Massive detainments, ethnic profiling and loss of civil
liberties are just a few of the new realities of the U.S.
This was the message of David Cole, a Georgetown University law
professor who spoke yesterday in a lecture titled “Freedom and
Terror: September 11th and the 21st Century Challenge.”
Cole addressed parallels between the first Communist red scare,
the McCarthy era and present day Patriot Act. Cole outlined the
history of governmental regulations on liberties and stressed the
urgency of reexamining current legislation.
“We are entering into a new age of McCarthyism, repeating
history with terrorism,” Cole said.
In an analysis of the first red scare, Cole said that the
removal of civil liberties began with foreign nationals, or
non-U.S. citizens, living in the United States.
Only after the rights of foreign nationals were affected did the
government target citizens, Cole said. He added that this situation
could repeat itself now, as foreign nationals are the most
drastically affected group by the Patriot Act.
“What the government is doing is sacrificing (foreign
nationals’) rights for (citizens’) security,” Cole said.
Cole said the government has used immigration rules to round up
any foreign nationals and subject them to detainment. As an
example, Cole cited the preventive detention campaign led by
Attorney General John Ashcroft that detained 5,000 immigrants who
were suspected of terrorism.
“Only four of the 5,000 were eventually charged with any crime.
Two were acquitted. No al-Qaida, no 9/11 people,” Cole said.
Beyond the detention of foreign nationals, Cole said the
government has become the largest campaign of ethnic profiling
since World War Two by focusing on questioning and prioritizing the
deportation of Arabs and Muslims. He said that this did not include
countries like Spain, Germany or France, all of which had their
citizens associated with the 9/11 attacks.
The role of universities and their relationship to the
government was also a topic of Cole’s address. He said that
universities should be entirely separate institutions from the
government and should serve as places for establishing awareness.
Cole added that universities promote the free exchange of ideas and
feature large foreign-national student populations, both of which
are essential to recovering the nation’s civil liberties.
Law School student Greg Davis said he thought the level of
student activity on campus regarding civil liberties was low.
“People have opinions, the majority of student’s opinions are
against the Patriot Act. But student activists really don’t protest
that much. People aren’t sharing their ideas,” Greg Davis said.
Cole’s lecture was the 13th annual forum as part of the Faculty
Senate’s Davis, Markert, Nickerson lecture series.
H. Chandler Davis, one of the honorees of the lecture series, is
a former University professor who was brought in front of the House
Un-American Activities Committee and eventually dismissed from the
“The situation is an emergency – you have to make your own
tactics and be the example. You should be the nucleus from which
protest forms,” Chandler Davis said.
Echoing Davis’s concerns for student activism, Cole stressed the
importance of each person’s voice and urged all University students
to join pertinent causes.
“It’s very important that ordinary people are putting these
issues on the agenda. Not that many people are involved, so your
voice can be heard,” Cole said.