Witch hunt

By Reyshimar Arguelles


The State reserves the right to protect its citizens at all costs. But at what cost exactly? And for what cause?

We are all bound by laws that limit our animalistic urges, keep us from gnashing our teeth at each other, and punish the corrupt. Even a ten-year-old or a former Big Brother housemate can explain the necessity of having rules. So long as you follow the rules, you get rainbows and chocolates and everyone gets to hold hands and perform “It’s a Small World” like they’re in a Disney-style song number.

It is as though we have earned our civilized way of life because of laws and, thus, any act of disobedience is interpreted as an attack on “the way things must be.”

And so, by agreeing with this logic, we come to accept specific applications of the law in the past as judicious. It was wrong for “non-Aryans” to hold civil service posts and it was right for the Nazis to confiscate property and businesses owned by Jews.

Likewise, it was right for the Belgian colonial government in the Congo to separate mixed-race children from their white fathers and native mothers. Such instances of kidnapping in 1959 to 1962 were condoned by segregation laws, a mark of shame for which current Prime Minister Charles Michel apologized in April last year.

In Stalinist-era Russia, it was also right to force Soviet citizens to work unreasonable hours and punish absentee workers through inhumane means. The Five-Year Plan, after all, was for the survival of the Soviet state and anyone who defied the laws and decrees issued by General Secretary Josef Stalin was justly branded and punished as counter-revolutionaries, royalists, or enemies of everything that Stalinism held dear.

And of course, who could forget the Roman Empire’s just treatment of Christians who refused to submit themselves under a polytheistic state religion? Belief in the Roman gods was also an act of political compliance, and with the passing of the Decian edict in 250 AD, Christians who did not perform sacrificial offerings to the gods were executed, banished, or forced into hiding.

For anyone who would dare say that human laws are sacrosanct and are made only for national survival would risk not knowing the full extent and the actual moral limitations of such laws. The worst (and possibly the most treacherous) thing is to say that the “law is the law” despite it being drafted by people with vested interests and ideologies that put up righteous facades to hide evil intents.

To top it all off, when we defy a certain law out of sheer common sense, we are then branded as enablers of violence and disorder — as though the forces responsible for keeping the peace are no less prone to exacting injustice in the guise of justice.

What’s there to uphold anyway when the law becomes a weapon in the hands of a state that has become so paranoid about its own survival? What’s there to protect when the democratic state itself becomes the terror it seeks to destroy? What’s there to secure when people are forced to stay quiet and avoid meaningful and critical dialogue?

With the enactment of the Terror Bill, it is difficult to stand idly by when critics are pooled towards the same roof as actual terrorists. Nothing about this seems fair and just owing to the numerous instances of miscarried justice and accidental homicides.

If we have to accept the law as an important factor in preserving a just and rational society, then we must go back to a higher form of Law, one that frowns upon the murder of any form and the act of accusing people of being terrorists.

Unless we are ensured that this law is not some kind of witch hunt against legitimate critics, defiance remains necessary. And it is not because we want this country to perish, but it’s because we want this government to become better at using criticism to make important changes.

How difficult could that be?