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In 1755, Ben Franklin wrote: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

There's a continuum implied by this statement, with "Liberty" on one end and "Safety" (Security) on the other. Most people have no desire to live at either extremity (Liberty w/o Security = anarchy; Security w/o Liberty = police state), and striking the correct balance between these two has been a centuries-old pursuit of civilized peoples.

Yet, when Franklin penned this aphorism, there were plenty of people living in the same land as he who were not only denied liberty, their enslavement certainly gave them no reason to feel secure. At any moment, those who were champions of liberty could, on a whim, utterly destroy these unfortunate unfree souls, and feel utterly secure in knowing that they would suffer no negative repercussion for doing so

Though the Founders of this nation wrote and spoke of liberty as if were something greater than life itself - "Give me Liberty or give me Death!" - in complete opposition to their words, and in order to reap material wealth, the Founders erected boundaries to limit liberty to those of their own kind. All others, being less than human to the original 1%'ers, deserved neither liberty nor security.

Generations on, those who have benefited from the privileges of liberty have seldom wavered whenever they have felt that liberty threatened. Willing to sacrifice essential security to ensure that their posterity would continue living as free peoples, these latter generations even pass laws to free the previously enslaved. Unfortunately, the laws of emancipation could not ensure that, though free, the previously enslaved, and their descendants, would ever experience essential liberty. Actually, over 150 years after the fatal flaws of the Founders were corrected, these descendants still lack both essential liberty and safety.

And so there developed divergent views between those who have liberty as their birthright, and those who have to continuously fight to attain it, as to the value of liberty, and the value of security. Little wonder that their views would diverge, as their frames of reference do not coincide.

They have inhabited the same physical nation, but have lived lives that are worlds apart - as if in two different castes.

So far apart, in fact, that these different groups still do not see eye-to-eye on matters regarding liberty and security. What feels like a direct threat to those whose birthright is liberty often seems inconsequential to those who have been systematically denied liberty. And what feels feels like a direct threat to those who have been systematically denied Liberty, often provides security to those privileged to have been born Children of the Founders.

They have inhabited the same nation, but have lived lives that are worlds apart - as if in two different castes.

Are you aware that the descendents of these distinct groups, these two distinct castes, diverge on these matters?

Perhaps this reality can be made clear to you. Perhaps then you can come to understand how Kos, himself, could make the following statement:

I don't give a shit (183+ / 0-)

Seriously, I just don't care.

NSA spying is bad! So is stop and frisk. So is splitting up families by deporting children to countries they've never been to and don't speak the language. So is harassing American muslims.

Government overreach is bad. But to act like having the government track who you call is the height of government abuse is a very white privileged view of the privacy issue.

But as for Greenwald and Snowden? Seriously, I don't give two shits.

So was this just a flippant statement by Kos uttered only to generate debate, or are there facts to support it?

Yes, there are facts to support Kos' "thesis". On the other side of the Kosschach ink blot we'll see if these "facts" are enough to validate Kos' claim.

A July 10, 2013 Quinnipiac poll stated that over the previous 3 years there has been a "massive shift" in the public's attitude regarding the impact of the government's anti-terrorism efforts on civil liberties. According to an earlier Quinnipiac poll from January 2010, 63% of Americans then stated that these efforts didn't go far enough to adequately protect the country, while only 25% then believed that they had gone too far in restricting the average person's civil liberties. Now, according to the July 2013 Q-Poll, 45% currently believe that anti-terrorism efforts have gone too far in restricting civil liberties, while only 40% believe these efforts don't go far enough to adequately protect the country. That's a 20 point increase in those who are in the "gone too far" group, and a 23% decrease in those in the "have not gone far enough" group. These changes in attitude over the past 3 years seem to indicate that there has been, indeed, a massive shift in the public's opinion regarding the Fed's anti-terrorism efforts; however, the devilish details below the top-lines revel that maybe something else is afoot here.

The cross-tabs of the July Q-Poll revel that different ethnic groups are not in agreement as to whether civil liberties are being harmed by the government's anti-terrorism programs, with 46% of Whites believing so, while only 35% of Blacks, and only 37% of Hispanics agreeing that our civil liberties are being harmed by these programs. These are not insignificant differences - 11% difference b/t Blacks and Whites and a 9% difference b/t Hispanics and Whites - and they provide a basis for the idea that Kos may be on to something when he states that "But to act like having the government track who you call is the height of government abuse is a very white privileged view of the privacy issue".

