Random Jabberings on Oppression and Big Brothery
I remember back in 1992 when Clinton was first elected. As a writer I was concerned: Without Bush in office, how would we ever see that dystopian future, replete with all manner of big-brothery and oppression? Well, little did I know that eight years later Clinton would be replaced by...another Bush.
Eight years after that is where we are today and, once again, I'm looking for evidence of this dystopian future/present. Of course, the problem with looking for things is that you often find them--even if they're not there. But if I deal with only the hard facts of a situation, it's then up to us to interpret those facts as either oppression or not.
Then again, what does oppression even mean? Is it OK if we live in a society that is generally un-oppressive? Or is that old saying true--that if one man is oppressed all men are?
Ever since George W. Bush made that joke about how his job would be easier if he were a dictator, I've found myself trying to imagine life in the shoes of a German, circa 1932. When Hitler was elected with just 31% of the vote, did Germans freak out and hold their government responsible for making sure he was the rightful winner? When a government building was set on fire, were there conspiracy theorists who were called whack-jobs and freaks? When Hitler opened secret camps to keep the Jews in (he didn't advertise them, you know) did Germans hear the rumors and just ignore them?
I'm not comparing Bush to Hitler, I'm comparing we American citizens to the German citizens in the 1930s. Is it not real oppression until America looks like the society of George Orwell's novel, "1984?"
A few weeks ago, I noticed a Twitter post from an Internet friend of mine that explained (quickly) that she had been in a car that was pulled over by a cop. While being pulled over, the police officer took her USB thumb drive and looked at it's contents on the laptop in his police cruiser. This is the kind of thing (as a writer) I'm looking for, so I wanted to know more. I contacted her and she told me more about it. Here's a nutshell of what she said:
1) She's disabled, so she wasn't at the wheel.
2) They asked her if they could search her bag, but when she said no, they said that her answer gave them reason to be suspicious. So, they searched it anyway.
3) They asked her to play her harmonica to prove the bag was hers.
4) Upon finding her thumb drive, they looked at its contents. She said it held financial and medical records--things most of us consider private. Though, I believe that under the Patriot Act there's something about being able to search your financial records without a warrant.
5) The driver hadn't been speeding, they had pulled him over because he had a past drug conviction.
Now, I've heard of other cases of this sort of thing happening. There was the toy shop owner who had Homeland Security take away her Rubik's Cubes because they violated patent laws, even though the patent had expired (http://thepete.com/…fringement ). There was another case of a young woman venting her frustrations about George W. Bush on her LJ and then getting a visit from the Secret Service (http://thepete.com/…ion-or-not ).
To me, this seems bad. To me, this all seems oppressive. But is it? Didn't most Germans live normal lives during World War II? Weren't most Germans able to generally go on with their lives as usual?
Aren't most of us going about our lives as normal, too?
I wonder what Germans of 1932 would think about something like this.
A sidenote on that Internet friend of mine who clearly had her rights violated--she calls herself "Cherrishhellfire" online and she said something really quite profound when we spoke on the phone. She said:
"If I am nothing else in this lifetime, I need to be an alarm clock."
I realize now that this is precisely what I've been trying to be during my ten years of being a blogger. I'll have to thank her for helping me work that out. :)
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