Monday, May 15, 2006

The surveillance society: Us and Them

The surveillanace society. It's about "us" and "them". Arkin says this well.
Early Warning by William M. Arkin -

... The government's position is that if you are "innocent," you have nothing to hide. It is a new version of 'you are either with us or against us.' Massive monitoring is of course meant to find terrorists; I completely believe that this is not some 1960's enemies list politically motivated effort. But these post 9/11 programs signal a new and different problem.

People of Middle Eastern and South Asian descent and Muslims are potential terrorists, machine selected as "of interest."

Throw in there callers and travelers to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, recipients of wire transfers, purchasers of fertilizer, flight school attendees. These are the new guilty until proven innocent.

Innocent means of course mostly white, mostly Christian Americans who accept that the government knows best and that the national security state is only after the bad guys and would never apply its new found capacities in any illegitimate way.

The government and its new seamless surveillance culture are build ing a digital dividing line, even in our own society. The assumption is one of an enemy in our midst.

The government's failure to provide for domestic tranquility and basic security in our homes is rewarded by more power for the government; "innocent" Americans are increasingly primed and frightened to accept that greater government surveillance is required by the realities of infiltration, ceding even more power. It is as much a way of thinking as it is a way of life...
I wired cash to my sister in Canada a few months ago. I was electonically interrogated to match me and my transaction to an identify database entry. For all I know that alone added me to a watch list - at least added a few points to my Threat Score. This is how it goes now. Everything you do now, you can justifiably ask yourself -- will this put me on The List?

Just being Muslim may take you halfway to The List. Supporting Greenpeace might add some points too. Who you know, who your family knows ...

Being a white evangelical right wing Bush supporter will tend to keep you off The List.

Anyone remember the internment of the Japanese-Americans? That was about 63 years ago; I have a rather good book at home that was self-published by a child caught up in that despicable American mistake. I wonder if one of the forty remaining journalists in America might be troubled to interview a survivors of that time...

There's an election coming. How you vote will matter, again (sigh).

No comments: