Balancing security and liberty can be a difficult, yet important task. There are those who believe that national security is more important since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 (McEntire, 2009, 128). This means that the entire government should change the way it does business in response to the attacks (McEntire, 2009, 129). These views recognize that there is a negative impact of terrorism and attacks adversely affect the economy and disrupt our way of life. On the other hand, there are those that feel as though giving up or compromising civil liberties leads to governmental insecurity. They believe that there should be a more active court, more partisan Congress, investigative journalism, public interest groups, technology, and a greater awareness of civil liberties (McEntire, 2009, 130).
While both these aspects are important, national security should only infringe on civil liberties in the most minimal way, only when necessary. For example, racial profiling was an outcome of the detaining and investigation of the status of immigrants and visitors to the United States, even if these individuals had done nothing wrong (McEntire, 2009, 132-133). While it is necessary to know who is in the country illegally, it was unfair to profile certain groups of people based upon fear alone. Religious discrimination has also been a result, when those who are members of religious groups that people feel are associated with terrorism are treated unfairly based solely on their religious affiliation (McEntire, 2009, 133). There is no easy, one-size-fits-all answer to this issue, and each situation should be handled on its specific merits (McEntire, 2009, 134). The least severe of alternatives should be selected (McEntire, 2009, 135). If too many rights and liberties are taken away, this may have the opposite effect of what is intended, and actually create an environment where terrorism could grow (McEntire, 2009, 136). Groups who feel as though they are not being treated fairly may radicalize. If there are not compromises or adjustments to civil liberties to defend against acts of terror, these acts may not be able to be prevented. Each side has these tradeoffs.
McEntire, D. A. (2009). Introduction to homeland security: Understanding terrorism with an emergency management perspective. New York: Wiley.
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