• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

A generous supporter has offered a $25,000 matching grant. So for this week only, whatever you can donate will be doubled up to $25,000! If you have the means, please donate! If you already have done so, thank you for your support. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Down with Big Brother’s Spying Eyes

“Down With Big Brother,” wrote the fictitious character Winston Smith in his secret diary, a thought-crime seen as an “all-inclusive offense,” whose punishment was extermination. Big Brother, the dictator of the totalitarian society in George Orwell’s terrifying, classic novel, Nineteen Eighty Four, was unapologetically watching Smith. How big is the step from the electronic cameras that have proliferated in our daily lives to the telescreen in Winston Smith’s own living room through which the Thought Police monitored his every action and sound?

For all of our diversity, Americans share a common culture and history where our liberty and freedom are built on a solid base of privacy for our citizens. As patriotic American voters, it’s our civic duty to watch over our government and hold them accountable–not the other way around. Here in America as we approach the year 2004, local, state and federal governments are watching their citizens through electronic cameras everywhere we go–at 50 yard intervals as we drive down the highway, at banks, grocery stores and state and federal government buildings.

George W. Bush actively impedes our ability to access information necessary to keep his administration under the control of American citizens. He does not believe in government transparency that would allow us to do our patriotic duty as citizens. Even after the biggest corporate scandal that robbed workers of their pensions, rewarded CEO’s with huge payoffs and ultimately brought down the Enron energy company, Bush would not release the details of the meeting between his administration and leaders of Enron which helped to shape our national energy policy. So we can’t watch his shenanigans, but he is watching us, by God.

Historically when the American government wanted to monitor its citizens, it had to do so covertly through wiretapping or opening their mail as with Operation Cointelpro, which secretly spied on and harassed anti-war groups during the Vietnam War. It had to do so against the resistance of at least a minority of citizens and certainly contrary to our rule of law. The congressional investigations during the 1970’s revealed violations of civil liberties so blatant and widespread that it almost destroyed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

But these electronic cameras that are watching us at every intersection are so blatant and our citizens are compliant if not joyful to have them. At a meeting of our neighborhood citizen’s association, my neighbors were almost giddy with excitement at the prospect of getting an electronic camera to “watch over” our community, as though we were talking about a kindly mother figure. I rose to ask whether anyone was concerned about the privacy infringement that these cameras posed, only to be shocked that no one shared my concern. To the contrary, my point fell on defiant ears and I was entirely unable to influence my neighbors. It felt like I was speaking a foreign language. An elderly woman whom I respect approached me after the meeting and shook her finger in my face and said, “Young lady, those cameras are for your protection.”

The government tells us that they must watch us for our own safety; while the National Institute of Health wants to build a bioterrorism laboratory in my neighborhood which they say poses no danger to our families or community. I don’t believe that deadly pathogens possibly including live tuberculosis, anthrax and Ebola that will likely be used in this laboratory should be in anyone’s backyard and most certainly has no place on the corner of an extremely high-traffic, intersection in a highly populated, suburban center a few miles from the Nation’s Capital. But we’re asked to believe that deadly pathogens in vulnerable locations are perfectly safe and electronic eyes do not violate our liberties. It begins to sound like the double-speak in Winston Smith’s party’s slogans: “WAR IS PEACE; FREEDOM IS SLAVERY; IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH.”

Covert spying that the government does on its citizens has been accepted by the public in times of trouble, but retrospectively reviled. These cameras are so overt, why do we tolerate them? We’re asked to believe that these cameras are going to stop terrorists. If you want to scare people into giving up their liberties for security, just say, “terrorism.” Let’s be real. Cameras are not going to stop or catch a terrorist who is willing to die for their cause. Those cameras don’t stop people on area highways that regularly tailgate and weave in and out of traffic at speeds often exceeding 100 mph. I see this behavior regularly, which is no less dangerous than wielding a loaded gun.

In Nineteen Eighty Four when thinking back over time, Winston Smith does not remember a period without war, but since no official records now exist, the war officially never happened. Winston realizes that this knowledge existing in his consciousness will soon be annihilated. The Party slogan, “Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past,” is frightening to him. Since Americans have never gotten the straight scoop on the war in Iraq from the Bush Administration, I have an idea: Let’s turn all these cameras on the White House. We can all tune in on our home TV sets and get the information we need to do our most fundamental duty, putting citizens back in charge of our democratic process.

Since we can’t advance the cause of liberty by cutting the cables to these cameras which act as the electronic eyes of government, for fear of being charged with an “all-inclusive offense,” we’ll have to settle for the sharp edge of words to cut into the blind majority support of these spying eyes. To paraphrase Ben Franklin: they who would trade liberty for security, deserve neither.

KARYN STRICKLER is a writer and political activist living outside of Washington, DC.

Copyright KARYN STRICKLER.

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 15, 2019
Victor Grossman
The Berlin Wall, Thirty Years Later
Raouf Halaby
Kurdish Massacres: One of Britain’s Many Original Sins
Robert Fisk
Trump and Erdogan have Much in Common – and the Kurds will be the Tragic Victims of Their Idiocy
Ron Jacobs
Betrayal in the Levant
Wilma Salgado
Ecuador: Lenin Moreno’s Government Sacrifices the Poor to Satisfy the IMF
Ralph Nader
The Congress Has to Draw the Line
William A. Cohn
The Don Fought the Law…
John W. Whitehead
One Man Against the Monster: John Lennon vs. the Deep State
Lara Merling – Leo Baunach
Sovereign Debt Restructuring: Not Falling Prey to Vultures
Norman Solomon
The More Joe Biden Stumbles, the More Corporate Democrats Freak Out
Jim Britell
The Problem With Partnerships and Roundtables
Howard Lisnoff
More Incitement to Violence by Trump’s Fellow Travelers
Binoy Kampmark
University Woes: the Managerial Class Gets Uppity
Joe Emersberger
Media Smears, Political Persecution Set the Stage for Austerity and the Backlash Against It in Ecuador
Thomas Mountain
Ethiopia’s Abiy Ahmed Wins Nobel Peace Prize, But It Takes Two to Make Peace
Wim Laven
Citizens Must Remove Trump From Office
October 14, 2019
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
Class Struggle is Still the Issue
Mike Miller
Global Climate Strike: From Protest To Power?
Patrick Cockburn
As Turkey Prepares to Slice Through Syria, the US has Cleared a New Breeding Ground for Isis
John Feffer
Trump’s Undeclared State of Emergency
Dean Baker
The Economics and Politics of Financial Transactions Taxes and Wealth Taxes
Jonah Raskin
What Evil Empire?
Nino Pagliccia
The Apotheosis of Emperors
Evaggelos Vallianatos
A Passion for Writing
Basav Sen
The Oil Despots
Brett Wilkins
‘No Friend But the Mountains’: A History of US Betrayal of the Kurds
John Kendall Hawkins
Assange: Enema of the State
Scott Owen
Truth, Justice and Life
Thomas Knapp
“The Grid” is the Problem, Not the Solution
Rob Kall
Republicans Are Going to Remove Trump Soon
Cesar Chelala
Lebanon, Dreamland
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail