Well, I guess the terrorists are winning.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union,
the Pentagon is "building a system called 'Total Information
Awareness' that would effectively provide government officials with
immediate access to our personal information: all of our
communications (phone calls, e-mails and web searches), financial
records, purchases, prescriptions, school records, medical records and
travel history. Under this program, our entire lives would be
catalogued and available to government officials."
Many Americans have decided that we have nothing to
fear as much as fear of terrorism, and they did not object to the
first float of the Homeland Security Act which contained this loss of
privacy. The idea of a government-run central database that can track,
well, everyone, is reassuring to them.
If the government ever gets mad at you, you can't
hide, get money, eat, have a job, or run a guerrilla revolution
without getting caught and crushed; but maybe you'll never offend the
government. I'm not in a position to hug that illusion, having
offended more than my share of politicians. But some of you may know
when to keep your mouths shut.
Just to make sure you can't defend yourself if
power-hungry statists take over and enjoy having you under their
control, get out there and support gun control too.
See, the terrorists don't have to kill Americans or
blow up the White House or the Super Bowl. They don't hate
individuals, buildings, or stadiums; they hate the idea of America,
the freedoms that we all enjoy here. Once we give them up voluntarily,
the terrorists can celebrate; we will be just like the people in their
countries, and all those places in the world whose citizens properly
fear their leaders.
Can't happen here? Can anyone give me one reason
why not? Are we a different species from the human beings who have
struggled to defend themselves and their families against the armed
power of government for all of recorded history?
Yes, illegal immigration is a problem. Some
immigrants have crept into the country to do harm. Many of them,
however, are here trying to escape the abuses of their own
governments. There are very few people on the planet who wouldn't be
better off here than they are wherever they are instead. So why don't
we just let all of them come here? Move over, Americans; you're
hogging the land of the free.
We can protect ourselves from traveling terrorists
by having a National ID card with a centralized database, so we can
keep track of them. Maybe then they'll stay where they are, since
America won't be all that much different than where they came from.
Eventually the database can be expanded so that
someone always knows where everyone in the world is and what they are
In the mid-'90s, my partner Chip Ford, then
director of an organization called Freedom First, wrote an article
Tech and the Age of Intrusion," in which he tracked the
erosion of our freedom. Beginning with the social security card, which
we were promised would never be used for general identification, to
today's database marketing, he chronicles the broken promises and
warns that modern crime-prevention techniques like DNA fingerprinting
can also be used against ordinary citizens.
Have I been overly influenced by his concern?
No, I was already frightened by reading Orwell's
1984 in college. But many of us thought once that date came and went
in a free America, we'd dodged the totalitarian bullet. So fine, no
one has put your face in a cage full of rats yet; good for you.
A few years later, I danced to the music of Rare
Earth: "Hey, Big Brother, as soon as you arrive ... take a closer
look at the people you meet, and notice the fear in their eye,
As it turns out, we have a lot more to fear than
fear itself. Very few rallied to the defense of privacy and freedom:
on Massachusetts talk radio, David Brudnoy doesn't think that the loss
of liberties will enhance our own security, but Rush Limbaugh, Jay
Severin and Avi Nelson all stated their willingness to give up some of
both for "security," as if there is such a thing. Only Jim
Braude on WTKK fulfilled the role I'm sure Jerry Williams would have
played a decade ago.
The Homeland Security Act passed both branches of
Congress with little opposition. As Rare Earth asked us all, back in
the '70s, "Now that you've got the picture, what you going to