Wednesday, February 20, 2013

On Crimethink

An octogenarian by the name of Sister Megan Rice and two of her friends managed their way past the security at the U.S. government’s Oak Ridge nuclear testing facility. Their goal was to put up some yellow caution tape and graffiti protesting the U.S.’s continued production of ever more powerful nuclear weapons. 

According to Paul Donahue, the president and CEO of WSI-Oak Ridge (aka Wackenhut aka G4S Government Solutions), the acts of Sister Rice and her friends are prima facie evidence that these three are enemies of the state. He said, “The enemy of today is not just organized Nation States, but vandals, activists and protesters looking not necessarily to harm material, or people, but clearly seeking to embarrass (source).”

Sister Rice and Friends
The statement is revealing: an implicit comparison is drawn between hostile nation states and private citizens who would seek to embarrass company presidents and CEOs such as he himself. And although he didn’t use the word “terrorist,” the connotation is unmistakable. The same activities that earned Vietnam protestors and anti-nuclear protestors of the 1980’s and 1990’s a veritable “slap on the wrist” are now regarded in a far more serious light. 

In other news, it is revealed that, “in cases where terrorism is charged, prosecutors need not prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Rather, only the defendant's potential for committing a crime need be established in order to convict.” This is referred to as “preemptive prosecution,” and is merely an extension of the kind of reasoning that legitimized preemptive war against Iraq to avert Saddam Hussein’s use of (as it turns out, nonexistent) weapons of mass destruction.  

For example, “Tareq Abufayyad, a young Palestinian man and recent college graduate ... was detained at San Francisco International Airport when he was on his way to unite with his family, all of them naturalised citizens of the US. Tareq was deemed inadmissible merely on the grounds that he had the potential to become a Hamas-operative." The immigration judge’s reasoning was that, “because he was a well-educated man from Gaza, a strong-hold of Hamas, Tareq would be ‘attractive to Hamas’ as a future recruit (source).” 

Over in New York, lawyers have described NYPD surveillance of Muslims "as an 'all-encompassing dragnet' for intelligence, based on the false assumption that 'conservative Muslim beliefs and participation in Muslim organisations are themselves bases for investigation (source).'" Aside from this being an egregious example of stereotyping an entire community on the basis of the actions of a few, it is also fairly compelling evidence that members of law enforcement aren't that bright and we shouldn't be surrendering our civil liberties to them so casually. 

Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is testing a new computerized Future Attribute Screening Technology (FAST).  The purpose of this device is to scan people in a public place and identify behaviors that indicate malintent. So far, FAST is still in the testing phase. Tests consist of “instructing some people passing through the system to carry out a ‘disruptive act.’” Scientists involved in the project claim a 70% success rate. People who behaved disruptively (how they behaved disruptively is left vague) were spotted by FAST (source).

The way FAST works is described in another article. “The sensors secretly collect and record information concerning individuals, including video images, audio recordings, cardiovascular signals, pheromones, electrodermal activity, and respiratory measurements (source).” Presumably, FAST would not be developed unless the Department of Homeland’s Office of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights hadn’t already decided that there is no 4th Amendment issue raised by suspicionless and covert searches. And if we are to believe that pheromones and electrodermal activity are indicative of malintent, wouldn’t this invoke the 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination? 

The hapless soul who is “flagged” by the FAST system might object to being detained in a small room with TSA agents while his or her flight departs. But can an ordinary citizen make a convincing argument that his or her pheromones have been misunderstood? What if we have evil thoughts that we do not intend to act upon? The ordinary citizen will not be as credible as the many scientists who vouch for FAST, and who know a great deal more about electrodermal activity than you or I. 

DHS responded to a Freedom of Information Act request for data on FAST. They declined to share information, claiming the "deliberative process privilege" which "protects the integrity of the deliberative or decision-making processes within the agency by exempting from mandatory disclosure of opinions, conclusions, and recommendations included within inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters. The release of this internal information would discourage the expression of candid opinions and inhibit the free and frank exchange of information among agency personnel." In other words, if folks at DHS imagined that the public knew what they were discussing, they wouldn't want to discuss it.

