The National Defense Authorization Bill passed by the Senate on Dec. 1 decreases $43 billion from Pentagon spending while allowing the military to hold suspected terrorists indefinitely without guaranteed due process of law. Both the Republican Party and Democratic Party’s propositions were fulfilled with the passage of this bill.
The bill passed with a 93-7 vote.
This bill would allow the military the authority to control the investigation, interrogation and detainment of any and all suspected terrorists. The only exception to this is for American citizens.
By allowing a bill such as this to pass, the Senate has disbanded a key part of the American Constitution – essentially making the word “terrorism” subjective. Democracy is jeopardized when free speech is threatened. Free speech is threatened when due process of law is taken away.
This bill essentially legalizes xenophobia, a social construct people must battle every day in the post-9/11 world. Since 9/11, Arabs and Muslims, both nationally and abroad, have been detained, stigmatized for their beliefs, their origins and racial classifications. This has been taking place for years behind closed doors with many major media sources neglecting coverage – and now it is being legalized as far as foreigners are concerned.
In 2007 a Palestinian immigrant was denied access into the country because conspiracy theory videos on his laptop made the individual a prime candidate for engaging in terrorist activity. According to the Huffington Post, experts said that his clean record made him an excellent marksman for conspiring against the United States.
If an individual has a record, they can be denied access into our country. If an individual has a clean slate and abides by immigration laws, they can also be denied access to the country on the grounds that they are prime terrorist suspects.
When there is no hard evidence to go off of, the government is left to depend on other qualifiers to determine an individual’s immigration and terrorism status. This is xenophobia at its finest, so to speak.
It is hypocritical to deny access to immigrants when that is what our country is founded on. Most of our ancestors immigrated to this country at some point. Furthermore, denying foreigners the same protections we give ourselves risks damaging our international reputation.
Apathy, which plagues much of our generation, is allowing the government to take people’s rights away. When we lose our own rights as citizens, it will not be from one big overhaul, it will be due to one small thing changing to another small thing changing and so on until our entire foundation has been torn down. It is possible if we start holding foreigners indefinitely that we could eventually find reason to hold U.S. citizens indefinitely.
This could make anyone from a radical, to a blogger, to your common scholar a terrorist. This bill blasts open the door for racism, fear and ignorance to weave its way back into the fibers of modern America.