Remember: Fear can be a friend. It is often our greatest motivator (check out May 12, 2013 podcast). But at which point does fear become public enemy number one? Terror, uniquely characterized as intense overpowering fear, is at best unproductive and at its worst extremely destructive. For centuries, oppressive regimes have employed environments of dread to keep their citizens repressed. Today, fear is still used by anti-American extremists and others to kill innocent people and destroy entire communities.
If you can recall from your 6th grade history lessons, reprieve from fear of governmental oppression was the primary reason our Constitution and Bill of Rights were written 225 years ago. Within the hallowed texts, our rights were written to be “unalienable,” never to be superseded or ever to be taken away. But a lot has changed since then.
At times it seems that some of our modern day leaders have prescribed to beliefs that serve only to promote fear and their own personal agendas. Take a look at two of today’s most controversial issues that some are calling terrorism at home.
STOP & FRISK
What’s going on? The NYPD’s Stop, Question and Frisk policy is based on the 1968 Terry v. Ohio ruling, which allows “police officers to stop and detain a person based on a ‘reasonable suspicion’ that s/he might be about to commit a crime.” Furthermore, the officer is allowed to frisk the individual if s/he has facts that lead him/her to believe that the individual is armed and dangerous.
Fear factor. Stop and frisk has been proven to disproportionately target the young and minority communities, and only 12% of all stops resulted in an arrest or summons. Additionally, critics argue that the vague nature of the “reasonable suspicion” language in the text leaves entirely too much room for police misconduct and unfair profiling.
What’s going on? An NSA data collection program, which started in 2005 as the number of Iraqi roadside bombings peaked, was designed to collect all Iraqi texts, emails and phone calls in an effort to thwart terrorists’ plans to attack the U.S. and to root out illegal bomb making factories in Iraq. However, it has since expanded and began to collect all of the text message, email and phone call data of American citizens here at home.
Fear Factor. Innocent American civilians are being watched-- we are all being watched. And this has thousands of people concerned with the lack of privacy that is a result of such an intrusive search.
Ultimately we cannot let the conversation end here. The unifying fear factor here is that our Fourth Amendment right is under attack. No longer can we be so sure that our freedom is “unalienable.” The government and its officials are losing the American people’s confidence as some bureaucrats seem more and more desperate to expand government and chip away at the principles that founded our nation and made it great. Our international and business relationships are being strained as our allies and partners fear that they too will be subject into unreasonable probes.For more on these National Security matters and more, tune in to this Saturday’s The Michael S. Robinson Show at 10a EST. I’ll be discussing new developments in the NSA scandal, the issues with Stop & Frisk and more with Cato Institute Director of Information Policy Studies, Jim Harper, and Congressman Peter King. Call in with your questions and comments to 866-970-9622.[Images via 1, 2, 3, 4