Disagreement has become an extremely sensitive issue lately; it was once thought that debate was an essential component to a strong and healthy democracy, however, we are now told that it is extremely dangerous, in fact, it may soon be categorised as a form of domestic terrorism. [This article was originally published January 27, 2021.]
As early as mid-Nov 2020, Biden was already discussing the need to pass further laws against domestic terrorism. This is interesting since under the 2001 Patriot Act (which was meant to be a temporary enforcement in reaction to 9/11, however, is still in place 19 years later), domestic terrorism is already defined as;
“activities that (A) involve acts dangerous to human life that are a violation of the criminal laws of the U.S. or of any state; (B) appear to be intended (i) to intimidate or coerce a civilian population; (ii) to influence the policy of government by intimidation or coercion; or (iii) to affect the conduct of a government by mass destruction, assassination, or kidnapping; and (C) occur primarily within the territorial jurisdiction of the U.S.”
So, the question begs, what else needs to be added to the Patriot Act, which was recognised at the time of its enforcement as something that should only be temporary since it was understood that it infringed upon civil liberties? Come to think of it, why is the Patriot Act still in place, which allows for the indefinite continuation of human rights violations such as warrantless wiretapping; illegal torture, kidnapping, and detention; mass surveillance; government secrecy; Real ID; no-fly list; political spying; abuse of material witness statutes; and attacks on academic freedom?
As Glenn Greenwald wrote in his formidable paper The New Domestic War on Terror is Coming, “what needs to be criminalized that is not already a crime?”, keeping in mind that as of June 2020, the United States has the highest prisoner rate in the world, followed by El Salvador, Turkmenistan, Thailand and Palau.
Well, the answer is apparently simple and as always for our own good. We have come to a point in time where the enemy is not some radicalized ideology, it is not some foreign despot, it is not even the threat of war (whether it be economic, cyber or nuclear), but rather it is ourselves. We, the people, are the new enemies of the State.