Let freedom endure
Bravo to Derek Jennings for his article on the USA PATRIOT Act [Nov. 7]. With the passage of this act, the "evil ones who hate freedom" have won! With the help of our panicky politicians, the "evil ones" have succeeded in turning the United States into a police state, with limited judicial oversight, exaggerated surveillance and invasion of privacy, secret, chargeless, indefinite detentions and suspension of lawyer-client privilege.
Government officials now publicly consider legalizing torture and political assassination and warn us to "watch what we say" and to suspect anyone "wearing a diaper and a fan-belt." They incubate hate while suffocating freedom of speech and aborting due process.
Where will it end?
At present, these measures are directed "only at terrorists," but "terrorist" means "anyone we fear." Do we really want "domestic terrorists" such as the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazis, the Crips and the Bloods, despicable and dangerous as they are, to lose their rights and constitutional protections? Will peaceful dissent be judged terrorism? Will minority parties such as the Green or Libertarian Parties be judged terrorists?
The U.S. Constitution governs our legal system, and protects all who are affected by it. In the past, when we have given in to fear and permitted limitations of American freedom, such as with the communist witch hunts, the Japanese-American Internment, the 1968 police riots in Chicago, slavery and Jim Crow, God has given us the wisdom to be ashamed afterward.
Please, please, please do not let fear or lust for revenge or re-election or greed for oil justify our government in hurting American freedom in any way, nor in removing our protections under our constitutional system of justice.
Let us be courageous, let us be brave. Let us tell all terrorists, all politicians, all the world that no matter what, no matter who, no matter when, no matter what the cost, we the American people will not surrender even the least of our rights and freedoms in the face of terror, in the face of the enemy. The strength of America lies in our freedoms and our constitutional rights to due process of law.
Let us not dishonor those who died Sept. 11, 2001, by throwing away our freedom. Let ensure that all Americans who died anytime anywhere for the very freedoms we now surrender in terror did not die in vain.
Let us each remind our elected officials that if they do not act to restore our civil rights, we will elect someone who will. When the smoke stops rising over ground zero, those seeking election will find it far better to have been transiently slandered by propaganda as "soft on terrorism" than to be eternally branded by history as "soft on tyranny"!
It is the sacred and patriotic duty of every American to make certain that the freedom of America endures under Operation Enduring Freedom!
--VICTOR LUKAS, CHAPEL HILL
Since Sept. 11, Godfrey Cheshire's pieces have been a beacon in the fog. I've recommended them widely and saved most for future reference. But I have to call his attention to one comparison that nowadays can't be viewed as accurate. In "Truisms and Consequences" [Nov. 14] he rightly held a particularly culture-blind statement by Andrew Sullivan up to the light: "Islam has not faced the arduous task of accommodating to modernity." The assumption that the science-based culture of the post-Enlightenment West is ideal is provincialism, and I'm glad to see it exposed.
But Cheshire said, it "makes modernity sound like a climate change, rather than something created by people." Well, at this moment the climate change we are experiencing as a planet is created by people, and it poses a danger to people that is greater than a religious war or the threat of any kind of terrorism. Global warming is being observed and reported by reputable scientists in many disciplines all over the globe, and the fact that it is happening outside the consciousness that we use for daily functioning only makes the warming process stronger and more potentially deadly.
Writers and information dispensers addressing the non-scientific public could do future generations a great service by including the facts of climate change in their views of reality. In fact, I think the current political scene can't fully be understood without taking into account how the West's abuse of the environment affects others' feelings toward us. Americans stand apart in the degree to which we see the physical world as insignificant. Most of the rest of humanity, more tied to the ground, cares viscerally what happens to the earth.
At the present time we tend to assume that nature will take care of the weather as it has always done, but it is not a truism to say that the day is upon us when we must face the consequences of our attitudes.
--ALICE LOYD, RALEIGH
Got something to say about an Independent article? Send no more than 300 words to firstname.lastname@example.org; to P.O. Box 2690, Durham 27715; or fax 286-4274. Include your name, phone number and mailing address for verification; we cannot publish a letter without confirmation from the writer. We reserve the right to edit letters for length, style and clarity.