To this day we still spend billions trying to defend against the barrage of warheads we imagine threaten us from adversaries such as Persia and the Korean communists. So far we have limited success hitting one at a time, but that won’t do. Our plan to drive our anti-missiles around a 400 mile tunnel in Nevada and Utah turned out to be impractical since the water needed to mix the cement for this bast hardened subway would take up the entire water supply in the Great Basin. It was a lovely dream, but it just cannot be done, and continuing to try will only waste time and money needed elsewhere for other priorities.
Which brings us to the dream of another Republican president, George W. Bush, who truly believed after 9/11 that a huge, highly coordinated super security authority, overseeing all aspects of homeland defense against “terrorism,” could make every American safe from the radical bombers of Jihad or domestic disturbance.
To this end the government passed the Patriot Act, allowing for the trashing of most of the constitutional protections afforded us in the Bill of Rights. Besides tapping phones and opening mail without warrants, Homeland Security reinforced airport security with metal detectors and rent-a-guard inspectors who randomly picked people to be searched for possible weapons or explosives. This has yielded millions of propane lighters, nail clippers and pocket penknives, but, as of yet, no terrorism suspects. Every subsequent attempted attack has been launched through overseas air terminals. The confiscating of gel shoe insoles in Oklahoma City from a passenger to Denver and the groping of Granny has apparently deterred many mad bombers.
To the degree that our actions as a nation overseas continue to make enemies of native peoples, whether through exploitation or global economic tyranny, there will be enemies, dedicated to the premise that making Americans afraid and uncomfortable might change our policies back in their homeland. Modern commerce and travel make small actions easy, and media compounds the effect by spreading panic at every firecracker blast. These are the facts, and we had best learn to live with them for the foreseeable future.
The real question is how much daily dignity and liberty are we willing to put up with in the ephemeral hope of protection from a police state society that clearly can never do the job. Just what do Americans stand for, and how much?
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.