Some of the dimmer and, frankly, underreported stories of the Beijing Olympics were those of the political dissidents and protesters who were arrested, detained and shipped away, far from the ostentatious opening ceremonies and cheering crowds.
Three weeks later in America at the Republican National Convention, we are seeing a similar disassembling of civil liberties; and unlike the Chinese, we have a Constitution guaranteeing our rights.
Protesters in Minneapolis, wrote Glenn Greenwald at Salon.com, "have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets."
And a meeting of protesters held in a public building was shut down for "fire code" violations.(Read Barry Yeoman's story about the anti-war demonstrations at the RNC. Watch an Independent Voices video of the arrests at the RNC.)
The last eight years have been brutal in terms of civil liberties. University "free speech zones," where protesters can be corralled away from the madding crowd, have become more commonplace. Reporters' and citizens' phones were—and likely continue to be—illegally tapped by the federal government. Once illegal, searches and seizures appear to be garden-variety methods of police work, at least in some jurisdictions. Minneapolis has shown us that freedom of assembly is the latest part of the Bill of Rights to be flushed down the toilet.
Restoring civil liberties is not on the GOP platform. And when John McCain said, "We will take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats," it appears they cannot be one and the same.
We posted Greenwald's story last weekend on our new blog, the Triangulator. Our editorial staff pulls interesting stories from fellow alternative news sites, blogs, the mainstream media and other sources. We offer our take on the issue, provide additional commentary, and link to the original story. (Find the Triangulator on our homepage or at www.indyweekblogs.com/triangulator.)
Meanwhile, we're redesigning our other blogs, and we're slated to begin a yet-to-be named sports blog later this month.
Also, if you travel throughout the Triangle this week, you may notice there are two different covers for this issue, although the paper's innards are the same. In Wake County, we are featuring the grand opening of the Raleigh Convention Center and its role in rebranding the city's downtown. For readers in Durham, Orange and Chatham counties, we opted to make Barry Yeoman's coverage of the Democratic National Convention the most prominent image. Collect all two!