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The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad by Fareed Zakaria
Polyarchy by Robert Dahl
The Nazi Seizure of Power by William Sheridan Allen
Terror and Liberalism by Paul Berman
The Moon Is Down by John Steinbeck
This sort of political correctness has got to stop. The story about the Harvard commencement speaker who has been forced to change the title of his speech because it included the word 'jihad,' is a travesty for the American intellect. The speaker is head of the Harvard Islamic Society and has repeatedly argued that his use of the term is one concerning his own "personal struggle," not some sort of "holy war," as most critics have narrowly interpreted it. His title of "The American Jihad," to describe his inner struggle and determination in American society is one that should be embraced to show that American is not narrow minded and ignorant. To understand the full meaning of the word 'jihad' is something that this nation should pride itself on as a multicultural, multi-ethnic mixture of all creeds and colors. If we limit our understanding of such terms to those that seem threatening, we will never fully understand that threat. Not until we try to see our differences will we escape our ignorances. Surely the students and faculty of such a prestigious university as Harvard should be amongst the first to realize this.
The concept of an "American Jihad," in this sense, is one that should be encouraged not stifled. It is an attempt at understanding, and a spotlight on our conscience. Don't limit provocative speech, listen and learn, lest your ignorance gets the best of you.
My disdain for the current administration in the White House has been constant since Bush stole the 2000 election, but it's how his administration deals with the press, and with the public in general, that really irks me. The administration treats the public as if it is too naive to understand the complex going-on's of the big, benevolent care-taker government. While taking hit after hit at American civil liberties, the administration tries to tell us that it's for our own good! Curtailing civil liberties is not for our own good. It's for the good of an intrusive, over-bearing, unconstitutional administration. The Bush administration has talked to us as if we were barely able to read, yet it's leader is hardly the epitome of scholarship. The administration needs to give us the facts, and act as true equals.
Case in point: the misleading spokesmanship of Ari Fleischer. Every time I see him talk I know he is either lying or diverting the truth to obscurity. Most of the time he doesn't even need to though. Most of the things he tells the press are not things that needs spinning, yet he spins them sick anyway. Truth doesn't need to be this tough.
Check out Andrew Sullivan's article from the Sunday Times of London about how Bush has changed, or hasn't changed, since September 11. His relationship with and image of Europe has changed but has it been for the better?
I saw Meet the Press, or one of those shows, this past sunday and they were talking about creating a new "domestic spying" organization. The claim was that the FBI focuses on after-the-fact investigation, and the CIA works on foreign intelligence. The suggestion was that a domestic CIA should be created to be the 14th or so intelligence agency and if such an agency existed, not only would we have saved ourselves from having a September 11, this agency would be a perfect, benign agency that would not infringe on personal rights.
Frankly, this concept scared me to death. Like I said above, there are already 14 agencies responsible for gathering, analizing and acting on intelligence. The problem of September 11 was not that such an agency didn't exist, but that the existing organizations, primarily the FBI, didn't have the organization to discover the dangerous insurgencies Al-Qaeda had made into the U.S. in time to prevent disaster. Such an organization is incredibly not needed. A recent memo by a FBI field agent who was tracking Zacarias Moussaoui makes it clear that the FBI has it's own problems. The suggestion of a "mole or spy" within the FBI is frightening and is worthy of a broad investigation.
But, the real problem with this suggestion of a "domestic spy" organization is that it goes against everything that the Constitution holds dear. The pro-new agency commentator on the program argued that every other nation in the world has such a spy organization and that the U.S. is just behind and this is why we get attacked and others don't. This is a ridiculous accusation. The reason the U.S. was attacked was partly out of envy for our success and our success has a large part to do with how our society is free of such intrusions into our personal lives. Such an agency would scream Fascist control. While that seems like a preferable option to many in the Bush administration, such an agency would be everything the U.S. is not. The U.S. thrives because it is free of central control in such areas as speech, press, and association. The creation of such a domestic spying organization would be the antithesis of everything the 1st amendment holds.
We don't need more agencies to cloud the system, we need effective organizations that will prevent disaster without infringing on personal freedoms.
Here's a commentary about the declining influence of Europe that I saw linked on Andrew Sullivan's site. It talks about how Europe is changing and developing into a sort-of snotty, elitist part of the world that gets snippy when its power is declining. Europe, since the end of the Cold War, has not been in need of the protection of the United States and has therefore been a fussy ally. While no longer in need of security, Europe has begrudgingly supported U.S. leadership while muttering distain privately. Recent shifts towards the Right in many European nations, most notably France, have shown Europe's elitist view of their culture and political superiority that they feel is being snuffed out by American influence. While I guess you can't blame them, as this author perfectly put it, "Europe has never missed an opportunity to bite the hand which shields it."
Europe needs to get over themselves and be a willing ally. While the British have always been a close ally, and Russia has used the September attacks to move closer to the U.S., mainland Europe is stubbornly resistant. Europe needs to move to embrace the power that understands it, the U.S. This is no time to turn your back on the lone superpower that will be the advocate for your wellbeing for the future.