Friday, August 19, 2005

Evidence of the expanding US totalitarian state

From John Gilmore to the cryptography list:

> one that is all too relevant today. The pertinent question is no longer
> whether Americans spied, but rather how highly educated, intelligent men
> and women failed to comprehend the true nature of Stalinist communism, and
> why they were willing to risk their lives and imperil the security of their
> families, neighbors and friends to commit crimes on behalf of a foreign
> power opposed to the basic tenets of modern society.

This was a good observation, but the next sentence muddled it with
typical American self-blindness.

> Answers to similar
> questions, regarding educated Muslims with experience of life in Europe and
> the U.S. like those who led the 9-11 and Madrid attacks, are essential to
> constructing a defense against 21st century terrorism.

I want the same answer about how not just the Washington elite, but
even army kids from Iowa, fail to comprehend WHY we prohibit torture,
provide fair trials and legal representation, due process of law, and
why we have a constitution or civil rights at all. Do they not
comprehend the true nature of a United States with arbitrary searches,
travel papers, pervasive surveillance, no effective Leg. or
Jud. checks on arbitrary executive power, no federalism checks on
unlimited federal power, indefinite imprisonment of US citizens at the
will of the President, indefinite imprisonment without trial of
non-citizens seized by force anywhere in the world, and wars of
occupation? It's caled an expanding totalitarian state, kiddies, and
every totalitarian stste tells its citizens how they are the freest
country in the world. Get out and compare for yourself!

Then tell me what the "basic tenets of modern society" are.

John Gilmore (posting from Greece)

PS: Add in a lapdog press too. Try reading the foreign press on the web.
They actually ask hard questions of pols and slam them for evading. And
all their sources aren't anonymous "highly placed govt officials".

And to go along with this, Perry Metzger had a very well put posting on why we should't blindly trust governments:

[email protected] writes:
> But nevertheless, I do not understand why americans are so afraid of
> an ID card.

Perhaps I can explain why I am.

I do not trust governments. I've inherited this perspective. My
grandfather sent his children abroad from Speyer in Germany just after
the ascension of Adolf Hitler in the early 1930s -- his neighbors
thought he was crazy, but few of them survived the coming events. My
father was sent to Alsace, but he stayed too long in France and ended
up being stuck there after the occupation. If it were not for forged
papers, he would have died. (He had a most amusing story of working as
an electrician rewiring a hotel used as office space by the Gestapo in
Strasbourg -- his forged papers were apparently good enough that no
one noticed.) Ultimately, he and other members of the family escaped
France by "illegally" crossing the border into Switzerland. (I put
"illegally" in quotes because I don't believe one has any moral
obligation to obey a "law" like that, especially since it would leave
you dead if you obeyed.)

Anyway, if the governments of the time had actually had access to
modern anti-forgery techniques, I might never have been born.

To you, ID cards are a nice way to keep things orderly. To me, they
are a potential death sentence.

Most Europeans seem to see government as the friendly, nice set of
people who keep the trains running on time and who watch out for your
interests. A surprisingly large fraction of Americans are people or
the descendants of people who experienced the institution of
government as the thing that tortured their friends to death, or
gassed them, or stole all their money and nearly starved them to
death, etc. Hundreds of millions of people died at the hands of their
own governments in the 20th century, and many of the people that
escaped from such horrors moved here. They view things like ID cards
and mandatory registry of residence with the local police as the way
that the government rounded up their friends and relatives so they
could be killed.

I do not wish to argue about which view is correct. Perhaps I am wrong
and Government really is the large friendly group of people that are
there to help you. Perhaps the cost/benefit analysis of ID cards and
such makes us look silly. I'm not addressing the question of whether
my view is right here -- I'm just trying to explain the psychological
mindset that would make someone think ID cards are a very bad idea.

So, the next time one of your friends in Germany asks why the crazy
Americans think ID cards and such are a bad thing, remember my father,
and remember all the people like him who fled to the US over the last
couple hundred years and who left children that still remember such
things, whether from China or North Korea or Germany or Spain or
Russia or Yugoslavia or Chile or lots of other places.


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