I grew up left wing. I may not have been a red diaper baby but my diapers definitely had a union label.
We were Democrats in part of New York State that had been down with the GOP since they sent volunteers to fight for the Union.
My parents were FDR New Deal Democrats who thought it stupid to vote against the interests of the working people.
I was raised to be careful about telling others things my parents talked about because it was the McCarty era and my father was first generation Polish American at a time when they were stripping people of their citizenship and deporting them for being Reds.
There was a fictional short story by Phillip Nolan called “A Man Without a Country”, about a man stripped of his citizenship and condemned to a life aboard ships. I don’t remember the specifics of the short story, but John Adams instituted the Alien and Sedition Acts that could have done something like that. The moral of the story was supposed to be about how sad the man was to never be permitted back in America. I saw the moral as being, “Freedom of speech, means freedom to agree.”
I came away with a different take on it, perhaps because of my family. My take on it was that there was a serious gap between what the Constitution says and how the Police State functions. Freedom of speech should mean just that, after all the Constitution doesn’t have the disclaimer, “So long as one never speaks a disparaging word regarding corporate fascism, police abuse of power, racism, imperialism or the military industrial complex.”
In school I was taught that in the Soviet Union and life under Communism, the citizens had their lives spied upon and could lose their jobs and even be imprisoned for speaking their mind. Which was way different from the US, where people were being arrested, spied upon, interrogated, force to name names or face imprisonment as well as be denied employment all under the aegis of “protecting freedom.”
As a kid I couldn’t tell the difference. But I knew that one of the things that could get one labeled Red was supporting equality for Black people. At the same time people who murdered and horribly mutilated a Black child named Emmett Till were not prosecuted the way people who said that was wrong were persecuted.
There were things my family spoke about in whispers and that I was told to never speak about like their discussing loyalty oaths.
I was a radical in the 1960s. I was arrested for my opposition to the war and for standing up for things I knew to be right.
We were subjected to having warrantless raids performed on our places of residence as well as stop and search violations of our rights in the streets. Even though these warrantless searches were a clear violation of our Constitutional rights.
They called it “The War on Drugs”, they used it as part of a war on anyone the police were bigoted towards.
In the words of Pastor Martin Niemöller:
In Germany they first came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me —
and by that time no one was left to speak up
It was after all the war on drugs and the only people speaking out were either drug users or left wing scum like the ACLU. Generally the position was, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.
Then a few years later as the government became much more rabidly right wing and the Constitutional rights of Americans were eroded further in various ways including “the War on Crime” and “The War on Drugs” private companies began to demand employees submit to drug testing. It didn’t matter if you showed up for work stone sober, they wanted to know what you did on the weekends. And thanks to things like Employment At Will and the Taft Hartley Act workers had lost the ability to protest against these violations of personal privacy.
After all, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.” Like the dark days of the 1950s when a version of that same mantra was the subtext behind the assumption of guilt when people refused to name names for Joe McCarthy and HUAC, refusal to submit to a violation of one’s Constitutional rights to freedom from warrantless search was taken as an admission of guilt.
And so it goes, one baby step at a time we surrendered our Forth Amendment rights.
Did you speak out regarding this violation of people’s rights? If you did you were in a minority. There are gulags across America filled with people whose only crime is the violation of the drug prohibition laws.
Some where along with all the get tough on crime propaganda there was a new mantra introduced, “What part of illegal do you just not get?” All the while there were obviously two sets of laws one for the rich and one for the poor.
Yet who, other than those pesky Reds spoke up? And yes it is a truism that if one speaks out against the right wing police state then one is automatically a “Red”. Even if they have never read a word of Marx/Engels/Lenin. Even if they are no further left than Obama.
Then came the “War on Terror” with the TSA and NSA, Echelon, and Total Information Awareness. To speak out against this infringement was to once again be a Red and soft on terror. We learned new words and phrases like “rendition” and “water-boarding”.
But we weren’t being thrown in concentration and torture camps. So we sat back and repeated the mantra we had long ago taken to heart. “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”
In the process we learned to internalize the police state, to watch what we said and wrote, to point fingers and condemn as “Reds” and “Agitators” those who spoke out and questioned what the fuck was going on.
Remember Cindy Sheehan and the Crawford Ranch Demonstration? Cindy, who son was killed in Iraq, had the audacity to ask W., “What noble cause?” Perhaps more of us should have asked, “What noble cause?” Because our civil rights were going down the tube and had been for many years.
One of the major problems of identity politics is the compartmentalization and focus on an issue that is supposed to unite in spite of the people who supposedly share that identity having all sorts of different politics.
I have met too many sisters who were classist, racist, anti-feminist and right wing to believe that just having an association at some point and time with a trans-prefixed word makes them my sister.
I have been called a “Red” too many times by people I am supposed to have common ground with according to the ideology of Transgender Inc.
But now the Police state has become real for them too.
We Do NOT Have All the Same Body Parts and Body Scanners Violates Your Privacy
It is time to improve privacy!
I haven’t been able to talk about body scanners for a while and it is about time I bring them up again. When I blog about them or am doing research, I constantly see the same argument, “What’s the big deal, we all have the same parts, get over it.”
The thing is we are not all the same and even if we are, we still have a right to privacy. With my obvious dis-like (maybe that is too nice of a word) for the body scanners, I get people who write me in support and calling me fool. Recently I had a woman write me who is a pre-operative transsexual, meaning she self-defines as a woman, but still has male genitalia. It is absolutely her right to keep her situation private and no one should have the ability to invade her privacy. Talking about privacy, I will call her “Jane” to keep her anonymous for this blog.
I asked Jane what it is like being asked to go through a body scanner and she told me, “that having to go through a body scanner would be particularly difficult for me as the body scanners actually reveal a person’s gender. ” She also explained it becomes even more difficult because she has, “anxiety which makes the thought of using these even more difficult.”
Jane lives in the UK and unlike in the US, passengers cannot opt-out of body scanners. If you get “randomly selected” , you must be scanned or you don’t fly.
Another argument people often use is, “if you don’t like it, don’t fly then.” There are so many reasons why this argument is weak. If you don’t agree with something, you should stand up for what you think is right and try to change the system.
Jane told me she doesn’t fly as much now due to the fear and has missed out on some very important life experiences. “I have relatives in India who I would like to see again and would also like to travel to India to pay my respects to relatives who have died but feel unable to pass through an airport whilst passing through a body scanner is a condition to boarding my flight,” Jane explained.
We are a global society and need to allow people to fly around the world to continue to grow and prosper. We should not become society that violates a person’s privacy, so passengers can get a false sense of security that the body scanners provide.
Trans-gender fliers, disabled passengers, folks with body issues and those that have gone through a traumatic experience involving their body should not have to endure evasive security to be able to function in our society. Is giving up your privacy worth the false sense of security you get going through body scanners? I say absolutely not.
And then they came for_______ and suddenly the mantra, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.” becomes very personal to some who were all too willing to accept the privileges they enjoyed in the past when the people whose rights were being violated were Reds and drug users.
The time to stand up against the Police State is when they start scapegoating and imprisoning the under-privileged, those Justice Marshall referred to as the “despised and dispossessed”. Not when they finally come for you because by then the only people left will be those still saying, “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear.”