IS “BIG BROTHER” AMONG US? — Growing Scrutiny, Control, and Restrictions of Personal Freedom
An article appearing on www.usatoday.com on Feb. 27 shows just how much our Western world is changing. It reports that the U.S. government is ready to test a new risk-detection system that would be based on an individual’s background and then have a threat level assigned to that particular person before they could board an airline.
Note how far reaching this new program will be: “Transportation officials say a contractor will be picked soon to build the nationwide computer system, which will check such things as credit reports and bank account activity and compare passenger names with those on government watch lists.”
Among the many changes in our new, post-September 11th world, the greatest change is that of people living in fear. Regardless of formerly “safe” areas of the world, the new reality is that no one feels safe anymore–anywhere! This is being reflected by governments as burgeoning new laws in the name of security are rushed into place. Many fear that the cost to personal freedoms has already suffered, will suffer increasingly and will be “the way things are” from here on out.
Those restrictions are not limited anymore to certain tyrannies, but they are now being introduced to Western democracies. Der Spiegel published an article on March 5, 2003, informing its readership of an attempt by the United States government to introduce a law that would strip Americans of their citizenship if they are felt to be supportive of terrorist activities. Those accused could be incarcerated secretly. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) speaks about a blatantly unconstitutional law, much worse than the “Patriot Act.” They ran an ad in the “New York Times,” titled, “Keep America safe and free,” comparing the current attempts of the U.S. government with the persecutions under the McCarthy era. One serious concern is the definition of terrorist groups in the proposed new law, which, according to law experts, could even include militant organizations for the protection of animals. “If during a demonstration a bystander should lose his life, the demonstrators could face the death penalty,” according to the article.
Yahoo! News reported on March 5 that “Hollywood Actors Raise McCarthyism Specter.” The article stated, “The Screen Actors Guild (SAG) said a slew of hate-mail directed at actors who have taken a public personal stand against war, along with calls for boycotts of movies and albums on the nation’s talk radio airwaves and Internet message boards, ‘suggest that the lessons of history have, for some, fallen on deaf ears.’ SAG said suggestions that ‘well-known individuals who express ‘unacceptable’ views should be punished by losing their ‘right to work’ was a ‘shocking development’ which recalled the 1950s House Committee on Un-American Activities. More than 230 people, including Arthur Miller, Orson Welles, Dashiell Hammett, Paul Robeson and Charlie Chaplin were placed on a blacklist that stopped them working for the entertainment industry because of views considered left-wing or unpatriotic… [Martin] Sheen, along with actor Sean Penn…, singer Sheryl Crow…, and scores of other celebrities have been slammed for being unpatriotic… G.I. Jargon.com, a Web site representing U.S. military, police and firefighters, dubbed the celebrities ‘Taliban’ and called for a boycott of ‘anti-American entertainers,'” according to the article.
These limitations of personal freedoms and attempted restrictions of free expressions are just the beginning. The Bible speaks of a time when the entire world will fall under the control of a looming end-time religious/political power, currently rising in Europe. A time when personal freedoms will disappear, war will be glorified, and the world will be in subjection to the exacting controls and dominance of this final superpower. Revelation 13 speaks of religious and political/military leaders who hold power over people to enforce worship (at the cost of their lives) and control the commerce of the world: “He [the religious leader] causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast [the political/military leader], or the number of his name” (verses 16-17).
Something to watch–something for all of us to earnestly pray about!
THE POWERFUL EURO
From msn.com for March 5, 2003, the pressure on the dollar is noted: “The euro was trading around $1.0966 compared with $1.0956 in late U.S. trade on Wednesday, when it hit a four-year peak of $1.1005.” Der Spiegel commented that experts expect a further upward trend of the euro and a further downward trend of the U.S. dollar.
Aside from the immediate monetary repercussions, the growing strength of the euro against the dollar only reflects the rapidly changing roles of a more and more isolated U.S. and an emerging financial powerhouse in an increasingly influential Europe.
U.S. AND UK IN ISOLATION?
Yahoo! News reported on March 5 that “Chinese leader Jiang Zemin gave his support to European-led opposition to a war on Iraq… Jiang told Chirac that Beijing agrees with a statement made Wednesday by the foreign ministers of France, Russia and Germany, who said they would ‘not allow’ passage of the U.S.-backed resolution.” Der Spiegel commented on March 6 that “the United States and Great Britain become more and more isolated…. The American attempts to change the picture appear motivated by despair… Now there is also open disagreement between the United States and Hans Blix.”
In addition, the United States suffered a setback this week by the refusal of the Turkish parliament to allow the Pentagon to base a large ground force in Turkey. USA Today quoted a Senior Defense official as saying, “‘We are not going to wait for Turkey. We’ll go on our timetable.'”
The troubles for the U.S. mounted further this week, when tensions increased in the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear programs. Russia and China both urged the United States to try to “defuse the standoff peacefully,” according to Yahoo! News. Washington had ordered the deployment of 12 B-1 and 12 B-52 bombers last Friday in Guam, which is about 2000 miles from North Korea. President Bush has now stated, according to the article, “that the military option was on the table as a last resort.” North Korea has repeatedly threatened with nuclear war, if the United States does not relent in the present conflict.
THE CATHOLIC POSITION ON WAR
Cardinal Pio Laghi, former Vatican ambassador to the U.S. and a Bush family friend, met with President Bush on Wednesday. As an emissary from Pope John Paul II, he delivered the pope’s message, as quoted in Yahoo! News: “A war would be a ‘defeat for humanity’ and would be neither morally nor legally justified. In a letter to Bush, the pope stood by his view that a pre-emptive strike on Iraq is immoral ‘unless it gets backed’ by the United Nations.” The article continued, “Bush, a Methodist, has taken pains throughout his presidency to court Catholic voters, who made up a quarter of the electorate in 2000 and split their votes between Bush and Democrat Al Gore.”
The Catholic position on the issue of Iraq becomes more and more muddled. Zenit stated on March 4 that Archbishop Celestino Migliore explained the Vatican’s position in this way, “It is not of pacifism, but rather of working as an architect of peace. The problems exist and they must be resolved, but not by taking recourse to war.” One day later, as stated above, the pope’s position was communicated to President Bush that he would approve of war — even of a pre-emptive strike — if the U.N. were to support it. Clearly, the position of the Catholic Church on war is not one of conscientious objection.