Thursday, June 23, 2011

Quote Of The Day

Glenn Greenwald, in the conclusion to an article on the Obama Administration's continued expansion of the security state:
Nobody wants to believe that they have been put in a state of fear, that they are intimidated, so rationalizations are often contrived: I don't perceive any violations of my rights because there's nothing I want to do that I'm not able to do. Inducing a fearful population to refrain from exercising rights -- as it convinces itself no such thing is happening -- is a far more effective, and far more pernicious, means of suppressing freedoms. That's what a Climate of Fear uniquely enables. The vast National Security and Surveillance State has for decades been compiling powers -- and eroding safeguards and checks -- devoted to the strengthening of this climate, and the past two-and-a-half years have seen as rapid and concerted intensification as any other period one can recall.

Climate of Fear: Jim Risen v. the Obama administration
Believe it or not, I've encountered this sort of rationalization, both at former places of employment and on various blogs and other discussion groups. It usually takes the form of "my rights haven't been violated, what's the problem?" It's hard to believe anyone in America would be foolish enough to say such a thing, but it's actually a very common reaction when there's a discussion of a possible overreach by the government. It's one thing to argue the merits of a particular case, but this isn't about that. This is just a variation of "I'm fine, what's the problem?" syndrome, and I suspect it's so common for the reasons Greenwald mentions - because if people admit there's a problem, then they might have to think about doing something, which is at least more work to do, and might be dangerous.

And the government has gotten pretty good at exploiting that tendency.

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