How do the limitations placed on freedom after September 11 compare to the surrounding circumstances with those during the Red Scares?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that you can develop a great deal of analysis that might exceed the space allotted here in enotes.  On one hand, the climate of fear and centralization in terms of demanding obedience to authority would be some of the most basic similarities between both the climate that followed after September 11 as well as the settings of the Red Scare.  In both, legislation was passed to secure that the government would have increased abilities to quiet dissent and silence voices in its attempts to develop a greater consolidation of centrality in American government.  The Espionage Act of 1917, the creation of the House Unamerican Activities Committee, as well as the establishment of the Patriot Act are all legislative extensions of a desire to centralize the nation's focus and ensure that what exists outside this centrality is punished and silenced.  The three legislative elements limited freedom significantly.  In all three, freedom of speech was curtailed significantly as claims of "wartime activity" and "the enemy" were brandied about to ensure obedience and compliance.  In all three, the centralized authorities obtained greater flexibility to make assertions that were concurrent with the idea that the nation was under siege and in a state of war.  Along these lines, the threshold for representation and voice in the intended targets was significantly reduced through these three examples of legislative activity.  In this, the freedom of the government increased while the freedom of the individual being targeted decreased.  In each of the three legislative extensions of the a climate of fear, the need to openly talk and engage in discourse was severed in the name of control and obedience to authority, a stunning repudiation of freedom and liberty at the behest of centralized government.


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