Monday, April 7, 2008

Foundations of a Police State

A couple weeks ago, a fellow blogger praised “the only democracy in the Middle East”, and suggested those critical of the action live in, e.g., Syria or Iran. I included in yesterday’s blog an article from an Israeli newspaper, today I’d like to consider what is necessary for a police state to function. We might consider Burma, but the state I’m looking at is closer to home.

What is needed is 1) A compliant judiciary, 2) a compliant legislature (if the state has such), 3) an agency of enforcement (and place of confinement for the disobedient), 4) a person or group willing to dictate, 5) a power base either of wealth or military power (often both), and 6) a compliant public.

The last is crucial, and it is on this point that Burma is now foundering—its brave population is deciding whether to obey or resist. The American public allowed itself to be led into an illegal war by a compliant media and war-obsessed neo-conservative administration. It is now being led toward an insane confrontation with Iran by much the same cabal, incited by AIPAC et alia.

The American Supreme Court anointed GWB president, and the judiciary has been accumulating for thirty years judges willing to strengthen a presidency weakened by laws passed after the criminal activity of Nixon and company. Bush has already declared by presidential order that in an emergency (whether natural or man-made) he has the power to suspend constitutional government. Google “emergency presidential power” if you doubt me. Like the Reichstag fire.

The legislature, now led by Republicans-lite (aka Democrats) like Nancy Pelosi and presidential contenders Clinton, Obama and Edwards, refuse to impeach Bush and Cheney, or to stop the war, or to release themselves from subservience to the Israel lobby. This in spite of the fact that the Republicans-lite were elected to stop the war and (unless administration direction changed) to forcibly change direction. Moreover, it has approved funding for the building of detention centers for four hundred thousand American citizens who will not go along with a new government policy. They would be called “dissidents”. Unfortunately the legislative branch of government is indeed compliant.

The agency of enforcement has already been created, and is now militarized. The incidents of excessive brutality against non-violent citizens are legion ( resulting in incarceration and in a few cases, death ( And remember, “our” government now can legally spy on you!

But the dear reader will rightly object, that’s only “the bad guys!” Well, review who has been arrested, brutalized, and punished ( and you may find out differently. And, remember Pastor Niemoller’s lament: “First they came for the communists, but I didn’t speak out, for I wasn’t a communist…” Unjust loss of freedom for anyone is a threat to freedom for everyone.

As for the power base, some people and groups are delighted with America’s imperialist foreign policy. Some groups are making a LOT of money from war (now approaching a trillion [12 zeros] dollars!). And some groups don’t want the Decider restrained from a military adventure with Iran.

No, the United States is not yet a police state. But the groundwork is there. The parallels with the 1930s are impressive ( And dissent will not be tolerated.

First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a communist;
Then they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a socialist;
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a trade unionist;
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
because I was not a Jew;
Then they came for me--
and there was no one left to speak out for me.


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