Friday, April 02, 2010

Us Versus Them

Security was tighter on Amtrak when I was heading back from San Diego recently. It was certainly more visible than the last trip – with K-9 sniffer dogs prowling along the San Diego station platform, and aboard the train as we were on our way. The extra security wasn’t intrusive, though – and perhaps the whole point was to provide a random presence to act as a deterrent.

In the nine years since 9/11, we’ve become used to increased security and increased surveillance where ever people tend to gather – it seems to have become another price we pay for the freedom we enjoy.

Yes, we still do have quite a great deal of freedom, including freedom of expression – probably to a great extent than anywhere else in the world – despite how some might portray our situation.

I tend to try not to see issues in the extreme – there’s a middle ground – an area of compromise – with any disagreement. I also believe that most are frustrated with the political extremes that define US politics. When major policy votes are reduced to strict party-line votes, I have to wonder sometimes if any of our representatives have the courage to vote their conscience.

The night the health-care bill was passed in Congress, a Republican yelled out “Baby Killer!” at a Democratic pro-lifer who didn’t agree precisely with his position. Really? “Baby Killer?” This individual is an elected representative to the US House of Representatives? Earlier in the week, some protesters were incensed enough to yell racial and sexual slurs at black and gay politicians. While I doubt they represent the great majority of protesters, the atmosphere that makes such behavior acceptable (or seem acceptable) is frightening. I have to wonder how far “us vs. them” will go.

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