In my blog post of January 6, 2015, entitled “Conservative Hypocrisy on the Cuban Embargo,” I listed five ways in which conservative hypocrisy was manifesting itself in the context of the debate over whether the 54-year-old U.S. embargo against Cuba should be lifted.
Later, I realized that the list should have enumerated one other way: mass surveillance over the citizenry by the government.
Let me say, however, preliminarily, that I’m not certain that conservatives oppose the Cuban government’s massive surveillance of the Cuban citizenry. I certainly haven’t seen any conservative condemnation of that part of Cuba’s communist system. And it’s entirely possible that American conservatives would come down on Fidel Castro’s side in terms of mass surveillance, agreeing with him that it’s needed to keep Cuban society safe and secure.
But given that conservatives ostensibly oppose the communist system in Cuba, I’m going to just assume that they also oppose the surveillance schemes that are inherent to communist regimes.
Yet, here we have the spectacle of conservatives (presumably) condemning governmental surveillance of people in Cuba (and North Korea, Vietnam, China, and other communist regimes) while effusively praising and glorifying it as part of America’s national-security state way of life.
When I visited Cuba several years ago, Cubans I spoke with pointed out to me that each block has a designated watch person, whose job is to report suspicious activity to the authorities. Doesn’t that remind you of the U.S. government’s exhortations to the American people to keep a watchful eye out for suspicious behavior and to immediately report it to the authorities?
The fact is that there is no difference in principle between the Castro regime’s surveillance of the Cuban citizenry and the NSA’s surveillance of the American people. Both systems justify their surveillance under the rubric of “national security” and “keeping the people safe.”
It’s just another example of how the entire national-security state concept has warped and perverted American values. Since the end of World War II, the notion has been that in order to battle communism and collectivism, it was necessary for the U.S. national-security state to engage in communist-like or totalitarian-like actions.
And just look where that national-security mindset has brought the United States — to assassination, torture, indefinite detention, invasions and wars of aggression, support of military dictatorships, coups, military tribunals, secret prisons, rendition-torture, secret judicial proceedings, the military-industrial complex, the CIA, the NSA, and, of course, secret mass surveillance.
In other words, all the things that we would expect to come out of communist and totalitarian regimes.
Now, ask yourself this question: If the American people in 1787 had been told that the Constitution would bring into existence the type of federal government that exists today, would they have approved it?
No one can truthfully deny that the answer to that question is a resounding “No!” Given our ancestors’ antipathy toward standing armies, secret police, secret judicial proceedings, imperialism, militarism, invasions of privacy, cruel and unusual punishments, warrantless searches, and omnipotent government, as well as their ardent devotion to such freedom principles as trial by jury, due process of law, privacy, right to counsel, and extremely limited government, there is absolutely no possibility that they would have approved a government whose powers mirrored those found in communist regimes.
The American people are faced with a choice: Do you want a free society or do you want a society whose government wields the same types of omnipotent powers that are found in Cuba and other totalitarian regimes?
If you want a free society, join up with us libertarians. If you want the unfree society, just stick with conservatives.