“There is no such thing as a little freedom. Either you are all free, or you are not free.”
— Walter Cronkite
“It is not these well-fed, long haired men that I fear, but the pale and the hungry-looking.”
— Julius Caesar
“We’re fighting the terrorists abroad so that we don’t have to fight them at home.”
— President George W. Bush
“Taking today what tomorrow never brings.”
— Ashes in the Fall by Rage Against the Machine
The streets of Washington, D.C. are once again in upheaval as violence breaks out between police and protestors. The catalyst that initiated the violence between the two is unclear, making who “fired” first a mystery. The protesters will claim police brutality and abuse of power because they were just exercising their constitutional right of free assembly when the police came marching in. The police will claim that the crowd had become unruly and was threatening public safety, causing them to take appropriate action to restore the peace. Regardless of who initiated the conflict, it quickly deteriorated. And since human memory is flawed by nature, there will be some, on both sides, whose memories will become distorted and radicalized overtime. They will eventually make claims that never actually occurred.
The protest occurred in front of the Capital Building and it is over a debate that is currently going on in the halls of Congress. The debate itself is over something that comes straight out of a comic book. It deals with the growing number of so called mutants, both in the United States and the world abroad. The use of the word ‘mutant’ in this situation is itself a misnomer to describe those with extraordinary powers and abilities. But the people who initially used it didn’t understand this or the nature of mutation as a whole, and they needed something to describe the people with extraordinary abilities that separated them from everyone else, so they went with the word mutant, and it just so happened to stick with the rest of society.
The particular debate that is going on in Congress that sparked this particular protest in the first place is occurring over a controversial piece of legislation. The bill is entitled “National Registration and Regulation Act of Individuals with Gifted or Extraordinary Abilities.” The proponents of the bill claim that this bill is vital for national security. In case of a great national emergency, the individuals who fall under the bill would be able to be called upon to serve their country as well as to serve the greater good. Opponents of the bill claim that it is nothing more than an infringement upon civil liberties.
If one takes the time to look at the language of the bill itself, it would be clear that the opponents’ arguments are correct. Things like freedom of movement, the right to bare or deal with arms, and what jobs that they are not allowed to hold will be determined by law. There’s even a clause putting a restriction on engaging in romantic or personal relationships. But for most people in Congress, and for the average American, they are unaware of these facts. If they were, then there probably wouldn’t be as many people supporting the bill as there are. This demonstrates that knowledge is power and the regulation thereof can have profound effects upon others and society as a whole. So, with this lack of information sharing, the debate over the issue is fairly evenly matched instead of just being one-sided. But even if the information was out there, there would still be those who would support the bill, either for some form of personal gain, out of fear or perceived threat, some kind of moral objection, or out of simple human hatred.
And like any controversial issue of any given time, it is a divisive and polarizing subject. And regardless of the level of familiarity that exists among those debating it, there are diehard supporters on both sides of the issue who take their positions way too seriously, with political commentators making their positions clear and influencing the opinions of the people who follow them; with conservative commentators tending to support the bill whereas liberal commentators tend to oppose it. The people who are in favor of the bill who have been radicalized in the process have made the claim that “these people” need to be controlled because they pose a grave threat to society. A rational counterargument to this claim is that the violent actions of a few individuals should not speak for the entire community. But people who are emotionally committed to their position will conveniently dismiss this and similar arguments.
Further complicating the situation are comments made by President George W. Bush directed toward this so-called “mutant” community. These comments were interpreted as being negative, which further alienated members of the mutant community and bolstered the claims of those who were already radicalized and were calling for arms or wanted to take drastic action. And on top of this, President Bush signed an executive order that would essentially punish any member of the armed forces and Executive Branch who turned out to be a mutant. The wording of the executive order is also kind of vague, allowing it to be interpreted in a number of different ways, allowing the reader to take away what he or she wants to. It also implies that it effects the Legislative Branch as well.
Bush isn’t waiting for Congress to act before he takes what he feels to be appropriate action. He doesn’t want to appear weak or to be behind the curve. Something needs to be done, and the legislative process isn’t always the most effective means of getting something done, causing Bush to make his move, even if it’s premature. But it is because of actions like these, as well as the principles behind them and the Registration Act, that causes the people who would be negatively effected by them to take action and to lash out against them, which in turn calls for steps to be taken to stop such behavior, which is represented by Bush and the Registration Act. Does circular logic or self-fulfilling prophecy mean anything to anyone?
Even though there are people engaged in protests and marches, it seems that, as a whole, such activities have decreased in the United States since the 1960’s and ‘70’s. It could be because of apathy or the fact that there is no longer any central issue for people to rally around and protest against, like segregation in the sixties in the United States or apartheid in South Africa. People did rally around the idea of solidarity after the events that occurred on September 11, 2001, but what happened that day was an event, not an issue, and rallying around an event can only go so far before it essentially collapses and everyone goes back to their regular routines. If an event occurs in relation to the battling of a particular issue, like the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., then it is able to further bolster the resolve of the people who are taking action. With what happened that September morning, it was used as a platform for the making of some poor and hasty decisions with no clear objective or purpose. If an event is going to be used as a call for action, make sure that the right choice is made and that you have a clear cut objective that is going to be met.
But there are times where, even this concept, can be twisted and distorted to horrible ends. A good example of this is with the organization known as the New World Power. It’s a political movement that originated within the United States that doesn’t shy away from using violent acts to achieve its goals. So far, they’ve managed to disguise their true motives and were able to maintain a smoke screen, causing them to be perceived as a street gang instead of a terrorist organization, but its unsure how much longer they’ll be able to maintain this cover. And once it is learned that the leadership of the New World Power has members who possess a military background, the perspective and attitude on the group will change.
As it currently stands, the only branches of the federal government that are getting involved in the matter of the New World Power are the U.S. Army and the FBI, the U.S. Army focusing on trying to capture its members that have gone absent without leave and the FBI focusing on bringing the members of the New World Power to justice so that order can be reestablished in the streets, but they haven’t as of yet put the pieces together on the criminal activities of the organization and its military trained leadership. Besides the involvement of the U.S. Army and the FBI, it’s left up to the state and local governments and law enforcement agencies to deal with the matter.
The driving force behind the New World Power is the sense of injustice that they feel is being conducted against the mutant community. Mutants are being persecuted and they feel that the system isn’t doing enough to prevent such activities. It appears that there is a common thread running through the United States that is anti-mutant and hostilities against them is socially acceptable. Steps have been made to try and resolve the issue peacefully, but there are those who feel that such a route has proven unsuccessful and a strong fist is needed to achieve success. And the New World Power is the driving arm behind that fist. There may be other motives that exist behind the creation of the New World Power, but the fight against persecution is the main rallying point for it and draws the most number of people. Only time will tell to see what will come of it.
(c) 2011 Bradley P. Thomas