The Marathon Bombings, Privacy and the Question "Why?"
One thing is clear amidst the shower of confusion and contradiction that bathes the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing: the legal and technological structure of a police state is in place and can be quickly activated. As if on cue, while the hunt for the bombers was ongoing, the House of Representatives obligingly enhanced that police state capability by passing the draconian Cyber Intelligence and Protection Act (CIPA). If approved by the Senate and signed by the President, it will greatly expand the government's intrusion into all our lives.
It wasn't a good week for freedom.
Images are always important. They frame our memories and memory is the sketch artist of our consciousness. Here's an image. Boston -- an enduring symbol of this country's democracy, intellectual pursuit and progressive thinking -- is deserted because the government won't let people come out of their homes. Armoured vehicles cruise neighborhoods and people from at least four different agencies or mercenary companies walk the streets with military weapons stopping methodically to pull people from their houses at gunpoint and search them and sometimes their homes. All the while, broad sections of public street and gathering places are under camera surveillance and the government processes that footage and acts on it within hours.
We're not yet in a police state but we can be with a single command. Last week demonstrated that.
It's tough to think clearly when death and destruction hog our minds and when an attack seems so senseless. It's as if logic abandons us and even the attempts by our groping commercial media to attribute these actions to some logical thinking will fail. In the end, we'll probably find that Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev were no more logical in their vision and intent than Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook killer, or Wade Michael Page, the white supremacist who killed six Sikhs at a Wisconsin temple last year.
Yeah, there's always a "reason" but the reason never really tells us "why". That unanswerable "why" on our lips and in our minds unifies us with the world. It's the very same "why" people ask when a drone plane destroys their homes or when soldiers with guns like the ones carried on Boston's streets come into their houses, scream at them in a language they don't understand, violate their culture and then, in some cases, take them away or kill them on the spot.
In Iraq, there are an estimated 120,000 "why's" that have been screamed and there is no reasonable answer to any of them. What do we tell them? That our government killed their relatives and neighbors and friends because their President, whom they probably hated, had weapons he didn't really have? How "logical" is that response?
Maybe what we need is a world-wide movement asking the question "why?" Maybe one is already forming. Maybe that's why our government responded as it did last week.