As White people make up over 65% of the population, and over 70% of the electorate, the 46% of Whites who believe civil liberties are being harm constitutes the lion's share of the 45% of Americans who agree with this sentiment. Also note that Blacks and Hispanics are much more in agreement with each other on this issue than either of them are with Whites. Sorta like on election day.

As for the "massive shift" reported in the July 2013 Q-Poll, a compare and contrast with the January 2010 Q-Poll, which Quinnipiac used as the baseline, shows that it is only amongst White people that this "shift" has occurred. In 2010, only 23% of White people thought that the Fed had gone to far in restricting civil liberties in the "war-on-terror" (now it's 46%) while, in 2010, 34% of Black people so believed (now it's 35%). The difference between the 2010 and 2013 poll results on this question, by race is: Whites, +23%; Blacks, +1%. So, in fact, the totality of the so-called "massive shift" has really only taken place amongst the people who have the privilege of "Liberty" as a birthright.

More support for Kos' thesis? I say yes, yes indeed it is.

The next few questions in the July Q-Poll concern one of the most contentious, and far-reaching, of all the "anti-terror" programs - the monitoring of all phone calls to see if any calls are going to a phone number linked to terrorism. This may be the most egregious violator of our civil liberties as it implies that all Americans are equally likely to consort with terrorists. Yet, this program is supported by majorities of Whites (51%), Blacks (55%) and Hispanics (55%). Not enough difference between Whites and non-Whites here to support Kos' thesis. But, although a majority of Whites believe that this program is necessary to keep Americans safe (51%), this is far less than the super-majorities of Blacks (66%) and Hispanics (67%) who believe that this program is necessary for national security. Again note how Blacks and Hispanics are more in agreement with each other than either are with Whites. Note also how those whose birthright is liberty are far less likely than Blacks and Hispanics to agree that the monitoring of all phone calls is necessary for national security. And here we have very large differences between Whites and non-Whites: 15% difference with Blacks; and 16% difference with Hispanics.

Still think that Kos is just blowing smoke with his "very White privilege" thesis. If so, there's one more Q-Poll question that may, for the open-minded at least, seal the deal.

The next Q-Poll question also exposes how White Americans and non-White Americans differ as to the impact this program has on civil liberties: "Do you think this program is too much [an] intrusion into Americans' personal privacy or not"? 54% of Whites answered YES, while only 47% of Blacks and only 37% of Hispanics agreed that it is too much an intrusion. Perhaps when one has "Liberty" as a birthright, one is more sensitive to all threats to this "Liberty" - be they real or imagined - than those who do not have this privilege. While the Black/White differential here is only 7 points, while the Black/Hispanic differential is 10%, it is only a majority of Whites who believe that the phone metadata program is too much an intrusion. Less than a majority of Blacks and Hispanics agree.

The question here for White progressives, who are at the forefront of those who believe the government is threatening their civil liberties, is why is it that they are out-of-sync with non-Whites on this issue? After all, the voting patterns of White progressives are more in-sync with the voting patterns of non-Whites than they are in-sync with the majority of White Americans - who, since 1968, have overwhelmingly voted Republican. Could it be that, being White, progressives have the same attitude towards "freedom" and "liberty" as White people do generally? On the other-hand, having historically been the victims of White people's "freedom" and "liberty" - the freedom to enslave; the liberty to commit genocide - non-Whites may tend to have a more nuanced attitude regarding the "sanctity" of freedom and liberty. Makes sense, does it not? If you are a member of an ethnic group that has its civil liberties denied by the very proponents of liberty, while also being subjected to horrific terrorist actions by these very same liberty-loving peoples, you realize that you can't lose what you never had (liberty), but you can lose your life - and not just at the hands of a terrorist organization such as the KKK. One can also be wantonly slaughtered by the security agents of the state.

How many White progressives live in a community that considers the local police department to be an occupying army hell-bent on terrorizing (stop-and-frisk) and murdering their young men )? I know. Few-to-none. That is, unless said progressive happens to live in a majority-minority community. I wonder how many innocent White males have been murdered by "the police" over the past 62 years that I have been alive? I'll leave that research to you. Not that the answer does not interest me, it's just that there are too many cases where innocent non-White people have been murdered by the security forces of this nation for no other reason than the security official "thought" the non-White person had a gun.

