Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

German Liberty also at Risk?

The gradual or even sudden erosion of hard-won freedoms in a once-free nation is a threat that must be guarded against with diligence in every free nation. While I recently expressed concerns about the potential emergence of dictatorial power in the United States, other once-free nations are equally at risk. For example, Germany has picked up some troubling trends in the US and added their own twist. Using anti-terrorism laws, Germany's Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has called for "preventive detention" of people he thinks might commit a crime. See, for example, the story in the International Herald Tribune. On top of that, German police have again implemented a tactic from the East German secret police, the Stasi, who collected scent samples from potential criminals to track them down with dogs later should they be suspected of a future crime. It's now happening again in Germany.

Teeka Tiwari discusses this in "Germany goes Chavez on Itself." While he speaks from the perspective of a businessman worried about economic implications, the excerpt below should be sufficient to concern those who care about broader issues such as the liberty of nations and the freedom of our brothers and sisters in Europe and elsewhere. As the West is increasingly marching in unison in terms of political architecture and seeking to become homogenized in laws and practices ("national sovereignty" being a term approaching profanity), we might see the freedom-eroding trends in the US and Germany to extend to other lands as well. Should we be concerned? Naah - we've got American Idol!
On June 8th of this year, the town of Hiligendamm, Germany will host the G8 summit. This is where the world's leaders come together to share a few drinks, swap a few stories, discuss world trade etc. Needless to say, not everybody is happy with our global leaders, and previous G8 meetings have been met with massive protests, oftentimes marred by violence.

German response to this potential threat is to embrace an old, cold war tactic of taking scent samples from people who they think will be trouble makers so they can track them later with dogs. This exact tactic was used by the East German secret police, the Stasi (think KGB). The Stasi was a collection of thugs and sadists that flourished under the freedom crushing rule that was East Germany.

What is even more terrifying is the decision by Germany's interior minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, to incarcerate people the government THINKS MAY pose a POTENTIAL threat.

These are people, guilty of no crime, who are being imprisoned under a term called "Preventative Detention."

OK, think about this: A guy from the government knocks on your door and says, "Mr. Smith, we think you are going to commit a crime, so we are putting you in prison before you commit it!"

This is the lunacy currently gripping Europe's most important economy.

These de facto Minority Reportesque pre-crime detentions of so-called potential trouble makers sets a precedent that is truly troubling.

How do you think massive human rights abuses are perpetrated?

All at once in a big bang?

No, my friends, the erosion of personal freedoms occurs slowly. First, among the fringe elements where it won't be noticed or cared about. Then the precedent set by those actions becomes the springboard for a MUCH BROADER APPLICATION of those powers.

Totalitarian policies foster social unrest, and social unrest is rarely good for business. As a society loses faith in its future, so does it begin to lose faith in all but the here and now; money gets hoarded, purchases get postponed. In short, business suffers.

Western countries cannot allow the threat of harm to turn us into what Petra Pau (German opposing government law maker) calls "preventative security states." Such a transformation among Western countries would have a most deleterious effect on all businesses save those dedicated to military/security applications.
OK, that part about totalitarian governments "rarely being good for business" makes me laugh. Hundreds of millions of bodies slaughtered by totalitarian powers is more like what we should be concerned about. But yes, establishment of a dictatorship in the US or Germany will probably also have an impact on your retirement account. Unless you are invested in the Vanguard Dictatorial Fund, perhaps.

I'm not saying we're about to see tanks rolling through our neighborhoods. This is a wonderful and largely free country. But there is a price to be paid for liberty: vigilance, self-sacrifice, active participation in the process. And liberty DOES NOT come by sitting back and trusting leaders because we think they are in the right political party or because they have a Christian upbringing. The Founding Fathers were truly paranoid: they crafted a government with layer upon layer of inefficiency to stop any one man or group from having too much power, for they knew that power will attract some of the most dangerous people, and that few men can truly be trusted.

Now I know some of you will think I've become a delusional conspiracy theorist who lacks the basic faith needed to just relax and trust elected political leaders, whether here or in Germany. After all, there's no way an advanced civilized nation with an educated Christian populace like the US or Germany could ever fall into tyranny, right? I mean, it's not like that's ever happened before, right? Could it really happen? Heil no! Preventive detentions, preventive military strikes, spying on citizens, and unilateral directives for putting all power into the hands of one man or group in the event of any kind of serious emergency ("regardless of location") is all just the normal stuff that good government is made of, and certainly for our own good, right?

Right? Yeah, I'm beginning to feel better already. Maybe a few more American Idol reruns will help.

{Long pause. Deep silence. The sound of ice cracking. A mosquito buzzes, followed by a soft sizzling pop from a bug zapper.}

Wait, the fear is back.

Did you notice the mention of Minority Report above? Preventive strikes against nations or criminals will be tolerated by most Americans because they will seem to "work" and because the strikes are done against just a few people and nations that we don't like. Nasty, smelly, heavily-tattooed hippies in the street protesting against beautiful people in suits. Haul them away before they stir up trouble - it makes a lot of sense. And people with past criminal records who could be potential terrorists - sure, lock them up without due process, hold them for years without filing charges since they seem like "enemy combatants." Who could object? As long as we are wisely curtailing a few "rights" of suspect minorities for the good of the country, we should be fine - except, hello Utah, hello Zion, we Mormons are one of those suspect minorities in the eyes of many people. In fact, almost anybody could become part of a suspect minority depending on what they say, do, or believe.

I guess that's the price we need to pay for security. I'm sure we'll get used to it. Now get back to work and quit worrying.

4 comments:

Ian said...

This could be kind of like the Mccarthy hearings.

Have you ever been associated with anyone who could be associated with or have you ever read a book on Terrorism?

Mormanity said...

Yes, I've been associated with people who could be associated with readers of books on terrorism, but I don't admit that very often.

cayblood said...

"Preventative" is not a word. The correct word is "preventive."

Mormanity said...

"Preventive" is preferred and correct, but "preventative" is still a word. Dictionary.com's entry for "preventive" says "Also, preventative." But I'll use "preventive" while keeping the "preventative" usage in the quoted text.