US Politics

Giving Up Liberty for the Illusion of Safety

Written by Don Pogreba
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Conor Friedersdorf explains how we’ve let collective fear allow the erosion of our rights to be free from intrusive government action:

As individuals, Americans are generally good at denying al-Qaeda the pleasure of terrorizing us into submission. Our cities are bustling; our subways are packed every rush hour; there doesn’t seem to be an empty seat on any flight I’m ever on. But as a collective, irrational cowardice is getting the better of our polity. Terrorism isn’t something we’re ceding liberty to fight because the threat is especially dire compared to other dangers of the modern world. All sorts of things kill us in far greater numbers. Rather, like airplane crashes and shark attacks, acts of terror are scarier than most causes of death. The seeming contradictions in how we treat different threats suggest that we aren’t trading civil liberties for security, but a sense of security. We aren’t empowering the national-security state so that we’re safer, but so we feel safer.

Absolutely right.

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2 Comments

  • “They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

    Benjamin Franklin

  • Man, you think it’s scary getting on a subway, you should try being on the receiving end of a drone or F16 strike. Of course, it’s not terrorism when Obama does it. those are peace-seeking bombs.

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