Study the popcorn munchers at your next international-spy movie this summer. Damn, but don’t we love tracking and gunning down the slimy terrorists! You bastards try messing with Uncle Sam, and we’ll literally blow you out of the universe.
But notice the use of What rather than Who above. Who refers to a human whereas What suggests there is something more or less than human involved. It’s a suggestion no longer simply academic, for here in the 21st C our species may have actually reached that historic juncture where Who is becoming What.
We can date the arrival of this thinking in America to 9/11. That ugly morning in New York City when the United States finally joined the rest of the world in their daily struggles with their local terrorists. Oh, we had known bloodshed at home before, but not the kind most nations have endured for centuries from their relentless pockets of underground resistance. [See Shiites vs Sunnis, Catholics vs Protestants, Jews vs Arabs, Turks vs Greeks, French vs Algerians, Afrikaner vs Blacks, Hindu vs Muslim].
While half the world wept with us as the Twin Towers collapsed that morning, the other half privately muttered, “Finally it’s your turn, Yanks!” However, in our traditional all-or-nothing gusto, we raged like a wounded lion roaring never again. And so hundreds of millions of dollars and security agencies later, we have become obsessed with zero-tolerance. Rampaging and bulldozing over any civil liberties that dare get in our furious way. Rather than do what other nations have done for generations, our leaders have vowed this is not simply an international law enforcement matter. This is all-out, last-forever-if-need-be ‘war!’ And by good god we have tens of thousands of GI and civilian deaths to prove it ever since Iraq.
But now here comes that dicey old law: The law of unintended consequences.
In the flag-waving name of our global War on Terror, we’ve not only changed our tactics; we’ve changed ourselves. It’s called Biometrics. A whole new science of identifying any of our species who just might be a secret terrorist. The best way to stop terror is to stop the terrorist, right? Lately we’re getting so good at it, it can’t help make you think of George Orwell’s masterpiece ‘1984.’ You know, the super state with Big Brother watching, running and enforcing everything in the name of the State.
Were Orwell to return he wouldn’t be surprised to see our latest identifying tools like Iris Scans that can decode a person’s intentions from 100 yards away…Radar Sweeps which can detect a person’s heartbeat patterns from similar distances…a Gait Reader which can access someone’s cellphone to ID the person by his/her gait…plus the Supreme Court’s new approval of a national DNA bank.
This is a bonanza for every techie in the world who can figure out some digital thingamajig to tell the good guys who are the bad guys. Of course, who are the guys who decide the difference….?
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