26, 2002—Ground Zero Plus
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
GROUND ZERO, New York City, July 26--There
is a difference between Vigilance and vigilantes. Vigilant people work
with one another to protect their children, and their children’s
children’s children. Vigilantes prosecute on the spot, take the law of
“self” into their hands, and pay lip service to the ideal of protecting
civilization’s laws of fairness, justice and right action.
I was thrown for a loop when I read how our Attorney General,
John Ashcroft, is moving forward with what is being called America’s
Carrying the acronym, TIPS, the program is
called the Terrorism Information and Prevention System. Under the
Homeland Security Department, the proposed “worker’s corps” will include
civilians who volunteer to “spy” on other civilians, and report any
“strange behavior” or “susceptibility” to a central data source.
These “eyes of the government” include truck drivers, port
workers, mail carriers and meter readers. Essentially, the “worker
corps” is wide open to any group that wishes to volunteer. The
mission: to spy on others and report any behavior considered “suspect.”
Congress is squirming over licensing a group of untrained
citizens to spy on other citizens, and risk violating the Constitution and
Rights to Privacy.
Senator Patrick Leahy
Senator Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, is one of the
major forces concerned with the TIPS program. “The program,” he said,
“would enlist thousands, even millions, of civilians as TIPS informants to
report their suspicions to the Justice Department. We could be vigilant
but we don’t want to be vigilantes,” he added.
Committee Member, Senator Orin Hatch warned of a potential
Orwellian 1984 where neighbors spy on neighbors. Laura Murphy, director
of the A.C.L.U.’s national office calls TIPS a “government-sanctioned
peeping Tom” program. “…people’s activities, statements, posters in
their windows or on their walls, nationality, and religious practices will
be reported by untrained individuals without any relationship to criminal
activity,” she said.
Where I depart from the Civilian Work Corps idea of “spying” on
others, is the intent of those participate. Where is the “future of the
children” in the equation? Where are their rights considered?
Vigilantism is all about satisfying some sore now, finalizing some
need for revenge against another, and not pausing to think through the
impact of decisions. “In the heat of the night,” is the cry of the
“For the sake of the children’s children’s children,” is the hue
and cry of Vigilance.
For over two centuries America’s power has been vested in the right
of each citizen to “be his or her own boss,” and to have “freedoms”
unequaled in the modern world. Now, we sic upon each citizen another
citizen who has the authority to put another citizen “under suspicion.”
And where is the line drawn between a parent’s actions and a
child’s actions? What if the child promotes Terrorism but the parent
doesn’t. Does the parent snitch on his or her own child and turn in the
child to the government?
And how many mistakes can be made in accusing one of some act of
“freedom of speech” or “right to protest” as “subversive?”
In our zealous effort to keep the “war on Terrorism” alive, we
employ the tactics of Terrorism. Terrorism is based on creating Fear,
imposing Intimidation, and driving the public into a state of Complacency,
accepting what the “government says” as the final authority.
Complacency strips the individual of the right of his or her Voice, of the
freedom to express one’s self.
of these Terrorism tools appear to be the hammer of the TIPS program, and
the population is the nail.
On the obverse side of Terrorism is Vigilance. It promotes Courage,
Conviction and Right Action. It’s not about spying on our neighbors,
it’s about enfolding them into a larger, more expansive goal of protecting
our children, and their children, and all the children’s children’s
Promoting communities to install the Pledge of Vigilance, and
recruiting members of a community to become Citizens of Vigilance,
promotes the Courage of individualism to unite. It promotes the
Conviction to stand up for something far beyond the self, and invites one
to stop and think before taking any action which might impair, damage or
destroy the rights of the children.
In the midst of a group of Vigilant citizens concerned about all
children, a Terrorist has a chance to be assimilated to the larger cause.
In history the three ways to rid oneself of an enemy is to kill him,
imprison him or assimilate him. Spying is not one of the options.
I personally don’t want my meter reader snooping around my living
space, trying to “find” reasons to dial a number and put my name on a
“dangerous citizen list,” or to think my post person is monitoring my
mail, or imagine a truck driver mistaking a towel around my head as a
turban and try and run me over.
Vigilance is not about being a vigilante. It’s not about spying. It’s
not about secrecy. It’s all about being open for the future of the
children, standing up and being counted by one's peers, not by some
government official in a room filled with Terrorist Hunters.
Let’s hunt Vigilance, not
Terrorism. What we find will be a lot more fruitful for our
children. We can all begin by taking the Pledge of Vigilance below.
Go To July 25--Pool Of Vigilance--Eyes
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