I'm trying to ascertain whether there is a certain meme taking hold here regarding illegal and unconstitutional spying by the for-profit corporate-controlled/run NSA.
It goes something like this: There are so many struggles, so many issues of importance, of actual day-to-day survival that many of us are facing that worrying about NSA rampant and all-encompassing spying on hundreds of millions of Americans seems to be the purview of those who are well off and have the time to worry about such things.
That there are people dealing with heart-breaking immigration issues, with unemployment, with discrimination against the LGBT community, climate change, social justice, and that because of it we should be focusing more on addressing those issues and less on a potentially abstract and esoteric issue like the NSA spying.
This is an honest inquiry to readers to ascertain whether in fact that's a widely-held belief or attitude here.
Of course, my argument is that people who care about the myriad of social justice issues and engage in the struggle are usually activists involved in the community addressing injustices, building coalitions, reaching out, educating the public.
But here's where I see the disconnect on this "real on-the-street" issues vs. NSA spying dichotomy: It has already been shown that one of the targets of government spying are social justice activists. And not only that, but that part of the objective of the spying is to try to neutralize and stop on its tracks any attempt by social justice activists to actually start a cohesive and organized movement.
Heidi Boghosian's 'Spying on Democracy' is the answer to the question, 'If you're not doing anything wrong, why should you care if someone's watching you?' It's chock full of stories about how innocent people's lives were turned upside-down by public and private-sector surveillance programs. But more importantly, it shows how this unrestrained spying is inevitably used to suppress the most essential tools of democracy: the press, political activists, civil rights advocates and conscientious insiders who blow the whistle on corporate malfeasance and government abuse.The emphasis is mine
-- Michael German, senior policy counsel for the ACLU (and former FBI agent)
Mr. German is referring to the book written y Ms. Boghosian, "Spying on Democracy." Here's how she summarizes her concerns:
As more individuals are entrusted with access to and oversight of vast troves of personal data, this information necessarily becomes more vulnerable to misuse, whether by the parties gathering and analyzing it or by foreign governments and private multinational corporations. Because this data literally contains information related to people's entire lives, it is ripe for bullying, blackmail, threats or other improper uses.The emphasis is mine
But this "top secret" information is already being used by our own government for reasons that have little to do with combating threats to national security. Ownership of this information affords the administration unlimited power to suppress dissent, inhibit free speech and intimidate would-be critics into adhering to the status quo.
So it goes to reason that this type of illegal and unconstitutional government spying actually imperils all other attempts at addressing social justice issue through activism.
Here's the thing I'm trying to understand. What is the basis of that dichotomy? Meaning, why should the issue put in that way? Implying that the NSA spying is no really a big issue in comparison to more pressing and urgent matters related to social justice and economic issues?
NSA spying (and the torrent of revelations about it) point towards a rising total-informaton-awareness surveillance security/police state. How is that beneficial to the other issues related to social justice. It seems to me that it actually harms the efforts of social justice activists.
Today I carefully read all 29 pages of the paper co-written by Cass R. Sunstein, titled "Conspiracy Theories." Mr. Sunstein is an Obama administration insider and rumored to be part of a soon-to-be-announce "Independent" panel tasked to review NSA surveillance practices.
I'll be writing a detailed diary about that paper, but in the meantime all I can say is that I found it to be bone-chilling; almost surreal. I highly recommend people read it.
Sunstein and Vermeule also analyze the practice of recruiting "nongovernmental officials"; they suggest that "government can supply these independent experts with information and perhaps prod them into action from behind the scenes," further warning that "too close a connection will be self-defeating if it is exposed." Sunstein and Vermeule argue that the practice of enlisting non-government officials, "might ensure that credible independent experts offer the rebuttal, rather than government officials themselves. There is a tradeoff between credibility and control, however. The price of credibility is that government cannot be seen to control the independent experts." This position has been criticized by some commentators, who argue that it would violate prohibitions on government propaganda aimed at domestic citizens. Sunstein and Vermeule's proposed infiltrations have also been met by sharply critical scholarly critiquesThe emphasis is mine
Again, I will write a very detailed diary about it, but what we're talking about here is basically propaganda (of the worst kind).
So again, why is this the purview of privilege people? if that's the argument being put forward by some.
It seems to me that is very germane to social justice activism.
P.S. I welcome spirited debate about this topic, and I'm especially interested in hearing from people who do not agree with my position. However, I will not engage in discussion with people who write first-person personal insults, or engage in disruptive behavior. I ask other serious people to do the same. To learn more about this subject, please visit the following links: New Community Guidelines / The 15 Rules of Web Disruption / Thirteen Rules for Truth Suppression / Disinformation: How It Works.
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