April 14, 2009
Defining patriotism down
Speaking of activists with the power to ruin lives, one of the things that has long concerned me about activists in government is their natural tendency to misuse the power of government to go after people they don't like.
While I don't know whether liberal activist types have now taken over the Department of Homeland Security, I am more than a bit concerned about some of the language in the report that "Homeland Security Warns of Rise in Right-Wing Extremism." I did not find it especially reassuring to click on the link to the source material only to find this definition of "right wing extremism":
...Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.Would that make libertarians and federalists extremists?
What about the people who uttered these famous statements?
"Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice."
"Government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem."While there are plenty of liberal activists who would characterize the latter is an "extremist anti-government" sentiment, they would do well to remember that a full 59% of the American people still agree with it:
...a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey shows that the basic views of the American people have not change: 59% of voters still agree with Reagan's inaugural address statement. Only 28% disagree, and 14% are not sure.In light of the recent reports, I think the Department of Homeland Security should be watched carefully for abuses of power. As things stand now, the Patriot Act has already been hideously misused. Many people worried that it would be, and it is a primary reason I opposed it from the start. I didn't like the idea of empowering people with the right to conduct warrantless searches any more then than I do now.
Despite my concerns I was repeatedly reassured that such extraordinary powers would only be used to go after real terrorists in light of the 9/11 attack.
Sorry, but government does not work that way; I witnessed Patriot Act powers being used against black American teenagers riding the Greyhound Bus. And if they'll abuse their power to shake down black teenagers, then why wouldn't they now use it against, say, libertarian federalists who oppose gun control?
If anyone can now be considered an "extremist" (and hence a terrorist) according to the whim of whoever is in charge, I think it might be time to junk the Patriot Act.
posted by Eric on 04.14.09 at 11:38 AM
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