LAX shooter Paul Ciancia, a 23-year-old Catholic school graduate and son of a well-regarded public safety official, believed that the Transportation Security Agency had abused its authority over the American public. Whether revolutionary or anti-social zealot, this young man is emblematic of a growing mood among many who realize the promise of opportunity in America is not guaranteed. Confidence in our leaders is at all-time low and the airwaves are filled with examples of abundant equivocation on the part of those in whom we have invested our trust.
I have never been much of a revolutionary myself – when in college in student leadership we were much more likely to work with the trustees and administrators to advance the needs of undergraduates than to chain ourselves to the president’s office or cause personal harm. And the question remains, can one ever justify terror whether a radical or not? But we always believed that those in power included the dissent in their consideration. It did not seem that their power was used to suppress our point of view.
Government is a good thing, creating the framework that enables civil society to operate. But those governed have to believe that this investiture of power is just. The accusation of illegal eavesdropping in the private sector has led to the immediate firing of the low-level staff involved, to extensive criminal investigations, to the closing of the 168-year-old newspaper where they worked, and to the public interrogation of the 80-year-old owner who ultimately managed the staff along with tens of thousands of other employees. Meanwhile, a federal agency (NSA) spied on millions of Americans, foreign leaders and, according to recent report, the ex-wives and in-laws of interested government employees, yet no one is being asked to account. Their boss, President Obama, has not been called to testify.