Naomi Wolf noted author and activist, spoke as a part of the Trinity University Maverick Lecture Series on Nov. 19. She presented a lecture entitled “Public Liberty, Private Liberty: When the State Tries to Get into Your Private Business.”
Wolf is the noted author of “The Beauty Myth”, “Give Me Liberty: A Handbook for American Revolutionaries”, and many other books. Her lecture revolved around the topics she covered in her books, including the future of America and its increasing restrictions on civil rights and liberties. Wolf spoke about America slowly turning into a closed society.
“It is so important to remember that there are civil societies like Spain and more recently like Britain who have experienced terrible ongoing terrorist attacks decade after decade. They don’t respond by giving away their civil liberties and they don’t say “˜Lets close down the reason we are Britain, the reason we are Spain.’ In fact, they amplify their transparency,” Wolf said.
Wolf started off her lecture stating that governments slowly begin to close society off by taking away civil rights and liberties via heightening security threats. According to Wolf, governments will use threats like these to justify legislation, that restricts personal freedoms.
“The easy thing about freedom is that you don’t feel it – you have it. It’s when you start to lose it. It’s when people have to become aware of what it feels like to be free,” Wolf said.
Wolf’s allegations about the U.S. government slowly becoming a surveillance state have been controversial.
“I do not think anything was too controversial. There were obviously some things that I was taken aback on and really didn’t know what to think about it,” said Nikita Viswasam, a junior.
Throughout the lecture Wolf spoke about the importance of the Constitution and how legislation like the Patriot Act is a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
“Our founders had such a beautiful, perfect vision. What our founders created is constitutional rights. They are not perfect, the document is not perfect, but the seed of the vision they had is perfect because it grows and grows,” Wolf said.
Wolf went on further to state that the militarization of the domestic police force is another step toward a closed society.
“More and more you are getting the militarization of police forces. These millions and millions of dollars of the department of homeland security money is coming like tanks into domestic police forces,” Wolf said.
Towards the end of Wolf’s presentation she spoke about the imminent and current danger of the growing presence of surveillance in the U.S. with the NSA.
“The reason why people in closed societies love surveillance is that it gives them a tool for blackmail and do not think this is not happening in the United States of America,” Wolf said.
“To know that the thing that I normally didn’t think about could be thinking about me all the time is quite strange,” said Eloise Warren, a sophomore.
According to Wolf, the NSA spying programs have extreme political ramifications.
“The first people who get surveilled with the surveillance apparatus is the congress people and leaders,” Wolf said.
“Everybody’s secrets are now in the hands of the NSA on the hill,” Wolf said.
The fear of losing basic rights and liberties encompassed the conclusion of Wolf’s speech.
“The scariest thing is losing your freedom, the government becoming your stalker, your survileire, your master, taking away your right to your lawyer, taking away your right to your privacy, taking away your right to the constitution. That is scarier than any terrorist,” Wolf said.
Viswasam states that the lecture was very informative and eye-opening.
“I felt after the lecture that I had a better sense of the importance of the issue and the urgency of the issue regarding surveillance,” Viswasam said.