"If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."
-- Joseph Goebbels
Reich Minister of Propaganda, 1933 to 1945
Quis custodiet ipsos custodes? ("Who watches the watchmen?")
Roman poet and Satirist, 1st Century A.D.
America needs to be housebroken. I'm not talking about the NSA, the FBI, the IRS, or any other TLAs; I'm talking about you, me, and everyone you know.
Alright, so everyone and their FOX News brother-in-law and their vegan wiccan cousins are all in an uproar over the stink emanating from the revelation that the National Security Agency (NSA) is reading your sext messages, eavesdropping on those phone calls you made to your old college girlfriend, and checking out your purchases from Amazon, Ideeli, Home Depot, Urban Outfitters, and the Halloween Superstore. (A Walter White porkpie hat, wasn't it?) Heck, they're even reading that email you forwarded to me about the cat that can waterski.
I know. "What's the big deal?" I hear you sighing. They're also listening to Angela Merkel calling her husband telling him to bring home some decent beer from Holland instead of that cheap German swill they've been drinking. If you can believe what you read on the Internet or see on CNN, the NSA is eavesdropping on 70-million French folks whining about unfinished burata cheese and 60-million Spaniards telling their mistresses which silk teddy to wear after dinner. And besides, all governments spy on each other, and this has been going on for years.
But the news here is not that our government is spying on us, finding out if you went to see the doctor for that "rash" you've had since last New Year's, seeing which porn sites took your credit card, or how many times you bounced a check at BofA.
I hate to break it to you, but that ain't news folks. This has been happening with increasing regularity since 2001, starting with the PATRIOT Act that nobody bothered to read before passing it. (And yes, I know it started way back in the 1950s.) If you were paying attention while we were blowing the bejesus out of Afghanistan and allowing Osama to escape through Tora Bora, some of us were crying foul over government intrusion into our private lives back then, but we were drowned out by a Greek chorus of approval to keep us safe from bin Laden and his ilk. So what if they read our emails? They just want to keep us safe. We're not working with terrorists so why should we worry? Only criminals and terrorists have to worry, right?
Wrong. But despite numerous warnings when the PATRIOT Act was renewed at least twice, we blithely went about our business watching "The Voice" or "Downton Abbey" and following the exploits of Snooki, Dexter, and Don Draper, complacently worrying about the price of Manolo Blahniks or which handbag to get at the mall, not about personal security or civil liberties.
Even President Obama has told us that you are more likely to be killed by a cop than by a terrorist. Heck, you're more likely to die from a car wreck or a tornado than from a suicide bomb. I guess you could argue that all the so-called "safeguards" put in place by Bush and expanded by Obama have reduced the threat, but face it--except for 9/11 and the Boston Marathon, how many terrorist attacks have we actually had in this country?
The problem is that America does not like having its nose rubbed in the mess we made in our own living room, like a recalcitrant newborn puppy. We allowed this to happen folks--we gave tacit permission to our government to spy on us in the name of homeland protection, just as the German people did when faced with a threat from "Communists" in the 1930s. If you don't speak up, then silence equals consent. Who really burned down the Reichstag?
So yes, WE made this mess, and we are now frightened and pissed off when someone like Edward Snowden pushes our nose right down deep into the steaming pile of fascist police-state oppression sitting there smelling up our very own homeland carpet.
We saw this same sort of disgusting hypocrisy with the insane overreaction to Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" when people who had not even seen the movie claimed that it was "endorsing torture" or asserting that the movie "said that there was a link between torture prying loose terrorist testimony that would lead to killing bin Laden." The movie DID show torture, but what Bigelow was saying was: "This happened on your watch, people. YOU allowed this to happen." The "outrage" stemmed from the fact that America did not want to be reminded of this Recent Unpleasantness that took place under That Other President. No one likes to have their nose rubbed in their own filth and no one likes to be told that it is their fault. No one wants the incumbent responsibility that comes with maintaining freedom.