Most of the people who want to transform the United States into a police state aren't necessarily evil; they're acting out of understandable emotions, feelings we all share. In order to confront these arguments effectively, we must first validate the feelings involved--and then contextualize them.
2. "We need to protect ourselves from criminals."The United States has the world's largest prison population. Societal factors do create crime, and the science of criminal anthropology, which alleged that all criminal tendencies were inborn, has long since been discredited. Our approach to crime is that of an alcoholic who refuses to stop drinking as long as the symptoms of his disease can be covered up. One can only hope that the United States will not hit rock bottom before we realize that neglecting children, then imprisoning them when they get older, is a flawed approach.
3. "It's for the children!"We ask the government to neglect the most basic needs of other people's children, and then we ask that same government to pass restrictive censorship laws to protect the psychological well-being of our own. Sometimes these laws are beneficial--nobody really wants to see pornography on billboards--but in most debatable contexts, well-intentioned government censorship is as impractical as it is totalitarian.
4. "Who cares about those people?"Does anyone really want to defend the right of neo-Nazis to march in a town full of Holocaust survivors, or the right of vicious hatemongers to protest the funerals of AIDS victims? Does anyone really want to try to keep a serial killer off death row, or make sure that Osama bin Laden's driver has a chance of staying out of prison? Of course not. But every time we fail to protect the least popular members of society, we establish that rights have exceptions. A law that does not protect everyone loses its power to protect anyone.
5. "We need to protect our Christian values."Most of the Founding Fathers were Christians who attended church on a regular basis, and who participated in a society that was far more explicitly Christian than the one we live in today. And yet those same Founding Fathers had experienced enough religious strife in Europe to know that government endorsement of religion is dangerous. In an era where religious fundamentalists abroad have declared war on the United States, it is necessary, more than ever, that we defend a government that does not grant special status to any religious doctrines.
6. "Isn't the movement over?"During the 1960s, protesters made a great deal of progress in the areas of women's rights and black civil rights--so much progress that we tend to forget that the society we live in today is not very different from the one that the protesters were fighting to change. But our schools are still segregated as a matter of fact rather than policy, women are still relegated to second-class citizenship as a matter of fact rather than policy, and the most basic problems of societal injustice have not been addressed at all. There is still a great deal of work to be done.