Liberty, Freedom and Terror

Posted by in Politics


“He who gives up essential liberty for a little temporary security deserves neither liberty or security.” – Benjamin Franklin

Words like security, freedom, liberty and rights have been the buzz words for a few years now, governments been coming in power on the “We will keep you secure and safe” bandwagon, albeit it was not the only reason governments came into power, but security seems to be something people are worried about, and politicians, being the people they are, seized the moment and capitalised on it.

In Australia, terrorism laws passed several years ago, to make us safer, more secure and supposedly to make it harder for terrorism to succeed! Or so the politicians keep on telling us.

That’s when I remembered Benjamin Franklin’s saying, that I wrote at the start, the realisation donned on me; that in the eighteenth century politicians had a better grasp of the concept and importance of liberty than in our day and age!

Another question also came to mind; what exactly do terrorists want when they commit their atrocities in one country or another? Do they want to put the fear of God in us? Do they want us to keep looking over our shoulders every five seconds? Do they want us to become worse off? Do they want to destroy our way of life?

Would laws that make our liberties less, our freedoms monitored day and night and effectively making us live in a police state, succeed in preventing what terrorist try to achieve or will it make their job easier?

I shudder to even think that governments seem to sometimes be willing to take any means necessary to achieve their goals, even if such means negate or contradicts some of the foundations that our society is build on! However the goals are noble to start with, would they ever justify such means or cost?

To lose what generations before us fought tooth and nail to get; rights and freedoms that many died to reach and achieve is an atrocity in itself. Are we not falling in the hands of terrorists when we start to agree on giving up some of our hard earned liberties for the premise of security?

It is interesting to see that some people seem to think that terrorism is a new thing that we need to fight now, when in reality it has been with us as long as humanity existed. It is not a new phenomenon, it just has a new face, one, that will keep changing as time goes by. We have as much of a hope of eradicating it as we have eradicating human thought. As long as the human race exists, the good and the bad of humanity will exist too.

If people recall from history how life became for minorities or political activists in the United States of America in WWII when many Japanese Americans were rounded up in concentration camps in the name of fighting terror and then at the height of the cold war, the pursue of communist thinkers in the name of preserving the American way of life, which was later called “McCarthy’s Witch Hunt”.

Things are never black and white, governments do not start by saying we will take all your liberties, they might even mean well at the start, nevertheless, the loss comes and it is usually incremental, people start gradually losing rights, that will not be obvious on their own, however, when it is all summed up together, you discover, usually too late, that you have lost considerably more than you can afford.

In Australia, we do not have a bill of rights, as such, technically speaking, we don’t have our freedoms protected from the ill thought of ideas of some politicians or circumstances. It is hard enough to keep those freedoms safe in places like the USA were they have laws set-up to protect them, let alone in places like Australia were the government is adamant that a bill of rights are not needed.

To make things worse here in Australia, in 2005 the then Australian government, headed by Mr. John Howard, managed to pass new harsh and intrusive Anti-terrorism laws, how long will it take us to recover from the ill effects of those laws? How bad will things become before the nation says enough is enough? How many innocent people will suffer being of the wrong colour, religion or race?

Only history will tell us that, however, the incident of Dr Haneef in 2007 is but a taste of how it all can go wrong.

Related links all over the web:
Doctor’s detention unprecedented in Australian law
Liberty Image source
Benjamin Franklin