The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU students gather around a bucket of markers to write an encouraging note to put in “Welcome to the Shelter” kits at event in mid-April on SMU’s campus.
Dallas homeless recovery center, The Bridge, is a home
Morgan Shiver, Contributor • June 20, 2024
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Democracy starts at home

 Democracy starts at home
Democracy starts at home

Democracy starts at home

In light of recent reports, I’m sure I’ve got an FBI file as thick as The Beatles’ by now. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the FBI has been infiltrating peace and anti-war groups across the nation, an effort that probably grew massively once Bush began bombing Iraq three years ago this past weekend.

While these actions are perfectly legal, why is dissent, under an administration bent on democratizing the Middle East, a reason for investigation?

According to the documents on some of these investigations obtained last week by the ACLU, which sued under the Freedom of Information Act to get them released, investigations on groups, centers and organizations went on years after the FBI discovered that the subjects of its investigations had no ties to terrorism.

Many of the groups were looked into because they were considered to be “left-wing organizations that promote pacifism.” Since when does a belief in pacifism equal a threat to the nation or the government? It doesn’t, and as Americans we are guaranteed by the Constitution the rights to organize, demonstrate, hold our own beliefs and disagree with the government. It’s a little document that the Bush administration should take another look at.

The documents from the file of a peace center in Pittsburg include its advocacy of pacifism, work with an Islamic group that has no ties to terrorism to hold an event to promote understanding between Muslims and non-Muslims and its stance against the war in Iraq.

Despite President Bush’s assurance that if Americans were not making or receiving phone calls or e-mails from known or assumed terrorists outside of the United

States, then they weren’t being spied on, it seems that this is not the case for the millions of Americans who are part of peace centers or liberal organizations, or have been vocal about their opposition to the War in Iraq. At this point, I’m willing to believe that someone under the executive branch is also spying on known members of the Democratic Party, especially with accusations coming from Republicans and conservatives that Democrats are traitors, support terrorists, hate the troops and are defeatists. This is yet another example of Bush saying one thing while the opposite is actually true.

Being against war and violence is not a reason for the federal government to investigate you. Being a member of a political party that is not in power and is in opposition to the one that is in power is not a reason for the federal government to investigate you.

We have rights to believe what we want to, to speak our minds and to protest against things we believe are wrong. We have the right to promote acceptance and understanding of those who are different or misunderstood.

If the Bush administration believes so much in promoting democracy abroad and spreading it around the world, perhaps it should begin with promoting and spreading democracy in the United States. Leading by example would be a positive action, and the only way this will happen and the federal government will stop infringing on our constitutionally guaranteed rights is if we let them know that we like our rights and want to keep them. Passively and apathetically sitting back and watching as democracy slips further and further away from us is not going to make it stop disappearing.

If you like living in a free country, then get involved. Speak to your congresspersons and senators. Vote for people who will protect what you believe in and who will represent you well.

There are many opportunities on and around campus to meet the people who represent you. Get involved in a student, local, state or national organization that promotes social or political change, reform or betterment, or supports a cause you believe in. Read or watch the news, and be aware of what the government is doing, and speak up when you see something you don’t like, or even if you think the government is doing a great job. Besides, the government might even be spying on those who don’t voice their support for the war in Iraq and the Bush administration. So, would you rather have an FBI, NSA, CIA, Secret Service file because you stood up for something you believe in or because you didn’t care to stand up at all? If those who oppose the people in power are being spied on now, those who don’t care either way, or at least put up the appearance of apathy, are next – unless people decide to stand up and make a difference.

 

Katy Rowe is a senior English major. She may be reached at [email protected].

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