“If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”— Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes There was a time in this country, back when the British were running things, that if you spoke your mind and it …continue…
Since the towers fell on 9/11, the American people have been treated like enemy combatants, to be spied on, tracked, scanned, frisked, searched, subjected to all manner of intrusions, intimidated, invaded, raided, manhandled, censored, silenced, shot at, locked up, and denied due process. In allowing ourselves to be distracted by terror drills, foreign wars, color-coded warnings, underwear bombers and other carefully constructed exercises in propaganda, sleight of hand, and obfuscation, we failed to recognize that the true enemy to freedom was lurking among us all the while. The U.S. government now poses a greater threat to our freedoms than any terrorist, extremist or foreign entity ever could.
The FBI is worried: foreign hackers have broken into two state election databases. The Department of Homeland Security is worried: the nation’s voting system needs greater protection against cyberattacks. I, on the other hand, am not overly worried: after all, the voting booths have already been hacked by a political elite comprised of Republicans and Democrats who are determined to retain power at all costs. The outcome is a foregone conclusion: the police state will win and “we the people” will lose.
The nation’s young people have been given front-row seats for an unfolding police drama that is rated R for profanity, violence and adult content. The lesson being taught to our youngest—and most impressionable—citizens is this: in the American police state, you’re either a prisoner (shackled, controlled, monitored, ordered about, limited in what you can do and say, your life not your own) or a prison bureaucrat (politician, police officer, judge, jailer, spy, profiteer, etc.). Unfortunately, now that school is back in session, life is that much worse for the children of the American police state. The nation’s public schools—extensions of the world beyond the schoolhouse gates, a world that is increasingly hostile to freedom—have become microcosms of the American police state, containing almost every aspect of the militarized, intolerant, senseless, overcriminalized, legalistic, surveillance-riddled, totalitarian landscape that plagues those of us on the “outside.” If your child is fortunate enough to survive his encounter with the public schools with his individuality and freedoms intact, you should count yourself fortunate. Most students are not so lucky. Click here to read more.
The U.S. government remains the greatest threat to our freedoms.
The systemic violence being perpetrated by agents of the government has done more collective harm to the American people and our liberties than any single act of terror.
More than terrorism, more than domestic extremism, more than gun violence and organized crime, the U.S. government has become a greater menace to the life, liberty and property of its citizens than any of the so-called dangers from which the government claims to protect us.
There’s a man who contacts me several times a week to disagree with my assessments of the American police state. According to this self-avowed Pollyanna who is tired of hearing “bad news,” the country is doing just fine, the government’s intentions are honorable, anyone in authority should be blindly obeyed, those individuals who are being arrested, shot and imprisoned must have done something to deserve such treatment, and if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t care whether the government is spying on you.
In other words, this man trusts the government with his life, his loved ones and his property, and anyone who doesn’t feel the same should move elsewhere.
In Harold Ramis’ classic 1993 comedy Groundhog Day, TV weatherman Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) is forced to live the same day over and over again until he not only gains some insight into his life but changes his priorities. Similarly, as I illustrate in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, we in the emerging American police state find ourselves reliving the same set of circumstances over and over again—egregious surveillance, strip searches, police shootings of unarmed citizens, government spying, the criminalization of lawful activities, warmongering, etc.—although with far fewer moments of comic hilarity.
What remains to be seen is whether 2016 will bring more of the same or whether “we the people” will wake up from our somnambulant states. Indeed, when it comes to civil liberties and freedom, 2015 was far from a banner year.
The following is just a sampling of what we can look forward to repeating if we don’t find some way to push back against the menace of an overreaching, aggressive, invasive, militarized surveillance state.
For those of us who have managed to survive 2015 with our lives intact and our freedoms hanging by a thread, it has been a year of crackdowns, clampdowns, shutdowns, showdowns, shootdowns, standdowns, knockdowns, putdowns, breakdowns, lockdowns, takedowns, slowdowns, meltdowns, and never-ending letdowns.
Despite all of this humbuggery, however, there are still a few steps you can take to enjoy the season and hopefully make this world a better place in the face of weaponized drones, far-reaching surveillance and a government that with every passing day is coming to resemble authoritarian regimes of old. While it’s not possible to solve all of the world’s problems right away, here are some practical steps each of us can take to recapture the true spirit of Christmas.
Bottle up the champagne, pack away the noisemakers, and toss out the party hats.
There is no cause for celebration.
We have secured no major victories against tyranny.
We have achieved no great feat in pushing back against government overreach.
For all intents and purposes, the National Security Agency has supposedly ceased its bulk collection of metadata from Americans’ phone calls, but read the fine print: nothing is going to change.