One of the things that characterizes the rule of law is that it applies equally to all citizens. The rich man’s son who vandalizes a shop is prosecuted as vigorously as the poor man’s son who does the same. That the rich man’s son can afford a good lawyer is the random luck of life. America can provide equality of opportunity, but nothing, not even socialism, can guarantee equality of outcome. The important thing for purposes of the rule of law is that the law doesn’t give the rich man’s son a pass.
The rule of law also has to be grounded in common sense and reality. That’s why Anatole France was being nonsensical when he famously said “In its majestic equality, the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread.” The reality is that a rich man, unless crazy, does none of those things — but it doesn’t necessarily mean that the law is unfair if societal good demands that we value property or try to keep streets safe for all citizens. The law is what it is. In the case of theft, vagrancy, and begging, it isn’t the law that should change but, perhaps, the availability of opportunities and, as needed, charity.
Common sense has long-dictated, at least since 9/11, that the best way to stop terrorism directed at Americans is to keep a close eye on people, especially men, who practice a strict form of Islam and on disaffected young men who take psychotropic drugs. These two categories of people have been responsible for almost all, or maybe all, of the mass killings against Americans over the last decade and more.
When it comes to the mentally ill, we keep talking about monitoring them, but we don’t do it. Lack of political will, lack of political and social organization, civil rights issues, and the fact that it’s more fun to rail against guns than against insane people (poor things) means that this won’t change any time soon.
Even worse, our government has made the “politically correct” decision to refuse to monitor with extra focus those young men who embrace radical Islam (e.g., the Tsarnaevs or Nidal Hassan). It’s not fair, we’re told. Profiling will make law-abiding Muslims (and the vast majority of Muslims in America are law-abiding) uncomfortable. It’s racist and mean to assume that, because someone is Arab-looking, and sweating, and smelling of rose water, and murmuring “Allahu Akbar” under his breath to think that he’s up to a bit of no good — never mind that, when the bomb goes off or the plane falls from the sky, any Muslims in the area will be just as dead as their non-Muslim compatriots.
Heck, we’ve allowed minority groups to prey on each other for decades for fear of causing offense. The number one target of violent, young, black and Hispanic males is . . . violent, young, black and Hispanic males, followed closely by all the hapless black and Hispanic children, old people, mothers, and fathers who have to share communities with these monsters of violence. Because it looks bad for white police to go after these monsters, their communities must suffer. The Gods of Political Correctness delight in human sacrifices, and the younger, more innocent, and more tender the better.
Americans therefore fully understand that our government, for “diversity,” or “multicultural,” or “politically correct” reasons (all of those terms speak to the same end), absolutely refuses to look first at the obvious suspects (young, radical Muslim men) before casting its net wide to sweep in people who are trying to avoid capture by looking less obvious. It’s not likely that the Minnesota granny has a bomb in her brassiere, but it’s possible. A good national security system doesn’t assume that anyone is innocent, but it does concentrate its resources where they make they most sense.
So here’s the deal with the NSA spying: We know with some certainty that, for Leftist political reasons, the NSA is not making an effort to scrutinize the population most likely to go all “Allahu Akbar” on us. Instead, for politically correct reasons, it’s spying on everyone. In essence, it’s creating a haystack of information, with extra paddings of politically correct, multiculturalist hay wrapped around any spot where a needle might hide.
If politics means that the system won’t look for the obvious bad guys, what is it looking for then? Well, I suspect that what’s going to happen is that the system will be used to look for easy targets. Things that are neither criminal nor suspicious, but that pop up nevertheless, will suddenly be scrutinized because they’re there. It will be the surveillance equivalent of “If the mountain won’t come to Mohamed, then Mohamed must come to the mountain.” Since the NSA can’t focus its efforts on finding real criminals, it will engage in some flexible thinking and criminalize whatever activity it sees. And — voila! — it will therefore justify its bureaucratic existence and purpose. That the country will lose its identity and the people their freedom is a small price to pay for bureaucratic immortality.