Thursday, December 30, 2004

Bringing Back Concentration Camps

You have to subscribe to see this article, but do it-- it's pretty appalling. I found it through Informed Comment.

I accidentally lost the first version of this post, so some of my initial righteous fury has abated. On reflection, it's clear that Pipes is nothing more than a crackpot, and even most conservatives are not going to jump on a bandwagon to suspend the Bill of Rights for any group of our fellow-citizens. My paleo-conservative husband, trying to jolly me out of my tirade, quipped that perhaps we could improve our quality of life by putting political commentators in camps instead. In spite of what Pipes says, this isn't a "lefty" thing -- the conservatives I know are rather fond of civil liberties.

Also, because he tied his justification of the internment of the Japanese during WWII to current national security, I initially thought he was proposing the same for Muslims (and Juan certainly did, too). Pipes doesn't say that outright, although the implication is certainly there, and I don't get the feeling it would break his heart any if we tried it.

Mostly, the article is trying to justify the singling out of a particular ethnic or religious group for national security reasons. Well, to some degree, they are singled out already -- just ask Cat Stevens. But then, Yusuf Islam wasn't on a watch list just because he is Muslim; he was on it because he rather stupidly supported the fatwa against Salman Rushdie. It would be a little ridiculous, and probably impossible, for the government to watch people just because they are Muslim -- there has to be some other factor that makes them suspect, as well. Even if you tried, you couldn't track down every Muslim in this country; we don't wear tattoos on our foreheads announcing what religion we are. That again, takes us back to watching people who the authorities have reason to believe might be involved in illegal activity -- not just "watching Muslims".

What Pipes really seems to want is for public figures to openly say American Muslims are a threat to national security. He's pissed at this namby-pamby tolerance for diversity, and apologies for past mistreatment of the Japanese. It's war, by golly, and who cares if the innocent suffer? My feeling is that the reticence has more to do with public order; if you paint all Muslims as a potential internal enemy, you are practically begging for an increase in hate crimes.

I was reminded of the old adage that "Those who are willing to give up liberty for a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." No terrorist is anywhere near the threat to America that tossing away our civil liberties would be. The fact is that most of us are not in immanent danger of being "incinerated at our desks". As I noted in an earlier post, there isn't a plausible terrorist target within 100 miles from where I live, so unless the bad guys start hitting Hicktown or Palookaville, I feel pretty secure. Terrorists can kill Americans, that is true, but it would kill what is best in America, to single out a segment of our population, the vast majority of which is completely innocent, and deprive them of any of their rights as citizens, without probable cause and due process of law. In spite of what Pipes says, civil liberties are sacrosanct, if you want to continue living in a free society. Don't be too eager to get rid of the other guy's rights; you could very well be next.


KeyLargo said...

I agree with you 100 percent! The Pipes and Malkins of this world are intellectually dishonest with themselves as well as everyone else. And downright lazy as well, their arguements don't stand the light of rational discorse. I watched Micelle self destruct on national tv. The next day on her blog her return rebut was they were spitting on her. Come on.
Anyway thank the unintended consequences of blog to bring together people of like mind, you make me proud to be an American.

Karen said...

Thank you so much! What puzzles me is now they are fuming with outrage, insisting they are being smeared, etc. Pipes and Malkin justified the Japanese internment camps, saying that our regret about that keeps us from dealing with Muslims effectively -- then they adopt a pose of injured innocence, wondering just how anybody could accuse them of advocating that Muslims receive similar treatment! They linked the two together; they have to live with the fallout.