Sorry. My Bad. Didn't realize that your wallet/candy bar/open&empty hand wasn't a gun. And, damn it! I thought that was my TASER and not my Glock! Sorry Bro! Honest mistake... Wont happen again... Promise...

I know White progressive activist who are convinced that the overseas targeting of traitors implies that they, too, could be queued for elimination. I try to explain that, though they are certainly on a "kill list", those who are aiming to kill them currently lack drone technology so there's no need for them to keep an eye on the sky searching for the glint of an RPV out to terminate them. You're safe, I tell them. Far safer than I am, in any case. Because they will never have to worry about being summarily executed by security agents of the state for handing over your wallet or for flushing a bag of pot down a toilet in your own home, or for even committing the despicable crime of lying face down in a subway station with your hands "cuffed" behind your back. Hell,  'Whiteness" is so protective that even if you are caught on the battlefield fighting for Al-Qaeda, you will be taken into custody, given a trial, and sentenced to a mere twenty years for being a fucking traitor - instead of being summarily executed!

Because if you're a White person, being a traitor is considered nowhere near as great a crime as those committed by Amadou Diallo, or Ramarley Graham or Oscar Grant. For these three committed the ultimate crime - Living While Black and Male in the land of freedom and liberty. And it took no warrantless wiretap, no email sniffer, no internet tracking, no three-hop query of mined metadata, no GPS locating and no predator drone to kill them. It only took a member of the privileged group to decide that they had the liberty to murder one who was not of their own kind.

And the security to know that their system of justice would, by hook or by crook, find a way to free them as a reward for helping to maintain even the remnants of the caste structure that their Founders so assiduously constructed - where the non-privileged would have neither Liberty nor Security.

So it's not that non-White people do not think that current NSA/FBI surveillance of the homeland isn't a threat to their civil liberties. It's just that non-Whites face threats that are far more serious and immediate than those posed by a helicopter government. Or as Kos succinctly put it:

But to act like having the government track who you call is the height of government abuse is a very white privileged view of the privacy issue.

Originally posted to OnlyWords on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 12:25 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Where One Stands On The Liberty-Security Continuum (4+ / 0-)

    often depends on where one sits relative to the color line

    I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Republican Party.

    by OnlyWords on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 09:32:09 AM PDT

    •  The opposing positions though are an opportunity (0+ / 0-)

      In essence, I would not try to refute your assertion. In fact, as a middle aged white guy, I simply don't have the perspective to even attempt a credible refutation.

      What I think needs to be said though is that that the NSA activity (and now DEA re SOD"), overt militarization of local law enforcement, the drug war, privatization of the prison complex, the war of terror, etc. are all symptoms of the same dynamic, which is the corporate take over of government. At their core, all these thing are really just profit mechanisms of the Military/Intelligence complex.

      All the claimed justification for the above liberty-snatching policies are simply marketing tactics to sell the fear to the public as cover for elected henchmen (and women) to do America Inc.'s treasury-siphoning bidding.

      There is no doubt non-whites have historically borne and still today bear the brunt of the assault on personal liberty and I can't imagine having had to live with that, but at this point we are ALL fodder, we are all just meat for profit mill, which is indeed color blind, save for lust for green and gold.

      To this end, minorities -- who might be rightly bitter and dismissive of white fear re the NSA and such -- should try to harness white anger towards this new panhuman assault as a binding agent, if you will, leading to solidarity in their struggles.

      I'm just Double Tapped the hell out.

      by pajoly on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 08:20:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for the perspective, it's important. (6+ / 0-)

    On the other hand, the history of J. Edgar Hoover and the civil rights movement is a good reason for minorities to oppose government spying.

    Major attacks are always preceded by reconnaissance.

    "Be invisible" was the advice a Franco subject got about avoiding abuse by the authorities.

    "May the authorities become aware of your existence" was allegedly an ancient Chinese curse.

    Anyone considering a dog for personal safety should treat that decision as seriously as they would buying a gun.

    by Dogs are fuzzy on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 12:56:45 PM PDT

  •  Liberty is related to mobility, an instrinsic (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    human characteristic. To be secured is to be tied down or locked up. So, in a very practical sense, liberty and security are antithetical.
    Liberties are not the same as rights. Civil rights, assigned by the Constitution, are related to citizen participation in governing. It was not until 1971 that all adult citizens were given lief to participate in governing by

    holding office
    serving on juries
    petitioning for laws
    providing support
    enforcing the laws

    Whether or not our agents of government respect those civil rights is another matter. Indeed, at present, some agents are being insubordinate and following strategies to thin the electorate as if they were dealing with cattle.

