The chaotic hysteria caused by the bombs that went off at the Boston Marathon accents our loss of liberty and the narrative of fear that we have been fed.
Since 9/11 America has agreed to give up most of our enumerated rights in exchange for hyper-patriotic tough talk claiming to protect freedom. The time has come for America to fear-proof our civil liberties.
It wasn’t long ago that local and state police with help from the FBI, would have handled these two characters in Boston. Today, it takes no less than the FBI, ATF, CIA, local, county and state police agencies, the National Guard, and of course, Homeland Security to kill a 26-year old and capture his 19-year old brother.
The media never stepped away from the adrenaline pump to question the necessity of locking down an entire metropolitan city to pursue one 19-year old college student. Who is doing the terrorizing when 1 million people cower in their homes for an entire day while reporters, politicians and pundits cast a colossally paranoid world view of Islamophobia?
Tragically, the courage and generosity of citizens and first responders in Boston were overshadowed by a media that became reality TV.
Fear has become the emotional plague of our liberty. Now, we see the face of fear everywhere–in our Congressional debate on assault weapons, proposals to arm school teachers and in the compromise of our constitutional rights, particularly the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments.
If, as a nation, “liberty and justice for all” is more than an empty declaration, then America must now demonstrate its belief and trust in this claim. We cannot allow the government to ignore a suspect’s request for counsel once in custody. We cannot permit the expanding exceptions to the traditional protections of criminal procedure under the guise of expedience and fear.
Liberty itself depends upon these very safeguards. The fact that we are having a debate about whether a person arrested on U.S. soil for having committed a crime should be charged, given a lawyer and advised of his right to remain silent is illustrative of how far from liberty we’ve descended during the administrations of Bush and Obama.
If we continue down fear’s path compromising our liberty rights for security, we’ll deserve, and most certainly end up with, neither.