Monday, July 6, 2009

Pro-Life Americans Declared Terrorists: It Can't Happen Here?

America is the land of the free, right? The place where people are allowed to voice their opinions, even if they don't completely agree with America's leaders, right?

In theory, yes.

In practice, we came close to losing that freedom when I was a child, and may be losing it now.

McCarthyism and the 'Good Old Days' - I Don't Want to Go Back

The 'McCarthy Era' - those years bracketing 1950 - gave America the Hollywood blacklist, loyalty review boards, and the term "McCarthyism" to describe off-the-wall, moonbat-crazy anticommunist paranoia.

Senator McCarthy was merely the most publicly recognizable name associated with the sort of witch hunts that were ebbing as I grew up. Irrational fear of 'the commies' was shared by a disturbingly large number of people.

Political Correctness and the Halls of Ivy

One of my terms in college was spent during what may prove to have been the heyday of political correctness: before Americans in general learned about the sort of ideological nonsense that passed for education.

A Return to McCarthyism? Not in My Lifetime

America won't see anything quite like McCarthyism - not in my lifetime, I think. Insane ultranationalistic conservatism still occurs in individuals, and probably always will: but it will take a very long time to blot the memory of Senator McCarthy, Archie Bunker, and Frank Burns from America's culture.

The sort of ideological purity that supporters of political correctness wanted, on the other hand, hasn't acquired the stigma of McCarthyism. In a way, I can understand the lack of stigma. The ideologues with political and secular clout these days:
  • Aren't attacking an industry that influences what Americans watch
    • In the movies
    • On television
  • Haven't acquired a colorful spokesperson like Senator Joseph McCarthy
  • Aren't rabid anti-communists
Today's ideologues are after people with a different set of 'dangerous ideas.'
"Washington, DC ( -- A bill that is moving through Congress would allow the nation's Attorney General to classify pro-life Americans as terrorists. Rep. Alcee Hastings, a pro-abortion congressman, has introduced a bill that calls for the Attorney General to have discretion over who is called a terrorist and what groups will be treated as terrorist groups.

"Congressman Trent Franks, a pro-life Republican from Arizona, talked about the bill: 'While the amendment seeks to keep gang members and members of violent groups out of the military, the amendment by its language is much more broad. Specifically, it confers upon the Attorney General the ability to categorize groups as hate groups, and this sounds an alarm for many of us because of the recent shocking and offensive report released by the Department of Homeland Security which labeled, arguably, a majority of Americans as 'extremists.'..." (One Nation Under God)

'It Can't Happen Here?' It Almost Has

So far this year:
  • A state-sponsored think tank decided that supporters of Ron Paul, pro-life activists, and other dangerous people should be watched closely
  • The Pentagon used a quiz which defined anti-war protests as terrorism
    • It which made sense, after a vital clarification was added to the test
  • The Department of Homeland Security identified American veterans and pro-lifers as potential terrorists
This time, it won't be the commies who are hunted down and rooted out of America's institutions. It will be enemies of the state who threaten the well-being of honest citizens because of their crimethink.
Dangerous Legislation, Dangerous Assumptions
If traditional American journalism was a defender of freedom, a stalwart "bulwark of democracy," we'd have read about this bill in the 'real' news, right?

Right: if traditional American journalism was as unbiased as it's sometimes supposed to be.

A hypothetical conservative paper in the early fifties might have seen nothing wrong with blacklisting commie sympathizers and finding those 57 communists in the State Department.

I think it's arguable that too many journalists - and, more importantly, editors - see nothing wrong with keeping a close watch on dangerous characters like those pro-life activists, Ron Paul supporters, and American veterans. Particularly the veterans: those people have been trained to use guns!

It's a short step from there to declaring people with the 'wrong' views as "terrorists" - which would become the contemporary equivalent of "enemy of the state."

I think there's chance that America won't see another period where people lose their jobs, their careers, and sometimes their freedom because of what they believe - or what others say they believe.

But I think that between fear of terrorists, fear of guns, and fear of people with ideas and beliefs which do not fit the dominant culture's mold, America could lose the freedoms which we now enjoy.

Related posts: In the news:
A tip of the hat to USACatholic, for the heads-up on this article.

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.