Steve Russell: Terrorism and surveillance go hand in hand

Steve Russell discusses government surveillance in the modern era of terrorism:
Terrorism against civilians was a major tactic in the Indian wars. A fellow named George Armstrong Custer had made his Indian fighting reputation against quiet camps of women and children and elders until the day he finally attacked a superior force from the Great Sioux Nation and their Cheyenne and Arapaho allies when fighting men were at home. What the Cheyenne remember from Sand Creek was terrorism on steroids, and the epic battle of the Nez Perce only ended as it did because of regard for the women and children…on the Indian side.

Yes, Indians know terrorism from our histories, and so we know that it seldom works to break a people’s spirit, which is the point. Sometimes terrorism becomes a tit for tat nightmare, as when Geronimo set out to avenge the killing of his family by Mexican troops, or the atrocities on both sides of the war between Texans and the Kiowa-Comanche Alliance.

Americans are terrorism targets at home because the people we have defined as enemies lack the resources for the conventional battlefield. They live under Predator drones packing Hellfire missiles, so they consider it more than fair if we have to worry whether some dude on an airliner is going to light up his exploding underwear. More than fair, because they give a life in each strike, while our strikes are more…sanitary.

Pointing out this plain fact of the matter is enough, in the opinion of some, to get me branded a “terrorist sympathizer,” and therefore worthy of surveillance. Or, oddly enough, even objecting to surveillance can make you a target of it. Because terrorism is not a place or a person, the area of concern can quickly become home, anyone’s home.

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Steve Russell: Indians to U.S.: Welcome to the Panopticon (Indian Country Today 1/18)

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