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guilt by association: mmcarthyism 2.0?

August 7, 2012

The potential ramifications of what this article is implying are chilling to anyone familiar with the history of McCarthyism. This article is implying, and not subtly might I add, that the Feds were unable to take action and prevent this racist asshole from shooting a bunch of people in a Sikh temple, despite being ‘looked at’ multiple times over the past decade, because they’re “prohibited under federal law from collecting information on U.S. citizens not suspected of committing a crime” (as if they don’t already do that anyway). Cue arguments against Sen. Merkley’s Protect America’s Privacy Act and for more intrusive government powers to spy on American citizens suspected of, well, pretty much anything.

What supporters of this might not realize (or do and actually support) is that this will make it even easier for state and local agencies to spy on and harass anyone who doesn’t fit the mold of the perfect Americans citizen, including Muslims, anarchists, etc. The NYPD has already taken upon itself the task of spying on Muslims in New Jersey, saying that it’s a necessary safeguard against future terrorism (as if all Muslims are terrorists); and the FBI seems perfectly able and willing to raid houses in search of anarchist literature because a few people wearing black broke some windows and slashed some tires. But what if the government could legally collect and store data about citizens, like what books they purchase from Amazon or what kind of deli they get their meat from? It would make their jobs that much easier, because they wouldn’t even have to make the pretenses of investigating legitimate threats to public safety; they could just point to these items and activities as probable cause in and of themselves. And if that doesn’t worry you, just imagine the extent of the witch-hunts during the 1950s if McCarthy and Hoover had the kind of surveillance capabilities we have now. Anyone thinking of buying Debt: The First 5,000 Years or halal meat better watch out.

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