NYPD follows the Orwellian way


The Minority Report


Science fiction stories like George Orwell’s “1984” always fascinate me. They show us a terrifying world where there is no privacy, no individuality and no liberty — your life is solely a subject of the government. If you act out of line, you disappear. You are subject to every whim of political paranoia and dominance, where government spies infiltrate your everyday routines, and they even keep a surveillance compound right next door so they can keep you right under their nose. It’s the all-seeing “Big Brother” who’s there wherever you go, keeping track of every move you make, endlessly seeking to permeate your thoughts and keep you under its control.

Oh wait, that’s not a figment of Orwell’s imagination — that’s what the New York Police Department has been doing at the University.

The NYPD has been singling out Muslim students all over the Northeast for their espionage for no other reason than that they are Muslims. The police have been watching their emails, probing their online postings and even posing undercover on a past whitewater rafting trip to gather information on the targets. They even kept extensive records of how many times a day each Muslim student prayed, because somehow, in this strange new age of American government authoritarianism, the number of times a person prays directly correlates to their potential of becoming a terrorist.

What’s even more shocking is not that this type of civil rights violation is taking place without so much as a murmur in defense of American citizens but that some American citizens actually condone and encourage this encroachment of their civil rights. People who support this governmental behavior have time and time again landed on the wrong side of history. Federal legislation such as the Patriot Act, which virtually eliminates the protections we have against being spied on or detained for anything deemed to be “suspicious activity,” and the National Defense Authorization Act, which legalizes indefinite detention without trial, do not just apply to Muslim-Americans — they apply to all Americans.

Is this really what our state-induced paranoia and social inaction has come to? Are we all willing to sacrifice our rights so that the government can target people based on their religion, sex, race or ethnicity?

In fact, a former University student was just convicted on charges relating to his alleged use of a webcam to spy on his unsuspecting roommate. If that’s the case, what should be the sentence for the wide-scale espionage and stalking of University students across an entire region?

It’s not even worth it to go into how these actions are beyond the scope of the NYPD, how not all Muslims are terrorists — and they are wasting their time on money on racial profiling instead of keeping us safe from actual harm — or how all this energy could be used toward actually solving crimes or brainstorming a way to alleviate the crime rates in New York in the first place. Instead, I will simply state this: While the fabric of our American society is trying to heal the social deterioration that resulted from Sept. 11, the government insists on stifling our progress, pitting us against one another and creating an “otherness” of a group of people, which — without being defended — will continue to monstrously expand until it targets the rest of us.

Martin Niemöller immortalized the desperate need for camaraderie and unity in the face of government subversion in the following statement, which we must always remember as history ominously repeats itself: “First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.”

Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in Middle Eastern studies and political science with a minor in French. Her column, “The Minority Report,” normally runs on alternate Wednesdays.


By Amani Al-Khatahtbeh

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