“GOT ’EM” shrieked the Facebook post by a Subway worker in Laurel. “Two police officers shot tonight in Hattiesburg.! – GOT ’EM” read the whole post. (Subway said it fired the employee.) This was Laurel, Mississippi, not Ferguson, Missouri, or Baltimore, Maryland!
We face growing sub-cultures, linked-up and emboldened by social media and the Internet, that target law enforcement and encourage violence. In 2014, the number of law enforcement officers shot to death in the line of duty rose more than 50%.
We face emerging homegrown terrorists, inspired by ISIL over social media, like the two recently taken down in Garland, Texas. FBI Director James Comey said Mississippi “has troubled souls that might look to find meaning in this sick, misguided way.”
Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said last week the fight against global terrorism has entered a “new phase…because of ISIL’s effective use of social media, the Internet, which has the ability to reach into the homeland and possibly inspire others.”
We face intensifying, calculated use of social media and the Internet by Americans to spread hate and fanaticism.
As we watch this growing abuse of social media and the Internet to subvert our nation, so far protected by our constitution, what will we do?
While not enumerated in the U.S. Constitution, it is clear our founding fathers believed divine wisdom led them to establish a nation based on moral order.
Founding father John Adams said, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
The Great Seal of the United States adopted in 1782, as Boy Scouts are taught, includes the motto Annuit Coeptis, meaning “He (God) has favored our undertakings.” The seal also shows the American bald eagle holding a shield without any tangible support “to denote that the United States ought to rely on their own virtue.” Colors on the shield have specific meanings. “white – purity and innocence; red – hardiness and valor; blue – vigilance, perseverance and justice.”
Yet, we seem to be producing more and more Americans who do not answer to God or share the Great Seal’s virtues, including many dedicated to harming other Americans. And we have given them great tools – social media and the Internet – to sew their dissension and sedition.
So, should we let dissidents and terrorists use our freedoms to take us down, or limit some freedoms to take them down?
This is an appropriate question as the Patriot Act is up for renewal in Congress. The NSA used mass surveillance of phone records to fight terrorism, as revealed by fugitive Edward Snowden. Similar tools may be needed to fight social media and Internet exploitation.
“There can be no freedom without order, and there is no order without virtue,” cautioned Ronald Reagan.
Accordingly, we must be virtuous as we respond to GOT ‘EM hatefulness or become what we are fighting against. But respond we must.