Lastly, it bears noting that Panasonic and Samsung are starting to market televisions that come equipped with facial recognition software. The idea is that the television can offer program recommendations that are personalized to the person who is sitting in front of it (source). I will suggest that these manufacturers get in touch with DHS about the pheromone detectors, because then the televisions would personalize recommendation not only on the viewer, but his or her mood. My television would probably be telling me about now that I am in the mood to watch Minority Report.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

On the Canard, "I've Got Nothing to Hide"

Suppose that this country is gradually becoming a surveillance state. I won’t use this space to make that argument. But if this country were moving in that direction, should we worry? And how worried should we be?
Some people may not be too alarmed by the fact because, after all, the events of 9-11 showed that there are terrorists conspiring to do harm to the United States, and one of their strongest advantages is secrecy. And many Americans espouse the view “I’ve got nothing to hide.” These are reasonable positions to hold.
Enjoy your Flight
How is one to refute these points without relying on rhetorical turns that have been so heavily used as to lose their impact? Can a counterargument be made without invoking the names “George Orwell,” “Big Brother,” or “Joe McCarthy”? Can I complete this essay without making any further reference to witch hunts? That is the challenge I have set myself.
I will begin with a quote attributed to Cardinal Richelieu: “If you give me six lines written by the hand of the most honest of men, I will find something in them which will hang him. Now, this quote is evocative and witty, but what does it mean in concrete terms? There is an implication that a Machiavellian individual – and the Cardinal certainly fit that description – may desire to coerce or do harm. And by exposing even an honest man’s secrets, coercion and harm can be done.
As Bernard Knox observed, there was a time when one could come under suspicion for being a premature anti-fascist. How is such a thing possible?  “Could there be anything such as a premature antidote to a poison? A premature antiseptic? A premature antitoxin?” Knox proceeds to explain. The term “premature anti-fascist” was invented by the FBI, and it was a code for “suspected communist.” Long before the people of Great Britain and the United States recognized the truth about Adolf Hitler, there were a few avant-garde or ahead of the curve anti-fascists who also happened to be (in many cases) communists (source).
Thus, because members of the FBI were unrefined in their thinking, they carelessly lumped “people who were anti-fascists before 1939” and “communists” in the same category. With the benefit of hindsight, we are able to forgive and even look kindly on people who recognized the evil of fascism. However, back then, people were guilty by association if they stood for things that communists also stood for, like opposition to fascism or (as it happens) support for labor unions.  
The thing about suspicion is that it leads to something that psychologists refer to as confirmation bias. In this context, it means that an FBI agent who suspects a person of being a communist will be particularly attentive to any information that tends to support this hypothesis, and ignore information that does not support this hypothesis.
Envision, if you like, the police detective who latches onto one crime suspect and ignores other suspects. We know that sloppy police work, particularly when combined with a zealous prosecution, can land innocent people in prison.
At this point, I will suggest that the phrase “I’ve got nothing to hide” presupposes that law enforcement officials are infallible. The FBI agents who assumed that “anti-fascist” meant “communist sympathizer” were less astute than the premature anti-fascists that they were investigating.
We’ve all heard stories about missteps that have occurred since 9-11. For a while, no one who had an Arab-sounding name could expect to board a plane in an American airport without being harassed. All of a sudden, there was a “no-fly list,” and from time to time, people who happened to share the same name as a person on the list might find themselves shut in a small room with a surly TSA agent.
Mikey Hicks: Terrorist?
The TSA has called it a myth that there is an 8 year old boy on the no-fly list. This is technically accurate. Mikey Hicks, a decorated Cub Scout, is not on the no-fly list. Instead, he is on a lengthier “selectee list,” and the TSA is under instruction to carefully scrutinize people named on the list, and the TSA and airlines have the latitude to prevent people named on the list from flying. As a result, Mikey has been denied a seat on a plane, and has been subjected to invasive pat-downs (source).
