Mayor Michael Bloomberg appears to be moving beyond dictating what people can drink and eat in his city despite judicial rulings finding his policies in violation of the Constitution. Bloomberg joined the Pavlovian response of politicians this week in calling for a reduction in civil liberties in response to the Boston Marathon bombing. Bloomberg warned citizens that the Constitution will “have to change” to allow for greater security to stave off future attacks.
Bloomberg warned that “The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry. But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”
It is statements like this that show a fundamental lack of understanding of our constitutional history and values. It borders on constitutional defamation. We have a Constitution that has survived pressures that could have reduced many systems to a fine dust from depression to social strife. Yet, two brothers plant make-shift bombs built from pressure cookers and Bloomberg wants to take a cleaver to the Constitution. Exactly what part of the Constitution does Bloomberg want to reduce like an over-sized soda? Privacy? The warrant clause?
Bloomberg however feels that the Constitution is not the object that we are fighting to protect but the very thing that is endangering us: “Look, we live in a very dangerous world. We know there are people who want to take away our freedoms. New Yorkers probably know that as much if not more than anybody else after the terrible tragedy of 9/11. We have to understand that in the world going forward, we’re going to have more cameras and that kind of stuff. That’s good in some sense, but it’s different from what we are used to.”
Bloomberg is of course calling for such changes before we even analyze this attack. His call for more cameras ignores that fact that this attack would not have been avoided with such measures and occurred in one of the most heavily surveilled areas of Boston — a point discussed in an earlier column.
While it is politicians like Bloomberg who are endangering our rights, he prefers to blame his proposed actions on the terrorists: “We cannot let the terrorists put us in a situation where we can’t do those things. And the ways to do that is to provide what we think is an appropriate level of protection.” How exactly are the terrorists “putting us in a situation where we can’t” protect ourselves unless Bloomberg is including the Framers among the terrorists.
It appears that, yet again, privacy will be the right to bear the brunt of political responses to the bombing. Bloomberg was quick to say religion must be protected while calling for increased government surveillance of citizens: “You still want to let people practice their religion, no matter what that religion is. And I think one of the great dangers here is going and categorizing anybody from one religion as a terrorist. That’s not true … That would let the terrorists win. That’s what they want us to do.”
No, Mr. Mayor, what the terrorist want us to do is to cause self-inflicted wounds like ripping down our constitutional laws and traditions. They want to show that we are hypocrites. That is the point of terror — to trigger a bigger response to the bombing out of fear and hate. Bloomberg responded perfectly on cue in calling for the expansion of the already burgeoning security state.
We are truly living in dangerous times but the greatest threat can be found in men like Bloomberg who fit the description perfectly of Louis Brandeis: ““The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in the insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well meaning but without understanding.”