Fear of terrorism smothers our rights
Published: Monday, March 12, 2012
Updated: Monday, March 12, 2012 21:03
According to a leaked document from the New York Police Department, its Intelligence Unit has been monitoring and collecting information on businesses, explicitly because of the owners' religion, specifically second and third-generation Muslim Americans. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has claimed that the monitoring is strictly based on geography, yet the large Jewish businesses populations in the same neighborhoods have been left unmonitored.
The report went on to show that many people are in the police records despite not having broken any laws, so that in the event of a possible terror plot the police would know every possible connection.
Are you surprised? Really? Does this seem unfathomable?
Maybe the general public is more trusting than I thought, but stories like this don't surprise me.
Not in the least bit. We all seem to take it as a matter of fact that the government could monitor us if it wanted, but we trust that they won't.
These sort of stories are the inconvenient truth that we like to blissfully pretend wouldn't happen in this country. I know why some would argue that the NYPD has done nothing wrong, but we need to be more careful with our freedoms.
We need to be less complacent when dealing with the liberties our country was founded on. We need to fight back against the desire to let fear guide our actions.
I understand the fear. Sept. 11, 2001 changed almost everything.
What it didn't change was what this country stands for and vows to protect—our freedom. We can't be willing to give up that freedom for a feeling of security. As long as we continue to listen to politicians stumping like doomsday theorists, we will not stand up to protect our rights.
Instead, we allow for fearmongering to stand in place of public policy and bow to the condescension that the powers that be know what's best for us.
As tough as it may be, it's important to look at the Sept. 11 attacks in perspective. Yes, we haven't had any terror attacks since 9/11, but we also didn't have this intense security in place before the attacks. That's not to say that our beefed up security hasn't prevented any attacks, but we truly don't know. Sept. 11 took almost a decade of planning, with an exhaustive amount of resources, and we still almost foiled the plan. The way we view the world may have changed, the enemies may have changed, but the fears and dangers remain largely the same.
Whether we're talking about Muslims, Russian communists or civil rights leaders, our country has a history of fearing different groups of people and allowing our government to spy on them. But we have always had enemies and will always have enemies. Politicians these days like us to think that because the threat is slightly different, the response needs to be appropriately drastic. Buying into this line of thinking leads to reactionary short-term solutions that weaken our long-term freedom.
What the NYPD and other authorities that employ similar tactics are doing is pitting the government against the people in the name of protecting them.
Instead of seeming to be working in the best interest of the people, they seem like the "Big Brother" we have always been taught to fear.
When authorities flex their ability to spy on their own people, they aren't making any of us feel safe. They're just giving us one more group to fear.
We know that the government has the means to become that "Big Brother," but we trust that the government would never let that happen and that there is a system in check to protect us.
Yet every time we willingly give up more freedom, we weaken the strength of those checks.
There is a philosophical argument to be had over the issues I have raised, but this is also an argument that is cut and dry, especially in the case of the NYPD. These are Americans.
Most of the business owners aren't even first-generation Americans, but second and third. Authorities are supposed to be protecting everyone, yet they're singling out certain groups.
These are people who happen to be Muslim, and while the government should distinguish between the average non-threatening Muslim and the violent extremists who distort their own religion in the name of bloodshed, it is just perpetuating the stereotypes.
The government is perpetuating the fear.
We have not only a right, but an obligation to be mad when we see stories like this. No American should be singled out or fear speaking out because of his or her religion. That's America 101.
We need to oppose legislation that suppresses our freedoms, let our legislators know that they're on notice and actively participate in preserving the ideals our country is founded on.
Right now, you may not see this as a threat, but what if it's your people under the microscope?