Readers Write: (June 13): Surveillance, party endorsement, 'buzzed biking,' Neal Karlen book

  • Updated: June 12, 2013 - 7:27 PM

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Trust and loyalty have their limits

It is disappointing to see all the erstwhile liberal politicians who have suddenly turned into “good Germans,” following the disclosure of the police-state snooping being conducted under the leadership of their phony hero, Barack Obama.

Maybe they have taken President Obama’s words in his speeches and news conference at face value. But it is actions, not words, that matter!

Perhaps they feel that someone with Obama’s heritage and party label must automatically be on the side of justice, truth, light and freedom. But it is not a person’s ancestry or pigmentation, or political orientation, that determines his or her virtue, merit and morals. To suppose otherwise is fallacious at best, racist at worst.

Loyalty to one’s political leader or party is a basic tenet of politics, but when the party or the president betrays, subverts and endangers the Constitution and the principles upon which our nation was founded, it is time to rise up and resist the abuses that stem from corrupting, unaccountable power.

The cloak of “classified” conceals the dagger of totalitarianism. Like the Fugitive Slave Acts, or the Alien and Sedition Acts, or the McCarthy-era loyalty oaths, it uses the masquerade of lawful authority to coerce conformity and impose tyrannical authority.

Oliver Steinberg, St. Paul

• • •

Three facts are flashing warning signals in my head:

1)  Information is power (once it was brawn, then weapons, then money — but in our modern world, it’s information).

2)  A previously unimaginable concentration of information is collecting in the hands of a relative few.

3)  Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

“Will this power be abused?” is a silly question. Even “when will this power be abused?” is a silly question — it already has been. The NSA leaks are probably the tip of the iceberg of what the government is up to, and giant multinational corporations may be up to even greater evils. It seems to me that the important question going forward is: What can we do to protect ourselves from the explosive growth of the military-intelligence-industrial complex?

Nos. 1 and 3 above are facts beyond our control, so we must focus on No. 2. Theoretically, laws could be passed restricting how much information any one corporation or government agency could control, but that’s not likely to work. Our only hopes, it seems to me, are a combination of laws mandating government transparency and consumer pressure demanding global access to corporate data.

An environment in which everyone has access to who everyone else is talking to and what they’re saying obliterates our traditional sense of privacy — but that’s a lost cause anyway. Deflating the exclusivity of information would tend to lessen the power.

John K. Trepp, Minneapolis

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