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May 25, 2003


This article (called "Patriot Raid", by Jason Halperin) gives the "USA-PATRIOT" Act some perspective -- a first-person one. He experienced a raid while eating dinner at a restaurant in New York City, where the agents involved claimed the "USA-PATRIOT" Act as the legal cover for the raid and their conduct during it.

If you know anyone who says, "Don't worry about the Patriot only applies to terrorists and immigrants...if you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to worry about...the Patriot Act is just providing law enforcement with the tools it needs...", make them read this article. Twice if necessary. Make them acknowledge the reality of it. If they want to continue thinking the above thoughts, fine. But they need to make sure they aren't playing fast and loose with Pastor Martin Niemoller-style excuses and evasions.

The USA-PATRIOT Act means machine guns in your face, and boots kicking in doors where you are, doing your innocent and ordinary things. Not just the terrorists and the guilty, not just the immigrants and the You, sitting there in a restaurant eating dinner. Jason Halperin is you and me and everyone else.

As I see it, the only Niemollerism left upon acceptance of those realities is the idea that "none of those people were harmed; the raid was just a necessary inconvenience in the War on Terror. It's a small price to pay for security from terrorism. 'Loaded guns pointed in faces, people made to crawl on their hands and knees, police officers clearly exacerbating a tense situation by kicking in doors, taunting, keeping their fingers on the trigger even after the situation was under control.'? Well, this is a war -- it won't be all fun and games." Fine, keep thinking that if you want -- and maybe you won't be in the restaurant (or store, or apartment building, or intersection) when one of these raids goes wrong. (And raids do go wrong. That's undeniable.)

I suppose there is one other very slender thread of evasion left that says that it was still a predominantly minorities-focused raid. I guess that could provide folks in the White Belt with a thin veil of false assurance. (I just made up the term "White Belt" as far as I know -- hopefully it's clear I'm talking about the many swaths of America which have a very small minority population. I mean no disrespect to Caucasians. Many of my friends are Caucasians. ;-))

I'm on the far western edge of that belt myself -- the minority population here is about 5%. It's a pretty liberally-minded place, and I've never noticed any remarkable amount of racism here, but in regard to the War on Terror I think there's definitely a sense that we're kind of out of that loop. We have no major metropolitan areas or "high-value" terrorist targets, and we hardly have enough Arabs or Hispanic folks to speak of. (I think the mainstream perception that War on Terror enforcement mostly involves those groups is pretty dominant.) Most people here probably think that nobody in Nevada County is going to be hauled away, raided, or hassled by the FBI, CIA, INS, or the Department of Homeland Security. And they probably think that nobody here is getting searched or surveilled without probable cause and reasonable justification.

I bet that a lot of people, White Belters and otherwise, think those things in the process of processing the thoughts that lead to the "OK"-ing of the "Patriot Act". Well, they need to read Jason Halperin's story. And they need to read Pastor Martin Niemoller's regrets. It doesn't take much puzzling to put those two pieces together into a bigger picture. If you can knowingly, with full awareness, look at that bigger picture and still say, "Yeah, let's go for it!", then fine. You're entitled to your opinion. Though I utterly oppose your view, I won't begrudge you your reasoned and thought-out opinion.

But it's time to set the evasions aside. Dump the "It won't happen to me", the "If you're not doing anything wrong, you don't have anything to worry about", and the "It only applies to terrorists and immigrants." Those are fake reasons -- you don't get to use them. If you're going to help propel the bandwagon that's driving us toward this new, disturbing America, at least be honest about it. With us, and with yourself.

Posted by Lance Brown at May 25, 2003 01:18 AM | TrackBack

I would like to keep my story annonymous because the whole idea of this law is to police the internet. With that said, here's the story. I live in nowhere USA everybody (where, I'm sure there are no "high value" terrorist targets either). A friend of my families bought a piece of property here. He was in the process of turning on his utilities and he was dealing with the water company. He paid the deposit and he paid a bill that was previously owed. The water company told hime he would have to replace the meter on his property before they could turn on his water and that it would be at his own expense. He agreeed to do this except that he didn't have the money at the time. So, he went home, went to the meter and somehow turned it on his self. The water company noticed and they came to his property and took the meter out. So he proceeds to put a pipe in the ground and rigs it so that his water is back on. Now, I am unclear about why or how the events that follow happened but this is the way it went down. Federal Marshals come to his home (while he wasn't home) and his father answered the door. They tell him his son is to be arrest for TERRORISM because the new Patriot act states that tampering with an american utility is considered an act of terrorism. All this after he paid the deposit and the bill previously owed. This was on property HE owned and he was to be arrested for terrorism. Is he a terrorist, certainly not. The only thing he is guilty of is being dumb! Now, this happened to an ordinary person in anywhere USA for something that no regular person would consider terrorism. I don't know if this is common knowledge but when you're arrested for terrorism, you can be held indefinetly without and formal charges pressed against you. You no longer have any civil rights or civil liberties. Would he deserve that? I think not!!!

So here is to all of those who think they have nothing to fear from this Patriot act. Think of criminal activities on the far left of a scale and the perfectly legal on the far right. And everwhere in between is grey area. Over time cases go to court and it is unclear weather something in that grey area was terrorism. The court rules that it was and it sets a precident that slowly over time criminal activities that would be considered terrorism starts to move to the right on that scale. Then it reaches the point to where what used to be legal is now illegal (like reading certain books). And that means the things that YOU do are now illegal. And at this point, it's been made legal to listen in on your cell phone conversations, read your email, they can even do what's know as a "sneak and peak." What that means is that they can come into your house without you EVER knowing and look for terrorist activities. That means they're looking for YOU! So that radical book you read in college or that trip to india you took puts a red flag on you. Does anyone else smell the Macarthyism? I think every American who loves their freedom had better be afraid of what this Act can do!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Not ganna tell you at June 3, 2003 07:47 PM

I found your site while researching for info against patriot 2. I found some great stuff on your site. My political philosophy is usually always libertarian. Collectivism is killing society!!! You have my vote.

Posted by: Martha Farnam at June 24, 2003 10:25 AM

Hi Im currently enrolled in a political science class. and was asked to research this topic . I want to thank you for opening my eyes to the real topic at hand . just wrote to say thanks . HASTA LA VICTORIA

Posted by: erick molinar at June 26, 2003 11:40 PM
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