S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

When is it the government's business?

Government officials around the world sometimes get into areas where they should not go. Invasions of privacy, including those of the U.S. government, are not always useful or even lawful. In Europe, where fact and reality must have its own standing, the U.S. government's views of EU realities are not always welcomed. And the Chinese government's intrusions into the private lives of its citizens is notorious.
Wholesale screening for ties to terrorists? The U.S. government made a mistake when it made it too hard for foreigners to get into the country after 9/11/01. The result was a very costly brain drain. The loss of the intellectual richness brought by foreign students to American academia and business is incalculable. And we may be about to make the same mistake in the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) arena as well. The burden of proof should not be on legitimate students or foreign aid workers. The government's over generalizations regarding potential threat can be very counterproductive. The International Herald Tribune (8/24/07) has the story: "Plan to screen aid groups for terror ties may be revised." To quote,
Critics fear the U.S. Agency for International Development proposal would violate charities' privacy and drive away beneficiaries.

A Bush administration proposal to screen foreign aid workers and recipients for possible ties to terrorists has drawn criticism from private and religious aid groups, but there were indications that it might be revised before being adopted, aid organizations and administration officials said.

Under the proposal, promulgated this month by the U.S. Agency for International Development, groups that receive its foreign aid money for the delivery of services to the poor would have to provide detailed information about their own personnel and possibly about others who benefit from the aid.
Over-generalized assumptions about all Muslims? This practice brought us the war in Iraq when there were no Iraqis on the airplanes crashing into the World Trade towers. It brought the sad episode of Homeland Security's wholesale questioning of American Muslims shortly after the 9/11 attacks. It brings the unfortunate ignorance of phrases such as "Islamo-fascists." And it continues to bring discrimination upon U.S. citizens who happen to be of the Muslim faith. And it does nothing to repair still strained US-EU relations. The Financial Times' Simon Kuper (8/23/07) wrote: "EU Muslims: seeking jihad or democracy?"

The politics of the EU’s 16m Muslims is a much-discussed topic. Some commentators, particularly in the US, portray these followers of Islam as a unified bloc, pushing European nations towards radical policies.

. . . Academics who study European Muslims argue, however, that in most countries few of them vote; they are not a cohesive voting bloc; and the overwhelming majority supports democracy and mainstream European parties – generally of the left. European Muslim parties exist, such as France’s Euro-Palestine List, and gain media attention but hardly any votes.

If politicians take the risk of terrorist attacks into account when they make foreign policy decisions, then several hundred would-be jihadis have more influence on European policies than do their 16m fellow European Muslims.

Government interferes in the business of the family - The U.S. conservative right-wing agenda has brought opposition to women's rights to control of their bodies, discrimination against gays and lesbians, and opposition to international assistance with birth control. This government in peoples' bedrooms is also one of the hallmarks of the Chinese government. The biggest example is their one child policy, undertaken to control the overgrowth of their population. But, as with many such policies regarding sexuality, it had unintended consequences.
BBC News (8/25/07) carried this story: "China to act on gender imbalance"

The Chinese government says it is drafting new laws to tackle the growing gender imbalance caused by the widespread abortion of female foetuses.

The practice is already banned, but new rules are expected to set out specific punishments for parents and doctors.

China's Family Planning Association (CFPC) has revealed the extent of the imbalance - in one city there are eight young boys for every five girls.

Experts fear the phenomenon could have unpredictable social consequences.
When is it the government's business? Beware when governmental officials claim that the threat of a potential danger outweighs the basic rights of the citizenry. My government is not protecting me by spying on me. Beware when the attacks of the 9/11/01 terrorists inside the United States become an excuse to wage "a global war on terror." Beware when our government goes it alone to war, dismissing generations of valuable international alliances. Not in my name do they deny basic human rights to suspects, covertly condone torture and extraordinary rendition, or disobey basic international law. The government does not have my permission to make war the be-all and end-all of the economy. The government's business is to be rational, smart, balanced, respectful and thoughtful in doing its business. We are not required to accept less even in so-called extraordinary times.
My links: My “creativity and dreaming” post today at Making Good Mondays is about the universe.
Technorati tags:

1 comment:

The Future Was Yesterday said...

Went out tonight with two of my wife's colleague's (Professors). One was a new hire just this year. She asked "How did "_____" know the grass was too long in my lawn? She doesn't live anywhere near me." We just stared at each other....(:

The reason she asked, is the comment on her lawn came up at the staff meeting this morning, in a not so pleasant tone. Stepford wives, here we all come!!