Sunday, January 20, 2008

Are You A Terrorist? Look Again.

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. Sounds okay, right? It's just our congress trying to keep us safe from the evil terrorists again. Those of us who have been paying attention to what actually goes into congressional attempts to "keep America safe", however, are wary of the consequences of yet another law that focuses on security. And we should be. As an article at AlterNet makes clear, the Act is extraordinarily vague in defining what it seeks to prevent. So vague, in fact, that you might just fit the bill. Long quote below the fold.

The initial text of H.R. 1955 states its aim clearly enough before falling into obfuscation -- "to prevent homegrown terrorism, and for other purposes" -- a characteristic that could be argued to be its defining template. Speaking of definitions (or the lack thereof), H.R. 1955 defines "homegrown terrorism" and "violent radicalization" nebulously; the former is merely "the use, planned use or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual born, raised, or based and operating primarily within the United States or any possession of the United States to intimidate or coerce the United States government, the civilian population of the United States, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives," while the latter means "the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious or social change." Ideologically based violence, in turn, is defined as "the use, planned use or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual's political, religious or social beliefs."

I'm pretty sure that every socialist and anarchist I know fits this description, even though they would never plant a bomb or fire a gun. But they sure do think about it, and talk about it. Anyone who has ever thought that we need to scrap it and start all over again, or who has an ideological perspective that differs from those in power, could easily be viewed as a homegrown terrorist. Pretty much every fundie I know fits this description as well, although I'm pretty sure that, despite their actually having terrorists in their ranks, they won't have to worry. They run the show, after all.

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