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It's time to do something with this blog besides watch it gather dust. Since I'm currently a Gentleman of Leisure (i.e. unemployed) I've had some time to catch up on books that have been on the "read some day because they're good for you" shelf. Some of these books are fiction. Others are about politics, logic or philosophy. A common theme in most of them is "What do you know and how do you know it?"
In light of this, the 800 pound gorilla squatting in American consciousness is a very strange beast indeed.
We're fighting a war on terror. The news says so every night. Our president never lets a speech go by without mentioning it. The talking heads can't open their mouths without bringing it up. It sounds good. Fight the terror. Kill the terrorists. Make the nation safe and ensure our liberties. Alright. I can understand that.
But then my little amphibian brain works on it a little longer, and it seems like whoever thought of this has set up a really bad practical joke.
We're fighting a War on Terror, and every one of us, we are told, is a soldier in that war. Hold on. We're supposed to be constantly activated, motivated, on guard and alert to the smallest sign of danger so that we can defeat fear. Tom Ridge pulls out a red or orange M&M so we're supposed to duct tape our windows. The Pentagon reports "chatter" and un-named credible threats, and we need to be "alert" and "ready for a terrorist attack". We have to be always afraid so that we can defeat fear and make it an ineffective weapon in the hands of our enemies.
Something's just not right here. A picture is coming into view.
And then there's the price. We've been told by our highest elected officials that the terrorists hate our freedom and want nothing more than to take away our liberty. There's only one way to fight them. All power must be concentrated in the Executive branch. Secret trials, lifetime detention without trial, torture, arbitrary arrest, classification of previously open information, partial mobilization and a (permanent) limited state of emergency, removal of all Congressional oversight of intelligence, world wide death squads and the end of the Posse Comitatus Act are small prices to pay to preserve our essential liberty.
And now the picture has a frame.
Whether or not any of these policies is good the message is twisted enough to hide in a corkscrew's shadow. To defeat fear we must live in constant fear. To preserve our freedoms we must abandon them.