I bet you thought that the Communist threat to America was over, but apparently not. It turns out that Communists are actually terrorists! I know, who’d have thought it, eh?
If you fancy writing a paper about Communism a quick tip is to make sure that you don’t try and get access to the proper source materials:
A senior at UMass Dartmouth was visited by federal agents two months ago, after he requested a copy of Mao Tse-Tung’s tome on Communism called “The Little Red Book.”
The version that the student had requested was a full translation of the Chinese original and not the abridged version that is more commonly available. The combination of this and the student’s time abroad in the past led to him getting the book personally delivered by two NSA agents. Apparently it’s on a watch list of books, although I really do wonder why, Al Qaeda’s main claim to fame was being instrumental in defeating armies from the USSR when they invaded Afghanistan back in the 1980s so I can’t imagine that there is any lingering love there, so maybe the Bush administration believes that Communism is still a threat to them? Well, I suppose that if you’re going to have a ‘War On Terrorism’ you might as well try and find a good opponent. Yep, Afghanistan was a pushover*, Iraq is a warm-up**, next stop China! Yee-haw! Ride ‘em cowboys! We’re gonna shoot us sum Commies!
And this is why things like a book watch-list is counter-productive when used in such a scatter-gun manner. If such things were done in a transparent way that could be examined by the public then department resources could be saved, but the current system breeds intimidation and paranoia, both of which cause fear in the general population (which appears to be the objective of such measures) and makes the truly militant few more careful and less likely to be found. I could understand the justification for agents visiting a person who has specifically requested obscure middle-eastern religious texts and bomb-making instructions, but what terrorist would order those things through the library? Putting a book of quotes from a dead Communist leader on a terror-suspect-book watch-list is typical of a govern-mental approach that equates all things non-democratic with Evil. There is a vast difference between a Communist state (which rejects religion) and the Caliphate desired by ‘Islamic’ extremists, but still the two are lumped together with a single threat response.
Not that such things are only happening in the US: about five or six years ago, before the Sept 11th 2001 attacks, I knew a guy who was doing his PhD thesis about the increase in surveillance on the British public by the government. After doing his course for a couple of years he finally quit after finding evidence that his own phone-line was now being tapped and strong suggestions a file was being kept about him because of his studies. Apparently finding out about what your government knows about you is considered a risk to the state. Amusingly, as an academic and a liberal minded person, there’s probably a file on me too.
More about the Little Red Book case.
*not actually true: ‘There has been more money and more weapons flowing into their [militant insurgent's] hands in recent months,’source, November 28, 2005