HOW HE SEES IT America moving toward a fascist state
By JOHN W. WHITEHEAD
"We would be advised not to underestimate the effect on the collective psyche in terms of fear and a desire for the authorities to 'protect' people from that fear." -- Dr. William Sargant
Within the last decade, especially in light of the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and the 9/11 tragedy, the United States has begun looking more and more like a police state. The fact is that the American police force has been militarized. Dressed like Darth Vader look-alikes, the police have opted for the SWAT-team dress formally adopted by the federal agencies. Indeed, photographs and television footage of the black storm trooper police currently guarding New York City in anticipation of the Republican National Convention illustrates how far we have come.
Yet even more disturbing is the ever-increasing notion that we actually need some form of a police state as a form of security. And as the polls show, a growing section of the American population is willing to scuttle our most sacred constitutional freedoms in order to feel more secure.
With the continuing colored alerts and constant warnings by the government of yet another terrorist attack somewhere, sometime, is it any wonder that the American people are in a constant state of tension and subdued numbness? At one time, their increased willingness to submit to and endure such actions by the government might have been cause for alarm. That is not, however, the case right now.
In his book "The Battle for the Mind," Dr. William Sargant discusses the "herd instinct," which he says is common among human beings who, because of fear, submit to government authorities for protection. This instinct, according to Sargant, appears "most spectacularly in wartime, during severe epidemics, and all similar periods of common danger, which increase anxiety and so individual and mass suggestibility."
A prime example of the public's willingness to allow their freedoms to be subverted can be found in the fiasco surrounding the so-called demonstration zone (or DZ) that was created during the recent Democratic National Convention. This was no mere free speech area where people could carry a sign and speak freely about matters of national or international concerns. What the government erected in Boston was a maximum security cage to house people who merely wanted to exercise their First Amendment free speech rights.
This cage was enclosed by a chain-link fence, complete with overhead netting and razor wire. Located under a railroad bridge, it was heavily guarded by military police. And, amazingly enough, it was located more than a block away from the Fleet Center, where Democratic delegates were meeting to officially crown the old war protester himself, John Kerry, as their candidate. This made it impossible for those inside the DZ to get the attention of the delegates -- many of whom were anti-abortion demonstrators protesting Kerry's stand on the issue. Obviously, speech is worthless if it cannot be heard. And it certainly isn't free inside a cage.
A lawsuit was filed to challenge the cage. After personally visiting the cage, the federal judge assigned to the case wrote: "The overall impression created by the DZ is that of an internment camp." Remarking on the cage itself, the judge noted: "Indeed, one cannot conceive of what other design elements could be put into a space to create more of a symbolic affront to the role of free expression." And, "Let me be clear: the design of the DZ is an offense to the spirit of the First Amendment. It is a brutish and potentially unsafe place for citizens who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights."
Incredibly, however, in an exercise in Orwellian doublethink, the judge went on to uphold the government's authority to cage the protesters, based on alleged "security" concerns.
Caged protesters? Military police? Recently enacted federal laws such as the USA Patriot Act which undermine the Bill of Rights? A mere 10 years ago, such things would have been met with outcries and protest. Yet the actions of a government that once might have been considered fascist seem to cause barely a ripple in today's society.
Undeniably, America is in a strange quandary. Without realizing it, most people have embraced the idea that the government is our savior -- a view that is often perpetuated through the media.
However, this mindset creates a zookeeper/animal mentality. Caged in our modern society with all the police and images of terror, we have become accommodating to the state which supposedly protects us. Thus, much like zoo animals, we have been conditioned to view the government/zookeeper as friends.
However, it is worth remembering that the world has not been terrorized by despots advertising themselves as devils. Instead, totalitarian regimes have come to power while reciting platitudes of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Make no mistake about it: as the government assumes more control, calls for allegiance will come from the right and the left. However, in that instance, there will be no political saviors. For if and when the authoritarian curtain falls, the words left and right will make no difference.
X Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.