Little Brother v. Big Brother
I just re-read Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. It was my third reading.
Although published in 2008, intended (I believe) to look back on the heightened security and information-gathering by the Department of Homeland Security, the book is becoming more applicable to the current administration. Every day a new order is passed or legislation proposed that limits the freedoms of at least one segment of the population: women, Latinos, Muslims, LGBT people, etc. Every day we read another example of the current administration trying to subvert the Constitution.
Before the recent presidential election, I thought of DHS as a bloated, ineffective, bureaucratic agency. Yes, DHS, or Big Brother if you will, is watching but not an imminent threat. In my Sue series, I use DHS as the overseers of the clones. Ted Stevens is the level-headed DHS Director with the best interest of clones in mind; he releases the clones and protects their individual liberties. Whereas the special DHS committee is the xenophobic “protector” of American citizens against the “aliens” and their “conspirators”. Of course civil liberty wins in my books as Ted fights for the clones. To me, it was obvious. Up until now, I didn’t think the opposite was plausible this day in American society, with as much transparency as the internet offers.
But now I’m not so sure. Every day we learn of violations and abuse of power, which gets us back to Little Brother. As I read the book this past week, I didn’t think back to 9/11, I thought about current events in American politics. How long will it be before DHS starts invading the freedoms of Americans? As long as the administration finds a reason to marginalize a segment of society, there’s no telling what the DHS, Department of Justice, Department of Health and Human Services, etc. will do. Look at what has already been attempted or floated in barely two months! Proposing to eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, repeal of parts or all of Roe v. Wade, eliminating pregnancy care from Trumpcare, building “The Wall”, mass deportation of “illegals”, prohibiting suspected Muslims from entering the country, and repealing LGBT equality laws are just some of the few ideas/legislation already being discussed. What is going on? Are we going to allow this to occur?
At the end of Little Brother, Marcus makes a video to show the imprisonment and torture he experienced at the hand of DHS and, more importantly, he gives advice. His advice is completely applicable to right now. “We elected these people. We pay their salaries. They’re supposed to be on our side. They’re supposed to defend our freedoms. But these people betrayed our trust. …Find five of your neighbors—five people who’ve given up on voting because their choice is ‘none of the above.’ Talk to your neighbors. Make them promise to vote. Make them promise to take the country back from the torturers and thugs. Make them promise to talk to their neighbors. Most of us choose none of the above. It’s not working. You have to choose—choose freedom.”
One last thing; open this tweet and look at the books assembled on the table at this bookstore. It’s a commentary on the times.