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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Subways, Guns, and Kevlar (PROTEST)

Today, I was reading on BoingBoing about Amtrack's decision to employ random bag checks on its trains, something I knew about from being in Penn Station in Manhattan and hearing the announcements. I read through all of the comments, and responded to the last one, with which I disagreed. You can read the entire post and comments here. In my comment (my handle is "realisateur"), I made reference to a particular article from the New York Times that cites the patrol teams that will begin roaming the NYC subways in March with automatic rifles, Kevlar and bullet-resistant vests, and bomb sniffing dogs. This move is terrifying. There is nothing scarier than having a man six feet in front of you fully prepared for war, with gun in hand, and he believes he's already in the warzone, so to speak.

My opinions about this are stated a bit more clearly in my comment on the BB website, so I'm going to include that comment at the end of this post. However, I am issuing a formal invitation to the citizens of New York City to come protest with me on Friday, February 29th, against this fear-monger tactic, the most recent in a long line of them on behalf of the government. I am sick of being told I am living in a terror state. If you or anyone you know is, too, then I would like you/them to join me in exercising our right to tell everyone that we're fed up. You may contact me by e-mail or post here, and I will let you know the details. If you have any suggestions for time, day, or method, I'm more than open to those as well.

Below, my comment on BoingBoing:



MattyD-

I'd like to disagree with you here, on several of your points. First of all, I think New Yorkers and those in nearby areas DO wring their hands in fear. In particular, people who already have anxieties about traveling, be it by plane or by train, are at this point paranoid. The government has not done a good job of responding to 9-11, it has done a good job of implementing measures that have a) the appearance of security and b) the only real value of inconveniencing, making "brown" people afraid, and now even making any civilian scared of crossing police or other law enforcement, for fear of their Constitutional rights being suspended.

In response to the government maybe not having done enough, I would like to point out a New York Times article from February 2nd:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/02/nyregion/02machinegun.html?_r=1&bl&&st=cse&sq=new+york+automatic+rifles&scp=1&oref=slogin

Putting officers on all subway trains, all day long, who are carrying military-grade automatic rifles and bomb dogs only increases security so much. Anyone who wants to come down and blow up the subway can still do it, because they're not afraid of dying. What this does in a larger sense is inspire fear in all those people riding the subway. For instance, I have the right to refuse the search of my bag by the police. However, if the man who is asking me to open my bag has a machine gun, I am going to be disinclined to refuse his request. In fact, I think I might not want to refuse ANY request! And that fear is a real and immoral one.

As for your citation of the loved-ones in London and Madrid, I agree that those people have suffered an unconscionable and irreconcilable loss. However, loss of life never justifies excessive ANYTHING. If we asked them what they thought, their perspective would be severely colored by their experience. This is the same kind of problem we run into when we talk about the Death Penalty and whether it should still exist (and while I'm bringing out that can of worms for reference, I'm NOT opening it. So just put it back in the cupboard, anyone reading this! And I say that with a smile). As for your insistence on pointing out that those attacks were done by "Muslim (yes, Muslim)" people, I think it's important to point out that there is a BIG difference between Muslims and Islamic Fundamentalists. The attacks were perpetrated by Islamic Fundamentalists, not run-of-the-mill Muslims. That kind of pigeon-holing based on rudimentary categorization is what has led us to the racial profiling issues that we're running into today.

I'd imagine there's more I want to say here, and more would be said if this were an actual conversation, and I'm probably missing a point or two that I wanted to make, but I just wanted to make sure I gave my two cents. I really hope you won't look at this as flaming, because I mean my words sincerely and humbly, not as an attack at all. Lucky for us, we get to have this conversation at all.

And if I'm wrong about anything, by all means anyone, feel free to point it out with the same candor I think I've used here.

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