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04/27/2003 Archived Entry: "Government targets "them" instead of "us""

I HAD A REALLY IGNOBLE THOUGHT. I'm not proud of it, but I'm noting it here because I suspect something similar might have slouched through the minds of other freedom activists. I thought, "It's a relief the government is going after 'them,' these days and leaving 'us' alone."

"Them," of course, is Arabs and Arab-Americans of foreign birth. With federal agents so busy grilling, arresting, and mysteriously "detaining" so many Mahmouds, Mahers, and Mohammeds, the feds don't have energy left over to target "us." "Us" -- the anti-government, gun-nut, "militia" crowd. You remember "us" from the 1990s -- "domestic terrorists," "paper terrorists," tax-resisters, and general all-around "right-wing" threats to national security. We're not reading about ourselves in the newspaper so much anymore, or hearing so many desperate pleas on the Internet from "patriots" wrongly busted.

So ... relief.

Of course that relief is as stupid as it is ignoble. A government that gets away with treating one minority injustly is a government that's just been given permission to treat any minority injustly. Yet this creepy sense of ease remains. We can breathe more deeply because for the moment the target is the ever-useful "other."

Posted by Claire @ 10:21 AM CST

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