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Monday, August 08, 2005

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: Stronger rules give us the liberties we fight for

New York Daily News - News & Views Columnists - Stanley Crouch: Stronger rules give us the liberties we fight forStronger rules give us the liberties we fight for

There are points when it is time to recognize what kind of trouble is being served for breakfast. That is what is happening with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who now speaks with the authority of a man who realizes exactly what time it is and what has to be done in his country: Draw the line and make it clear that the new safety measures have everything to do with the terrorist menace and have nothing to do with law-abiding Muslims, who surely constitute the majority.

This is how war is fought; not with pledges but with action. There is no doubt that a war is going on and only those who have slept as deeply as Rip Van Winkle are unaware of why Blair is moving to close down the covens of terrorism masquerading as mosques, and taking direct action against anyone who advocates terrorist actions. There are also plans to round up those who should be deported and throw them out of England.

As we can see with the harebrained and self-righteous New York Civil Liberties Union, the totalitarian records of Russia, China, Cambodia and North Korea always come to the minds of the mindless. It is impossible to maintain the same level of civil liberties during wartime that roll along exquisitely during peace. Despite this, the NYCLU has filed a federal lawsuit to put a stop to the random bag searches in New York City subways that began after the recent London bombings.

I think this is a good thing, however. It is yet another time when these issues need to move outside of undeclared civics classes and become part of the national dialogue. Americans need to know what is at stake and what is to be done. These are not abstract times where one can feel trapped while listening to people talk as though they are wearing the masks of contrarians in a classroom. Or are being petulant at a dinner party, where one can float any hypothesis and make any kind of comparison as though aggressive law enforcement is always wrong. That is: aggressive policing and limits on speech equal fascism.

There is more to why such discussions are important. Organizations such as the NYCLU - no matter how loony they might be - have the responsibility to challenge those governmental and law enforcement measures that they find dangerous. Unlike the theocracies that are being proposed by the terrorists, our system gains strength and eventually adapts well to the nature of reality. This is due to the openness which allows us to reimagine and redress either bad or ineffective policies, write new laws and dispose of bad ones.

That is why whatever freedoms were curtailed during the Civil War and World Wars I and II were always returned to the position of sacred ideals, functioning in law and policy. The grand differences between democracies and totalitarian systems is that the Russian people got more freedom under Joseph Stalin during the German invasion than they had before or after the Third Reich was defeated.

So it is very important to support the fact that Tony Blair was able to wake up and smell the trouble for breakfast. Even the French knew that the British lion was asleep when the rabid terrorist rodent was trying to destroy his home. Still, no matter the purpose, we must always cast a cautionary eye on the methods that have been chosen to defend us.

That must never be forgotten.

Originally published on August 7, 2005

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:23 PM

    First, we must stop pretending that the terrorists so far, by-and-large, have not been of the same ethnic origin. This will reasonably narrow down the search for potential perpetrators. But, it makes ALMOST as little sense to stop every Arab or North African in NYC today as it does to stop every 5th random person. Therefore, the profiling must be even more exact than race to be effective.

    Israel has been perfecting the art of profiling, and has successfully prevented El Al (national airline) hijackings since 1970. The profilers are trained to look for signs of suspicious behavior (body language), which provides effective clues of whom to question. Barring exceptional con artists, body language is a dead give away of suspicious behavior. In fact, police officers are trained to look for such clues when dealing with everyday criminals.

    The results: plenty of Arabs fly El Al, and yet enough people have been turned away to prevent terrorist attacks since 1970.

    So why not fly some Israelis to NYC to train New York’s finest on such tactics?