Friday, November 20, 2009

Political correctness gone wild?

While I think he put much too sharp a point on his argument, conservative talk-radio host Michael Smerconish brought up an important subject and made some good points on his morning show (article version) about political correctness gone wild in our society.

In particular, Mr. Smerconish is suggesting that it is political correctness that kept the military from acting on the suspicious activity of Major Nidal Malik Hasan, years prior to his recent alleged mass-shooting at Fort Hood. I think it's too early to jump to this conclusion, we don't know just how much Hasan's superiors knew, but I agree that it certainly appears to be the case. If so, this is a very serious problem that must be addressed.

Questions about the military's lack of action in the case of Major Hasan and the possibility that political correctness played a role is very valid, but conservative demagogues are, of course, already concluding this to be a point of fact and are using it as proof that their anti-Muslim rhetoric all these years have been correct.

Watch as my head spins now. Half-term, ex-Governor Sarah Palin went so far as to advocate fascism, yes fascism on Sean Hannity's Fox News program the other day. I say this not simply because Ms. Palin advocates "profiling", but rather the way in which she opens up the possibility of a disregard of civil rights or civil liberties if it does (or could be twisted) into saving American lives.

Specifically I'm referring to this line, "profiling, in, in the context of doing whatever we can to save innocent American lives — I'm all for it, then." It is this comment which reeks of the sort of tactics utilized by the Nazi regime and the police-state, protect-the-homeland-at-all-costs mentality that the German people embraced out of a mindless fear spurred on by fear-mongering and jingoistic propaganda.

Here is my take on what the Sarah Palin phenomena and Nationalistic, right-wing populism could lead to...

I think real Americans adhere to the sort of principals espoused by Benjamin Franklin, "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." But then, Sarah Palin, with all her rhetoric about "real America", and her Palin drones, have no clue about it. Read more about the culture of fear.

In addition to the xenophobia (and I do not use this term lightly) I am concerned about rhetoric suggesting that civil liberties, like a right to privacy and freedom of speech, are what lead to Maj. Hasan being permitted to becoming increasingly extremist and ultimately create a massacre. Such a line of thinking is absolutely baseless and absurd.

First of all, military personnel do not have the same constitutional rights as civilians, they sign away many of these when they enlist, so the idea that an overabundance of civil liberties in the case of Maj. Hasan is disturbing.

Secondly, due to the USA Patriot Act, the government has the legal authority to engage in wide-ranging, highly invasive and discreet surveillance of individuals who are suspected of having anti-American viewpoints, links to terrorists, or have engaged in "suspicious" activities.

From what I can see, there is absolutely zero reason to believe that civil liberties are too permissive in this country to prevent the proper authorities from acting on their suspicions. It appears to me that it is far more likely that the laws, as they are now, provide ample ability for the proper authorities to investigate suspicious persons and suspicious behaviors. Here is another article that suggests the real problem here is political correctness.

I believe we need to be vigilant in our efforts to protect the nation, and keep our civil liberties entact while we do so. We should be very cautious of those who propose, as the Bush Administration did after 9/11, to surrender our civil liberties in the name of security.

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