Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Grounded for Life

Today I learned about an important court victory: a federal appeals court ruled that would-be passengers can ask a judge and jury to decide whether their inclusion on the government's secret no-fly list violates their rights. So, who would object to this ruling?

The "no fly list," also known as the "terrorist watch list," is a secret list maintained by the FAA of people who are not permitted to board a commercial aircraft for travel in the United States. The list has swelled to over 1 million names. In the past it has famously included some very unlikely suspects like Nelson Mandela and Edward Kennedy. The list has brainlessly included air marshals hired to protect us. The list has also been used as a political weapon.

So, shouldn't ordinary people (like those who are NOT a Kennedy) be able to challenge their inclusion on the list? Who would be against this recent court ruling? The answer is my father.

For those who don't know me personally, I'm embarrassed to admit that my father is a neocon. I know there is nothing I can do about it. He hasn't always been this way. I think he became more extreme after retirement when he had more time to watch FOX News.

Anyway, his nonsensical argument goes something like this: "I love these people who come to our country and think they can challenge our Constitution. There should be some kind of reciprocal rule. They should only have the rights of their own country when they come here. Then Sharia can apply here and they can be beheaded."

Anyway, I'm paraphrasing a bit, but that's very close to what he said. And when he said "love" he didn't really mean "love." I'm pretty sure the word he was looking for was "hate," but that's typical for Mr. Cranky Pants.

But doesn't his argument leave you with your jaw on the floor? The factual errors are bad enough -- the would-be passenger challenged the no-fly list not our Constitution -- but the saddest mistake in my father's argument is not understanding fundamental human rights -- the ones we call inalienable rights. Inalienable rights are natural rights. They are not granted. They are not conditional. They apply to all humans.

Likewise, justice isn't exclusively for American citizens. If our laws really work, then they work for everybody. If the woman challenging the list is innocent, then she is innocent no matter what her country of origin. And why would any thinking person even dream of legitimizing another country's primitive laws?

I don't know. It's frustrating. I'm a person concerned with our loss of liberties and our government's unchecked power. My father is an authoritarian septuagenarian raised on WW II propaganda and fear of Communism.

Turns out there are some aspects of Communism he really really likes.


Dr. Jay SW said...

"Turns out there are some aspects of Communism he really really likes."

A lot of conservatives never had that much trouble with the totalitarian aspect of communism, just the share-the-wealth part. Your father reminds me of a friend of mine's dad, who pipes Rush Limbaugh through the intercom system in his house. As my friend puts it: "he's incredibly kind and generous to everybody within the family. But when it comes to the rest of the world...."

Birdy said...

hehe.. just wait until he gets my email urging him to vote "no" on proposition 8. He should love that.