Sometime back I wrote about “Delocalization”, i.e., how the internet makes distant events feel local and makes local events feel distant.
At the time I overlooked another attribute of delocalization: It allows distant evils like slavery and the general violation of human and civil rights to move into America and set up shop right on Mainstreet USA.
Recently, threats on one obscure Muslim website against Matt Stone and Trey Parker for an episode they did of South Park demonstrated that the internet has returned to our shores the very real possibility that individuals may be face personal lethal violence for exercising their right of free speech.
This means that a foreign ideology with a foreign power base has reached into America and violated one of our most important civil rights.
The general effect of globalization of both trade and information has even returned slavery to our shores.
It is now depressingly common for foreign organized-crime groups to bring people to the US under false pretenses and then force those people to work for the criminals under pain of having their loved ones back home murdered if they do not submit. We talk about it using euphemisms such as “human trafficking” or “sexual exploitation”, but we are really just talking about simple slavery.
Some might argue that this is nothing but extortion, but when: (1) An individual uses violence to completely control the movements and actions of another and (2) then uses that control to force the victim to work for the controlling individual’s economic benefit, slavery is the only honest thing to call it.
One of the problems with illegal immigration is that it creates a population in America who can be threatened and controlled by foreign actors. No US jurisdiction can protect an immigrant’s loved ones across the border. No matter how law-abiding any individual illegal immigrant is, they carry the lawlessness of the 3rd world into America by leaving behind hostages in their home country. Authorities in South Texas have been stymied in several investigations because Mexican immigrants have valid fears that cross-border gangs will murder their relatives in Mexico if they cooperate with American law enforcement.
I am not sure what to do about this problem. At present we treat each incident as an isolated civil crime. I think we will eventually have to abandon that myopic view, especially in cases of attacks against free speech and other core rights.
When foreign actors reach across our borders and threaten people here in our country, it becomes a matter of national security. Even though the threat is directed against individuals and even though the instigators are seldom state actors, it is still the responsibility of the national government to protect citizens against external threats of violence. Threats against free speech attack the very functioning of our government and general society. Nothing in America works without free speech. The ability of foreigners and even domestic extremists to suppress free speech here is just as dangerous as a hostile army landing on our shoreline.
We are slowly being invaded by osmosis. Globalization and delocalization are arguably spreading democracy and free markets across the world, but we do have to recognize that the flow goes the other way as well. Hopefully, we will win the race and democracy, free markets and the rule of law will spread through the autocracies of the world faster than their local evils ooze back into us.
We don’t need to panic but we do need to be aware of the threat, and respond forcefully and firmly to small threats so we don’t have to deal with big ones later on.