Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Are We Safe yet?

So, another attack against innocent civilians, this time using bombs. How could this happen? Why would someone do this? You and I try our best to make some sense of such things, but no sense can be made of such madness. Our efforts to do so prove, as they always do, fruitless. I feel sympathy for my fellow Americans in Boston, who have suffered needlessly from this attack. I feel anger toward those who would perpetrate such attacks. I also feel frustration, because I know that no matter what we do, how many laws are passed, or how many cameras are placed around us, or how many of our human rights are stripped away from us, there will always be nut-jobs who will do such things.

The recent events in Boston, while angering Americans across our country, also should raise some questions. I hope to explore some of those questions here and you may think of others you wish to add in the comments section. Let us begin.

How could this have happened? We have seen the news stories, ad nauseum, about the actions being taken by our Department of Homeland Security to make us safer. We have all seen the news reports of the millions of rounds of ammunition that the DHS is purchasing, ostensibly to use for our protection (wink, wink). We have seen the photos of the tank-like trucks that the DHS has procured (over 2,000 I believe) for our protection. A quick Google search will bring up more stories than you will have time to read, about the DHS efforts to increase its size and scope. How did any of that help in Boston? Maybe if there had been a few hundred of those tank-trucks parked along the route they could have blocked some of the shrapnel from the blasts?

And let us go back to the beginning; Why do we even have a Department of Homeland Security? Remember the days following the attacks on 9/11? In existence at that time were the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, the DEA, and a whole host of alphabet soup agencies, whose jobs are/were to gather information, share that information, and provide for the protection of the United States and its citizens. Right? But we were told, post-9/11, that these agencies failed in their responsibilities. Each of them had gathered certain information about the attackers, but had failed to coalesce that information, to share with other agencies, and so the attackers and their plan slipped through the bureaucratic cracks. How best to fix this, so it wouldn't happen again? Why, we create another bureaucracy, of course. And so was born the Department of Homeland Security. We were to believe that these other government agencies, who would not share with each other before, were now going to share with the new kid on the block. Among the potential threats that have been missed since the formation of the DHS was the "underwear bomber." Remember the guy who tried to blow up an airliner by igniting a bomb in his underwear? He got past airport security, was on a no-fly list, but managed to get past that as well, and the only thing that saved the passengers on that plane was the fact that his bomb literally fizzled. Thank you DHS and TSA.

Also trying to do everything possible to save us (<sarcasm) is our United States Congress. Need I even begin to go over all the liberty-killing laws they have passed and seek to pass under the guise of "protecting us?" The idea, I suppose, among these paragons of rational thinking, is that we can legislate away madness and crazy people. By the mere stroke of a pen on a piece of parchment we will all be safer, because the criminals among us will heed the new law and begin to respect the rights of others. Can we? Is it possible to legislate away the desire to murder one's fellow human-beings? Certainly we should have laws in place to punish those who do, but is there such a thing as a law that can prevent such acts? Will more cameras spying on us help? Would granting the government and its agents ever more power over us, its ability to spy on us, its ability to ignore the Bill of Rights and our liberties, help make us safer? How far is far enough?

After the murders at Sandy Hook last December, the cry was far and wide for more gun control. Again, rational thought was thrown out the window and the emotional cry to DO SOMETHING was the basis for all subsequent proposed legislation. Just do something. It doesn't really matter if it works or even if it makes sense, just DO SOMETHING! Yet guns had nothing to do with the murders and injuries in Boston. Bombs, bombs made from pressure cookers, the kind of pressure cookers you and I can buy at any Target or Wal Mart store, were used. In those pressure cookers were ball-bearings and nails, along with the materials used to make the explosive. So, if we are to do something, anything, as our liberal/progressive friends are so apt to scream, then when will the bills restricting the purchase of pressure cookers, nails, ball-bearings, etc., come about? No, I'm not trying to be funny, I am as serious as I can be. Using the logic(?) of the left and carrying it to its logical conclusion, shouldn't we now demand that our heroes in Congress restrict our access to these materials? If not, why? Don't they demand the same be done regarding guns? Can we have just a little, just a little, intellectual consistency from the left on this matter?

What if we did see efforts to restrict the purchase of nails, ball-bearings, and pressure cookers? What if we did place more cameras on every light pole, every building, every traffic light? What if we gave the DHS and other government agencies, carte blanche to do whatever they wanted/needed to do to stop such attacks? Would it really make any difference? Aside from turning the United States of America into just another third-world police-state, would we really be any safer? Are we willing to allow ourselves to become a police-state in order to be safer? My opinion is that no amount of laws, no increase in government bureaucracies, no abdication of our human rights, is going to make us safer. Changing human hearts and minds is a more effective way of providing for long-tern safety. Now we can have the debate about how best to accomplish that goal and in the meantime we should continue to remain vigilant and prepared to defend ourselves against attacks from all sources, including our own government, but we delude ourselves if we think that more laws and bigger government agencies are the answer.

At the end of the day, after all the wailing and gnashing of teeth, after all the demands that we do something, after all the proposed/enacted laws, insane people are going to do insane things. I know that sounds overly simplistic, but I challenge you to refute it. You cannot legislate away madness. No law, no new government agency, no amount of tanks and ammunition will keep a madman from carrying out his plans. Punishing those of us who have committed no crimes, by abolishing our Bill of Rights, and with it our human rights, only creates an animosity between the citizenry and the government that need not and should not exist. I hope that those who perpetrated the evil in Boston are caught and are subjected to the punishments provided for by the full extent of the law. In the meantime we must acknowledge the reality that there are madmen among us and we must be prepared to deal with them accordingly, but we do not do that by punishing the law-abiding or by abolishing our liberties and freedom as Americans.