These mistakes by law enforcement are sometimes harmless. Sometimes these mistakes cause perfectly innocent people to miss a flight, despite having done nothing of a suspicious nature. And there have been a few occasions in which these mistakes have had deeply disturbing consequences. Mr. Maher Arar was taken into custody at an airport despite the fact that there was no evidence whatsoever that he was guilty of any crime and no evidence whatsoever to warrant so much as a reasonable suspicion. He did not benefit from the due process of the law, and was sent overseas to be tortured for 10 months before it came to someone’s attention that there had never been a valid reason to detain him (source).  
There are also times when one wonders if it is truly a matter of mistakes in judgment. In the 1970’s, President Nixon authorized surveillance of college students who protested the Vietnam War. People who opposed the war or who supported civil rights were deemed to be communist sympathizers. The government position at the time was to suppress and criminalize dissent.
With the fall of the Soviet Union, smearing people with the label “communist” has lost its cachet. But now people can be smeared with the label “terrorist.” The federal government has declared the Animal Liberation Front and Earth Liberation Front to be terrorist organizations, and if you were to support either of these organizations you yourself would be considered a terrorist (source). Evidently, the term “terrorist” can be applied to any organization that seeks to operate outside the legal system. ALEC-sponsored proposals seek to define as “terrorist” activities such as trespassing on factory farms for the purpose of photographing animal cruelty (source).
The term “terrorist” has been applied to the organization known as Anonymous (source), despite the fact that members of the group are guilty only of hacking into computer networks and the occasional downloading of copyright restricted materials. Once, this might have been called “civil disobedience.”
Maybe you believe that the term “terrorist” should be used sparingly to refer to the use of violence against human beings to promote a political agenda – but that would be your opinion, and not the opinion of your government. And the implication is this: what people may need to hide from the prying eyes of government is dissent - or even the appearance of dissent. And once citizens become fearful of the consequences of attracting the attention of their government, tyranny has been achieved.
During the height of the Occupy Wall Street protests, the FBI was actively engaged in surveillance of non-violent protesters. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security discussed strategies for how to intrude upon First Amendment-protected peaceful protests. Two of these strategies include raising the suspicion that criminal activities are occurring within the protests, and raising the suspicion of terrorism.
The Federal Reserve in Richmond appears to have had personnel surveilling OWS planning. They were in contact with the FBI in Richmond to “pass on information regarding the movement known as occupy Wall Street.” There were repeated communications “to pass on updates of the events and decisions made during the small rallies and the following information received from the Capital Police Intelligence Unit through JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) (Source).”
Surveillance, the sharing of personal data on protesters, and the coordination of government law enforcement activities occurred in so-called “fusion groups” in which the guidance of bankers and private security firms was sought. Documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests revealed that “The Memphis FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force met to discuss ‘domestic terrorism’ threats, including, Aryan Nations, Occupy Wall Street, and Anonymous.”
An interesting thing about involving the private sector in law enforcement activities is that, although government law enforcement are required to operate within the limitations of the 4th Amendment, private interests are not. Many Americans operate under the impression that their bank accounts and emails are private, but in the eyes of the law, any information that passes into the hands of third parties such as banks, credit card companies, or Internet Service Providers is no longer private. Employers are free to monitor the computer activity of their employees and operate surveillance devices.
Communists did not defeat this country and terrorists cannot do so. It is as Abraham Lincoln said: “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

