Liberty, and Introspection
September 28, 2001
Maren L. Hickton
When I was a kid, we used to regularly visit my maternal
Grandmother who lived on East 9th Street in Brooklyn, New
York. One day, my brother and I decided to go for a walk and
managed to get lost. Up and down the street we went - trying
to find our way back to Grandma's house, back and forth, crossing
block after block.
Eventually, in a complete panic, we happened upon a police
officer and told him we were lost and he asked us Grandma's
address but we only knew the street name and not the house
number. He asked us what Grandma's house looked like and we
could only provide him with a vague description - all the
houses looked so similar.
Finally, Dad drove up and directed my brother and I to get
into the back seat of the car and firmly told us, "What's
the matter with you kids? I have been driving around for a
couple of hours looking for you. Something could have happened
to you! The next time you are lost, stand still and I will
We are lost.
The psychotic holocaust that was inflicted upon this sweet
land of liberty by the terribly misguided cult of elusive
strangers over two weeks ago has nearly knocked the world
off its axis. In addition to flashing images, provided 24/7
by broadcast news - panning sites from one end of the globe
to the other, there are dizzying ticker tapes of news updates
running along the bottom of TV screens regarding everything
from the status of rescue efforts to economic fallout issues
to the multilateral aspects of President Bush's international
initiative, "Operation Enduring Freedom."
We are panicking.
While this has been a devastating situation for everyone,
this is no time for any leader to panic. When the President
said, he wanted to "get them running," I think he meant the
terrorists and not our elected officials. Currently, there
are so many governmental actions going on at the same time,
that news stations must jump from one event to the next, deciding
whatever segment is more or less important. Congress appears
to be so scattered right now that important legislation is
blitzing along with little or no public debate as our representatives
are all swimming in a red, white and blue jam of unity. Businesses
are asking for bailouts based on hysterical projections before
looking beyond demands from their shareholders and assessing
operations to make adjustments including executive salary
Freedom is at stake - in more ways than one.
Attorney General John Ashcroft is also pushing Congress for
sweeping new antiterrorism legislation. (1)
While some of this legislation may prove to be necessary to
expedite the search and seizure of otherwise private information
and the required detaining and/or arrest of suspects, it could
infringe on the Bill of Rights for other Americans, where
amendments should certainly be considered. Most disturbing
about the recent hearings about this legislative drive was
the fact that after Attorney Ashcroft pleaded his side of
the argument, the ACLU's testimony was evidentially blacked-out
on the airwaves.
This apparent act of censorship followed the Government's
decision to veto an interview with the Taliban on Voice of
America. A reporter was just fired for writing an opinion
about the President and Ari Fleischer recently told the press,
"Watch what you do, watch what you say," with regard to a
comment taken out of context on Bill Maher's show, Politically
There are deliberations about pulling in our welcome mats
from our borders, national identity cards, video surveillance,
armed pilots on commercial flights and all kinds of new security
measures. Do Americans have reason to be concerned about the
people's right to express themselves, getting the real news
and being included in discussions regarding our liberties?
I certainly think so.
We must look at ourselves.
The Administration is running all over the globe. The White
House reports that Osama bin Laden terrorist cells operated
and continue to operate within the United States. In July
of 1998, The U.S. Commission on National Security/21st Century
initiated and ultimately researched and provided the most
comprehensive analysis of U.S. national security in 50 years
concluding with its Phase III Report: "Roadmap for National
Security: Imperative for Change." The Phase III Report claims
to address "a broad range of issues, from securing the national
homeland to redesigning government institutions and examining
human requirements for national security, including the role
While time is certainly of the essence in protecting America,
I would think that this Report would be the centerpiece of
debates regarding any security legislation. Where was this
Report months ago? I am delighted to hear that Governor Ridge
has been appointed as Director of Homeland Security. However,
if this Director has limited power to enforce the actions
of multiple organizations that can't even get their act together
within their own agencies at a time when homeland security
is of paramount concern, what's the point?
We are talking to strangers.
There also aren't necessarily friendly policemen on every
corner of the globe who will help us. We know who the terrorists
might be, but we don't know who they all are, what nations
they are from and/or to what extent they have influence within
governments. Sending ground troops into a hotbed of what the
President formerly referred to as "rogue nations," and now,
all of a sudden, lifting existing arms embargoes and considering
arming some of these nations in exchange for say-so support
sounds like a deal of dangerous blind-trust to me.
Until we have a clear mission, putting our servicemen and
women on the ground and stirring up an already out-of-control
situation will, no doubt, cause further loss of life to more
innocent people not only in other nations, but potentially
in the United States as well. It might be time to stand still.
We are a nation of law and order.
There are some in the media who could only be described as
part of a lynch mob - those who seek to exact immediate revenge,
which is not only uncalled for, but could seriously escalate
this matter. In an unparalleled historical endeavor, President
Bush is proactively mounting the biggest international coalition
to track down the renegades involved in the multiple attacks
on this nation and bring them to justice. This should be applauded.
President Bush says, "We must be patient." And while I have
disagreed with many of the policies that the President has
put forth in the past, I have every confidence that President
Bush, his Administration, Congress, and the international
coalition will find these terrorists and eventually reduce
the acts of violent anarchists.
If we are patient. If we also look at ourselves. And if the
world, in the 21st Century, develops a greater social consciousness,
including tolerance - the cornerstone of Democracy.