| I've said it before and I feel pressed to say it
again: my parents came to the United States in 1968 as political refugees
from what was then Czechoslovakia, a previously democratic country which
fell under the Soviet sphere of influence after WWII. I grew up being constantly
reminded of what a privilege it was to live in the US where you could say
and do as you pleased without fear of government scrutiny or intervention.
Of course, being the spoiled punk brat I was, I pretty much scoffed at my
mother's first-hand accounts of being pulled from the street by secret police,
detained, interrogated, and then released with threats and warnings. (She
herself had not been "politically" active, but her father had fled Czechoslovakia
in 1948 and so for 20 years she was subject to random harassment. No wonder
she wanted to leave.)
Mounted Police, Westlake Plaza,
March 5, 2003
| I scoffed then, but the stories made an
impression. Police state repression is real. And now it's happening here:
The USA PATRIOT Act of October 2001 opened the door for unlimited surveillance
and detainment of suspected "terrorists" (which can and has been interpreted
to mean anyone who even *voices* opposition to the present regime), and "PATRIOT
Act II" (the Domestic Security Enhancement Act -
if passed, will effectively suspend citizens' rights to due process of law,
opening the door to secret arrests, indefinite detainments, and deportations
of US citizens without trial or evidence. Yes, all this is really happening.
Hard to believe, practically unfathomable, but ignoring it isn't going to
make it go away.
April 20, 2002
"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing
because he could only do a little."
I think it's time to extend the conversation. Share such
news with family and friends who might not fall into the "liberal" camp.
Write or phone your local police and let them know your concerns. Contact
mainstream media organs to prick the consciences of their editors. This is
not about partisan politics. This is not about the flag. This is about the
Constitutional protections that define American democracy. (Protections which
I saw "suspended" even before the Bush administration, when in 1999 the City
of Seattle declared a "no-protest zone" in an attempt to silence voices opposing
the WTO.) Democracy is a practice, not a guarantee. Use it or lose it.
These words buck me up:
"There is a basic weakness in governments, however massive their armies,
however wealthy they are, however they control the information given to the
public, because their power depends on the obedience of citizens, of soldiers,
of civil servants, of journalists and writers and teachers and artists. When
these people begin to suspect they have been deceived, and withdraw their
support, the government loses its legitimacy, and its power."