It’s time for me to speak up. Usually, I’m tied up in worlds of my own creation—writing and reading, but every so often an event occurs which is so blatantly offensive and frightening that I have to speak up.
What is that event? It is the security measures adopted by the US government with respect to body scans or pat downs. Here we are, subjecting millions of people to these indignities and possible dangers, to prevent something which surely will not be tried again.
In fact any terrorist will be planning the next kind of attack which will be entirely different. And so, it is the old story of the stupidity in locking the barn door after the horse has run off. Just think of the time, energy and financial cost of taking measures against something which surely will not happen again—at least not in the same way.
But the greater concern is—Why are we terrorizing ourselves? Obviously, the greatest weapon the terrorist has is fear. It’s relatively easy to make us tie ourselves into knots and submit to increased surveillance. In the past decade, the American people [and Canadians] have allowed the state to become increasingly intrusive with wiretaps and other means of spying on its own people. And we agree to this in the name of preserving our safety. In fact, perhaps it is un-citizen-like to protest. After awhile, it is simply easier to submit. We need to remind ourselves that we are changing the fundamental nature of our societies.
I hope for wide-spread civil disobedience over this latest intrusion. If we do not speak out against this de-humanization, we can only blame ourselves. The American people [and to a lesser extent, Canadians] have lost their jobs and their homes at the hands of Wall Street and the banks. Now the government is taking any sense of privacy and dignity from them as well. Surely this is the point at which people say enough. We are not sheep.
By any chance, did you watch the television show Rubicon this past summer and fall? In it, the hero worked for the US government, but in fact it was never entirely clear who was in charge. I mention it because of the nearly intolerable atmosphere of paranoia in which he had to work. Let’s ask ourselves if we are not in a collective state of magnified paranoia. Some would say that the enemy is within. Are we losing perspective on the real dangers because of this creeping paranoia which endangers our good judgment.
As a writer, it’s hard not to point to such novels as Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm along with Aldous Huxely’s Brave New World. These novels contain lessons springing from the Stalinist era. If we forget them now, it is at our own peril.