    Liberty is always likely to be challenged because some humans need to keep others in place to labor for them. Since they can no longer get away with keeping them in chains (as Ariel Castro tried), they have to resort to threats and/or bribes. Bribes, aka payment for work, work well, if there is enough money to pay out and if the workers are not lured away. Which means that those who need others to labor for them are always in an uncertain or insecure situation. This is what makes them over-react and try to rely on coercive assistance -- i.e. the lawman.
    The extent to which U.S. enterprise is dependent on the coercive powers of the state is quite astounding, when you come to think of it. In addition to patent right protections and copy right protection, there are all kinds of contractual obligations, territorial restrictions and access to the natural resource base which support commerce at the expense of the workers. Indeed, striking workers are still liable to being penalized by the lawmen. Court orders can force workers to work.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 02:24:18 PM PDT

  •  Liberty is a Right not a Privilege (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    blueoasis, YucatanMan, sawgrass727

    If you've been denied a Right, yhou do not demean it,  you value it ever more, you fight even harder for it, not mock its very existence.  Will you feel more secure if I driop my opposition to Ray Kelly as head of Homeland Security?  Do you think having that position is an act of "white privilege".  Arel people of color  rallying to the security represented by Ray Kelly?  I have reasons to doubt it.  And to see the undeniable truth of critical themes and concepts such as the historic and continuing denial of rights to people of color being used to advance the careerist interests of Ray Kelly and Larry Summers, Comey, Brennan and such GENUINE sons of privilege is disturbing to say the least.

    Secret powers: Money, loud English, and The Bomb.

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 02:49:16 PM PDT

  •  Too many prisons (0+ / 0-)

    A prime example of giving up 'a little freedom' for security.
    Back in 1993 there was in Texas a constitutional amendment to issue bonds to build more prisons. I was on the losing side on a vote by the Harris County Democrats (political club, not the Party) to support it. Perhaps they endorsed it because Governor Ann Richards supported it. It certainly did not get her re-elected.
    I called up a legislative office and found this legislator supported it. The office did, however, did tell me of organizations that were against, and I learned about CURE.

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 03:10:03 PM PDT

  •  We are not talking past each other (6+ / 0-)

    The fact that in many communities the police act like an occupying army is directly related to the fact that the federal government increasingly is collecting your communications.

    And both of those are rooted in federal policy and financed with federal dollars.

    Why can't we stand together and call for fixing the national surveillance state that has deployed militarized cops on the streets instead of doing what is needed domestically and overseas to have safe communities.

    Liberty and security become fractured when policies deny the possibility of prosperity, justice, and peace.

    Unfortunately, the issue with the President and Congress affects both of these.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 04:06:35 PM PDT

  •  MMMM I dunno. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nate Roberts

    I know this community is quick to point to White privilege as the cause for a lot of things, but that may not explain the difference in how Blacks/Hispanics think about security vs. Whites.  A lot of Blacks aren't really liberal or even on the left, they're more like Obama, center to center right, especially on issues of national security.  They're only really Democrats because Republicans do such a good job of minority outreach.  If the Republicans weren't stuck in "Stealing Magnolias" then the Democrat/Republican distribution among Black people would be what you'd expect of any given population.

    Still though, the two issues are really connected, but a lot of folks just don't see how.  Oh well.

    "Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."

    by sujigu on Sun Aug 04, 2013 at 07:05:50 PM PDT

  •  can we walk and chew gum at same time? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I completely understand why those whose communities are being decimated by the drug war (selectively enforced against blacks and other people of color), poverty, defunding schools, and urban decline would not have time to worry about the NSA. Especially immediately in the wake of Trayvon Martin.

    But does that make NSA a "white issue"? I don't think so. And I question why Kos or anyone else would imply that we have to choose between civil rights and fighting for racial justice?

    Both are a matter of civil rights, ultimately.  

  •  The Other Way to Do It (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The problem I have with this debate is that we don't have to make this choice.

