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Wednesday

Congressman Tom Tancredo (R, CO) was on Fox News this morning talking about illegal immigration and Driver's Licenses. There's a bill running through congress ("like shit through a goose" would be a good analogy, but I won't go there) to standardize the identification requirements for getting a Driver's Licence from state to state. Tancredo, and apparently many others, believe that this will "slam the door" on terrorists trying to get into the US.


Setting aside for the moment how ludicrous that is, Tancredo made a very telling statement that deserves further examination.

When asked about the privacy concerns of "civil liberatrians" (a mealy-mouthed non-concept if I've ever heard one), he dismissed them by saying that terrorists "take advantage of every freedom we have."


Well, well.


So it's freedom that is the problem, eh Mr. Tancredo? Then the obvious solution is to start eliminating freedoms as fast as we can right? If, afterall, freedom is the tool the terrorists use against us, then freedom is the one thing we don't need any of around here, is it? Nosiree, freedom is bad for us, very bad. The sooner we can do away with that albatross, the safer we'll all be!


Let's, for the sake of argument, forget for a moment the principles that freedom is based on, and the fact that it is the very thing we seek to protect from these terrorists (pretend I'm a Neo-Libertarian for the moment). And lets pretend that there are thousands of would-be terrorists lined up at DMV's around the country itching to fill their cars or trucks with ANFO so they can blow us all to hell, if they could just be allowed to drive legally.


We needn't worry, because we've got thousands of Federal Agents on our side, ready to fight the terrorists on our behalf, issuing tickets left and right, waiting to round them all up when they show up in traffic court. That's maybe a 2-1 ratio of good guys to terrorists. Let's be generous and assume it's a 5-1 ratio, hell, I'll even give them 10-1.


The rest of us can only cross our fingers and wait. Maybe we'll be lucky and have the opportunity to phone in a tip to Homeland Security one day. Those ten Feds to each terrorist are our bastion against the evils they intend for us. We're in good hands, no doubt.


I'm not demeaning Federal Agents, though there's ample room for doing just that. The majority of them are probably very well-intentioned, decent people who genuinely want to keep us safe. I'm sure Mr. Tancredo is too. But if freedom is such a powerful tool, why not use it ourselves? Why not let 300 million people use freedom as a weapon against the terrorists. Why should they get all the benefits?


300 million puts the ratio more in the range of tens of thousands to one. Sure, Grandma and little Billy in kindergrten aren't going to be on the front lines of the War on Terror(TM). But the rest of us can be. It's not just arming ourselves - though that is a nice thought - it is also going out there and working, and travelling freely, and reading what we want to. You know, that great "Engine of Democracy"? Free people are more resilient to terrorism, and free people create the tools needed to fight it.


If all we have is those thousands of Federal Agents, if all we have is the tiny fraction of Americans who work in law enforcement, then that limits the problem from the terrorists' point of view. They know who they have to neutralize, they know who they have to avoid, or fool into not seeing them.


But if its all of us who could potentially thwart them at every turn - if the waitress at Denny's and the truck driver on I-90 are just as much a threat to them as the agent downtown at the federal building or the state trooper running his speed trap from the tall grass - then they have a much tougher job. If every home and business around the country could take its own security measures, they have a much tougher job. If inventors and businessmen from New York city to Des Moines, Iowa, to rural Nevada is free to work on tools and techniques to fight terror, then not only is a solution within our reach, but the variety of solutions will make tactical planning for the next C-4 belted madman just dying to visit Allaha a logistical nightmare.


Freedom is not the problem, it is the solution. That we face a crisis now means we need more freedom, not less. If we need now more than ever to come together and fight this, then freedom is what will bring us together. Freedom is our strength, not our weakness. Freedom is what the terrorists fear, and what they want to destroy. We don't need Tom Tancredo helping them.

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