Today, I got email from my favorite young lawyer-activist, Tanya Lat, who always seems to have her head and heart in the right place at the right time. She warns, citing Conrad de Quiros, of an Anti-Terror Bill that is designed to strike fear into the heart of any student activist (now known as a *gasp* – terror cell) threatening to bomb some state-run school once again because he spent all night spraying agitprop slogans all over the Metro instead of studying for tomorrow’s exams. This actually happened more than once in college, and I think the students were happier not for the added security (hassle!) but for the fact that we had yet another day of loafing around in our hands without the attendant academic responsibility.
No matter what the motivation, I think a Benjamin Franklin quote is appropriate: “A people who are willing to sacrifice individual liberty for security deserve to gain nothing and lose both.” In college, when we acquiesced to the added “security measures” to prevent any “untoward incidents”, we lost a lot of the vibe that had kept the place humming – the avenues for interaction between students, faculty, and other students were some of the most intimate and interactive I’d ever witnessed in a school – changed for the worse. In the end, the administration kept twiddling its thumbs waiting for the bomb that never came and the students… found other ways to interact outside campus.
Seriously, I hope the political leadership today gets a close look at what’s happening in the United States – the terror “threat” is mostly right-wing media hype, and a creation of Karl Rove. With the backlash against neoconservatism right now threatening to spill over into the next US elections, those who want to play the US patsy card may want to think twice (and this is an often used refrain in any society dealing with the US) = what the US wants now isn’t what it will want tomorrow (because it is a democracy, and people in a democracy have a right to change their minds 180 degrees on a subject especially if they’ve been as misled as they have been for the past six years). Call the Bush administration on its pledge of support for “positive” legislation now, be in the doghouse in less than a year, after the Presidents Spouses Clinton retake the White House. Smells like a snafu waiting to happen to me.
I wonder what the self-interest cards involved have to show in all of this, and if the military will want to play its hand before the current warmongers in Washington exit stage left (Haven’t they already though? The Democrat-controlled Congress, after years of pointless partisan bickering, now refuses to do anything that comes from George’s mouth). I also wonder if this is a political trade-off for the quiet acquiesence of the Palace to the Senate’s further belt-tightening measures in the 2007 budget. It certainly has all the signs – lose a little income now (from the reallocations) to gain much more later (off conversion in the long-awaited upgrade package from Uncle Sam, which by the way is bound to last longer than reallocated larceny).
If this is a concession toward the military for their continued support throughout what may be a difficult election period (to keep the results sufficiently skewed, considering how unpopular GMA continues to be), I think eggs may land on faces quite faster than you can say Humpy Dumpy. Don’t say I didn’t warn y’all.