On Guns, Prohibitions, and Blood Money

UPDATED February 21, 2013. This essay concerns the unseemly relationships that link drug prohibition, for-profit prisons, the"tough on crime" movement, anti-immigration sentiment, and the NRA. The United States is subject to an epidemic of gun violence. We know from our nation's failed experiment with the prohibition of alcohol, that gun violence is a predictable consequence of prohibition. Although it is now legal to sell alcoholic beverages, it is not legal to purchase marijuana (with some exceptions). Marijuana is not as addictive as alcohol and does not impair drivers as much as alcohol but it is prohibited all the same. Because marijuana producers and distributors operate outside of the law, they have to settle business disputes their own way. This sometimes involves assault weapons (source).

On the subject of assault weapons, there was an assault weapons ban in the United States that expired in 2004. When it was in effect, it reduced the number of homicides in the United States.

Mass Shootings and Assault Weapons, U.S. (source)
The assault weapons ban also reduced the homicide rate in Mexico. Mexican cartels export marijuana to the U.S. and import illegal assault weapons from the U.S. When the assault weapons ban expired in 2004, the flow of assault weapons across the border increased and the homicide rate increased as well. 
Homicides in Mexico

When people argue against instituting a new assault weapons ban in the U.S., they say that the earlier ban didn’t have a large effect on the homicide rate in this country. But they ignore the situation in Mexico. Perhaps assault weapons enthusiasts believe that Mexico’s problems are not our problems, but we’re certainly spending a lot of money fortifying the border between the U.S. and Mexico.
It also bears noting that the taxpayer bears the burden for incarcerating people who are arrested for sales or possession of marijuana. And after these people leave prison, it’s harder for them to find legitimate jobs, they’ve learned how to be better criminals and they might even be excused for having a bad attitude. 

My reason for discussing guns, prisons, and prohibition is to make the point that there are some very fancy money-making schemes behind all of this. The National Rifle Association almost certainly has a financial stake in the for-profit prison industry (source – also, see below). So, on one hand, the NRA tries to block assault weapons bans because it makes their patrons in the weapons manufacturing industry happy. On the other hand, through intermediaries such as the (now defunct) Law Enforcement Alliance of America (LEAA, source), the NRA lobbies state and federal law-makers to pass “tough on crime” measures to make sure that the prison population continues to climb. LEAA was also involved in defending owners of gun stores who sell weapons to “straw purchasers” who re-sell the weapons to criminals. 

To elaborate on the view that NRA profits from the for-profit prison industry and stands to gain financially from laws that swell the prison population, I must acquaint you with additional players. The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) is one of the largest for-profits in corrections, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) is a sort of clearing house for industries that stand to gain financially from the devastation of civil liberties (go here for more information). As reported by PRWatch:   

NRA conceived the so-called Stand Your Ground law in Florida, promoted its passage, then brought it to … ALEC in 2005, where the legislators and corporate lobbyists on the Criminal Justice Task Force voted unanimously to adopt it as a ‘model bill.’ At the time, Wal-Mart was the Task Force co-chair, and the NRA led the Task Force in subsequent years. [after ‘Stand Your Ground’ laws were adopted in other states] the number of homicides classified as ‘justifiable’ has dramatically increased in many states (and jumped 300 percent in Florida).

… Members of the Task Force have included for-profit prison providers like Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which has also served as the co-chair. The ALEC Criminal Justice / Public Safety & Elections Task Force has created model bills that lengthen sentences, which have dramatically increased incarceration rates, and bills that privatize prisons, putting more of those inmates under the control of for-profit corporations, as well as many other policies (source).
A chair that can electronically probe your orifices.

What I am talking about is a fairly complicated game of avoiding public exposure for destructive, self-serving behavior on the part of corporations. The reader may benefit from this interactive chart (here). Looking at the membership of the (now defunct) Criminal Justice Task Force, we see Wal-Mart, which profits from the sales of guns, and CCA, which profits from laws that increase the prison population (including immigration laws). There are other companies that profit from prisons, ranging from pharmaceutical companies to makers of surveillance equipment to security firms such as Wackenhut, and play a role in boosting ‘tough on crime’ legislation (go here for more info). And the ALEC’s new Public Safety and Elections task force (the names change regularly) has, as one of its members, “Laurie Shanblum who is the Senior Director of Business Development for the Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), which is also a member of ALEC, along with the American Bail Coalition, which is dedicated to the long-term growth and longevity of the bail bond industry (source).” If you consider who else might benefit from prison expansion, there is of course the gun manufacturing industry, which we know provides NRA with much of its revenue.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Abraham Lincoln's Unfinished Struggle

According to a Pew Research Center poll conducted in 2011, nearly half of all Americans believe that the issue which animated the Civil War was states’ rights. Historian Edward Ayers admits to being surprised by this, pointing out that history books generally point to slavery as the issue that brought Northern states and Southern states into armed conflict (source). 

In fact, the Civil War was not solely about slavery, and it was certainly not about states’ rights. 

Abraham Lincoln
If one employs a content analysis of the arguments between North and South, Ayers tells us, some of the words that are used repeatedly are “state,” “people,” “union,” “right,” “constitution,” “power,” “federal” and “amendment.” He argues, based on this analysis, that citizens of the Northern states were galvanized by the desire to “sustain the justice, power and authority of the federal government.” The North was not united by opposition to slavery, because many Northerners were conflicted on the issue, and even those who opposed slavery were fearful of what might happen if the slaves were freed.  

