We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home.
Edward R Murrow
For awhile now I have been harping about the return to McCarthyism in the USA
Under the shield and stars of the FBI crest, the letter directed Christian to surrender “all subscriber information, billing information and access logs of any person” who used a specific computer at a library branch some distance away. Christian, who manages digital records for three dozen Connecticut libraries, said in an affidavit that he configures his system for privacy. But the vendors of the software he operates said their databases can reveal the Web sites that visitors browse, the e-mail accounts they open and the books they borrow.
National security letters were first used by The FBI to review in secret customer records of people suspected of being enemy agents. The Patriot Act, Part I, changed that to include everybody–every single person who lives in this country.
The FBI now issues more than 30,000 national security letters a year, according to government sources, a hundredfold increase over historic norms. The letters — one of which can be used to sweep up the records of many people — are extending the bureau’s reach as never before into the telephone calls, correspondence and financial lives of ordinary Americans.
I know. You have nothing to hide. Neither do I. But and this is the big but, during the McCarthy era, many many ordinary citizens had their rights violated, lives disrupted and totally changed because somebody called The FBI to say that they thought their neighbor…other people might have flirted with Communism in their youth; still others had a cousin who flirted with Communism
A national security letter cannot be used to authorize eavesdropping or to read the contents of e-mail. But it does permit investigators to trace revealing paths through the private affairs of a modern digital citizen. The records it yields describe where a person makes and spends money, with whom he lives and lived before, how much he gambles, what he buys online, what he pawns and borrows, where he travels, how he invests, what he searches for and reads on the Web, and who telephones or e-mails him at home and at work.
Ohmigawd, the mystery books I never ordered from The Mystery Guild, since I gave up my membership, but come anyway, what were their titles? Don’t know as I returned them, but the government might. They might think that I’m a horrible person for having a wall filled with mysteries and true crime books
Even worse. I just ordered several vibrators and uh other things from the Pink Pussy Cat, and when I called and asked them to cancel my Internet order and delete the whole transaction, the man said he couldn’t as everything had been sent already.
I was a Red Diaper baby. That meant I never heard the word “Communist,” from my parents who really weren’t, but progressive. We were progressive this, and progressive that. Heard that word so many times it lost all meaning.
I was the only toddler at The Museum of Modern Art’s blacklisted Charlie Chaplin films. Not sure if it was a festival or they just seemed to have Charlie Chaplin films every rainy weekend
About a decade and some later, my dad would turn into an ardent Republican; really really really loved that Nixon. But then he was a progressive and no Charlie Chaplin movie was left unseen. To this day I hate silent films.
On Chaplin’s first night in New York in September 1910, he walked around the theater district, dazzled by its lights and movement. “This is it!” he told himself. “This is where I belong!” Yet he never became a U.S. citizen. An internationalist by temperament and fame, he considered patriotism “the greatest insanity that the world has ever suffered.” As the Depression gave way to World War II and the cold war, the increasingly politicized message of his films, his expressed sympathies with pacifists, communists and Soviet supporters, became suspect. It didn’t help that Chaplin, a bafflingly complex and private man, had a weakness for young girls. His first two wives were 16 when he married them; his last, Oona O’Neill, daughter of Eugene O’Neill, was 18. In 1943 he was the defendant in a public, protracted paternity suit. Denouncing his “leering, sneering attitude” toward the U.S. and his “unsavory” morals, various public officials, citizen groups and gossip columnists led a
boycott of his pictures.
I’m not defending his “weakness for young girls,” though his marriage to Oona would last. Nor am I defending his stance on patriotism. My all time favorite movie is the non-colorized version of “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” I had a cold that I dramatically turned into a flu, when I was seven so that I could stay home and watch all showings on Million Dollar Movie which repeated the same movie all day, I think.
Also think my parents were on to my ruse but found it cute. Got to watch out for the pinko Commies who look like such a nice family, they might let their second grader stay home for a day to watch a great movie. Actually the two things my parents hated most and refused to tolerate were lying and tattling.
. Edgar Hoover’s FBI put together a dossier on Chaplin that reached almost 2,000 pages. Wrongly identifying him as “Israel Thonstein,” a Jew passing for a gentile, the FBI found no evidence that he had ever belonged to the Communist Party or engaged in treasonous activity. In 1952, however, two days after Chaplin sailed for England to promote Limelight, Attorney General James McGranery revoked his re-entry permit. Loathing the witch-hunts and “moral pomposity” of the cold war U.S., and believing he had “lost the affections” of the American public, Chaplin settled with Oona and their family in Switzerland (where he died in 1977).
Of course Charlie Chaplin had to be a Jew; he was an immigrant successful actor , writer director, producer, and everybody knows that only Jews were allowed in the movie industry. He wasn’t Jewish nor was he a Communist. Both my grandmothers were married in their teens. Right, they were Jewish immigrants from a land that they weren’t allowed to be citizens in, so they were part of the scourge that descended on this country in the early part of the 20th Century
I know that they were considered to be physically dirty as I have read much about immigration in the early 20th Century, and have done several grad school papers on how immigrants were treated then. Did you know that there really were sanitation police?
Some of my grandmother’s friends were killed in The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Not going to look it up now, but many immigrants, mostly women from different ethnic and religious groups were locked inside a factory where one of NYU’s buildings is now. When it caught on fire there was no escape except from windows, and most of the floors were too high for the people to live through it.
