Wednesday, January 6, 2010

safety and other fairytales

I wrote this in response to a post by Moon on another blog. If you wish to read her VERY good and well-written post the link included above should take you directly to it. She asked me to post it here. So, going against my usual shrinking violet persona and unwillingness to thrust my opinions on the defenseless, I accede to her request.

As ol' Ben Franklin said: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

There is no safety this side of the grave and those people who believe otherwise are self-deluders at best and liars at worst. Like the sanctity of life, "safety" does not exist but as a human construct and as an attempt to sleep soundly. There are a myriad of reasons why I am not an Obama supporter and think that he will do more do restrict personal liberty than a chastity belt . However, there is not diddly squat that he or anyone in the oval office can do to make or keep us safe. Even if he were rational and competent the best he could do is provide our military and the civilian public with the necessary tools/weapons to increase our own personal safety. We can each make ourselves saf-ER but no one and nothing can make us "SAFE".

To believe that the government, be it in the form of elected and/or appointed officials or police or military personnel, can make us safe is to invite someone to prove the believers wrong and usually catastrophically. We MUST all do what we can and what we can get away with to increase our own personal safety and that of our families.

The average American wishes to delegate responsibility for their own safety to someone, ANYONE rather than take on that RESPONSIBILTY for themselves. To do it themselves means that there is no one to blame when, as is virtually inevitable, their lack of safety is shoved up their noses. Even some (and possibly most) conservatives would rather not have to do it themselves. Bitching and whining about big government and all the while calling for the government to do this, that or the other thing to keep them "safe".

The "peepul" bless their flabby, black hearts want to believe that each individually, and collectively "we", are or can be "safe". They are bitterly disappointed and full of angry recriminations whenever something happens to show them to be anything but safe.

However, these same people who believe and demand that the state or it's functionaries keep them safe are not willing to pay the freight that goes along with even the illusion of safety provided by the state. On the evening of 9/11 I was tending bar and listening to all the booze-fuelded outrage and opinions on the subject. The bar I ran was about 100 yards from the main gate of Ellsworth Air Force Base and a good number of Flaps who were, along with the local civilians, my clientele. I say this to indicate that there were very few deliberate morons involved in the discussions.

As we discussed what happened, what would happen and what SHOULD happen the subject of airline security was hotly debated. I said then that after the initial shock wore off most people would begin to bitch about delays and searches etc at air ports. I told the assemblage that within 6 months John and Jane Q. Public would be loudly protesting the inconvenience of what needed to be done to insure even a modicum of safety in the world that now existed for most Americans.

Sadly, I was much too optimistic; it was less than 3 months before the protests I first heard and saw reported in what passes for news in this country. Again, the dear people want safety but not at the cost of personal inconvenience.

The same can be said about who to "blame" for a couple of dozen religious psychotics attacking our country and our people. Even before 9/11 it was not news that planes could be used as weapons and bombs; Pearl Harbor taught us that or it should have. The true outrage most people felt about the attacks was not about the method or even the attacks per se but rather it was about the violation of the illusions of our safety, our supremacy and our immunity. Long before 9/11 I, and many others, knew that we have no safety, we have no supremacy and we have no immunity and we never have had any of the three. Anyone over the age of 10 and with a pulse should know it too.

When certain actions were taken (not including the war) the people were all for them. They didn't ask for particulars, they just wanted to feel safe again. Then the methods used started to be reported in the news and all politically correct hell broke loose. This method was invasive, that action was unconstitutional, those measures were "torture", blah blah blaaaaah. I'm not a huge fan of the Patriot Act but much of it was necessary. "Why?" you may ask. Because in the 70's and early 80's we hamstrung our intelligence communities and forced them to fight an undeclared and covert "war" while blindfolded with one foot in a bucket. Reality was much too unpalatable for the American public to accept so they put on their collective blinders, shoved their collective heads into the sand thus exposing their vulnerable collective asses to the tender mercies of those who don't like us.

Since 9/11 reality is once again too unpalatable for the American people. Abu Ghraib, water boarding, Guantanamo Bay, humiliation of prisoners ad nauseam have shown the public what is necessary to even begin to increase our state of readiness and create circumstances where we, as individuals, can take the necessary steps to keep ourselves safe. But the public doesn't really want to know; they want to be kept in blissful ignorance and maintain their little fantasy world of safety. When they are forced to know the truth they both bitterly resent it and feel the same compulsion that Pontius Pilate felt and wash their hands by attacking and indicting those who do their (the publics') dirty work.

I had a discussion with a young man several years ago about the new practice by law enforcement in South Dakota (where we lived at the time) that stated that everyone must have their identification on them at all times. I do not recall if it had been passed into law at that time or not but what it meant was that if one was stopped by the fuzzards and did not have his/her ID on them the fuzzards were then permitted to cuff and stuff the miscreants and take them to jail.

Not surprisingly, I was against this little gestapo tactic and said so. "Papuhs! Papuhs! You haf papuhs? Ve haf vays of making you talk!" The young man then said that he believed it to be okay since they did it to "keep us safe". When I asked him how in the world my carrying a piece of laminated paper would keep him safe he had no answer other than "It just does!" and that the police would then "know who to watch and/or arrest". When I queried as to WHY such desperados would or should be arrested he had no answer at all other than to sing the same old self-deluding song of "it will keep us safe".

And HE and his ilk are part of our electorate. THAT makes me feel very UNsafe.

Like I said at the beginning of this little missive:

As ol' Ben Franklin said: "They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety."

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