Facing what I thought to be a waste of my time, and now being required to comply, I could not decide which course to pick. If I recall correctly, there were at least half a dozen classes on all sorts of topics. With human history (one of my main interests,) being largely a matter of preparation for conflict, conflict, and the aftermath of conflict, in the event I could not resist the second semester elective entitled "Technology, Aggression, and Peace." The class examined the history of engineering as it related to warfare, and the moral implications of participating in engineering work related to making war. In hindsight, I was never so glad to have lost an argument with the Dean, for that class fascinated me and sparked an interest which continues to this day.
Given only 41 class sessions, the coverage was necessarily brief, but one era we studied for about a month was the Holocaust. We studied how the death camps were conceived, designed, and constructed. Some of the reading assignments gave me memorable nightmares, but although the mundane mechanisms of genocide were laid bare, dry paperwork documenting the systematic eradication of a group of human beings, there were several questions left unanswered. One was "How did the German government know who the Jews were?"
The answer may horrify you, but I found out years later in a book by Edwin Black that the Germans contracted with a US company to create records using German census data. This company, which also carried out secret data management work for the United States government, was IBM. They methodically sorted and compiled mountains of data gleaned from past German census takers to compile detailed files on every identifiable Jew in Europe. It was IBM punchcard sorting technology which made the horrific efficiency of the Holocaust possible.
One example to which I have already referred is that of Warsaw, Poland. A 1939 census showed that there were hundreds of thousands of Jews in Warsaw, and it recorded their names, addresses, occupations, incomes and a variety of other information, including their family member's names. The punchcard databases helped the Germans be most thorough. Today, some 68 years later, only a few hundred Jews live in Warsaw. Philosophy made it possible, people made it happen, but the databases made it efficient.
Today, I hear a haunting echo from the past, as if the ghosts of millions of slaughtered Jews, gypsies, homosexuals, and intellectuals were whispering in my ears. I hear that echo whenever I hear the words "Real ID." Free countries do not require ID cards, or identification papers, or any other means of tracking and locating their people; totalitarian police states do. Free countries do not set up databases, whether of punchcards or solid-state memory chips, to record information about their people. But totalitarian police states do. What sort of country are we really living in?
One of many things I have learned in my study of history is that governments murdered over 170 million of their own people during the last century. First, they disarmed them, then they killed them. As previously discussed, that is the calculus of genocide. But more important is what made atrocity after atrocity possible; information, detailed files on each person, information that could be, and was, used by governments to slaughter tens of millions of people. It is not simply firearms registration that one ought to fear, it is databases recording personal information collected on every person alive. Separate databases are bad enough, but a single unified government database which has detailed records on your medical condition, your purchase history, your friends, emails, and every other personal detail about you is a terrifying abomination.
And THAT is what Real ID is, an effort to create a single integrated database that government can use... to do what, exactly? And where did they get this power? That is the first question that one ought to ask- "Does the Federal Government have the specific enumerated power to collect data on each citizen? Where does it say that in the Constitution?" Anybody? *I* have not seen it.
What we ought to call Real ID is "the Genocide Enabling Act" f or that is exactly how it will be used. Don't forget to remind your representatives that there is no good purpose for government databases. We need to repeal Real ID, but in the meantime I urge every patriotic American to do everything possible to corrupt ALL of the data being collected on you every day. Misspell names, transpose digits, provide frivolous responses. Create fictitious on-line personas. Add a dozen fictional people to your household. John may buy vitamins while George chats about hockey, and Agnes blogs about knitting. You may not be able to prevent data from being collected, and you may be too old to fight physically should that sad day ever come, but if you make a point of corrupting the databases being built, you may save hundreds or even thousands of lives.