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March 6, 2003

     I've said it before and I feel pressed to say it again: my parents came to the United States in 1968 as political refugees from what was then Czechoslovakia, a previously democratic country which fell under the Soviet sphere of influence after WWII. I grew up being constantly reminded of what a privilege it was to live in the US where you could say and do as you pleased without fear of government scrutiny or intervention. Of course, being the spoiled punk brat I was, I pretty much scoffed at my mother's first-hand accounts of being pulled from the street by secret police, detained, interrogated, and then released with threats and warnings. (She herself had not been "politically" active, but her father had fled Czechoslovakia in 1948 and so for 20 years she was subject to random harassment. No wonder she wanted to leave.)

Mounted Police, Westlake Plaza, March 5, 2003

     I scoffed then, but the stories made an impression. Police state repression is real. And now it's happening here: The USA PATRIOT Act of October 2001 opened the door for unlimited surveillance and detainment of suspected "terrorists" (which can and has been interpreted to mean anyone who even *voices* opposition to the present regime), and "PATRIOT Act II" (the Domestic Security Enhancement Act -, if passed, will effectively suspend citizens' rights to due process of law, opening the door to secret arrests, indefinite detainments, and deportations of US citizens without trial or evidence. Yes, all this is really happening. Hard to believe, practically unfathomable, but ignoring it isn't going to make it go away.

Jaywalking Arrestee, April 20, 2002

"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little."
~Edmund Burke

     I think it's time to extend the conversation. Share such news with family and friends who might not fall into the "liberal" camp. Write or phone your local police and let them know your concerns. Contact mainstream media organs to prick the consciences of their editors. This is not about partisan politics. This is not about the flag. This is about the Constitutional protections that define American democracy. (Protections which I saw "suspended" even before the Bush administration, when in 1999 the City of Seattle declared a "no-protest zone" in an attempt to silence voices opposing the WTO.) Democracy is a practice, not a guarantee. Use it or lose it.

These words buck me up:
"There is a basic weakness in governments, however massive their armies, however wealthy they are, however they control the information given to the public, because their power depends on the obedience of citizens, of soldiers, of civil servants, of journalists and writers and teachers and artists. When these people begin to suspect they have been deceived, and withdraw their support, the government loses its legitimacy, and its power."
~Howard Zinn,
     The cracks are already showing. In its rush to grab it all, this administration is revealing itself to be an enemy of the people it pretends to serve. Keep spreading the word...

Yours truly,
Joe Citizen

p.s. This was the last group mailing I sent from my home account. To receive like updates, please subscribe via

"Fascism," said Mussolini, "should more properly
be called corporatism, since it is the merger
of state and corporate power."

photo by dan ngo
View more scenes of "Freedom of Speech" in the USA