Like everyone of us I have been watching series like 24, Alias and The 4400 the last few years. And you just have to view a few episodes to notice that these series, however entertaining and thrilling they may be, reflect the toughening times we're living since 9/11. Physical and psychological torture, secret prisons, denial of elementary human rights, state-sanctioned murders: it is all over these series. And what more is: they are all pretty honest, even cynical, about it, like they are saying: "Hey, it's reality. Now learn to live with it."
This is, of course, not to say that such behaviour has not been going on for ages. The CIA, the former KGB and probably most other secret services all over the world have been carrying out such directives for ages, having learned it from, amongst others, Nazi Germany and the Franco regime and, in turn, spreading it to other regimes such as Pinochet's Chili and the Argentina of the junta (The role of the School of the Americas you should know all about by now). But back then, even until a few years ago, they were considered out of line and not conciliable with a democratic society. Since a few years, it seems like they have become an integral part of it.
What we're not realising, or maybe not enough, is that by forfeiting these rights when it comes to so-called terrorists (which is, of course, just a name for people who are waging war without the sanction of a national government), like in the past when it came to "communists" and other people who were labeled "subversives", we've crossed a line that we won't be able to step back from.
And it just goes on and on. Everyday now rights that we've taken for granted since the instauration of the habeas corpus are being voted away by legislating bodies, foremost in the USA of the Bush governement, but increasingly also in other countries all over the world.
This week a bill is being pushed through Belgian parliament that actually decreases if not annihilates the power of the same parliament to have any say and control over the workings of the secret services and associated police units. Can you imagine, a parliament that is actually voting away its own democratic powers? And in the name of what? All ratio and decency must be sacrificed in order to achieve a state of total security that is not only unreachable but, frankly, just utopian. There are, have been and always will be fanatics and other nutcases who are ready to create a total war of us-against-them, just to get what they want, which is, in most of the cases, a sort of purified paradise that never existed in the first place, just like our supposed cosy total security paradise has never existed and never will exist.
Mind you, I am not pleading here to let massmurderers roam free and continue their actions. I am not that naïve. Indeed, we must fight back those excesses and sometimes, I will conceed that, we may have to use necessary force. But, as cliché as that may sound, necessary force, to me, is still far away from giving up decency in order to beat cruel and ruthless antagonists. It turns you into one of them. And by doing that you're giving up your humanity. I hope we are ready for the consequences. One of these days "the suede denim secret police" will be coming by and they might not only be coming "for your uncool niece", but for you too.
Pessimist? Yeah sure! That's what we were all thinking until a few years ago, was it not?