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Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Opinion

Don’t move with the herd; question intrusiveness of Patriot Act


The United States’ Patriot Act has impacted all Americans, regardless of whether they know it. A knee-jerk reaction to the 9/11 attacks, the Patriot Act was passed so quickly that Congress was unsure on the actual provisions of the bill.

The result of the bill is more than an inconvenience at the airport, thanks to the TSA. There have been mass infringements of the American public’s right to privacy, with the real results being concealed by the NSA, which is the organization responsible.

The NSA came into the spotlight when Edward Snowden, a whistle-blower now residing in Russia, sought to enlighten the general public of the breach of privacy occurring by way of the Patriot Act. His efforts have resulted in disparate notions between U.S. authorities and concerned citizens; these citizens hope to clarify the right to privacy as underlined in the first, third, fourth, fifth, and ninth amendments.

The Patriot Act has been called out in the legislature by Rep. Rush Holt. Holt calls to end this state-sponsored solicitation of information in his recently introduced legislation, and he is right to do so.

In light of all the controversy surrounding the act, it now faces the possibility of repeal after 14 years. Though the Bill originally had a sunset clause, it has since been extended — perhaps indefinitely.

The reality is that there is no middle ground. American society is ruled by an elite class who, with their immense wealth, are able to influence politics disproportionately to further their own interest. This is an aspect of American politics that has been exploited with each new invention of the modern era.

According to data collected by UH communication professor Frederick Schiff, media conglomerates undoubtedly hold a disproportionate amount of influence over Americans.

Schiff attempts to impart on his students the historical trends of communications industries. He uses data collected and organized to demonstrate the consolidation of media and the resulting oligopoly corporations of super-wealthy owners and big business executives.

This “1 percent” holds incredible sway over the American general public.

“The Media Oligopoly is a façade that hides the influence and benefits that come to this very small segment of the American Public,” Schiff said.

While most people see the market and economy as a benevolent, omnipotent organization, in reality, it is structured that it may be exploited and bent to the will of this invisible upper class.

Indeed, the general wealth of our nation’s political leaders and the disproportionate coverage of the Republicans and Democrats in media help suppress the rise of third or single-issue parties. This is depressing, especially in the one-party Texas, when we consider the populist influence upon this state’s constitution that delivered it to the shining star it is today.

Surprisingly, those who run Texas have given into the prison and military industrial complex. Remember that it was former President George W. Bush who signed the bill that unleashed George Orwell’s nightmare upon the public.

Here in Texas, where independence is a source of pride, a ruling elite has ignored the ideals of the state they identify with and subjected Americans to Big Brother, collecting every scrap of information they want from our private lives.

That’s not to say the Democrats don’t have a hand, as the last person to extend the Patriot Act was President Barack Obama. He has supported drone strike programs that have killed civilians throughout the Middle East and continues to support military involvement by approving this intelligence program that spies on average Americans. This doesn’t sound like that promise of liberal “change” that got him into office.

The NSA, while possibly a deterrent to terrorist attacks, has been exposed. They are spying on the people who support them through taxes.

Those responsible have criminally infringed upon people’s civil liberties, and if Congress can’t represent its constituents by repealing this law, then somebody needs to ram a lawsuit through the Supreme Court.

Even if one believes the data the NSA collects is innocuous, there is no way one can allow a precedent like this to be set. And if anyone thinks the Big Brother reference is over the top, they can ignore all this and wait 30 years.

Opinion columnist Jake Drake is a communications sophomore and may be reached at [email protected]

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