When you sit alone, silence seems normal, but the
silence of a hundred people
feels charged, alive somehow. The Quaker meetinghouse in Washington, D.C., is
full this Sunday, as it has been every week since September 11. As we sit facing
one another on rows of benches arranged around a central open space, sunlight
dapples the floor and birds chirrup outside.
"When you're in this type of conflict, when you're at war, civil liberties are treated differently." -- Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss)
The ACLU's phone is ringing off the hook with questions about what the recent disasters in Washington and New York will mean for a free society. People stare and point at the military "humvies" with their black-bereted guards parked on D.C. street corners. The Arab-American Anti-Defamation Committee protests an emerging "pattern of collective blame and scapegoating against Arab-Americans and Muslims."
Is Washington Post reporter Steve Vogel covering the war in Afghanistan or
pounding out a script for Top Gun II? "Kabul had flashed by, and Cmdr Morris
'Moby' Leland rolled over the target area north of the city, looking for a
Taliban bunker to destroy with his F/A-18 Hornet, a trusted fighter he had
nicknamed War Admiral," Vogel writes in a breathless October 29 dispatch from the
USS Carl Vinson.
It's the little things that count. While some privacy advocates cry foul
over the section in Attorney General John Ashcroft's draft antiterrorism bill
that extends certain wiretapping provisions to the Internet, an equally ominous
challenge to civil liberties lurks in an innocent one-word change. In Section 153
of the proposed legislation presented to Congress on September 19, the word the would be changed to a.
Amazing what a difference an indefinite article makes.