighting it, never stopped trying to make other people see.
And if you need a homework assignment, go back to 1948 in the Wayback Machine and read Jack Williamson's prophetic short story "With Folded Hands."