Snitching in the name of national security

What purpose do 'Terror Tips' hotlines really serve?

David Bebber / Reuters / File
A poster in Victoria's subway station urges ordinary citizens to report suspicious activity. This poster, photographed in March 2004, was posted in the wake of Madrid's train bombings, which claimed 200 lives and injured 1500 people.

“Report Suspicious Activity. 1-800-XXX-XXXX”

“Terror Tips. Call 1-800-XXX-XXXX”

Hmmm… What to make of it?

The War on Terror has been pushed out of the headlines by the war on the financial crisis. Besides, everyone was beginning to see that the war on terror was a fraud. You’re never going to win a war against a tactic. And spending beaucoup money trying to win the hearts and minds of fanatics is a losing proposition.

But the war lives on. We have seen these signs at least 10 times in the last three days. They are up over 1-95 and US495 around Washington. What purpose do they serve? Has anyone ever called?

We would have called ourselves…and asked for a tip. But we were afraid of getting on a suspect list.

It is hard to imagine that we will see anything that looks suspicious. First, because terrorists in the Washington area are rarer than honest Congressmen. Second, because they would hardly drive along in pickup trucks wearing Arab headdresses and carrying 55 gallon drums of gasoline in the back. In other words, we wouldn’t see them because they don’t exist and if they did exist they would be the last people to make us suspicious.

We conclude that the advertising is merely to keep the lumpen voters hyped up for war…imagining that they are under attack and that they must pay big money for someone to protect them…and accustomed to snitching on their neighbors in the name of national security.

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