Monday, January 10, 2011

Standing Up, Being Counted

It's just inconvenient, the time taken to consider and defend civil rights.  It's costly because it potentially (no, certainly) upsets people who don't want to have to think about hated politics.  Who think it is negative thinking to be made aware of serious issues that need attention to be resolved.

There is so much else to do!  For example, I have a new web platform in development I am enthusiastic about.  It will powerfully enable people to connect to others in their 'tribe', whether that's a religious group, a music-defined cultural group, consumer, family or ethnic group.  The family idea especially appeals to me, and my partners each have their personal enthusiasms.  Never mind spending time with my actual family!  Oh, and there is my girlfriend's basement renovation, too.

I just can not ignore what is going on in the public realm that affects my personal liberty, which is deeply concerning to me.  The treatment by the US Government of Cablegate leak recipient Wikileaks, and of suspected leaker Bradley Manning, are truly ominous.  Last week, we learned that the US Department of Justice has subpoenaed Twitter to provide their records of every Wikileaks follower.  That certainly includes me (and 650,000+ other people).  It creates an even scarier atmosphere for people who have been following Wikileaks, and offering moral support.  It has done nothing wrong.  It's just exposed the truth.  To learn more, read lawyer and contributor Glen Greenwald's latest article about the Government-created Climate of Fear.

I am reminded of my youth in the 80s, when I attended The University of Western Ontario in London (Canada).  I remember discovering that our Canadian Security and Intelligence Service maintained surveillance of leftist students.  I learned this when I checked what I thought were the paranoid delusions of one of my friends who had joined a Marxist study group. History Professor Kenneth Hilborn, at the time the most renowned hawk on campus (and reputedly a member of the World Anti-Communist League) confirmed that these were no delusions; he was proud to tell me that he had helped authorities with info on his left-leaning students.

In response to this information, I added my name to the member roster of the Marxist-Leninist Study Group, found a number for the Canadian Security and Intelligence Service, and made a call.  I asked to be put through to the person in charge of surveillance at UWO, and was given someone to speak to.  I told them I'd save them the time of surveillance: yes, I had joined this Marxist study group, here was my name, address, personal history..."Anything you want to know about me, it's yours." I said.  "Marx's ideas had a powerful impact on the 20th Century world.  You are not educated if you don't know about them. If in my country it is considered a crime to be reading Marx" I said, I wanted to be on their list.  I said I'd be glad to be charged with some offense, so we can have a public debate about our Constitution.

For the same reason, I am not anonymous in my support of Wikileaks.  I never was a Merxist-Leninist; if anything, I have been a small 'l' Canadian liberal.  I am not an anarchist, or whatever political philosophy Julian Assange might ascribe to.  I believe in the Rule of Law.  Assange's political views are irrelevant to me; his ability to publish the truth about those in power does matter to me.  I am staunchly supportive of what the world community with great cost and effort over many years have defined as inalienable Human Rights.  I am first a human being and then a Canadian.  

I won't stand down.  I will proudly associate my name with the cause of free thought and speech.  I am no paragon of virtue—just a common human being.  When they know what is at stake, common people are capable of incredible commitment to principle. I stand in common cause with Julian Assange, Daniel Ellsberg who like others before them, who stood on principle and refused to be intimidated by threats.  This is what I think my father and mother both lived to promote, and defend.  It is what I will stand for.

If you aren't a Twitter user already, I suggest you join, and follow @Wikileaks.  I am told this will get you on the US Department of Justice suspect list, along with 650,000 others like me, who will not be intimidated.

Well, maybe we are intimidated:  as Wikileaks reveals, the USG appears ready willing and able to reach out and snatch people anywhere, without any judicial process. In my case, my (Canadian) government has been happily cooperative in rendering citizens suspected by them for torture in foreign jails.  Still, I think it's worth standing in front of the threatening finger of those currently controlling US foreign policy. It isn't the American people - they are being kept in the dark.  You have to stand for something.

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