Sept. 11 Hangover

Like everyone else, I am deeply outraged by what happened a year ago, and the ceremonial remembrance of those events and those lives lost had a measure of soothing effect. But now that it's over, I have noticed that I feel cheated, and I wondered why.

Then I realized: It is because George Bush is exploiting our anguish to justify an open-ended war on terrorism, a wrong-headed and dangerous invasion of Iraq, and worst of all, the stripping away of the precious freedom to dissent.

It is rather astounding how quickly George Bush & Co. have managed to squander the vast international sympathy and goodwill elicited by the events of a year ago. By continuing its treaty shredding, UN-disrespecting, consensus-snubbing ways, America is once again viewed with suspicion and distaste by the international community. Even here in the United Kingdom, where many Britons have long secretly wanted to be Americans, the thrill is gone.

Now, instead of idolizing Americans, I tell my fellow Brits to feel sorry for them, and to reserve our anger for Bush (and by extension, Tony Blair).

After all, the American people in a scant 12 months have had their once-enviable civil liberties outrageously eroded in the name of patriotism. The ideals of freedom and democracy that America pledges to export across the globe have been perverted so spectacularly at home that it is hard to recognize the country anymore.

Where once Americans reveled in their uniquely American right and willingness to criticize their government, they are now told that those who dissent are no better than terrorists, or terrorists themselves. They have had their pride of country, their patriotism, hijacked by a self-interested and short-sighted government which steals freedoms from its own people and gives riches to corporations, which have proven scandalously corrupt, and "security" infrastructures such as the military, FBI and CIA, which have been revealed to be fatally incompetent.

Those Americans who would question their government are told to "watch what they say." The FBI has been given broad rein to spy on citizens with phone taps and email snoops. Long-held ideals of fair and speedy trials are thrown out the window as suspected terrorists and sympathizers are "disappeared" like the enemies of Pinochet 20 years ago in Chile.

In exchange for their freedoms, Americans are not safer now than they were a year ago; in fact, they are probably less so. Their government is a rogue state, rejecting international consensus on every front and threatening first-strike nuclear attacks and politically expedient invasions of sovereign nations. America has more nuclear, biological and chemical weapons than any other country, and it is the only nation to have used such a weapon against another. And still it stubbornly refuses any international effort or treaty to regulate, minimize or eliminate such weapons, even as it uses Iraq's suspected possession of (or mere desire for) them as reason for wholesale attack.

Bush & Co. has slapped the international community in the face as it tried to embrace and console the United States.

The scars of Ground Zero will heal, the grief at the loss of so many innocents will ease, but the damage the United States has inflicted on itself will last far longer. To hell with George Bush; God save America.

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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