Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Law and order for the sake of freedom

With the eavesdropping “scandal” the debate about the boundary between freedom and security has flared up again. In my opinion, two – very important – points have been overlooked in this debate.

First, the opposition between freedom and security is a fake one, to a certain extent. A society cannot develop in freedom if it is threatened from the outside or the inside. That is why governments have powers for using violence against threats, both external (through the military) and internal (through the police and the judiciary). Security is therefore a basic condition for freedom (the ‘freedom from fear’). This has nothing to do with a police state which in the name of security oppresses its citizens’ freedoms. Just like “nur das Gesetz uns Freiheit geben [kann]” (German for: only the law can grant us freedom), the law can also take our freedoms away. Providing Law and Order is the basic task of any government, but only to the extent that it serves the freedom of its citizens. But the line separating both is sometimes not so clear-cut.

Where the line is, and now I arrive at my second point, depends of the nature and the magnitude of the threats for our society: I am talking about Islamic terror now, of course. It spans many continents and takes many forms: flying planes into buildings in New York and Washington, bombing public transportation in London, Madrid or Tel Aviv, attacking schools in Beslan, tourists in Bali or Sharm-el-Sheikh, car bombs in Baghdad, Nairobi or Delhi, riots in Paris and Sydney, murders in the streets of Amsterdam, and then I haven’t mentioned Istanbul, Casablanca, Amman or gang-rapes of western ‘piggies’, harassment by ‘youngsters’ or campaigns against cartoons that depict the prophet.

OBL, Zarqawi and others have made their objectives clear: establishing an Islamic caliphate. Not all these acts are done ‘in the name of Islam’, but that really does not matter: more important – and this cannot be denied – is that the perpetrators are Muslims, worshippers of Allah, whether they are Arabs, Asians, Africans, Carribeans or a Belgian woman blowing herself up in Iraq. This has got nothing to do with race, unless Muslim has become a race now. Ok, not all Muslims are guilty, but all the guilty are Muslims, aren’t they?

So, terror is threatening our security ánd our freedom. It is up to governments to use Law and Order for freedom. Whether a country should have been invaded or whether international calls should be monitored, is and should be debatable. The same thing for measures like expelling militant imams.

But I just can’t help getting the impression that some people are not really aware of this threat to our security. This is irresponsible. Having a discussion with those people is pointless, if it cannot be conducted within the proper framework, called Reality.

Unfortunately, it has to be said that the ‘blind people’ dominate the public debate, as shown by the incessant whining about CIA-flights, eavesdropping practices, white phosphorous or burning dead Taliban and, even more striking, the absent indignation about the killing (through beheading) of hostages and the use of handicapped children as suicide bombers, or the understanding for rioting ‘youths’.

I am tired of the victim culture, the theories about the racism of the natives and the socio-economic deprivation of the newcomers. I am tired of people blaming America for everything, for poverty, for global warming, for removing one dictator and not removing another one.

If the critics prevent the local or the global (the US) cops to enforce Law and Order, for the sake of freedom, in our streets and in the world, then Reality will claim them sooner or later. But the sooner it gets done, the less messier it will be.