November 30, 2007

The Authoritarian Democrats: Welcome to the Era of "Thought Crimes"

In "Blinded by the Story," I explained how a purportedly serious belief that the Democrats have acted historically and act now to further peace and protect liberty can only be maintained by forbidding oneself to understand the political developments of the last hundred years. After detailing the detestable records of Wilson, FDR and Clinton with regard to civil liberties (and do check out the earlier essay for some specifics about Bill's glorious "antiterrorist" legislation, which thoughtfully prepared the ground for the vile Patriot Act, in both its first and latest versions), I wrote:
The Democrats are opposed to an increasingly repressive, authoritarian state? Try to be serious.
Here is Philip Giraldi, with the latest exhibit in the ongoing bipartisan destruction of the fragile, vanishing remnants of freedom:
One would have thought that the systematic dismantling of the Constitution of the United States would have been enough to satisfy even the most Jacobin neoconservative, but there is more on the horizon, and it is coming from people who call themselves Democrats. The mainstream media has made no effort to inform the public of the impending Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. The Act, which was sponsored by Congresswoman Jane Harman of California, was passed in the House by an overwhelming 405 to 6 vote on October 24th and is now awaiting approval by the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is headed by Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. It is believed that approval by the committee will take place shortly, to be followed by passage by the entire Senate.

Harman's bill contends that the United States will soon have to deal with home grown terrorists and that something must be done to anticipate and neutralize the problem. The act deals with the issue through the creation of a congressional commission that will be empowered to hold hearings, conduct investigations, and designate various groups as "homegrown terrorists." The commission will be tasked to propose new legislation that will enable the government to take punitive action against both the groups and the individuals who are affiliated with them. ... Harman's bill does not spell out terrorist behavior and leaves it up to the Commission itself to identify what is terrorism and what isn't. Language inserted in the act does partially define "homegrown terrorism" as "planning" or "threatening" to use force to promote a political objective, meaning that just thinking about doing something could be enough to merit the terrorist label. The act also describes "violent radicalization" as the promotion of an "extremist belief system" without attempting to define "extremist."


As should be clear from the vagueness of the definitions, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act could easily be abused to define any group that is pressuring the political system as "terrorist," ranging from polygamists, to second amendment rights supporters, anti-abortion protesters, anti-tax agitators, immigration activists, and peace demonstrators. In reality, of course, it will be primarily directed against Muslims and Muslim organizations. ... Many of the suspects will inevitably be "anti-American" professors at various universities and also groups of Palestinians organized against the Israeli occupation, but it will be ea[sy] to use the commission formula to sweep them all in for examination.

The view that 9/11 has "changed everything" is unfortunately all too true. It has unleashed American paranoia, institutionalized mistrust of foreigners, and created a fantasy universe in which a US beset by enemies must do anything and everything to counter the alien threat. If it were a sane world, it would be difficult to imagine why anyone would believe that a Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act is even necessary.
I underscore that, in addition to the fact that this abominable legislation is completely unnecessary and a profound threat to civil liberties, the Democrats have ever so generously brought us to the era of "thought crimes": "just thinking about doing something could be enough to merit the terrorist label."

Of course, those of you so inclined should feel free to keep telling yourselves and the rest of us that all concerned citizens must vote for Democrats ("more and better" ones, it goes without saying, although many people will not stop saying it), because any alternative is so much worse, including all those alternatives which the now-mainstream "progressives" adamantly refuse even to consider.

Right. Got it.