A Queasy Bit of Genius

Posted by By at 3 December, at 10 : 13 AM Print

I have to admit that a teeny part of me thinks there is somebody absolutely brilliant behind all this.

Americans destroying what it is to be American in order to protect America from people who would destroy what it is to be American.

I mean, WOW. It’s like MAD magazine on crystal meth.

On Tuesday the U.S. Senate, which, I’m beginning to think, may be the terrorist organization we really need to worry about, voted to keep in place a controversial section of the defense spending bill that would allow the indefinite detention of any terrorism suspect, including American citizens.

I can really see the attraction, to be honest. There are, plain and simple, really scary people out there. Some of them are just plain crazy, and some of them are crazy but think they are acting on behalf of Allah, or Jesus, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, for all we know. Like it or not, they’re out there, walking around, watching the world through the warped lenses of their assorted lunacies, and perfectly happy to go to glory on behalf of their own delusions, if they can just take some of us – preferably a whole lot of us – along for the ride.

Well, that’s the picture that’s hung on the side of legislation like this, anyway, a poster to convince us that we must do everything in our power to quell the threat against us.

No matter the cost.

That last part is not even in the fine print. It is not even mentioned.

Of course, we are really pretty vague about whom that threat actually comes from. The terror-of-the-moment is anybody who worships Allah, and there are some good reasons for that. On the other hand, back in World War II, We The People locked up a lot of innocent folks – 110,000 Japanese-Americans and about 16,000 German-born citizens and immigrants for much the same reason we want to lock up people who go to the wrong place of worship on the suspicion that they may be jihadists.

Of those Germans, perhaps one in 10 was members of the Nazi Party. Eight were actually suspected of espionage.


I spent an afternoon walking around what was left of the Manzanar Japanese internment camp in Southern California some years back. It had just been handed over to the National Park Service, but nothing had been done to pretty it up. I was OK until I found the cemetery. A number of the graves were very small, only a few feet long, with toys, trinkets, and folded blankets placed over them, by people, perhaps, who are not simply shrugging their internment off as a temporary inconvenience.

Guess what happened to their jobs and property while they were gone.

In any case, the long internment of so many without due process, based in large part on the way they looked or talked or cooked their sausage has been a matter of some shame to the U.S. Apparently, it has not be so much of a shame that we have been cured of heading in that direction again.

Perhaps the fact that our detention camps are not, strictly speaking, on American soil helps make our updated detentions seem more humane, or at least less un-American.

Sixteen Democrats, among them Pennsylvania’s own Robert Casey, joined the usual foam-at-the-mouth crowd to vote against amending the legislation to remove the section on authorizing indefinite detention. It gave me the same sensation I had when I once was convinced there was a snake in my sleeping bag.

To be sure, there are not very many people locked up at the nominally illegal military prison in Guantanamo. At last count, there were perhaps 170 or so people who are adjudged to be too dangerous to let go, but who for one reason or another cannot be tried under whatever legal rules they are still sticking to down there.

OK, so these are arguably really bad people. I’m sure they honestly hate us. If they didn’t hate us when they were thrown into that hot, humid dog-run years and years ago, they do now. Maybe it’s hard for some of us to feel sympathy.

But think about it.

The renewed authorization would make it possible, LEGALLY possible, to snap you up and haul you away for as long as they want, even for the remainder of your natural life, without ever allowing you to be charged, to have your day in court, without ever speaking to a civilian attorney. And all because somebody somewhere with the right title on his or her door decided you were a threat to national security, based on an informant, an astrological forecast, or the reading of chicken guts. Doesn’t matter. A paper gets signed and you are gone.

There are people who like this bill, obviously, who think it’s just the thing for combating the newest crop of boogie-beings that haunt our dreams.

President Obama has threatened to veto the bill if it contains the “indefinite detention” language in it, and hooray for him. The really stupid thing about it is that throngs of people who hate anything as long as Obama is for it, would, when not drinking that particular Kool-Aid, be whooping his praises for standing up for the Constitution that is supposed to protect us from this kind of tail-tucked hogwash.

Photo by the_kid_cl
This post was written by:
- who has written 28 posts for Rock The Capital
T.W. Burger was born in western Pennsylvania but spent more than 30 years growing up in Athens Ga., with a two-year side-trip to Greenville, Mississippi. He has lived in the Gettysburg area since 1985. Before becoming a newspaper reporter at 35, he was an apprentice mortician, concrete mixer driver, garbageman, salesman, laboratory technician and all-around roustabout. He has written professionally since the late 1970s. He lives along Marsh Creek near Gettysburg with his partner Sue and a loose affiliation of cats. He is the author of the “Burger to Go” blogsite at Burger2go.wordpress.com. - Email tburger

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