Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. Benjamin Franklin, from a letter written on behalf of the Pennsylvania General Assembly
Florida is a state which is experienced in the massacres of the helpless.
The Rosewood massacre was a violent, racially motivated massacre of blacks and destruction of a black town by a self righteous white mob that took place during the first week of January 1923 in rural Levy County, Florida. Estimates of the death toll range from eight to as many as 150, Libby, Jeff, “Rosewood Descendant Keeps The Memory Alive”. Orlando Sentinel (February 1, 2004), http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2004-02-01/news/0401300610_1_rosewood-massacre-white-mob-black-residents.
Today, America is trapped in sorrow as an unbalanced fool named Omar Mateen again kills in Florida. The gunman who went on a shooting rampage in a popular Orlando gay nightclub, Pulse. As officials offered new details about another mass shooting in American history the tragedy has left 49 people dead and 53 wounded.
And what was the response of the two leading candidates for president?
Clinton’s plan? Expand the “terrorist watch lists” despite the fact that there are hundreds of thousands of people who appear to be on the list for no reason at all, and whose lives are destroyed. The Unfortunate Experience Of Being On Homeland Security’s Terrorist Watchlist, https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20141022/13594728911/blogger-terrorist-watchlist-details-ridiculousness-dealing-with-governments-various-security-theaters.shtml. The Intercept, a news organization that obtained classified government documents, reported last year that more than 40 percent of the 680,000 people on the terrorist watch list as of 2013 were described as having “no recognized terrorist group affiliation.” The Intercept, Watch Commander: Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers, https://theintercept.com/2014/08/05/watch-commander/
No matter, Clinton says let’s expand it:
“We need to look carefully at this,” she said. “Should we have a broader database? If someone comes to the attention of the FBI not once, but three times, that suggests that law enforcement needs to know, that people need to be more aware.” Danielle Kurtzleben, In Wake Of Orlando Shooting, Clinton Suggests Broader Terrorist Watch Lists, NPR (June 13, 2016) http://www.npr.org/2016/06/13/481853366/in-wake-of-orlando-shooting-clinton-suggests-broader-terror-watch-lists
Meanwhile, Trump, beyond the much publicized and repeated plan to stop anyone who is a Muslim from immigrating to the country (even though the shooter was born here), also encouraged a much broader version of the already moronic “see something, say something” campaign after blaming Obama:
[Trump] said Americans need to be willing to call the authorities when they see friends, family and neighbors performing suspicious activities. Id.
Ahhh…America land of the free….so long as you are willing to rat out your parents and neighbors. Franklin was right, if we follow the road suggested by Clinto or Trump we lose security and freedom.
So what should be done?
Do you remember Chelsea Manning? Chelsea Elizabeth Manning (born Bradley Edward Manning, December 17, 1987) is a United States Army soldier who was convicted in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly three-quarters of a million classified or unclassified but sensitive military and diplomatic documents. Manning was sentenced in August 2013 to 35 years’ imprisonment, with the possibility of parole in the eighth year, and to be dishonorably discharged from the Army. Manning is a trans woman who, in a statement the day after sentencing, said she had felt female since childhood, wanted to be known as Chelsea, and desired to begin hormone replacement therapy.
Ms. Manning recently wrote in The Guardian:
As we mourn the shooting victims, it’s imperative that we remember the response can be more dangerous than the attack.
We must grieve and mourn and support each other, but in our grief and outrage we must resist any temptations to let this attack – or any attack – trigger anti-Muslim foreign policy, attacks on our civil liberties or as an excuse to descend into xenophobia and Islamophobia.
However, an attack like this is carefully planned and executed to maximize attention by inflaming the passions of a helpless public. Because of this, the response can be more dangerous than the attack. The refrains of “safety and security” have, for many years, been used as a tool by the powerful to justify curtailing civil liberties and emboldening backlash against immigrants, Muslim people and others.
Current proposals for hate crime laws and terrorism enhancements only take more power away from our community. We consolidate power with law enforcement only to have those same mechanisms turned against us. For example, more intense scrutiny on verification procedures in government and business have created barriers for trans people seeking documents that correctly identify their gender, causing us to be subjected to abusive and humiliating searches when traveling. Any increase in surveillance of marginalized communities for the sake of security theater have expanded the cycle of criminalization that queer people – especially queer people of color – are forced to navigate.
If only Clinton and Trump would listen to these words.