18 June 2013

Is It 1984 in the US?

Viewed from afar (we currently live in the Czech Republic), events in the USA seem to indicate a nation slip-sliding into political and religious repression. A catalog of some of the political repression can be found in an article in the Washington Times (May 29, 2013).  

Websites listing persecution of religious groups have customarily focused upon foreign countries. Today, increasingly, the United States is among the leading nations in indices of offending nations, as this listing at Persecution.org indicates. (See this piece also).

In a sense all of this was academic, as Sandra and I sat in Prague and read about what was happening in our home country. The Czech Republic, of course, has it’s own history of political and religious repression, through the oppressive regimes of the Nazis and the Soviets. Today, however, religious freedom is the reality. Christianity is not particularly popular amongst the Czech citizenry, but neither is it repressed.

So, we traveled to the US at the end of May. During our visit we spent several days with our younger daughter in Connecticut. It was with shock that I saw, in numerous places, the billboard pictured here. The message is, “If you see something, say something.” The picture is fuzzy, due to rain on the day I snapped it, but the intent is clear: rat out your neighbor. Do you think that’s a harsh assessment? Consider this: the various billboards and other media (this is actually a national campaign launched by Homeland Security Czarina Janet Napolitano in July, 2010) do not indicate what sort of behavior is suspicious. 

Numerous “public safety” lists have been released with the identifications of groups who are to be considered “hostile” or “threats” to the security of the state. Included on many of the lists are returning veterans and  Christians. Are these the people who should be reported? 

A book review of The Whisperers, by Orlando Figes, states “Moving from the Revolution of 1917 to the death of Stalin and beyond, Orlando Figes re-creates the moral maze in which Russians found themselves, where one wrong turn could destroy a family or, perversely, end up saving it. He brings us inside cramped communal apartments, where minor squabbles could lead to fatal denunciations; he examines the Communist faithful, who often rationalized even their own arrest as a case of mistaken identity; and he casts a humanizing light on informers, demonstrating how, in a repressive system, anyone could easily become a collaborator.”

Is the US headed that way? Will informers be heroes; patriots? Will families be destroyed by mistrust and suspicion?

As Americans ponder the implications of such government policies and initiatives, its no wonder that sales of George Orwell’s works are skyrocketing. According to an article in the International Business Times  

Sales of George Orwell's 1984 have shot up following revelations that the United States' National Security Agency (NSA) is accessing data on people around the world.
Sales of Orwell's novel have risen by 6,000% since the Guardian revealed the allegations of former NSA sub-contractor Edward Snowden.
In the dystopian novel, all citizens are constantly spied on by an inner elite party in the government. Banners reading "Big Brother Is Watching You" cover the city and citizens are monitored by the Thought Police, who punish people for independent thinking.
Is this 1984 in the US? Is this the atmosphere our Founding Fathers anticipated when they created this "experiment in democracy"? Certainly this attitude among the leaders of our nation needs an adjusment. Even more certainly, this is a call to prayer - for both the leaders and the people. May God have mercy on this nation.

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