Are you scared enough?

“The land of the free and the home of the brave.” That’s what we call this nation, right? These phrases are meant to exemplify what we strive to be in the world — the freedoms and rights we’re supposed to love and cherish. However, do they really reflect the heart of America today?

On July 28th of this year, Jana Winter of the Boston Globe reported that the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) has been using a program called “Quiet Skies”, which monitors the slightest behavior of travelers through airports. They specifically target individuals not charged with any crime: people who are not under investigation by any agency, and not in the Terrorist Screening Database. Already thousands of unwitting Americans have been monitored when they’ve done nothing wrong. The state is assuming the possibility of their guilt with no probable cause. According to NPR, the program has been in use since 2010. Yet the TSA argued, in a letter to the Globe, that the program helps protect Americans from potential terrorists. This argument is nothing new. It’s one of the state’s greatest lies regarding the threat of terrorism.

Despite what many believe, terrorism is a footnote for Americans. Alex Nowrasteh of the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, conducted a study that was reported by Business Insider. The report studied the number of deaths from terrorism from 1975 to 2015 — including massive attacks like 9/11 (2,983 deceased). The resulting annual rate of death from terrorism averaged 74 deaths per year. To put this in perspective, there were approximately 328 million people in 2015, according to the Census Bureau. I’m not trying to minimize the deaths that occurred as a result of terrorism, but the way we respond to it has made us fear mongers. We’re so afraid of terrorism coming to take our rights that we’re too quick to give up our rights to the very government that’s supposed to protect them. The NSA, for example, spends an undisclosed amount of taxpayer money to spy on taxpayers, to defend them from a threat they will likely never encounter. We, the people, are painfully willing to accept this, so long as the government protects us. When we sing the anthem, we’re supposed to be singing the praises of the free and the brave. I’m not so sure we can say that’s the state of our nation anymore. There are still brave souls out there. They’re in the Middle East and around the world, fighting for the rights we claim to love. As long as people are willing to give up their rights here at home, then the fight will be lost. So ask yourself: Are you scared enough to let this pass? Are you scared enough to ignore the power your government has over you? Are you scared enough to put a new generation of Americans under that power when you are gone? Ask yourself: Are you scared enough?

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Conor J. Kelly was the Opinion Editor for the Lorian and a prolific staff writer. He graduated from Loras College in April of 2021 and is now pursuing his master's in political science at the University of Illinois, Springfield. You can find his new work on The Progressive American newsletter.

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