In the security dominated world view of today’s America, Thoreau’s words, “That government is best which governs least” would appear wholly anachronous. (Thoreau, 1983). In the name of security and protecting lives of citizens, the American state is seemingly dominating lives of common people who want to do their duty to the country by contributing wholesomely to the economy. The highly intrusive nature of security checks and investigations are a grave cause for concern for all American citizens as it violates their basic rights. However it is extremely difficult to raise voice against these encumbrances for fear of being branded unpatriotic if not downright subversive.
These policies of the government is leading to down right humiliation of those who belong to communities which are considered vulnerable to subversion. There is a need to take a stand on the issue of intrusiveness in personal life based on security norms because it is unconstitutional, against norms of diversity as well as violates standards of decent public conduct.
The American Constitution guarantees full freedom and liberty to every individual. This is to be used in a responsible manner by all citizens. There have been very few violations of these freedoms in terms of the total population. The Constitution and its guarantees have been the bedrock of all pervasive attraction of the grand American dream over the years which has acted as a magnet endearing many thousands to flock to the land of their choice.
Post 9/11 however the state is attempting to intrude on this constitutional right to freedom and liberty by intruding on privacy of people in various spheres. Thus be it at airports or high security zones, access is granted only after intrusive search not just physical but also of intimate personal details including correspondence such as emails.
America is a diverse society and diversity is not just respected but also fostered through measures such as positive discrimination for minorities. However in the name of security, the state is now envisaging security profiling of individuals. The criteria used for the same are frequently based on race, religion and minority status rather than on any actual proof of misconduct.
Suspicion based on creed and ethnicity as well as religious following appears to be the main basis for such discrimination in the name of security. There is apparently no justification for the state to conduct such profiling based on indiscriminate norms based on legacy rather than proof of actual misconduct.
The manner in which security is implemented is also against norms of public decency. Thus frequently body search is carried out, while it may not be in public view but the concept is tantamount to casting every individual as a suspect and cannot be accepted. This ignominy is imposed even after carrying out profiling in many cases which appears to be undue intrusion by the state without due application of the principle of fairness in the interest of the individual.
There is a need to take a stand on the issue of intrusiveness in personal life based on security norms because it is unconstitutional, against norms of diversity as well as violates norms of decent public conduct. The state has over the years assumed such excessive domination over the individual that it has become all intrusive, denying even normal decencies of privacy in the name of security.
It is therefore essential for the common citizen to take a stand and force the government to review these restrictions on personal freedom. Instead of devising creative policies which restrict the miniscule minority amongst American citizenry which is anti social, the state’s imposition on personal freedoms needs to be fought vigorously by every citizen.
Reference: Thoreau, Henry David. (1983). Walden and Civil Disobedience. New York : Penguin Classics.