September 19th, 2001

On Civil Liberties (and lack thereof).

With all the voices comparing the 9/11 attacks to Pearl Harbor, it's worthwhile to consider another WWII precendent: the burning of the Reichstag in 1933, which gave Hitler all the justification he needed to suspend civil liberties "for the Protection of the People and the State". (more)

In the face of this threat, the Left has unilaterally disarmed, pulling ads and suspending planned protests. And I understand this: the "Free Sklyarov" movement I lead in Boston also suspended its weekly protests after the bombings, and hasn't quite pulled itself back together yet. The AFL-CIO, Rainforest Action Network, the Sierra Club, the Rukus Society, and Friends of the Earth (just to name a few) have done the same.

Activists' silence could be called a mere matter of 'tact' if their voices weren't *urgently* needed at this time: NY state drafted "anti-terrorism" legislation that defines terrorism as any offense designed to "influence the policy of a unit of government" and provides for harsh penalties to those who harbor these "terrorists" or give them money. A host of new laws expanding electronic eavesdropping powers are being proposed: one by Bush, the Senate has already given the FBI the power to spy on the Internet without a warrant, Congress is mulling severe restrictions on the use of privacy-protecting cryptography (even though bin Laden doesn't use it anymore); the nefarious Carnivore device has already been installed at major ISPs (at *least* AOL and Earthlink). Draconian "security changes" have been proposed for Manhattan. See also "Bad News for Civil Liberties" on CBS News, "Civil Liberty the Next Casualty?" on Wired, and "Thousands dead, millions deprived of civil liberties?" by Richard Stallman. Remember, all this talk about "electronic intelligence" won't help the fight against bin Laden at all: although he reportedly has used strong cryptography in the past, the existing U.S. interception campaign has caused him to revert to "stone age" methods of communication, receiving and sending emissaries from his Afganistan base.

More info: The U.S. passed "safety and security in times of crisis" legislation in 1933 just like "Chancellor Hitler"; see this article; search for "1933". See this Slashdot article for ideas on what you can do about all this.

Remember who supports the Taliban.

Who supports the Taliban? We do! We support just about anyone if they pledge not to grow poppies. Remember, whether someone is a terrorist or a freedom fighter is a question of who you ask, not what they do. And the Taliban are an instrument for government supported by Pakistan; the British Durand Line arrangement was to give half of Pakistan to Afghanistan after 100 years; Pakistan obviously need not worry about losing this much of its territory as long as Pakistani-bred leadership rules the country.

More info: CHOMSKY WARNS OF POSSIBLE OVERTHROW OF PAKISTAN GOVERNMENT.

Thursday Peace Rally!

Thanks to my friend Whitney for pointing me to this; please come if you're nearby!

NATIONWIDE PEACE RALLY
Thursday, September 20
12 Noon, MIT Stratton Student Center Steps

Join MIT students as they rally for peace simultaneously with students at Cornell, Colombia (NY), Wesleyan (CT), the University of Southern California, Hunter College, Vassar, U.C. Berkeley, Penn State, the University of Kansas, Middlebury, Wesleyan (OH), Oberlin college, Harvard University, and many other colleges and universities across the country.

Come and advocate for:

  1. sympathy for the victims and their families;
  2. the sanctity of all human life;
  3. the protection of civil liberties;
  4. the importance of exercising caution in our governmental response; and
  5. the need to examine America's foreign policies.

Hear professors speak, listen to music, and join in the making of a peace quilt.
FOOD AND DRINKS WILL BE PROVIDED.

This rally will not be divisive or anti-American: We are just making sure that the voices of millions of peaceful Americans and residents are heard and considered. Together we can prevent this terrible tragedy from escalating to a bigger one!