Benjamin Wachs: Sacrificing freedom for security in Arizona
Despite all the times that Barack Obama has been called a Nazi and a Communist, we must remember it was not our president who created a state where everyone must carry papers with them, and uniformed officers can arrest you even if you’ve done nothing wrong.
The Arizona state Legislature did that.
In further proof that most political movements eventually become what they hate, the crowd screaming that American freedom is in danger passed a law saying that police must investigate you if you look different. That was the way the law worked in Nazi Germany; it was the way the law worked in Communist Russia; and it’s the way the law works in any dictatorship, where the state has an interest in running the lives of its citizens. Cuba, China, North Korea — name the dictatorship, they have a law like this on their books. It’s what the American Bill of Rights was specifically set up to prevent.
The “American way of life” that so much of the country is taking to the streets to protect clearly has nothing to do with liberty if its signature accomplishment is to expand police powers to investigate the innocent.
Or do we assume that everyone who “looks like” an immigrant is already guilty? That’s an assumption that has nothing to do with liberty, either.
You don’t have to be against a strong border to be against this law. The first duty of any nation is to secure its borders, and if the United States can’t do that, then it is failing its duty. We should be able to control who comes in or out of our country, no doubt about it. Armed patrol? Fine. Wall? I’m good with that.
But the relationship between the people and their police determines the kind of country we live in. If the police are agents of fear, then we live in a police state.
Aside from freedom, the biggest victim of Arizona’s law, ironically, will be security. The most important asset to catching criminals among illegal immigrants is the support of the immigrant community. When immigrants are willing to work with police, it makes catching violent and dangerous immigrants much easier.
Arizona’s law cuts that relationship off at the knees. Any immigrant, illegal or otherwise, would be crazy to work with a police force whose first duty is to harass their friends and family, and, in fact, may look suspiciously upon them.
Does this law keep us safer from terrorists? Only if you assume that white guys never make bombs. In fact, Arizona’s law could be called the “give white terrorists a free pass” statute. Do we want to stop the next Oklahoma City Bombing? Then why, if profiling is oh-so-effective, aren’t we profiling to find the next Timothy McVeigh?
Benjamin Frankly famously said that those who would sacrifice freedom for security deserve neither, and Arizona has just shown how that works.
Police states are neither free nor secure, but they sure are angry.
Benjamin Wachs writes for Messenger Post Media in Canandaigua, N.Y. Read his work at www.TheWachsGallery.com.