Capitol Hill Blue reports on a case in which a young activist appears to have been added to some kind of official list that causes her to go through an aggressive search when she goes through airports. Actually, I think it's a bit of a misnomer to refer to it as a return of the blacklist, or to compare it to the Nixon era enemies list. These were small potatos compared to what we're dealing with now. The blacklist targetted a very small and specific group of Hollywood figures who were suspected of Communist ties; Nixon's enemies list was born from his own personal political paranoia. Both reprehensible, certainly, but minor league.
What we're seeing now is a return to the very broad surveillance and suspicion of the American public that occurred during the sixties, when the government was truly afraid of revolutionary tendencies emerging, and felt that those fears fully justified ignoring civil liberties in order to infiltrate activist groups and target dissidents for special surveillance and treatment. There is reason to think that for the last quarter of the 20th century that sort of activity decreased, but it would be very naive to think that it ceased. Now, as was pointed out in Fahrenheit 9/11, this sort of harassing behavior is becoming more common and aggressive again.
Part of what distinguishes W's regime in this arena is that they have been extremely effective in laying both the legal and the political groundwork for this sort of activity -- much more effective than the government in the sixties. Back then, such activities were clandestine -- the government didn't want us to know that we were being spied upon. The current group is much more sophisticated -- the do very much want us to know we're being spied on. If they didn't plant the story on Capitol Hill Blue, they certainly applauded it. The know the value of the chilling effect. And on the other side, they've been extremely effective at cranking up the fear factor so that people are willing to give up those civil liberties, willing to go through the harassment and hassle -- we've been well taught to believe that these things are necessary.
Remember -- these people believe they are on a mission from God. The normal rules don't apply.