[Originally posted on The Grassy Knoll]
As for the ramifications of the Patriot Act; I still think that the US cannot see the forest for the trees. McCarthy was out persecuting people and trying to shut them up or shut them down because they were (allegedly) in cahoots with an organisation whose greatest sin was the way they smashed dissent and denied individual freedom. Had the American people at an essential level understood the grim irony of this position it might have given them pause.
But most of the fervent patriotism I see coming from there is still of the moronic yeee-hhaaaa flag-waving kind with no real thought whatsoever. 'My country right or wrong' must be one of the most insidious notions ever concocted because if an adminstration takes the helm that does NOT have the average joe's interests at heart, they'll still go on merrily shafting themselves and handing ove their rights for some mythical 'greater good'. This is no better, in any sense, than the same brainwashing in mainland China, in the former Soviet Union, or in any other nation where 'the State' takes on an autocratic life of its own and rules the people instead of serving them.
Our Anzac Club - a group for retired servicemen and women - has the motto They Only Deserve Freedom Who Are Prepared To Defend It. I'd want clarification because that sounds stupid from where I'm sitting. I would want to know how long I have to surrender my freedom (until the threat is passed?) before I have a right to regain it and thereby give it meaning. If I never have freedom, and there is nothing in the system I serve that will look like giving me freedom then I am defending a lie; a pretend freedom. And what value does my future freedom have if I have lost my independant will or been permanently scarred by the experience of first defending it?
If I have to defend my freedom but some shirker indirectly benefits from it then am I to be given cold comfort by sneering at them that THEY don't deserve it?
So if the old diggers are going to have such a contentious statement on their wall then they need to hire a patient and skilled mason or scribe to etch all the subclauses and codicils that should emanate. And that would just look messy. Better to get a decent slogan to begin with.
Besides it is a weak statement because if we apprehend what freedom really entails then we have an automatic right to it. The fact that there may be hostile forces ready and willing to take that away from us (including those on our 'own side') does not take away from our right to it. An analogy would be insisting that in order for a business to run, it should have all the necessary security features, alarms etc whereas no the merchant has the RIGHT to have his gold trinkets on a trestle in a crowded marketplace. His right here is not, and should not, be impinged by the inevitability of some scum stealing it. Of course he would be foolish to leave it so unguarded but that is an entirely different proposition to saying that he has no right to be a merchant in the first place.
The thing about the Patriot Act is that it doesn't guarantee its citizens freedom; it does the opposite. So it should be opposed for being against the American Constitution, its founding fathers and all it purports to stand for. This rather spins past some vague thing called an 'opinion' and has ultimately fuck all to do with partisan politics.
We had an Australia Card proposal by a social democrat government, which would have seen every individual's details stored at one central chip. It was so vehemently opposed that the plan was abandoned, as it should have been. American needs to treat the Patriot Act the same way.