Mar 232020
 

We can’t let the coronavirus lead to a 9/11-style erosion of civil liberties
Samuel Miller McDonald
We must reject such authoritarian measures wholly, no matter who says they’re ‘necessary’

As a millennial, much of my adulthood has been punctuated by severe national emergencies. The first my generation experienced was the terrorist attack on September 11, 2001. We all watched in horror as the months-long media spectacle replayed footage of the towers swallowing airplanes and crumbling into fire and dust. The moment of national solidarity and everyday heroism was brief.

The government quickly responded by attempting to achieve two things: one, expanding executive power, and two, transferring public wealth into private corporations. The Bush administration achieved the first by passing the Patriot Act, which built the foundation for what is probably the world’s most expansive surveillance state, but also by setting legal precedents that violated basic constitutional rights and by creating the Department for Homeland Security, with its aggressive constituent agencies like Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The second goal was achieved with the “war on terror”, which involved unilateral occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, and subsequent military forays into many African countries. In Iraq, private security, logistics and reconstruction contractors swallowed up $138bn alone. Since 2001, $5.9tn in taxpayer dollars have gone toward wars (not to mention resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and a foreign policy blackhole that still haunts the Middle East). Neither of these goals addressed the root cause of the crisis, and arguably exacerbated the conditions that led to 9/11.

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Mar 232020
 

Today’s crisis, in many ways, resonates with the experience of the tragedy of September 11, 2001. At that time, the American people were shocked by a series of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil. In 2001, the majority of people accepted the official narrative about these attacks, the origin and those who committed these heinous crimes. But soon many contradictions became apparent and did not support the official narrative. Honest people did not accept the official story as to why “building seven” in the World Trade Center complex (which was not hit directly), collapsed in a controlled demolition style! They were puzzled about the attack against the Pentagon at that time and still are perplexed regarding what happened to the airplane that supposedly hit and made a small hole on the side of the building, without a trace of any plane wreckage or remains of its passengers?

In this light, it is not farfetched nor unreasonable to speculate about the origin of this virus. Mr. Trump insists that this virus is “Chinese”. Mr. Pompeo repeatedly referring to the new Coronavirus as the “Wuhan virus”. The Trump Administration and commercial media, in full force, are spreading the xenophobia against Chinese people in general and Chinese-American citizens in particular. Just like September 11, once again a group of people have been singled out and terrorized through unsubstantiated and fake news, in this case, Chinese-American communities.

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