By David Swanson
A Roseland, Indiana, city council member orders police to remove a fellow city council member. The police escort him out, shove him down on his face and pound his head. Onlookers either cheer, do nothing, joke, behave as if all were normal, or yell at others to let the police do their jobs. Not a single person protests. Only the one victim is hauled off in the police car. No one jumps in and shouts “Before this becomes Nazi Germany, arrest me too!”
A University of Florida student asks inconvenient questions of a U.S. senator. Police tackle him and shoot him with a taser. Onlookers, including the senator, either cheer, do nothing, joke, behave as if all were normal, or yell at others to let the police do their jobs. Not a single person seriously protests. Only the one victim is hauled off to jail. Fascist-friendly media outlets love the story because the senator is a Democrat, but they don’t tell the story right. Progressive media outlets don’t tell the story, even though they would tell it right, because the senator is a Democrat.
A television newscaster announces that planes were delayed in Boston’s airport and tells us the name of a college student, shows us her picture, and tells us that we should blame her. He tells us to give the airport security guards credit for doing their jobs. They mistook her school project for a bomb. Again, we must let the “authorities” handle things.
We must pretend toothpaste and deodorant are weapons. We must pass through metal detectors. We must shout through bullet proof glass. We must refrain from hysterically laughing at police officers who solemnly believe every backpack or stroller is a threat to national security. We must speak freely in “free speech zones,” except when we speak the wrong things freely and go to jail for it. We must be treated as criminals any time we attempt to get near members of our government.
We must accept genocide to support “our troops” doing their job. With very few exceptions, when those troops witness torture, rape, and murder, they either cheer, do nothing, joke, behave as if all were normal, or yell at others to let the mercenaries and the troops do their jobs. They’re brave enough to fight and kill, but just as scared to challenge abuses of power as everyone back home.
Back home in the land of the free, the wrong sign or t-shirt can now land you in jail. The wrong bumper sticker at a peace rally can get you a ticket. The wrong words out of your mouth can now constitute any number of serious crimes. Police brutality is now considered part of keeping us safe. And everyone is too scared to notice that anything is changing. Those who notice, obviously believe nothing can be done or believe someone else will do it. If those abroad who resent the United States really did so for our freedoms, we’d be pretty safe now.
“If You See Something, Say Something.”
Everyone needs to quit all the idiotic spying on neighbors and snooping around their bags to check for bombs. When you see someone assaulted by police, SAY SOMETHING. Do not let that moment pass.
One young woman approached the University of Florida police and screamed “Why are you doing that?” That’s a start.
Sam Provance exposed some of the torture at Abu Ghraib. That’s a start.
But most Americans appear paralyzed by fear. And that includes many Americans with the power to put a halt to our slide into martial law. We have an opposition political party afraid to oppose anything. We have grassroots groups that swear obedience to the opposition party, even as the useless unopposing party condemns the activists. Those with the power to end national crimes are afraid to do so. They fund the occupation of Iraq and promise never to impeach anyone, all as part of letting the “authorities” handle things. And citizens play along, pretending the Democrats have no power and, in addition, shouldn’t use it. They base this on the theory that by not using any power you are most likely to acquire more power. This is thinking driven by fear. We have almost nothing but fear now driving our national decisions, and it is beginning to scare me.
But there are signs of courage. There is a growing and successful counter-recruitment movement. Expensive corporate movies are beginning to challenge the occupation of Iraq. And peace and impeachment activists are engaging in more and more civil disobedience. People are speaking and protesting and sitting-in in the face of nascent fascism. Even sometimes those in power are speaking truth to those with more power.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich alone in Congress is repeatedly articulating the indisputable but taboo fact that the Democratic leadership in Congress can end the occupation by announcing that it will not fund it anymore. Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey has suggested that pseudo peace activists targeting Republicans may not be enough, that it might be a good idea to challenge pro-war Democrats as well. The Congressional Black Caucus Monitor is holding “Lawn Jockey Awards” for the “four worst black members of Congress.” And many progressives around the country are energetically opposing the presidential candidacy of Hillary Clinton. There are signs of life still in our body politic, but they are struggling against an incoming tide of fear and self-inflicted terrorism.