While I want to write my thoughts down, that the fact that the American government surveils society at random, tortures information from people, and restricts people from speaking too loudly on critical topics makes me leery about putting my thoughts onto a computer... yet here we are. I cannot avoid the risk of my government potentially blacklisting me unless I were to type this out on a typewriter somewhere. As an open-minded, educated American, I can sense some of the horrors our government experiencing these days and am constantly seeking new information. Though, when that information stuns me into silence I find cause for concern. I don't often find that a topic would confound me into silence, but when I could put myself at risk and those I love at risk by simply using my voice, it strikes fear into my very being. After seeing Naomi Wolf's documentary End of America, I realized that I have no idea not only what the American government is capable of, but what they are actually taking part in to keep our society in check. Personally, I have always been a bit of a squeaky wheel. If something is morally wrong I will be one of the first to speak my mind about it, however, after seeing the horrific things this country sweeps under the rug makes me want to think twice before opening my mouth at all.
When America was still an infant we were run by another country. From all the way across the Atlantic Ocean we had to live by rules and demands set by someone else and this wasn't okay for America. When the Patriots took hold of America and decided to make it our own place with our own set of rules, they created a democracy; a government for the people where they could be respected and heard. We became America: The Land of The Free. This was not the first time democracy was used, but the people of America seemed to know exactly what they wanted and needed to be successful and democracy was what suited those best. What most people don't know is that America has been on a very dangerous path for a long time. Naomi Wolf pointed out that there were essentially "ten steps a [government would take] to close down an open society" and that America was following all ten steps - which gives me my own personal set of nightmares. Could we be compared to Stalin's Russia, Mussolini's Italy, and Hitler’s Germany? America? It couldn't be possible, yet apparently it is so.
The Department of Homeland Security for example: A department in our federal government created in response to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. A department created to ensure the level of safety of American citizens - essentially to control the fear levels of American citizens. Naomi Wolf explained how other countries also have to face terrorism, but how they deal with it in a calm way without generating fear in all of its citizens. "[Other countries] take pride in not frightening the citizens and having daily life go on without fear." - Seemingly a very hard concept for America to understand. Instead we drive fear home with each and every news story ever made. Bombings, terrorist attacks, murder, threats, homicide, abuse - it is never-ending and also a way of life for Americans. As if we didn't have enough problems without imminent threat looming over our heads all the time. Just over month after the attacks on 9/11, Congress pushed forward the USA Patriot Act which largely reduced the restrictions that law enforcement agencies had in the gathering of personal information on any citizen of the United States of America. With this law in place citizens lost their privacy at the blink of Congress' eye; people can now be invaded upon "all without having done anything wrong and all without a warrant."
Yet the trepidation doesn't stop there. Every day people who stand up for what they believe in have been ostracized without any regard. Anti-war groups, anti-death penalty, environmental groups, and even less aggressive non-violent peace groups have been targeted by our government. The groups become infiltrated by a mole and the mole relays back all of the groups activity, cause trouble within the group or even to break up the groups. These surveillance and infiltration acts were kept in check by the American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU whose job it was to defend and preserve the rights of every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. "Surveillance and Infiltration... it's a psychological pressure point not just a tactical one." Another notch added to the American belt of fear and another way to keep the American people quiet and underneath the thumb of its government. Sometimes as a joke or in casual conversation I will suggest a radical idea and then say aloud "Uh oh, I bet you the government heard me say that," but I suppose it isn't a joke or even a comedic response, because while they aren't listening to every conversation, I am certain they are listening to a wide variety of them and one day that conversation could be my own.
Those ten steps to closing down an open society are prime reasons why I would love to no longer be a part of this terrifying place which we call a country; a once a magnificent place that people came to for freedom… for a chance. In the last fifteen years (roughly) we have broken ourselves as a country and in a disparaging manner. We have marred ourselves with our treacherous actions and shut up the very people who recognize the destruction and want to fix it. My heart breaks for this country. This country where my ancestors came for their shot at happiness and never in their wildest dreams would have believed that it would be a place their grandchildren would run from – in fear. I tell people all the time that I want to leave America and while to some that may sound incredible to others it makes sense. “…We lost our way – we just need to find our way back to the path that served us well for so long…” Together, as Americans, we can make anything happen… if only we weren’t so afraid to do so.