Recently, as crowds gathered for the Long Beach Gran Prix, which occurred shortly after the terrorist bombing at the Boston Marathon, I saw a police official warning spectators to be aware of their surroundings. Report suspicious activity to the nearest uniformed officer. Even though they had taken every conceivable precaution to prevent a terrorist attack in Long Beach, officials were willing to admit that a perpetrator could slip through the safety net and that each person should take responsibility for their personal safety.
Times have changed. Law enforcement officials seem to be recognizing their limitations. “To protect and serve” appears on many of their patrol vehicles, but they would be more accurate if they used the opening line of the popular Law & Order television series.
I was disappointed when President Bush told us to hunker down following the attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11. Don't worry. He was taking the fight to the terrorists. We attacked in Afghanistan. We attacked in Iraq. The Patriot Act was passed and a new army was loosed on the streets of America. I was prepared to accept the attacks on foreign soil so long as they were directed at terrorists and their supporters. I was reluctant to see our forces hanging around to build new democracies. My disappointment grew into distrust with the Patriot Act. I hardly trusted President Bush with such sweeping powers. I am totally distrustful of the current President with them. He has schooled me to fear that some future President may use them to become a tyrant.
Am I paranoid? We've now seen the Patriot Act perverted. Homeland Security is being equipped with armored vehicles and weapons more commonly found on conventional battlefields. Furthermore, Congress and the President are vigorously attempting to disarm us. Maybe some degree of paranoia is healthy, especially when so many of my fellow citizens are succumbing to fear tactics. I wonder, why can't they see the hypocrisy of these lawmakers. Witness the testimony of Diane Feinstein who has led the most recent charge to disarm us even though she admits that she raced to arm herself when faced with danger.