As someone who writes often about my base disagreement with US domestic and foreign policy, I realize that some day I may face a similar fate to Mehanna. While Caputi believes that being white serves as a bit of shield from lawless prosecution, I certainly wouldn't go that far.
On April 12th Tarek Mehanna was found guilty of conspiracy and of giving material support for terrorism. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison. The prosecution accused Mehanna of translating statements for Al Qaeda and of disseminating pro-jihadist material on the Internet. Mehanna maintains that he does not support the world view of Al Qaeda, though he is unapologetic for supporting the rights of Muslims to defend themselves against their oppressors, in this case US and British soldiers. The American Civil Liberties Union has said that the verdict against Tarek “undermines” free speech, while the prosecution holds that Tarek was “conspiring to support terrorists” and “conspiring to kill Americans overseas.”
However, if Tarek Mehanna is guilty, so am I. I too support the right of Muslims to defend themselves against US troops, even if that means they have to kill them, and I try to give the Iraqi resistance a voice through my website. I have done everything that Tarek Mehanna has done, and there are only two possibilities why I am not sitting in a cell with him: 1) The FBI is incompetent and hasn’t been able to smoke me out. 2) The US judicial system would never dream of violating my freedom of speech because I am white and I am a veteran of the Occupation of Iraq.
~ from If Tarek Mehanna is Guilty So Am I by Ross Caputi ~
We've seen several white peace activists and Occupy Wall Streets participants who have been harassed by the police and some have been subpoenaed to appear before grand juries. Many white activists have been jailed or face stiff fines. This is in no way to suggest that blacks and Muslims don't suffer under greater scrutiny, but the big thing the government is trying to wipe out these days is dissent. The color of one's skin offers little protection.
And so, each time I sit down before my computer to peck out a post critical of the US government and/or Corporate America, I realize I'm taking a chance with my liberty. I am a very small fish in a large pond, but the authorities seem to favor small fish because they aren't in the position to put up much of a fight.
It's not just me either. Those of you who read my missives are taking a big chance too. Do you really believe that the ever vigilant American homeland security network doesn't know what you're reading? If you leave a comment that more or less agrees with the point of these sorts of posts, you should know that Big Brother is keeping score. Too many agreeable comments and you might go over the allowable threshold.
We live in dangerous times, boys and girls. One of the chief dangers is that our right of free speech (and thought) is under attack. This attack is not being led by the so-called terrorists -- the masterminds are our own leaders!!