And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak and cause to be killed as many as would not worship the image of the beast. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand or in their foreheads, that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark or the name of the beast or the number of his name.
― Revelations 13:15-17
Like a barrel of swill sliding across the bed of a pig farmer’s pickup the debate over national identification cards keeps shifting around in the back of the post 9/11 “security” van. The shifting load in the lumbering SUV of Homeland Security, already wallowing heavily with money and power, has caused a dangerous swerve toward the aged pedestrian of American civil liberty.
ID technology peddlers, cops who want their jobs to be easier, and politicians who can never know enough about our private lives have teamed up to number us like cattle for our own good.
Never mind that the Social Security number has devolved into a de facto national ID already ― despite Congress’ explicit intent to the contrary. That’s not good enough to give us all the protection our government wants us to have. We still don’t have to carry the card everywhere. We really don’t have to have one at all. When a nosey clerk demands an SSN you can still just make one up, as I so often do, without adverse consequences.
Never mind that a universal ID card would provide no greater security than we have now. All the terrorists who made the 9/11 attacks were here legally. None had a criminal history. If they had needed valid ID cards they would have had them.
Even though national identification cards would make us no more secure our Homeland Security shepherds are determined to brand us-the-sheeple for our own protection, whether we want that protection or not.
The security of the new high tech cards themselves won’t be any better either. Nearly all suggestions for new ID involve using biometric data. Fingerprints, retina scans, tongue prints or God-knows-what exotic bio-identifier will appear on every card. But to get the new high security card we will have to present old low security documents. A determined crook could get as many high tech cards as he could forge old documents for. No identification scheme can be more secure than the one from which it originates. No identification scheme is safe from counterfeiters. ID requiring biometric data might even fuel a black market in thumbs, fingers and eyeballs.
The push to inventory Americans like canned goods on a grocery shelf isn’t new. The idea surfaced in a Reagan cabinet meeting in 1981. Then Attorney General William French Smith argued that a perfectly harmless ID card system would reduce illegal immigration. A second cabinet member asked, “Why not tattoo a number on each American’s forearm?” According to Martin Anderson, the White House domestic policy adviser at the time, Reagan blurted out: "My God, that’s the mark of the beast." Anderson reports "that was the end of the national identification card" during the Reagan years.
Regan is gone but national ID is back. Truly appalling ideas never die in Washington; they just wait for the next administration. The forearm tattoo scheme doesn’t come up often. It enjoys an embarrassingly close association with Germany’s murderous National Socialist Party (Nazi Party). The ideas behind all national ID systems, however, are the same: the inventorying of human flesh, the citizen as resource for the state’s consumption. Only the technology has changed.
Every socialist hellhole that has ever murdered millions of its own has required its citizens to carry national ID and use it as an internal passport. Whether we have plastic cards in our pockets, bar codes tattooed on our necks, computer chips under our skin, or yellow plastic tags dangling from our earlobes like Holsteins, the principle remains the same. Under a national identification system every detail of every American’s life would be subject to the scrutiny and approval of central authority.
There are terms we use to describe people who are under constant surveillance, whose every movement is tracked, whose behavior is closely watched and controlled. Prisoner is one. Slave is another.
Free citizens of a free country do not carry “papers” that must be produced on demand ― they do not worship the image or wear the mark of the beast.