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Stand up for your freedoms

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Dear Editor:

I hope that most citizens of this community are aware that there is currently a national debate going on concerning the federal government's efforts to use wiretapping and other methods to spy on its own citizens. While the issue is being debated in Congress, the spying continues unabated. In addition, the federal government is pressuring Google to release its customer records and has pressured libraries and even public schools to do the same. Did you think that when you shopped on-line you were conducting business in a safe and secure environment? Think again.

This may not seem like a major issue to some, but I can compare it to another country and another government system that not too long ago most Americans abhorred. I have a bachelor's degree in Soviet studies from the University of Missouri. At the time I studied there in the 1970s, it was one of the top such programs in the country. I also traveled to the Soviet Union, staying there for eight weeks, mingling with Soviet citizens and learning first-hand what life was like there.

We still have far more material comforts than Soviet citizens had, which perhaps makes us more complacent in accepting what our government does. But I see precious little difference in how the Soviet government treated its citizens and how our government is presently treating U.S. citizens.

The Soviet government used the KGB to spy on its own citizens the way the FBI is currently being used to spy on us. Soviet citizens were encouraged to watch their neighbors and report any "suspicious" activity, in the same way our librarians and commercial contacts are being asked to report on us. Certain books, especially by western authors, were particularly suspect, in the same way that current literature on Osama bin Laden is currently considered suspect by our government.

Did you know that the federal government even tried to get the U.S. Post Office to use its deliverymen to report on citizens? Fortunately, the postal service refused, and so have many of the libraries. Thank goodness we haven't yet gotten to the point where librarians and postmasters simply disappear into a northern prison.

What rationale did the Soviet government use for its repressive policies? National security, of course. Sound familiar? There were enemies among the Soviet populace that had to be identified and eliminated. Sound familiar?

We are presently fighting a war that many believe is a part of defending freedom. What right do we have to send our sons and daughters and grandchildren to offer up their very lives for freedom while we sit in our easy chairs and quietly accept destruction of those same freedoms here at home.

We may be in danger from foreign terrorists, but in the long run, we stand to lose far more if we allow our government to become the very institution our forefathers worked so hard to prevent. We all owe it to those who are risking their lives on the front lines to speak up and reclaim our own freedom. Write your Congressmen!

Dobri den, komradi (good day, comrades).

Susan Eschbach

Cassville, Missouri