This machine kills fascists: Siva Vaidhyanathan, writing his first installment of a hopefully regular column for OpenDemocracy, admits to peeling a sign off his laptop that bore the words Woody Guthrie scrawled on his guitar, "This machine kills fascists." The reason: seated at the airport with a flight to catch and horror stories about overly zealous airport guards on his mind, he pondered, "What if this security person reads the sign as a threat? Would he care about my explanation?" Once past the checkpoint he grew to regret it:
I don’t really want to live this way. I don’t want to censor myself from making harmless statements during sensitive times. What will I do when I have to make serious statements during difficult times?

I claim to understand the ways general fears can twist us into behaving in inauthentic ways. I pretend to teach young people about the pernicious effects of a total surveillance state. But can I trust myself to stand up for my own professed values? Are they even my values if I am not willing to act upon them?
His conclusion is where the confessional starts to make the most sense: "Can we trust ourselves to select leaders who would install reasonable yet imperfect measures to make us safer? Or will we invite our leaders to pander to our worst attributes: xenophobia, provincialism, and impatience? Will we continue to reward leaders who insist on intrusive measures that make the state more secure in its power over its subjects? Or will we remember the value of and reinvest in our liberal traditions?"

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