One could assume that, if the North sought to assert a strong federal government, the South sought to assert states’ rights. However, as Ayers points out, this is a mistake. Using the same content analysis, Ayers finds that the Southern lawmakers – most elected officials in the South were plantation owners – were motivated by the desire to defend the institution of slavery. Given the benefit of this insight, one may review the evidence and recognize that, in fact, the Southern states were more than willing to band together under a federal structure – the Confederacy – to defend their shared economic interests. And one may infer, reasonably, that the plantation owners were highly effective at manipulating popular sentiment and rallying people of the South to their side. 

These points are offered to provide a context for discussing Abraham Lincoln’s views on slavery. Lincoln mobilized public opinion around the goals of putting down insurrection, restoring the union, and preserving federal authority; but this does not shed light on Lincoln’s private motivations.  
To understand Lincoln, consider his childhood. A friend of Lincoln by the name of Carl Schurz described Lincoln’s father as a typical “poor Southern white.” The man was “shiftless and without ambition for himself or his children” and “always looking for a new piece of land on which he might make a living without much work.” 

Another friend of Lincoln’s, Horace White, pointed to a biographical sketch by Chester Dewey as providing an apt description of Lincoln’s background. According to Dewey’s account, Abraham Lincoln was, “a native of Kentucky, of poor white parentage, and, from his cradle, has felt the blighting influence of the dark and cruel shadow which rendered labor dishonorable and kept the poor in poverty, while it advanced the rich in their possessions.” 

Abraham Lincoln himself did not believe that there was much of note in his personal history. In response to a biographer’s questions, he said, “The short and simple annals of the poor. That's my life, and that's all you or any one else can make out of it.”

The view that labor is “dishonorable” emerged from antebellum Southern culture. Manual labor was scorned by the self-styled Aristocrats, Patricians, and “cavaliers.” This is no doubt because they had no need of engaging in manual labor themselves. These men had made their fortunes by selling cotton in the global marketplace. 

Tensions between North and South were as much about class as they were about race.John Brown, after his capture at Harper’s Ferry, complained that had he acted “on behalf of the rich, the powerful, the intelligent, the so-called great, or on behalf of any of their friends ... it would have been all right, and every man in this Court would have deemed it an act worthy of reward rather than punishment.”  Seeing the Holy Bible displayed ostentatiously in the courtroom, he quoted Hebrews 13:3, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” 

The monied elites of the South regarded themselves as superior beings. This is implicit in the comments of a stalwart Confederate named Frank Alfriend, who said, 

The North [is] carrying out to its legitimate conclusion the pernicious doctrine of the Declaration of Independence, that ‘all men are born free and equal,’ recognizing no distinction whatever of race, intellect, or character, witnesses in its fullest development, that never-ending conflict of classes, between the rich and the poor, those who have accumulated property, and the breadless pauper, the ‘codfish’ element, and the idle, starving sans-culottes.
Alfriend believed that what the South stood for was the defense of “property and intelligence” against “ignorance and indolence.” He discussed the Northern Working Class in the same terms that Southerners used to described people of African origin, as “a class of population noted for its want of enterprise, intellect, or any quality which could make it a disturbing element of society, and peculiarly adapted to a condition of absolute subordination, by a characteristic docility and inability to provide for its own wants when beyond the control of the superior race.” 

Similarly, D.R. Hundley said, in 1860, that the Southern Gentleman belongs to an impeccable pedigree; he comes “of a good stock.” And because of this, the Southern Gentleman is “usually possessed of an equally faultless physical development. He is on average six feet tall, is graceful and athletic, and possesses, in all, a physique which unites firmness and flexibility.” In contrast, the class of Southerner known as “poor white trash” is bony and lank, with a “sallow complexion, awkward manners, and a natural stupidity or dullness of intellect that almost surpasses belief (source).”
Even the slaves, living under the influence of their captors, derided poor white trash. One folksong that was popular among slaves carried the refrain,

I had a little dog,
His name was Dash.
I'd rather be a nigger
Than po' white trash. 

