After the conception of the War on Terror, the beginning of New American international diplomacy and the adoption of domestic policies akin to the initiation of a police state, many columnists and theorists argued we had left the year 2001 and entered Orwell’s 1984. Indeed, it has unfolded like the Orwellian analogists claimed it would, with systematic methods of control supported by covert actions against citizens in the American backyard. Big Brother is watching, and has transformed citizens into drones.
Before disregarding this as a nonsensical, extremist conspiracy theory espoused by a petty liberal who despises the current regime in government, observe the following:
If you hate the right enemies, then you might just be a drone.
One of the chief tools utilized by the government of 1984 to control the masses was the media and propaganda. Aside from the fact that in reality less than ten companies control the media – therefore dissemination of information is subject to the lobby interests of those companies – most Americans are educated in current affairs by one or two channels and not, say, varying perspectives in nonfiction literature.
As noted prior to the war in Iraq, most youths could not locate Iraq on a map of the world. This was for some reason presented as a feature by a major news source as surprising. It was not, considering that when the news discusses Iraq, it presents it as a single graphic, often without addressing the countries bordering it. Recent surveys reveal that Americans prove to be illiterate in geography. Yet, news sources are consistently eager to educate the public on enemies from far, far away.
All of this, while lending itself to passing legislation on international relations without so much as a whispered protest from the people, has led to a growing American xenophobia. It is an easy feeling to maintain through propaganda, since many Americans do not know much about the locations or cultures of rogue and/or menacing states discussed in the news. This simple ignorance, coupled with color-coded threat meters fluctuating daily, has led to fear and loathing in the United States.
Of course, many countries have been labeled as “terrorist” hot spots, despite the fact that terrorist organizations are historically independent of states, and many groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan, could certainly be considered terrorist organizations working within the United States. Of these alleged suspect nations, many do not even consider themselves enemies. Not to mention that countless “enemies” offered assistance when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast.
Contrast this distrust of foreign governments against the general misconception that our own government exists to protect and serve.
If you believe the government exists to protect you, you might just be a drone.
An ignored fact from beloved American history is that the framers of the Constitution shaped it in such a way that the people would be protected from, not by, the federal government.
Legislation such as the PATRIOT Act passed and all dissent was silenced, due to an odd period in American history when it was “unpatriotic” to question the government. It has unfortunately, yet predictably, led to a number of mishaps such as mistaken profiling and unnecessary surveillance of citizens.
If a federal agent is listening to your telephone calls, you might just be a drone. Big Brother is tapping a number of telephones under the ambiguously worded “roving” clause. The clause was shielded by vocabulary such as “enhancing domestic security against terrorism” (See: PATRIOT Act, Title I) and “working to keep America safer.” The result has been the interception, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, of several telephone calls made by ridiculously average, law-abiding citizens.
This past month, the FBI admitted again (the FBI made a similar confession in 2002) that due to digital technology and sometimes simply having the wrong number, many calls were incorrectly intercepted. The right of the FBI to listen to private telephone conversations is currently being protected by the PATRIOT Act. The right of a citizen to a private conversation is no longer protected by the right to privacy, a penumbra right guaranteed formerly by the antiquated Constitution.
Remember, Big Brother says it is for the well being of the public, in the name of national security, that we, the people, ignore the rights we once enjoyed. It is seemingly in our best interests that we relinquish a whole lot of liberty for a little more life and pursuit of happiness.
The American Civil Liberties Union thinks, “People ought to be concerned” by an invading piece of legislation such as the PATRIOT Act. Some people are very concerned, but, according to a Gallup poll, approximately 90 percent of Americans are not. Gallup also found that most Americans, when told what the act entails, become incredibly concerned, even outraged.
It is alarming, perhaps even thoughtcrime, what these facts insinuate. However, if all of this is somehow not convincing, read John Ashcroft’s PATRIOT Act II proposal and tune into any favorite news channel.
Christina Diaz is a senior majoring in political science.