A number of related items have come to my attention since my last post.
Police in New York City now apparently have the right to conduct random searches on the subways. Is this new, or newly discovered? I have the same question about the now-raging phoney debate on the "shoot to kill" policy of British police. New or old, it shouldn't matter; these are horrendous, authoritarian affronts to civil liberties and--most importantly--do not increase security.
Subway searches may make some New Yorkers feel safe. I suppose there are those who rest easy when they fly because some poorly-trained, disinterested security workers--who probably are not allowed to unionize, by the way--rummage through a few bags. As George Carlin has said of the absurdity of airline safety "You could kill a person with the Sunday New York Times." Indeed, and in more ways than one.
But seriously. Seriously.
To follow up on the BBC's web reporting of the situation in the UK: a recent headline indicates that Jean Charles de Menezes, murdered by undercover police on the London Underground, may have been in the UK on an expired visa. (UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has claimed otherwise.) What is disturbing here is not only that the BBC seems to be furthering mainstream media's adopted role as an apologist for the occassional accidents of an ostensibly benevolent society, but that they are laying the rhetorical framework for a round up of anyone with questionable residence papers.
I have read the BBC's articles over and over, but I haven't seen any acknowledgement of the fact, and it is a fact, that Menezes was murdered. Meanwhile, here's what Tony Blair had to say, according to the BBC: "We are all desperately sorry for the death of an innocent person. I understand entirely the feelings of the young man's family. But we also have to understand the police are doing their job in very, very difficult circumstances and it is important that we give them every support."
Yeah. Try saying this out loud: "An innocent man was murdered by over-zealous police. We must support them in this difficult work."
The BBC further reports: "The prime minister said the police would have been criticised for failing to act had the man turned out to be a terrorist." Actually, Tony Blair would have been rightly criticized for leading his country into an unnecessary war of aggression, fanning the flames of cross-cultural hate, and leading the children of muslim immigrants into further confusion and disillusionment about their place in British society, but no one would expect mainstream newspapers to fully report anything remotely similar, except perhaps when deriding "far-left" opinion.
Such criticism would not absolve criminals (such as suicide bombers) of guilt for their heinous acts, but it would correctly dispel the notion that the shooting of innocent people on the Tube, or the potential failure of police to prevent another bombing, was a "mistake". Dante reserved a ring in hell for those who knowingly make "mistakes" they plan to apologize for after the fact.
Maybe the Menezes story disturbs me so much because I have been a "foreigner" for six years. My friends and I have to arrange paperwork annually to secure our right to stay (this increases in difficulty every year since 9/11). I know plenty of people who could, for any number of reasons, run when approached by a group of heavily-armed unidentified men. Darker-skinned friends might have expired visas--as might I, though with my acceptable skin tone I am not likely to be suspected of blowing things up, unless it's from the comfort and safety of a warplane soaring over Iraq or Afghanistan.
I will not have police shooting my friends in the face on suspicion of terrorism that amounts to nothing more than racial profiling. If the police want to profile people for crimes, the most dangerous people on earth are grey-haired white men with dark suits. But I guess they don't ride the metro.