The reader is referred to Forret’s excellent book on the Civil War era, Race Relations at the Margins, where he discusses widespread derisive references to “crackers,” “hillbillies” and “rednecks.” He makes a convincing case that “poor white trash” occupied a place in the Southern social hierarchy that was only slightly above that of African slaves. 
Poor White Folks, 1845

Frederick Law Olmsted traveled in the South in 1862 and, based on his experiences, wrote a book called The Cotton Kingdom. In this book, he develops the hypothesis that Southern culture, by extolling the Southern Gentleman, valorized men of property (and property, according to this view, included slaves), and in doing so, stigmatized white men who had failed to acquire property. Because Southern Gentleman did not need to engage in manual labor, men who did were regarded as inferior. As a result, Olmsted observed, poor Southern whites were indeed guilty of indolence and lack of enterprise. “They work little, and that little, badly; they earn little, they sell little.” 

Impoverished whites of the South had only one consolation, according to Olmsted. “From childhood, the one thing in their condition which has made life valuable to the mass of whites has been that the niggers are their inferiors. It is this habit of considering themselves of a privileged class, and of disdaining something which they think beneath them, that is deemed to be the chief blessing of slavery.”

Olmsted believed that one of the key distinctions between North and South revolved around divergent views of economics. Money spent on the upkeep of slaves did not circulate back into the economy, and as a result, there were fewer jobs available for whites. Southern oligarchs believed that the only thing that mattered was the price one could fetch for surplus production; Northerners believed, in contrast, that it is appropriate to examine how this income is spent. 

The truth has been overlooked that the accumulation of wealth and the power of a nation are contingent not merely upon the primary value of the surplus of productions of which it has to dispose, but very largely also upon the way in which the income from its surplus is distributed and reinvested. Let a man be absent from almost any part of the North twenty years, and he is struck, on his return, by … the improvements which have been made.
Thus, according to Olmsted, the Northern states enjoyed better buildings, churches, school-houses, mills and railroads than he saw in the South. Under the Southern oligarchy, Virginia was “deteriorating, growing shabbier, more comfortless, less convenient.” 

The debates between Lincoln and Stephen Douglas touched on the question of whether slavery ought to be introduced in newly-established American territories. The views expressed by Lincoln demonstrate that his opposition to slavery was motivated, in part, by the effects of slavery on poor whites. Of these new territories, Lincoln said, “We want them for homes of free white people. This they cannot be, to any considerable extent, if slavery shall be planted within them. Slave states are places for poor white people to remove from, not to remove to. New free States are the places for poor people to go to, and better their condition.” 

Lincoln was also concerned that, if a country accepts the legitimacy of slavery, it sets a dangerous precedent. This is reflected in notes written in 1854:

If A. can prove, however conclusively, that he may, of right, enslave B. -- why may not B. snatch the same argument, and prove equally, that he may enslave A?—
You say A. is white, and B. is black. It is color, then; the lighter, having the right to enslave the darker? Take care. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with a fairer skin than your own.
You do not mean color exactly?--You mean the whites are intellectually the superiors of the blacks, and, therefore have the right to enslave them? Take care again. By this rule, you are to be slave to the first man you meet, with an intellect superior to your own.
But, say you, it is a question of interest; and, if you can make it your interest, you have the right to enslave another. Very well. And if he can make it his interest, he has the right to enslave you.
None of this suggests that Lincoln was indifferent to the fate of Africans living in America. Instead, it suggests that Lincoln, like John Brown, was attentive to that Biblical passage, “Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.” This point is made clear in the Lincoln Douglas debates, when Lincoln contrasted the philosophies of equality and aristocracy:

The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, “You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it.” No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people of his own nation and live by the fruit of their labor, or from one race of men as an apology for enslaving another race, it is the same tyrannical principle.
To honor Lincoln’s memory, be vigilant when idle aristocrats accuse the poor of being lazy, when we allow other human beings to toil in conditions that we ourselves would find intolerable, and when the dignity of manual labor is disparaged. There is no doubt that Lincoln would have agreed with Desmond Tutu’s credo that, “None of us is truly free while others remain enslaved.” But do not mistake this for some esoteric principle; it is, instead, a warning that we’d be foolish to ignore.