Japan High Court Upholds Muslim Surveillance
Every liberal in America has, at one point or another, compared Republican proposals to ban Muslim immigration and patrol Muslim-American communities to the internment of the Japanese during World War II.
Which makes the new decision by Japan’s Supreme Court deliciously ironic.
On May 31, the court dismissed an appeal from 17 Japanese Muslims who sued the government when leaked police files showed that they – along with Tokyo-based Islamic worship centers, Muslim restaurants, and Islam-related organizations – were under national surveillance.
The court awarded the plaintiffs nearly $1 million in damages, but the judges declined to make any judgement against the profiling tactics themselves. By dismissing this part of the case, the court essentially upheld a lower court ruling that deemed this surveillance “necessary and inevitable” in the fight against terrorism.
“They made us terrorist suspects,” said plaintiff Mohamed Fujita. “We never did anything wrong.”
While liberals – including infamous whistleblower Edward Snowden – have harshly criticized the surveillance and the ruling, others have said that the leaks themselves were the real tragedy. National Defense Academy of Japan professor Naofumi Miyasaka called the leak “the biggest failure in the history of Japan’s counterterrorism.”
Snowden and others said that the surveillance was unnecessary, considering that Japan has not faced a major Islamic terrorist attack in decades. None of them seemed to make the connection between dedicated police surveillance and the lack of those tragic events, however.
When it comes to domestic surveillance in the U.S., of course, we must balance national security with the rights afforded American citizens under the Constitution. Sweeping, warrantless intrusion is not only against the law, it opens up a can of worms bound to be abused by federal authorities who would love to keep tabs on so-called “right-wing extremists” and other “threats.”
On the other hand, we can no longer pretend that wolves are not living among us. And we can no longer afford to ignore that these wolves – lone or otherwise – share belief in only one religion: Islam.
Can we find a legal path to a middle ground? One where we can protect innocent civilians without stripping innocent Muslims of their constitutional rights?
As you may have noticed, very few of these terrorists simply pop out of nowhere. There are always warning signs. Omar Mateen, the Orlando killer, was actually on a terrorist watch list for more than a year. And there were plenty of troubling indicators that led up to the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Boston. The problem isn’t that federal authorities weren’t aware of these indicators; the problem is that our current administration is too worried about monitoring Muslims to properly do its job. If Mateen had been a “sovereign citizen,” he would have probably still been under surveillance on the day he purchased his weapons.
We don’t need to destroy the Constitution to crack down on radical Islam; we just need a little bit of common sense.