Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Being fooled out of my liberty for temporary safety

Hating our freedoms

Each time I hear that mantra about terrorists hating our freedoms, I look at how we have systematically moved beyond what terrorists might have intended with how we have curtailed our own freedoms in the quest for safety.

In the Netherlands, until about a year ago, it was OK to walk around with a photocopy of your identity like passport and offer the real thing when specifically asked at a later date.

For people who are not Dutch citizens, their identity is really kept in their passports and they have to carry that around with them amidst the clamour about illegal immigrants and crime, nobody has thought about the additional consequences of the loss of such important documents – they just want to see your identity, no other questions asked.

Air Travel Gloom

Months ago, I spelt the end of the joy of air travel with those outrageous restrictions predicated on people who were going to blow up trans-Atlantic flights that they would probably have boarded without passports, tickets and by mixing baby milk and toothpaste, scenting it with some celebrity piss water.

We now have uniform European regulations about what you can carry on board a flight; my advise, check it all on, forget the hand baggage stuff, they even take my cane off me so that I can hobble through the screening machine.

Besides, considering the Islamophobia that surrounds some of these benign rules, we pay homage by having to take off our shoes, just as if I were entering a mosque.

Now my bank

Nothing really got to me more than when I got this letter in the weekend requiring me to visit a branch of my bank within 10 working days to show my identity and give my signature to be recorded in some secure system – probably available to some secret service personnel anywhere in the world.

The fact is, if the data is collected, no matter the assurances at collection, it can be unscrupulously accessed, laws can change granting untrammelled access to the data on the premise of protecting our security.

The veiled threat, even though I have run the account for about 7 years and it has probably handled transactions that total over half a million Euros, is, they will be forced to block my account with the comforting statement – We naturally assume that this would not be necessary.

The kind of statement you can expect if the matron at Guantanamo Bay called round to pat your head, or maybe, give you a dunking.

Identity card flawed logic

This follows the premise that having an identity card prevents terrorism, as if the document has a bleeper that indicates a terrorist is in the vicinity.

The other thing would be if banks have been offered a watch list such that you walk into the bank and before you know it, truck loads of armed personnel are shooting down the door to cart you away a cadaver victim of excitable but suspect intelligence.

None of this stuff bodes well for our civil liberties and we are lead like helpless sheep to the slaughter of all was won and blood spilt for in the last century.

Fooled out of liberty

I should now expect a visit to the bank that handles my mortgage, then one to the bank that handles my credit card, I wonder if I have to go to Brighton to get certified to use my American Express card – where would all this end?

Then, I suddenly, I wonder if I am deserving of my freedom or liberty as our parliamentarians allow the politics of fear, the lifeblood of the war on terrorism to obliterate the essential context of Benjamin Franklin’s words of over 250 years ago.

“They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety” – What do we have left of our liberty and how safe do we feel?

Beyond that, I would give Abraham Lincoln the last word on this matter, in the midst of all that is being done to ensure we are no more caught unawares by terrorist, are we being fooled or taken for fools?

“You may fool all the people some of the time; you can even fool some of the people all the time; but you can’t fool all of the people all the time”

Bush learnt that lesson last week; hopefully, more people would refuse to be fooled anymore by this phoney war of power trips and marauding police states in Western democracies, in the name of the war on terror.

References

Liquid Bombers Prove: “They hate our freedoms”

Freedom, the prison of civil society

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