    For example, it is entirely feasible to look at the metadata (and even the data) for patterns without turning that over for a criminal investigation without a warrant. We just need to structure it properly so that the information goes to an organization outside the government (but funded by the government) which does the collection and analysis. If there are patterns that threaten national security, then that information can be passed on to the NSA or some other (maybe more responsible) intelligence organization to respond. If there are patterns of criminal behavior, then the information where to go looking could be turned over to the FBI so that they aren't just shooting in the dark. But specifics (with identifying information) would only be turned over when there's a warrant based on probable cause that an actual crime is being or has been committed.

    This protects our freedom AND provides security.

    Same with the TSA. I don't object to them searching people getting on planes for things that could reasonably turn those planes into bombs or cause them to crash. What I object to is doing it illegally. We need to have an amendment that says under what conditions the Fourth Amendment doesn't apply to people getting on planes. It needs to say, specifically, what circumstances allow the government to search you without a warrant and what they are allowed to look for (in generic terms, so it doesn't get outdated). That's the legal (i.e., constitutional) way to do it.

    This protects our freedom AND provides security.

    Because then it sets meaningful limits on when they can do this kind of search, what to look for, and how it can be used, none of which we have right now.

    You're right when you say there's a fractured continuum. The debate on this, so far, has been extremely dumb and unhelpful. It has no nuance at all, and provides the public with no meaningful alternatives.

  •  The term "white privilege" is seen as a (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    racist or reverse racist comment by those who haven't a clue to what "white privilege" means -- or those who choose not to understand it.

    Constitutional civil liberties protections have never been much more than aspirations to poor people and communities of color in this country, no matter the high-flying rhetoric we all hear all the time. Surveillance and brutal or deadly police state tactics have long been everyday reality for millions of Americans who are poor or of color or foreign, or members of any designated Out Group, generally with the knowledge and approval of the many Americans who are not as a rule subject to surveillance and police state tactics, those who consciously or unconsciously benefit from "white privilege".

    Or at least they thought they were immune until the NSA stories broke. And then they learned their phone call records were being swept up and retained by NSA (just as the phone companies have been doing all along). And the OUTRAGE was suddenly nonstop.

    Should the surveillance and police state tactics that have long afflicted the poor and communities of color and all the other Out Groups be brought to an end?

    I think so.

    Will ending NSA collection and storage of phone call records accomplish that?

    I think not.

    Blogging as Ché Pasa since 2007.

    by felix19 on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 09:05:34 AM PDT

  •  One way to get liberals all gulity (0+ / 0-)

    invoke something's "white privilege,"

    but I honestly do not follow the logic.

    Are the principles of Patrick Henry and Benjamin Franklin devalued as "white privilege."

    Are our precious people sacrificing their lives overseas doing so for some sort of "Banana Republic Privilege."

    Please explain, because I really do not get the logic behind invoking "white privilege" with keeping our Constitutional rights.

    And I don't get conflating lesser offenses with Constitutional offenses.

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 01:10:11 PM PDT

  •  The Founders' 'fatal flaw' repaired? Not so... (0+ / 0-)

    The quintessential question for us as a society has to do with keeping a leash on assholes.  Bullies, by any standard, are not curbed but encouraged in our culture.

    They reap the big rewards, and leave the big footprints, unencumbered by us non-assholes, us non-bullies, who they arrange among themselves to crush or use according to the calculus of the moment.

    The flaw that was slavery CANNOT BE corrected as long as bottomless wealth and  a sense of infinite entitlement can conspire to restore slavery...although it is a misapprehension that lets us imagine that we defeated slavery with the defeat of the Confederacy:  chattel slavery was defeated (or at least rendered economically ineffective), but wage slavery which had ruled the Yankee states became the universal means of "peacefully" reducing the populace to a more cost-effective barbarism.

    In fact one might define 'populace' as that portion of the people with only a rubber-stamp voice every four years but no direct voice in the decisions that directly impact them.

    Show me the whisky stains on the floor
    Show me an old drunkard as he stumbles to the door
    And I'll see a young man with so many reasons why...
    ...and there, but for FORTUNE, go you - or I... - thanks, Phil

    by chmood on Mon Aug 05, 2013 at 02:44:31 PM PDT

  •  Interesting, very interesting your premise (0+ / 0-)

    but I'm not sure that I agree with you on the interpretation of the poll results and I have a sneaking suspicion that if we had cross tabs for education levels there would be more correlation between black/white, Hispanic/white results. I find in general that the more higher education is involved, the more people are aware of government overstepping of civil liberties such as wire tapping and other forms of spying. Just my .02 deflated.

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