But taking such a stand requires common sense and the knowledge that we are in the midst of the great battle of our time. Some Americans lack both common sense and knowledge. Such people maintain all this war talk is nonsense -- we are simply being misled by a government that seeks to remove our civil liberties in order to establish a fascistic regime. One such person, Tony Lu, a New York "immigrant rights activist," decided that resisting the NYPD was far more important than allowing police to fight terrorism. And so the day of the second London bombing attempt, Lu designed a T-shirt reading "I do not consent to being searched."
This is obnoxious and wrongheaded. Yes, governmental intrusion can be scary. Yes, we would all prefer to ride the subway without the hassle of having security employees rifling through our bags. But most of us would also prefer not to be blown up, and if that entails having some uniformed city worker check my backpack, so be it.
Unfortunately, Lu is not alone in his refusal to acknowledge the reality that we are at war. The American Civil Liberties Union focuses far more on preventing effective law enforcement than on protecting American lives. Its incessant complaints about the treatment of Guantanamo Bay detainees has undermined the moral authority of the American military, despite the fact that treatment has been more than adequate under the circumstances. Its obsession with "exposing" as many Abu Ghraib images as possible is designed as a direct attack on American soldiers abroad. It is no wonder that American soldiers at Guantanamo hotly castigated ACLU allies Teddy Kennedy and Daniel Akaka for the obscene Democratic rhetoric regarding prisoner treatment.
But civil libertarian absolutists will continue to assault America's safety in favor of American "liberties." Myopic civil libertarians ignore the simple fact that effective law enforcement is the best way to promote civil liberties. If we live in a safe, secure country -- if we rid ourselves of threats domestic and foreign -- there is no need for harsh safety precautions. Habeas corpus was restored after the Civil War. Free speech protections were strengthened in the aftermath of World War I. Japanese internment ended after World War II. Temporary safety measures remain in force only as long as safety is threatened. If civil libertarians undermine such measures, they threaten our safety -- and temporary measures become more and more permanent. The only way to fully restore civil liberties is to defeat our enemies.