"Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Shall Maintain"
Anyone know where the quote comes from? [Pause and let group answer.] This is our Iowa State motto and is on the Iowa flag. It is a wonderful motto. Words and ideas to live by. One that we need to wave around a bit more vigorously.
There is all this talk about how much we have changed from the events of 9-11. Emotionally, I am not sure much has changed for our country from when many of us gathered a few weeks post 9-11-2001 in the 2nd floor Ballroom at the IMU. There is still grief, anger, and unsureness of what to do next. There is still suspicion of people who appear to be different from ourselves. There is still no solid proof against or capture of Osama Bin Laden.
Politically, some fundamental change has occurred, although it is not that transparent. The US Patriot Act was passed with little fight from us. This Act broadened the powers of intelligence and law enforcement agencies to collect information and incarcerate US Citizens, as well as non-citizens, with little due cause or due process. Examples that are now allowed in order to "assist in terror investigations":
All under the auspices of "assisting in terror investigations".
Before the US Patriot Act, intelligence agencies had information upon which to act and prevent some of the terrorists who played a part in 9-11 from entering this country. Two of the pilots who flew planes into the Twin Towers were on CIA/FBI list to prevent them from entering into the United States. They were allowed in. Our government had some information/warning about the attacks and could not prevent them. We still cannot find Bin Laden. This system broke down repeatedly.
Why do they need more information (via erosion of our civil liberties), when they can't competently utilize the mass amounts they currently collect?
And now, the President wants a Department of Homeland Security, bringing all this intelligence, all this cooperation, and all this technology together under one large umbrella. So we build a bigger and more insulated government structure. We shield our lack of success by progressing to the next target in this so-called war against terrorism-towards Iraq.
The United States continues the war on terrorism by inserting ourselves in destructive and inappropriate ways. We tell the Cuban people that they have a leader that is not to our liking. We tell the Palestinians they have a leader that is not to our liking. And then we continually try to oust the leaders of other countries. We do this repeatedly throughout our history.
We fund "freedom fighters". We train them in terrorist tactics. We provide them with sophisticated weaponry. And we/they are successful. The freedom fighters are now in power. Then they turn on the US. They then become the target of our next war.
Insert any name. Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein both can be inserted. There are many other examples. Bombing Iraq is no solution. It is a cowboy tactic that will lead to further frustration and hatred towards the United States. Bombing Iraq continues the spiral downward away from peace, away from justice, away from cooperation.
This strategy is not working.
What do smart people do when repeated tries towards a goal are unsuccessful? We change something about our approach.
I believe in our Constitution. My loyalty to that part of our system in shown by exercising the rights that many sacrificed to develop and maintain.
Our supposedly small "d" democratic system only works when it is transparent, when information is readily available, and when we participate.
We need to repeal the US Patriot Act. We need to strengthen civil liberties, be a more cooperative world citizen by abiding by international law. We need to be more overt in the regular exercising our rights.
As one example of where we could make some improvement as citizens: only 5.5 % of the eligible voters participated in the school board election last week. This has implications for the fairness of funding, the nutrition of school aged children, and curricula used in our school district. Yet, few of us participated in this fundamental responsibility about basic issues.
One of my reflections one year after 9-11 is to reaffirm my life choice to live out my rights as fully as possible each day. To speak out, to learn, to be involved. And to wave my flag of prizing my liberties and fighting to maintain them.