It’s another thing that I grew up hearing about. I never met my grandfathers as they died before I was born, but my grandmothers loved this country so much.
Okay this is hard to admit. The worse things become here now, the less comfortable I feel. Not because I don’t like or love America, my patriotism is not the issue here.
It’s the way people have been talking about New York liberals, the New York liberal media, and New York in general. My very non-religious parents always had what I called a “Jew Meter.” My mom had grown up in Greenpoint Brooklyn, and hers was one of the few Jewish families there. She, her sisters, and brother would have eggs, tomatoes and other things thrown on them regularly. My mom tried to get out of being Valedictorian of her elementary school class–went to eighth grade then–because she didn’t want to march to the stage and be taunted.
She tried not to talk about the taunts but my dad who had grown up in East Harlem which was then primarily Jewish and Italian, and had never personally experienced persecution wasn’t so reticent. I asked often and I read many books. So I heard all about how Christ died for your sins. Jews look for blood of Christians to put in matzo, and much more. This was my mom’s daily experience while growing up.
But she never complained because she was in The United States of America when she so easily could have been in Europe to have, probably, been killed by Hitler. She did insist on living in Jewish ghettos, gilded as some might have been and all her friends were Jewish or Black. Called my family the anxious family as they were. But they were funny, eccentric and great.
Lately when I hear the phrases “New York Liberal,” or “New York Liberal Media,” I begin to think like my parents. Don’t want to; never have before. Most of my friends aren’t Jewish, and I was once engaged to a non-Jew, but for the first time I personally feel the 2,000+ years of persecution.
Even The New York Times Conservative columnists, William Safire, who did retire but still does “On Language,” and occasionally writes an article, and David Brooks are viewed with suspicion. That was a link to the founder of The Knights of The Klu Klux Klan, David Dukes
Yes, he is sickening, vile and hopefully hated by most people, but…
The day Karl Rove came into New York and said “liberals want therapy for terrorists,” was the day my Jew meter was finally and permanently installed.
I am sorry if this offends anybody; I don’t want it to. Not true: if you think I don’t love this country as much as you do; if you disdain the New York Liberal Media, the Liberal Entertainment Industry; if you think Jews make great doctors, lawyers, and CPA’s, but believe you have to “Jew the person down,” in price, if you feel that Jews were warned to stay away from The Trade Center that day, if you think Liberal Jews want therapy for terrorists, and if you don’t like my moralvalues then I have no use for you or your comments.
I have often said that I admire true Christians, and I do very much. I went to a Catholic grad school*, and interned and worked in a Catholic nursing home.
I promise that I will go back to Pia light this week, though tomorrow I have a long dentist appointment and can’t promise that I won’t be in pain later. I had to get this out before I exploded.
The climate in this country is ripe for hate festering; one way of stopping that is by talking. As a Jew and a person I think The First Amendment is First for a reason. I don’t think Dobson, First,Delay, Rove, Libby, Cheney and Bush(es) represent the average Christian.
I very much disagree with the premise that dissent hasn’t been stifled. Why? Where were people allowed to protest at the RNC? Why were so many people arrested for no reason? Why was Rove given more responsibility after making that remark, and just about a week later outed Valerie Plame? No she’s not, but any other president would have muzzled Rove after making that remark, and put him on leave after he outed Valerie. Why did Bush consult Dobson before nominating Miers?
The United States might be 83% Christian, but it is not now, nor has it ever been a legally Christian country.
The only way that America can become great again is by not giving into the tyranny that surrounds us.
What does The Patriot Act really do? Wouldn’t real terrorists find ways around it, while innocent people won’t because they never thought that they had anything to hide?
Yes I am scared to post this; yes, I want to turn off comments to all of Courting but I won’t. When they come for you, I hope to be able to help; when they come for me, I want people around to help me.
I strongly believe in the American Dream; only mine includes people of all races, ethnic groups, religions and colors. I want the kids that I know to be able to experience as I did, but without the anxiety and guilt. Hey by birth I’m half Jewish and half Irish Catholic; great for telling stories; great for guilt
*While my grad school has an excellent reputation I picked it because it has the best location, and the best alt rock station in New York. This way when I donate money to the station, I’m helping my school, also. Hate to say this but the radio station turned out to be much more important to my life. On 9/11 and after the station played songs of healing that really helped; now their gift CD for the week just passed is music from New Orleans.
So I’m truly not looking to dump on people because they’re not my religion. When I lived in Cambridge my closest friend was half Hindu half Muslim; my closest friend since then is half Catholic; half Baptist. I have Episcopilan, Methodist, Puerto Rican Pentocastal, and Unitarian friends. But we’re all born and bred New Yorkers; you know, people of the liberal persuasion.
People who think unmarried sex is normative; people who argue over ideas, not “why do you hate America?” People who are pro-choice, believe strongly in stem cell research, who have long wondered why we are in Iraq; people with principles and true values.
Michael Bloomberg, yes of course he is, has been spending about a million dollars a day on his campaign. That is unconscionable. New York is becoming more expensive by the hour; I’m voting for Ferrer who made people begin to go to the Bronx again. I know. I worked there and lived there during his term as Borough President
Though I will say that New York was the first city to refuse to go along with the Patriot Act–even the name, and the name of Homeland Security sounds vaguely facist to me. Okay I said that also.